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Op-Ed: Time to stop digging and start building

WASHINGTON (JTA) — As Will Rogers said, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!" In the last four years, the Obama administration has dug our country deeper and deeper into several painful and dangerous holes. It’s time to stop digging and find better solutions.

President Obama’s economic policies have eroded the earning power of the middle class and mired us in the slowest-growing post-recession economy in decades. A wave of new taxes will hit working families in January. Billions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on a useless "stimulus" and "green" companies that went bankrupt. Obama has added nearly $6 trillion to the national debt since taking office.

Meanwhile, unemployment stood above 8 percent for 43 straight months during Obama’s tenure. Companies aren’t hiring — in large part because of the uncertainty and poor prospects created by heavy-handed government regulations and a chaotic tax environment.

Mitt Romney has a better solution. By lowering tax rates across the board, while eliminating deductions and loopholes for high-end earners, we can broaden the tax base and bring in more revenue without raising taxes on the middle class. Responsible bipartisan efforts to cut non-security spending and reform the tax code, along with opening up more energy resources in North America, will spur economic growth and cut the deficit. Lower corporate tax rates and more sensible regulations will make it possible for new businesses to start and for established businesses to grow.

Another hole is being dug by the rising costs of health care and the looming bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security. The passage of Obamacare already is adding to the cost of health care for families, and we will have to slash entitlement benefits and raise taxes to punishing levels if we don’t get a handle on how Medicare and Social Security are structured.

The answer to these problems lies in allowing increased competition to bring down costs while providing a secure safety net for those in need. Romney wants to repeal and replace Obamacare with a free-market system that protects the poor. His plan for Medicare reform shields everyone age 55 and older from any changes to the system and will keep traditional Medicare available for those younger workers who choose it. That will strengthen Medicare and offer the same benefits at lower cost to today’s younger workers when they reach retirement age.

In foreign policy, Obama has pursued a naive and dangerous policy that has given our enemies new openings to harm us, as in Benghazi, Libya. Obama’s mixed messages and inaction during the Arab Spring have allowed Islamist forces to gain ground in several countries. He was silent during the 2010 freedom demonstrations in Iran, and his response to the civil war in Syria has not advanced freedom, peace or U.S. interests in the region.

Romney proposes a principled policy that puts America’s national interests first and projects American diplomatic, economic and, if absolutely necessary, military strength to protect those interests. Romney understands that we must stand with our allies and continue the fight against the radical Islamists who threaten our security and our democratic values.

The U.S.-Israel alliance has been badly hurt by the antipathy Obama has shown to Israel and her leaders. The military cooperation mandated by our pro-Israel Congress is strong, but the level of trust and cooperation between the two governments is low. Obama made the "1967 borders" and Israeli construction freezes starting points for negotiations, which reinforced Palestinian intransigence and made peace between Israel and the Palestinians even more elusive.

Romney will stand with Israel, knowing that Israel is our best ally and an important partner with the U.S., and understanding that strong strategic, economic and moral ties bind the two countries.

One of the most dangerous threats to American national security today is the possibility of a nuclear Iran. Congress supported sanctions on Iran (sometimes over the president’s objections), but the diplomatic effort to support those sanctions has been weak and ineffectual. That is why Russia and China have routinely stymied efforts to create a truly effective international sanctions regime that might deter the Iranians.

A nuclear Iran would be an existential threat to Israel, a destabilizing force in the Middle East and a clear threat to America’s interests and those of our European and Asian allies. The president’s policies have given Iran nearly four years to continue enriching uranium; they now approach the quantity and quality needed to create nuclear weapons.

Mitt Romney is committed to stopping Iran from acquiring the capability to build nuclear weapons. Our national security — and the security of our most important allies around the globe — depends on a strong U.S. policy toward Iran.

The American people face a significant choice in just a few days: a choice between a government-run, top-down economy and a free-market, opportunity economy; a choice between the weakness that invites attacks and the strength to keep our country secure; and a choice between leaving our children a country that we have built and enriched with freedom and ingenuity, or leaving them a country shackled in debt and diminished in scope. It’s not too late to stop digging holes and start building our country again.

(Matthew Brooks is the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.)

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