EDITORIAL: Four more years

When Barack Obama took office nearly four years ago, the United States found itself in the middle of a crisis not seen since the Great Depression greeted Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s.

We found ourselves with two mangled wars overseas, an unsustainable health care system, and an American auto industry on the verge of collapse, all while the global economy was in the middle of a free fall caused by misguided policies and a financial system let loose.

Fast forward four years, and remarkable progress has been made on all those fronts. Troops are coming home from Iraq and al Qaeda is as quiet as it has ever been. With the imperfect but historic Affordable Care Act, the U.S. now joins the ranks of industrialized nations that refuse to let their citizens die simply because they can't afford insurance. Thanks to the politically unpopular bailouts of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler, millions of manufacturing jobs (including thousands in Michigan) were saved and the auto industry has come roaring back. And actions his administration took prevented a depression and reigned in an out-of-control Wall Street.

Still, the economy remains the number one issue for voters across the country, and for good reason. The 7.8 percent unemployment rate, while the best we've seen in four years, is unacceptably high, and America still faces gigantic problems in the housing market and with the federal deficit.

Mitt Romney has presented himself as a problem-solver with experience in the private sector who knows how to tackle those problems. He has been given ample opportunity to explain to voters how he would specifically fix the nation's problems. Time and time again, though, Romney has been as vague as any candidate in recent history, playing into the notion that he's an opportunistic politician willing to say anything and to take hard stances on nothing if only it results in his election.

And while his vague solutions to the economy might play well with those looking for a reason to vote against Obama, Romney's lack of specifics is what's most troublesome. The former Massachusetts governor has run on a populist platform of lowering tax rates across the board, effectively allowing everyone to keep more of their money. While that sounds good, in theory, Romney has failed to articulate how he would pay for those tax cuts. Closing loopholes in the tax code is nice, but rarely ever happens.

Should Romney become president, it is impossible to know which version of him would show up. Would he be the moderate Massachusetts governor or the self-described "severely conservative" Romney?

Obama, meanwhile, laid out the groundwork for his vision for the economy 4 years ago; asking millionaires to pay more in taxes, investing in infrastructure and manufacturing, and he continues on a similar trek this go around. While some of it hasn't panned out, he extended the Bush tax cuts for all earners in 2010 and invested in failed green energy corporations, he has built the framework. Like Bush in 2004 with his two wars, it's time we let Obama finish the job he started.