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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Edward L. Glaeser

Candidates quibble over size of government, but what US needs is quality

As the wild winds of Hurricane Sandy sent trees toppling, I found myself recalling Mitt Romney’s finest moment as governor. In July 2006, in the days after the deadly Big Dig tunnel collapse, he was a model of calm, resolute response, shutting tunnels and overseeing an expensive but thorough safety inspection. At that moment the Commonwealth’s then-governor seemed to embody exactly what America now needs: a champion not of less government or more government, but of better government.

Romney and President Obama have turned the 2012 election into an argument about big versus small government. Obama dons the mantle of government-expanding FDR, while Romney tries to be Reaganesque. They both have points, but their argument misses our real need: public competence that will vastly improve schools, efficiently target infrastructure needs, and reduce health care costs.

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