After the second debate, despite the consensus that he lost, Gov. Mitt Romney still held the advantage on the economy by a large margin. President Barack Obama and the Democrats need to change tack as Obama's arguments, while logical, still don't seem to be swaying the majority of an electorate who see the "businessman" label Romney carries as attractive.
Romney pretends to be in the corner of the job creator, but job creators don't matter without job doers, and he puts every obstacle in the way of job doers by cutting education. He saddles potential young entrepreneurs with onerous educational loans, making sure they are chained to a desk for the next 5-10 years instead of innovating.
As an entrepreneur and a Democrat I'm often frustrated with the insinuation by the right that liberals are inherently anti-business socialists whose only interest is rectifying income inequality at the expense of a vibrant economy. This couldn't be farther from the truth, and here are some of the things I wish the Democratic Party would emphasize.
1) Emphasize Job Doers as well as Job Creators
Hiring here in Silicon Valley is incredibly difficult, and it's because of the high salaries for engineers. Google pays their software engineers an average of $128,336. Many of my fellow Berkeley graduates started their careers with six-figure starting salaries. There are simply not enough engineers to fill the positions open for them. What use is there in creating jobs if people don't have the skills to fulfill them?
Now, one can argue that the engineer shortage can be remedied through comprehensive immigration reform: if we give more H1B visas to smart engineers, the salaries will deflate. This would help, but it is a stopgap measure, and does nothing for alleviating the unemployment of Americans.
The broader problem is our lack of science and math education. Republican plans to cut funding for higher education, and education in general, in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy is the wrong prescription. Even if it would create more jobs, a premise I don't accept, who would fill them?
Mozio has been forced to explore hiring software developers in Portugal or Spain for around 35k a year. We would prefer to hire engineers in San Francisco, but it is both expensive and difficult to compete with Google/Facebook.
2) Student loan debt = fewer young entrepreneurs
Both myself and my cofounder at Mozio were fortunate enough to graduate debt-free. Part of this is because we went to UC Berkeley, where tuition is half of what most private schools charge. Who knows if we could start this company if we were saddled with student debt.
Mitt Romney has said that students should do whatever it takes to get the maximum amount of education possible, taking out loans if they need to. I'm shocked that he doesn't understand that this could be the biggest hurdle to entrepreneurship. How many potential Mark Zuckerbergs are out there, unable to follow their dreams because they have to repay student loans for the next 5-10 years?
Cutting Pell grants and education funding like the Ryan Budget suggests only puts potential entrepreneurs in a bigger hole that they have to climb out of.
The ridiculously wealthy do not have a monopoly on good ideas. While there is no denying that growing up with advantages allows the entrepreneurial spirit to be set free, 90 percent of entrepreneurs are from middle and upper-lower class families, according to a study by the Kaufman foundation. Ninety-five percent earn bachelor degrees, and 47 percent have higher degrees. Wouldn't we get more entrepreneurs if we lowered the tax burden on these folks rather than obsessing about making things for the wealthy even easier? I'm pretty sure giving Donald Trump an extra 20 million dollars wouldn't have as big of an impact as alleviating student loans for 50 aspiring entrepreneurs
I realize there is a difference between sound logic and sound bites. I'm sure there are some very smart people in the Obama campaign that have probably thought of all these points, and then decided to go with buzz words like "outsourcing" because the average American attention span isn't too high. But Romney's continued lead on the subject of the economy even as he spouts nonsensical, nonspecific tax plans, says to me what they are doing isn't working. The Democratic Party needs to start emphasizing some of these policies less because they are the "right thing to do" morally, and more because they are the smart business decision.
David is the Founder and CEO of Mozio, the airport ground transportation search engine. He is a recent UC Berkeley graduate and supporter of Barack Obama.