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Bridge the divide

One of the biggest mysteries of the 2012 race for the White House was the notion that President Barack Obama had offered little clue about what he would do in a second term, especially on voters’ No. 1 concern: the economy.
 
In fact, he provided plenty of detail on his website, in printed materials and during the debates with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Nor was this campaign the first time the president had laid out his long-term vision for rebuilding the economy.
 
In April 2009, only 12 weeks after taking office, Mr. Obama delivered a speech at Georgetown University in which he spelled out his "larger vision of America’s future-a future where sustained economic growth creates good jobs and rising incomes (and) where prosperity is fueled not by excessive debt, reckless speculation, and fleeing profit, but is instead built by skilled, productive workers (and) by sound investments that will spread opportunity at home."
 
The "new foundation" he aimed to build would have five pillars: new rules for Wall Street; new investments in education, renewable energy and technology, and in health care; and a return to fiscal discipline-including entitlement reform-once the economy recovered fully from the Great Recession.
 
The president’s achievements so far on these goals are arguable-and he acknowledged in the 2009 speech that "we will not finish (this new foundation) in one year; we will not finish it in many"-but his focus has been remarkably steady.
 
Exit polls on Election Day showed that most voters believed Mr. Obama understood their concerns and deserved more time to pull the economy out of the hole dug before he took office. They also voiced support for his approach to dealing with daunting fiscal issues.
 
Yet the narrow margin of the popular vote also sent a warning: The election is no sweeping mandate.
 
Post-election, what most Americans truly want seems strikingly obvious: a willingness by both Republicans and Democrats to compromise-to find common ground on the economy, taxes and spending, and other critical issues facing the country.

Since the Rochester region is a microcosm of the nation, with its congressional representation split in two, there’s no better place to start demonstrating the ability to work together, which voters rightfully expect.

11/9/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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