Romney's Business Experience Is No Reason to Elect Him President

History shows presidents without direct business experience are better stewards of the economy.

FE_DA_120917RomneyPlane.jpg
By + More

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Is the United States a Nation of 'Makers and Takers?']

These economic accomplishments are not measurable simply in dollars and cents. Whether the federal government experiences a surplus or deficit during the president's term is not by itself determinative of economic success or failure.

In other words, compared to a business leader, the president works in a more complex universe with more moving parts and more uncontrollable variables. He must understand and contemplate the impact of his decisions on multiple stakeholders from different walks of life, not just a finite group of shareholders or investors. His progress depends on persuading, negotiating, and compromising with people who hail from opposing parties and have varying points of view.

When contemplating a run for the presidency in 1988, he later recalled, Lee Iacocca, former Chrysler boss received this advice from then Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill:"You're used to running a big corporation. When you make a decision in the morning, you either earn a profit that day or you don't. You can't run a government that way. It would drive you crazy. You wouldn't last a year…."

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

As Iacocca suggests, the American people should not equate managing the U.S. economy with managing Bain Capital. Instead, they should heed the lesson of history. When Mitt Romney asks for support because of his private sector experience, voters should respond skeptically and demand a better argument.

  • Read Mort Zuckerman: Mitt Romney Can Rebound From '47 Percent'
  • Read Leslie Marshall: Poll Aside, Mitt Romney Hurts the Middle Class
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.