In just a few days, the eyes of the world will focus on Tampa and the Republican National Convention. As we accept the nomination of our party, Paul Ryan and I intend to use the occasion to set forward our vision for the country.
This is a moment unlike many in our past. The unfortunate fact is that America's economic crisis continues.
Unemployment has been above 8 percent for 42 consecutive months, which encompasses the entire presidency of Barack Obama. We have the largest deficits and the biggest federal government since World War II. Household incomes have dropped by more than $4,000 over the past four years. Nearly one out of six Americans are in poverty — the worst rate in a generation.
This doleful picture is where our country has been over the past four years. Our gathering in Tampa is about where we are going tomorrow.
Our path is clear. Our goal is certain. We aim to restore America's prosperity and rebuild our position in the world.
All roads forward to these objectives must lead through a turnaround of the economy. We need to get the U.S. economy out of its slow-growth doldrums and on the path of rapid expansion. We need to strengthen America's middle class, creating plentiful jobs with good pay for all who seek them.
That is our agenda. Accomplishing it hinges on several initiatives.
First, we need to increase domestic energy production and get rid of the job-killing regulations that crimp not only energy exploration and development but a whole host of industries outside of the energy sector. We can make North America energy independent by 2020 and we have the technological know-how to protect the environment while doing so.
Second, we need to move immediately to cut spending and root out inefficiencies in our government, making it smaller, simpler and smarter. Saddling future generations with a mountain of debt, as we have been doing, is not only bad economics, it is immoral. We have to stop robbing our children and grandchildren to pay for today's desires.
We also need to eliminate barriers to job creation. Apart from regulatory reform, this means opening markets for U.S. goods and standing up to China on trade and theft of intellectual property. It also means making sure that American workers have the skills they need to succeed in a competitive world. Given that small businesses employ so many U.S. workers, we must find ways to enable them to flourish, including reducing the burden of excessive taxes and needless regulations.
A key part of that effort is repealing and replacing Obamacare — a $1 trillion federal takeover of health care that will stifle hiring and increase premiums. Obamacare is a travesty that demands urgent action. Our health care system has genuine problems that cry out for change. It is time for a reform that controls costs, improves care, and returns decisions to patients and their doctors and the states instead of the federal government.
Together these steps will allow us to create 12 million new jobs and to build the kind of society where all Americans have the opportunity to flourish and pursue their dreams.
They also happen to be an essential prerequisite for restoring our place in the world. An American economy that is stalled means that our position both as a trading partner and as a force for freedom on the world stage is impaired. In particular, an economy that is not growing cannot sustain the military power that we need to keep the peace and defend our interests. Over the last three and a half years, we've been put in the position of having a weaker military and a reduced role in the world. That invites danger. We must not allow it to continue.
For some time now, a great national debate has been under way. Over the next few days, we are going to put our side of that debate before the American people. America can do better than it has been doing. Decline is not our destiny. The 21st century can and will be an American Century. But to accomplish that we need to change course. That's why Paul Ryan and I are seeking the highest offices in the land. It's time for the American middle class to have an unwavering champion in the White House.
Mitt Romney will accept the Republican nomination for president Thursday night. He wrote this column exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.