Four years ago, President Barack Obama was elected to office on grand promises of a better future for all Americans. He inspired many to believe that under his leadership, our nation could look forward to a better tomorrow.
But here in Florida, we can't say that his policies have improved things. In fact, too many of our neighbors are struggling. Our unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, higher even than the already unacceptable national average of 8.1 percent. Our governor is doing all he can to restore our state to prosperity, but he is facing challenges — headwinds, Obama might call them — and many of those challenges are coming from Washington.
In fact, many of them are coming directly from Obama's White House.
We know that the economy was slowing before Obama took office. He doesn't need to keep reminding us because we have lived it and unfortunately his approach has made things harder on us.
In Southwest Florida, our economy is integrally linked to a healthy housing market. The president's housing policies — among others — simply haven't worked. To understand why, you need to look no further than his actions. His first was to spend billions of taxpayer dollars. If this is his idea of a solution, his idea of a problem befuddles the mind. His housing programs, including a $150 billion bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have been long on debt and short on results.
The fact is that a true recovery for the housing market will only come when we have a full economic recovery. We need leadership in the White House that understands that. I can assure you that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan do.
On Obama's watch, once-bustling neighborhoods have lost their character, becoming ghost towns as homes fall into foreclosure in record numbers. Since he assumed office in 2009, more than 8.5 million properties received foreclosure filings. Here in Florida, we know that all too well. And with sinking home prices, 11 million homes are currently underwater. To taxpayers across the country, that's a mind-boggling number because 50 percent of these mortgages are owned by the government. These harsh realities have hurt aspiring homeowners as well, constricting the ability of even creditworthy families to take out home loans.
In contrast, Romney and Ryan's plan for our economy will unleash economic growth and create millions of new jobs. When 23 million people no longer need full-time employment and middle-class families are taking home more in pay, the soundness of the housing market will be restored. Millions of Americans will finally be able to buy a home, or help to pay off the mortgages that are weighing them down.
But just as important to our children and grandchildren's future, Romney and Ryan will also put the federal government on a path to fiscal stability. Under Obama, the national debt has skyrocketed to $16 trillion and he has failed to offer any clear plan to address the debt. His budget-cutting discipline has been nothing more than to place the Department of Defense and NASA on the chopping block with arbitrary across-the-board cuts at the very time their services are critical to our national security. Incidentally, they are both also critical to our economy in Florida.
Fortunately, we don't have to settle on the Obama housing market or the Obama economy. We can do better, and we can begin that journey soon by electing Romney and Ryan this November.