ST. LOUIS — Mitt Romney cast President Obama’s stewardship of the economy in moral terms here Thursday, delivering a broad speech about the free-market economy in which he said Obama’s first term has represented “a breach of faith with the American people.”
Romney said Obama “simply doesn’t understand” America’s free enterprise system and suggested that the president’s policies were effectively making government dependence a substitute for the dignity of hard work.
“We have waited, and waited, and waited for the recovery, and enough time has passed for us to pronounce judgment on the president’s economic policies,” Romney said. “They have failed. They have not worked.”
Romney added, “This is not just a failure of policy; it is a moral failure of tragic proportions. Our government has a moral commitment to help every American help himself — him and herself — and today, that fundamental commitment has been broken.”
Romney pledged to “end these days of drift and disappointment,” saying he would not be a “president of doubt and deception. I will lead us to a better place.”
The Obama campaign’s Chicago-based reelection team has been continuing its assault on Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts. Yet while Obama’s team says he had a “failed economic performance” there, Romney made no mention of his governorship in his speech.
“In yet another in a long line of ‘major’ economic speeches, Mitt Romney offered no new ideas and no new policies that would actually grow the economy and strengthen the middle class," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement. “Mitt Romney has promised to use his experience to turn around the economy, but all he has offered to date are negative and dishonest speeches tearing down President Obama.”
Romney also did not offer many specifics about what he would do in office or how his policies would revitalize the economy. But what his 18-minute speech lacked in details he tried to make up for with lofty rhetoric.
Reading from teleprompters and standing in front of a banner trumpeting his new slogan, “Putting Jobs First,” Romney used his visit to a St. Louis warehouse to frame what he considers the stark differences between his and Obama’s economic visions.
“Where our vision believes in the ingenuity of the American people, his vision trusts the wisdom of political appointees and boards and commissions and czars,” Romney said. “It’s one in which ordinary Americans have to get permission from people in Washington before they can buy something or build something or invest in something or hire someone.
“It’s a world of federal mandates and waivers, tax credits, subsidies, federal grants, loan guarantees,” he continued. “It’s an economy where a company’s lobbyists are more important than their engineers, and federal compliance lawyers will outnumber patent lawyers.”