Bill Clinton, Paul Ryan square off in Iowa op-eds

Dylan Stableford
November 4, 2012

With President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney vying for eleventh-hour undecided voters in the battleground state of Iowa, former president and Obama surrogate Bill Clinton and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan each penned op-eds published by the Des Moines Register on Sunday outlining the cases for their respective candidates.

"This election is not just about picking a president for the next four years," Ryan wrote. "It is about the kind of country we want to have and the kind of people we want to be."

Ryan wrote that the choice in this election is between an anemic future and a bright one:

Another four years of anemic economic growth, of ever-higher debt and deficits, would guarantee a diminished future for our children. But this doesn't have to be our future. You can choose a better path. You can cast your vote for a proven bipartisan leader with a plan and a record of working across the aisle to balance budgets and create jobs.

President Obama offers a repeat of the same failed policies of his first term. He has offered nothing different, and if re-elected, that's exactly what we can expect.

Romney and Ryan, by contrast, "are offering specific solutions" to deliver change:

Change starts with our five-point plan to help create 12 million new jobs and raise take-home pay for hardworking families. We will take advantage of the abundant energy resources we have in this country, from coal to gas to oil to renewables. We will make trade work for America. We will reform our job-training programs, and we will make sure that our kids are getting the education they need, no matter where they live. We will stop spending money we don't have and put America on the path to a balanced budget. Finally, we will build on one of America's greatest strengths: our small businesses. Mitt Romney and I are going to set America's small businesses free to do what they do best—create jobs and provide livelihoods for American workers and families.

[Related: Obama leads Romney 47-42 percent among likely voters in Iowa]

Clinton, who was initially misidentified by the paper as a one-term president, countered that "Romney wants to undo progress Obama made," and offered the case for the president's second term:

He took office with the economy losing 800,000 jobs a month in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. No president could have repaired all the damage he inherited in just four years. But since the private sector job losses ended 31 months ago, the economy has produced 5.2 million private-sector jobs. This year we had the largest one-year drop in the unemployment rate since February 1995, monthly exports are up 41 percent, auto sales and new home starts are at four-year highs, and we've added nearly 250,000 jobs in the auto industry since it retooled in June 2009, thanks to the restructuring plan Governor Romney opposed.

The president's economic plan is better: Making investments in innovation, infrastructure, manufacturing, new sources of energy, education and training, and reducing the deficit by more than $4 trillion, with $2.50 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases on the most fortunate Americans.

Governor Romney plans to reduce taxes again on the wealthiest Americans and make large cuts in programs that help the middle class and poor children and spark new economic opportunity. He wants to eliminate the tax credits for solar and wind energy, which boost industries that support about 175,000 good-paying jobs, and helped make Iowa the second-largest producer of wind power in America. He even wants to cancel the plan to double fuel efficiency standards, which will effectively cut Americans' gasoline bill in half by 2025.

Clinton concluded:

I'm for Barack Obama because his policies will bring back middle-class jobs and incomes and help the poor. They will help us build a modern economy of shared prosperity and continuing world leadership, and his policies will keep us on the road toward a more perfect union.

According to a poll released Saturday by the Register, Obama leads Romney 47 percent to 42 percent. According to the survey—conducted between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2—7 percent said they were open to changing their minds before Tuesday.