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Corey Stern Headshot

America's Got 99 Problems and Needs Someone from the 1 (%)

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Unfortunately, in today's world -- the age of Occupy Wall Street -- it seems as though the greatest crime one can commit is acquiring wealth. And if acquiring wealth was a real crime, Mitt Romney would be locked away in a maximum security prison for life. Today, one is looked down upon for living comfortably, or worse, being well-to-do. In the post-Great Recession era, everyone with a substantial income is somehow tied to the ruthless and greedy fat cats on Wall Street, who, according to President Obama, aren't paying their fair share.

It is surprising how just a few years ago in America, the land of opportunity, men and women were motivated to work hard, and as a result, work their way up the ladder. Acquiring wealth was not a felony, but simply considered a successful shot at the American Dream. Unfortunately, as our class-warfare-inducing President vies for a second term, he has no incumbent to rip apart, and therefore has turned against the so-called one percent, or 10 percent for that matter, as the enemy. It is truly a shame that someone like Mitt Romney is condemned for his successes rather than praised.

Marco Rubio, the Florida senator and the most coveted candidate for the GOP's vice presidential nominee in 2012, addressed this class warfare issue in America recently on the Senate floor. He explained, "We've never been people that go around and confront people that have been financially successful and say, 'We hate you. We envy you because of how well you're doing.' Americans have celebrated their success and said, 'Guess what? We're going to be successful soon as well.'" Rubio clearly has the right idea about what's wrong with America today. Sadly, this problem has led Americans to overlook our most capable presidential candidate.

When Romney released his tax returns a few weeks ago, he revealed incredible investment earnings of over $42 million in the past two years. These kinds of earnings put him at the top of even the top-earning one percent. Yet Romney and his wife, Ann, paid all of their expected taxes, and even donated over $7 million to charitable causes important to them. Romney has a scandal-free record, and has proven that he has made his wealth through legal and ethical means. To me, it seems like Romney is the type of person that we should be begging to be our president. Yet Newt Gingrich, among others, has frequently attacks Romney for being wealthy.

This is quite ironic, given that Gingrich is the candidate in the run for the presidency battling his poor reputation. I must say, to be running for the highest office in the nation with Gingrich's scandal-filled past is nothing but brazen. Being the only Speaker of the House charged with an ethics violation and $300,000 fine, as well as calls to resign from his own party is what we really should consider baggage, not making millions in the free market through legal and ethical means.

Wouldn't we want someone like Romney with a J.D./M.B.A. from Harvard, experience as a CEO and a self-acquired net worth of $200-$250 million to run our nation? Doesn't his past clearly show us that he is more than capable of leading the United States in the right direction? At Bain Capital, he helped expand many American companies that are now household names, such as the Sports Authority, Staples and Domino's Pizza. I'm confident that a former financial services CEO and self-made millionaire like Mitt Romney can look at the United States as a company, and fix the economy. With its unbelievable inefficiency and $15 trillion in debts, shouldn't the government be run by someone who understands economics and business?

Mitt Romney has been criticized for being "out of touch" with the average American because of his immense wealth. But in a nation where the average American household has between $10,000 and $15,000 of credit card debt, hasn't the average Joe proven that they are incapable of handling finances? Wouldn't this lead one to believe that maybe we need someone with a higher understanding of finances, the free market and the banking industry to run our nation? In this regard, Mitt Romney's CEO experience at Bain Capital makes him a seasoned leader destined for the White House.

In the 2010 California gubernatorial election, I found it shocking that a state facing one of the largest budget deficits in history chose Jerry Brown, a career politician who previously served as Governor of the state from 1975-1983, over billionaire Meg Whitman. Whitman continuously explained that the people of California needed her and her business experience. After all, she had served on the Board of Directors of companies like Goldman Sachs and DreamWorks, and held executive positions at companies like Procter & Gamble, Disney and Ebay, which she took public as CEO. Was Whitman not elected because she was too wealthy? We may never know. But what we do know is that the voters of California missed a great opportunity to have a business-minded governor. After all, they were the only losers in the situation, as Whitman was later tapped CEO of Hewlett-Packard, where she's surely personally bringing in millions.

If Mitt Romney were elected president, he would rank fourth on the list of wealthiest American presidents, behind George Washington, Herbert Hoover and James Madison. He would narrowly beat out other beloved presidents such as John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. There have been many wealthy politicians in American history. We can't forget New York City's billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg. According to Forbes, Bloomberg, one of the wealthiest men in America, holds the title of the second richest man in the city of millionaires and billionaires which he governs. I believe his immense wealth has made him a better mayor. Bloomberg has proven that he has nothing more to gain. His only interests now are doing what's best for New York City's residents.

Simply put, Mitt Romney is a self-made man, who has hoped to bring his expertise and leadership skills to the public sector. His record as governor of Massachusetts, in addition to his efforts to help save the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics after it faced a bribery scandal and security fears after September 11 show that Romney can effectively lead. Right now, Romney is in the lead among Republican contenders. Yet we all know how quickly that can change. It would be a shame if we allowed Newt Gingrich, or ultimately President Obama, to use dirty tactics to convince America that Mitt Romney's too rich for the job. If this occurred, we would miss an opportunity for America to once again have a talented and able leader -- something for which we are long overdue.