For president: Barack Obama

If there is one corner of Ohio that should vote overwhelmingly for the re-election of President Barack Obama, it is the Mahoning Valley.

We say that not for the tired old reason that the Valley almost always votes Democratic. We say it because when the question “are you better off today than you were four years ago” is asked, the Mahoning Valley can answer yes. And President Obama has earned much of the credit.

That is not to say that everyone in the Valley who wants a job has a job or that no families are under economic duress.

But the Valley is making strides. Here are just three dramatic examples, all with positive consequences that will stretch long into the future:

V&M Star, which is investing more than $700 million in its complex on the Youngstown-Girard border. Yes, we know that some claim that stimulus money was a deciding factor in that expansion, and others say it was only ancillary. But there is no denying that infrastructure improvements at the site were paid for with a stimulus grant. Or that hundreds of tradesmen and laborers are earning high wages during the construction, and hundreds more will have permanent well-paying jobs for years.

General Motors at Lordstown continues to produce cars today thanks to an effort to save GM and Chrysler that was begun by President George W. Bush (whom we endorsed, incidentally) and completed by President Barack Obama.

“Let Detroit go bankrupt” was the headline on a column Mitt Romney wrote in The New York Times. No, he didn’t write the headline. Knowing something about how headline writers ply their trade, we’re guessing that the editor was playing on another famous headline that a New York newsman would have remembered: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.” It appeared in the New York Daily News on Oct. 30, 1975, after President Gerald Ford vowed to veto any bailout that would spare New York from going bankrupt. Like Romney, Ford never said those exact words, but they captured the essence of his message.

More recently, Romney has said that he was only advocating what Obama eventually did to help GM. But that revisionist history fails on two counts: 1) Romney had suggested that GM go through a traditional bankruptcy, which would have required a massive influx of private capital that was not available in the financial market place; 2) if all he advocated was what Obama eventually did, Republicans should be embracing Obama as a hero.

No, Romney’s vision of a GM bankruptcy would have had devastating consequences to the company, its employees and hundreds of suppliers — suppliers on whom Ford and other U.S.-based automakers also relied. That level of disruption in the auto industry would have sent the struggling economy spiraling from the Great Recession into a depression. Now, some economists believe that depressions are the natural order of things and the government shouldn’t intervene. We would disagree.

National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a $70 million project in the Youngstown Business Incubator Annex on Boardman Street. It was funded with a $30 million federal grant and $40 million from nine research universities. The institute puts the Youngstown area in the forefront of “3D printing” development, which has enormous potential in defense and manufacturing.

Under the adage that all politics is local, the Valley’s resurgence would be reason enough to re-elect President Obama. But in addition, Obama has shown a political courage in tackling health care reform, a deep understanding of international issues, and a willingness to compromise — even if it was rejected by Republicans in Congress — that enhance his stature.

A history of change

Gov. Romney’s only constant has been his ability to redefine his policies and beliefs. Romney was against being tough on China before he was for it. And that wasn’t a decades-long evolution, as in his transformation from a pro-choice Massachusetts governor to a pro-life presidential candidate. Romney was already running for president when he criticized Obama for imposing a tariff on cheap Chinese tires that were being dumped on the U.S. market.

It is difficult to see Romney as a credible candidate. One of his own campaign advisers said that regardless of what Romney said January through July, there would be an Etch-a-Sketch moment after he won the Republican nomination. And that’s what happened.

Today, Romney claims that he can cut taxes for everyone and increase defense spending without increasing the deficit. The magic of his tax policy will be in eliminating deductions — that he refuses to specify. He says he’ll protect Medicare, but the budget proposed by his running mate, Paul Ryan, would eventually undercut Medicare’s promise. He says he’ll eliminate Obama-care, but keep the parts people seem to like.

President Obama endorsed the Simpson-Bowles blueprint that calls for a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. Romney is on record as rejecting even $10 in cuts if the deal were to involve $1 in tax increases.

This has been a rough four years. But the first four years of President Ronald Reagan’s tenure were no smoother. During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first eight years were marked by taking two steps forward, one back.

We believe history is on President Obama’s side and that the nation’s best chance for a continued recovery is with him in the White House.

The Vindicator endorses the re-election of President Barack Obama.

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