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August 15. 2011 7:58PM

Romney in Plymouth: Obama’s lack of business expertise is hurting country


Donald Mosman of Plymouth asks former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a question about non-profits being charged by the federal government, Monday following a town hall style meeting at the Common Man Inn in Plymouth. (PAULA TRACY / UNION LEADER)
PLYMOUTH — President Barack Obama lacks the experience needed to return the country to a strong economic footing because he has never run a business, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told a town hall style meeting Monday.

"Twenty four million Americans are out of work. Home values are still going down," the Republican candidate for President noted.

He fielded questions on Social Security, universal health care, buying American, returning manufacturing jobs and foreign trade in the one-hour question-and-answer session. The thrust of Romney’s message was one of business experience, which he said is needed to lead the way.

Romney said Obama loves the country but has taken the wrong "path for America. I am not going to need a primer on how the economy works. I know how it works, and I will not need to be reminded.”

He was introduced and endorsed by Executive Councilor Ray Burton of Bath, a Republican.

Burton said Romney is a center-of-the-road candidate who can appeal to many Independents in his district, the top northern half of the state.

Romney said the nation faces significant challenges and one is "we elected a guy who didn't have a track record .... who really didn’t have an understanding how the economy works.”

Romney's background is in investing in start-up businesses.

He offered seven ideas to get the economy going, among them: employer taxes that are competitive with other nations; streamlined and modernized regulations; fair and open trade; taking advantage of U.S. energy resources, which can help create new jobs; improving education; and ensuring government operates within its means.

"You can't have a government which spends more than it takes in. Some day that currency is not going to be worth that much. What you are having right now is a lot of people pulling back from investing because they are uncertain of the future," he said.

On foreign aid, Romney said by and large, humanitarian aid should be handled by the private sector through donations. In some cases it may be about national defense but he would first ask "is it so important that we need to be borrowing money from China to do it?"

Tom Garesche of Holderness asked about universal health care.

"I want to stop it in its tracks," Romney said.

Romney started a health insurance program in Massachusetts while he was governor.

"I like what we did in Massachusetts. I am proud. But I am not saying it should apply to New Hampshire or Mississippi."

He said states can learn from each other. Romney said he agreed with the court decision last week against universal health care and maintains that the Massachusetts ruling is constitutional because it is within the Massachusetts Constitution, not the U.S. Constitution.

Asked about raising taxes on the rich, Romney said there are not enough rich people to balance the budget. What is needed is getting the 9.1 percent of unemployed Americans back to work so they can help pay into the system.

"I don't want to raise taxes on employers, certainly not now. Not on the job creators," he said.

Alex Ray of Holderness asked about increasing domestic energy from renewable resources, such as wood.

Romney said wind, solar and even ethanol are good things and the development of corn as a fuel has greatly increased productivity levels per acre.

Romney said he believes in not only increasing domestic renewable energy but in exploring carbon-based energy in the U.S.

"I want to get America free of foreign oil," he said.

And in responding to a question of C. Lynn Graton of Holderness about buying American-made products, Romney said "we need to bring back manufacturing," and the way to do that he said is to hold down the burdens created by government.

"We must make sure that when we make (foreign trade) agreements they are being honored and they work for us not just the other guy,” Romney said.

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