Giving Mitt Romney the Long Look

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With the Republican nomination virtually cinched, Mitt Romney must convince Americans he can more effectively moderate their cultural wars than President Obama, and get the economy going on all cylinders again.

Conservatives and liberals have rhetorically impaled him for excessive flexibility on health care and social issues.

Mitt Romney

Romney is an adult, and too much of the national debate is led by over-aged adolescents who cast the world in black and white -- tenured academics supported by taxpayer dollars and endowments, and pundits often catering to ideologically narrow audiences. They embrace unbending views of a perfect America, but none have to win votes and govern for ordinary folk making moral choices and earning a living in much tougher environments.

Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Fundamentally, he is a center-right politician, but as Governor of Massachusetts he worked with a very liberal legislature to fashion policies for health care and other hot button issues.

Also see: Obama Runs From His Record on the Economy: Opinion

As president, he would do what editorial writers at the New York Times and the Manchester Union Leader are hardly compelled to do: compromise to get something done. However, the Congress would be more moderate than the Massachusetts legislature.

Americans can expect center-right solutions, in tune with the majority of voter sensibilities, and Supreme Court appointees like Justices Kennedy and Roberts, who actually listen to the arguments and weigh the facts in major constitutional cases, as opposed to reliably voting the liberal line as do Clinton and Obama appointees.

As an economist, it is clear to me that Mitt Romney deserves a long hard look from working Americans who want a better shot at good jobs and opportunities for their children.

Campaigning in 2008, Barack Obama promised to get Americans working again by getting tough with China's export subsidies, but as president, he has blocked action against its most lethal weapon -- currency manipulation.

The trade deficit with China is slicing $500 billion off U.S. GDP and costing five million jobs, and Romney promises to go where Obama fears to tread.

Candidate Obama chastised President Bush for permitting gasoline to reach $4 a gallon, but as president he says there is nothing he can do. He has continued bans on drilling in the eastern half of the Gulf, off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and the richest fields in Alaska, and threw up onerous regulatory barriers where drilling is still legal. Romney promises to unleash this potential, which could halve oil imports and increase GDP by another $250 billion and create 2.5 million jobs.

On the budget deficit, Obama's Millionaires Tax may be good politics, but it would hardly dent the $1.3 trillion budget deficit. That requires taming runaway Medicare and Medicaid costs, but ObamaCare merely throws more federal dollars at a broken system, and compels private employers to buy more overpriced insurance -- its cost controls will be easily gamed by private providers and prove just an additional expense.

Republican solutions, crafted by Congressman Paul Ryan, would give the elderly vouchers to purchase private insurance and block grants to the states to limit federal commitments. Those would only shift burdens rather than solving the fundamental problem -- health care is too expensive in America.

Thanks to ineffective rationing -- all systems ration health care and every other economic good -- and higher costs for everything from ambulance services to administration, Americans pay about $8,000 per person for health care, while the Germans and Dutch, also with private insurance systems, pay only $4,000.

Voters should require Romney to explain how he will improve on Ryan's solutions before donning an "I'm for Mitt" button.

Obama's financial reforms have instigated the concentration of a record 60% of all saving and checking deposits among a handful of Wall Street banks. Those aren't writing enough loans to finance new homes and small businesses, greatly handicapping those historically powerful engines of jobs creation.

Romney's deep financial experience much better qualifies him to tame Wall Street -- but he has told us little about what he will do other than reform Obama's reforms.

The contrast with President Obama should require Americans to give Romney a good look, but he owes us more specifics on many tough issues if he is to deserve the top job.

Professor Peter Morici, of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, is a recognized expert on economic policy and international economics. Prior to joining the university, he served as director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission. He is the author of 18 books and monographs and has published widely in leading public policy and business journals, including the Harvard Business Review and Foreign Policy. Morici has lectured and offered executive programs at more than 100 institutions, including Columbia University, the Harvard Business School and Oxford University. His views are frequently featured on CNN, CBS, BBC, FOX, ABC, CNBC, NPR, NPB and national broadcast networks around the world.

More from Opinion

What's Happening in Video Games This Week: On the Road to E3

What's Happening in Video Games This Week: On the Road to E3

Wednesday Wrap-Up: Let's Talk About General Electric

Wednesday Wrap-Up: Let's Talk About General Electric

Week of the Women From Finance to Fast Food

Week of the Women From Finance to Fast Food

Tuesday Turnaround: Micron, Autonomous Driving, and J.C. Penney

Tuesday Turnaround: Micron, Autonomous Driving, and J.C. Penney

Cable Stock Investors Should Keep an Eye On Wireless Broadband's Rise

Cable Stock Investors Should Keep an Eye On Wireless Broadband's Rise