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Staples Founder -- Romney will clean up Obama's economic mess

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    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, gestures while speaking to reporters on the tarmac after arriving in West Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, May 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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    FILE: May 12, 2012: Then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. (AP)

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    May 12, 2012: Mitt Romney speaks at the Liberty University commencement ceremony in Lynchburg, Va. (Reuters)

I first met Mitt Romney in the fall of 1985 when he took a chance on me and my idea to sell discount office supplies. Together we then worked to found Staples. 

From the very beginning, I saw that he was super-frugal. He didn’t want to pay more than he had to for things like paper clips. 

That was the idea behind Staples. 

And for Mitt, cutting costs and running things well has been a consistent animating idea, whether he’s been in business or government or running the Olympics. 

Now that he’s campaigning for president, Mitt’s brand of leadership could not come at a more critical time.

We are well into the fourth year of Barack Obama’s presidency. The country has little to show for all the promises of “hope” and “change” that he made on the campaign trail. 

What we do have is unemployment over 8 percent for 39 months, the longest stretch since the Great Depression. 

What we do have are proposals to raise taxes further, to borrow more money, to spend more money, and to make the federal government grow even larger than it already is.

President Reagan once said that “the more plans fail, the more the planners plan.” Nothing more aptly captures the behavior of the Obama administration. 

President Obama entered office with no experience managing the economy. Having failed to get the economy back in high gear, he now wants to hike taxes on dividends and capital gains and on the business owners who provide over half of the country’s private sector jobs. 

That is a recipe for more failure of the kind we already have seen.

President Obama laces his policies in rhetoric about “fairness.” 

In actuality, his policies are deeply unfair. They involve having the federal government pick winners and losers in the marketplace. 

They involve taking taxpayer dollars and spending them on sheer waste. The $800 billion price tag for the president’s economic stimulus package is Exhibit A in any indictment of his failures.

The $2 trillion dollar price tag for ObamaCare is Exhibit B. 

Now, instead of finding a way out of our economic morass, instead of finding a way to reform our overgrown tax code, the president is doubling down on policies that, at great expense, only stand in the way of economic growth.  

It’s time to let Mitt Romney clean up this mess. 

He can do the job. I’ve seen him at work. 

He’s spent his life turning around failing enterprises and starting new ones. He has a keen appreciation for how our overgrown tax code strangles job creation. He understands why high marginal tax rates undermine investment.

Instead of more regulations and more taxes, Mitt favors comprehensive tax reform. He supports an across-the-board 20 percent cut in tax rates that will provide tax relief and empower job creators to hire new employees and investors to unleash capital. By eliminating taxes on capital gains, interest, and dividends for lower- and middle-income American families, he will make it easier for almost everyone to save.

Mitt’s tax reform plan will also increase America’s global competitiveness at a moment when we desperately need to compete. By reducing the corporate tax rate to 25 from the current 35 percent—the highest rate in the developed world—his plan would level the playing field for American companies. This, together with elimination of the repatriation tax, would create incentives for companies to bring capital and jobs home from overseas and broaden the tax base. Mitt clearly understands that cutting taxes sometimes can increase revenues.

As an entrepreneur, I know that a pro-growth tax policy that encourages risk-taking and stimulates job creation is central to turning this economy around. 

Mitt Romney has put forward such a plan. 

In less than half a year, the voters will have their say. My prediction is that they will send a powerful message that enough is enough and will bid Barack Obama farewell.

Tom Stemberg is the founder of Staples.