During Wednesday night’s presidential debate, Republican Mitt Romney distinguished his view of government from Barack Obama’s, claiming the president favors a “trickle-down government approach.”
And according to the Republican nominee, that is not a workable strategy.
“What we’re seeing right now is, in my view, a trickle-down government approach, which has government thinking it can do a better job than free people pursuing their dreams — and it’s not working,” Romney said, in response to moderator Jim Lehrer’s prompt about the proper mission of government.
Romney explained that the current slow economy and numbers associated with it demonstrate the failure of that view of government.
“The proof of that is 23 million people out of work,” he said. “The proof of that is 1 out of 6 people in poverty. The proof of that is we’ve gone from 32 million on food stamps to 47 million on food stamps. The proof of that is that 50 percent of college graduates this year can’t find work.”
“We know that the path we are taking is not working. It is time for a new path.”
Obama approached the same question by focusing on government’s role in keeping citizens safe and opening common opportunities through government spending — particularly on education.
“Look, the genius of America is the free enterprise system and freedom, and the fact that people can go out there and start a business, work on an idea, make their own decisions,” Obama said. “But as Abraham Lincoln understood, there are also some things we do better together.”
“So in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Let’s help to finance the Transcontinental Railroad, let’s start the National Academy of Sciences, let’s start land grant colleges, because we want to give these gateways of opportunity for all Americans, because if all Americans are getting opportunity, we’re all going to be better off.’”
“That doesn’t restrict people’s freedom. That enhances it. And so what I’ve tried to do as president is to apply those same principles,” Obama said, adding that education spending and high-quality teachers are critical.
John McCormack of the Weekly Standard pointed out on Twitter that former President George H.W. Bush used the “trickle-down government” line against former President Bill Clinton during a 1992 debate.