A truly historic election

Both presidential candidates want to take the nation in fundamentally different directions

There is broad agreement the roofing industry faces more challenges from government intrusion now than in the recent past. Given the growing effects of government policies on businesses, the results of the Nov. 6 elections could prove crucial to the industry's future.

Indeed, this may be the most important election during the past generation not only for the roofing industry but also for the nation. The federal government's budgetary challenges are more intractable than at any time since World War II, and one of the few areas of agreement in otherwise gridlocked Washington, D.C., is the need to curb the growing national debt. At nearly $16 trillion and roughly 100 percent of the U.S. annual gross domestic product, the debt must be addressed before it results in a serious fiscal and economic crisis. But that's where the agreement ends.

The contrast of visions between the presidential candidates about how to address the nation's fiscal and economic challenges is more striking than in any election since at least 1980, when Ronald Reagan defeated President Jimmy Carter.

President Barack Obama believes greater regulation of economic activity, increased government spending and higher taxes as a percentage of the U.S. economy are the answers to the malaise that grips the economy. If the president is re-elected, we can expect to see more legislative and regulatory initiatives, such as the ambitious 2010 health care law, proposed in his second term.