Tonight I’ll be live-blogging the first Presidential Debate on domestic policy from the University of Denver, Denver, Colorado. I invite you to post comments at any time and discuss the debate with others.
Incidentally, of the three live feeds I recommended in an earlier post, my opinion is that the C-Span Debate Hub feed is the smoothest video, minus the talking heads (which is always good).
pre-debate introductions, set-up …
If you’re watching an early feed like C-Span, you were fortunate to hear Jim Lehrer, the moderator, tell anyone who has the urge to speak-out or applaud during the debate to “sit on it!” And then he put the First Lady and Mrs. Romney each in charge of enforcing this rule for their side of the audience (a little humor to start what is likely to be a night with little humor).
debate begins …
Obama: The prez recognized his wife and mentioned their anniversary. Spoke of 4 years ago, the financial crisis, and the comeback in jobs, the auto-industry and housing. The prez pointed out Romney’s same-ol’ trickle-down policy ideals favoring the rich. Emphasized his middle-class policies.
Romney: Referenced campaign trail anecdotes, people needing jobs. Focused on a different path. Shook the etch-a-sketch and said he’s not about trickle-down policy. Focused on small business, spoke on our education problems (what about right-wing policies cutting education funding???).
Lehrer gave the prez a rebuttal on what Romney denied about his trickle-down policies.
Obama: Close loopholes on companies that outsource. Boost energy production, but look into future sources of energy. Some discussion of tax code and reducing deficit while making investments. Pointed out Romney’s multi-trillion tax cuts and increases in military funding that don’t add-up.
Romney: Denied size of his tax cuts. Focus on “middle-income Americans”, but didn’t say what income range that covers. Remarks on gas prices increasing under Obama, but no mention of 60% of cost of oil is from Wall Street speculators. More talk about tax breaks, lowering deductions (which deductions?). Claimed oil production is only up on private lands, not public lands. Doubling down on coal?!! Tax cut again – no tax cut that adds to the deficit so where will he cut?
Obama: He cut middle-class taxes, kept his promise. Pointed out that for 18 months Romney’s been hawking his 5 trillion tax cuts but is now denying them. 2 trillion in military spending increases, but where does the money come from. Economists say the math doesn’t add up.
Romney: Denying tax plan again. Says he will not add to the deficit, which again means where will you cut? Says he will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans (remember that line!).
Obama: Now Romney says about his big, bold tax plan, “Nevermind”. You can’t make the math add up. We both agree on small business tax cuts, which I did 18 times. Return to Clinton-era tax rates. Romney says only top 3% of small businesses need tax cuts. Romney defines Trump as small business. I cut taxes for 98% of small businesses. Must continue investing in America.
Romney: More tax cuts. Claims top 3% need the tax cuts.
Obama: Math, common sense and our history dispute Romney’s claims. We tried trickle-down and it doesn’t work, and caused the 2008 financial crisis. Obama will repeat the Clinton policies and history shows that it works.
Romney: Moral issue. Not moral to pass on spending to future generations (talk to Dubya about that). Romney claims raising taxes slows rate of growth (see Clinton-era). Get rid of Obama-care, stop subsidies to PBS, many programs that should be run at state level, cut government employees. Blames prez on financial crisis, debt.
Obama: Focus on the source of the debt – two unfunded tax cuts, two unfunded wars, economic crisis. Had to take initial emergency measures, cut 77 government programs, 18 education programs, went after medicare fraud, cut a trillion from discretionary budget. Have 4 trillion deficit reduction plan available on the internet. Asks for additional revenue from the wealthy. Bowles-Simpson is the balanced way I’ll do it. Reminds us of 10-1 spending-revenue cut question that Romney and all GOP candidates shot down.
Romney: Won’t say if he supports Bowles-Simpson. Still blaming Obama for the financial mess the GOP caused. Won’t raise taxes on anyone.
[Romney has learned well the conservative debate tactic, which is interrupt, change the subject, blame others]
Romney: Will raise revenue by creating more jobs (duh). No specifics.
Obama: Must have a balanced approach, revenues and spending cuts. $4 billion corporate welfare to oil industry, why not eliminate that? Romney’s loopholes to close, no specifics. Don’t give tax breaks to companies that outsource. Balanced approach allows us to invest in education. Romney’s cuts would cause severe hardship. Shifting medicare to the states could result in a 30% cut.
Romney: Oil companies have less than 3 billion in tax breaks (so that’s ok?). [Lehrer is now letting Romney dominate the format, speak as long as he wants. Romney tells lie after lie, with no interruption by the moderator having any success.]
Obama: Social Security is sound. Medicare drives deficits. How do we strengthen the system over the long-term? We did that with Obamacare. Lowered prescription drug costs for seniors.
Romney: No changes to current retirees or upcoming retirees (the ryan plan smoke-and-mirrors). Making the medicare cut claim against the prez that has been discredited by nearly everyone.
Obama: Romney needs to disclose his voucher program. [Romney added, not for current retirees] Prez said sure, but urged people 54-55 to listen because it will affect them. Romney’s voucher plan is estimated to cost seniors up to $6k per year. Traditional medicare, if continued, will allow doctors to stop honoring medicare and insurance companies to kill medicare eventually. Romney’s plan benefits insurance companies.
Romney: I support no change for “current retirees”. Then skipped to the “young”. What about those from “the young” up to 55 years old? Believes that you can just switch insurance companies easily if you’re rate isn’t low enough (out-of-touch!).
Obama: Medicare has lower admin. costs than private insurance. They add profits to admin costs so extra money comes from somewhere, from seniors. Vouchers put seniors at mercy of insurance companies. Reason why AARP is against the Romney plan.
[Lehrer trying to interrupt Romney, but the man will be ruled by no one. The prez needs to match Romney for rudeness. Not in his nature, but he must do it.]
Romney: Regulation is essential (shake that etch-a-sketch). Regulation is now excessive in banking.
Obama: Economic crisis prompted by reckless behavior. Our regulation clamped down on risky behavior. Bailouts were paid back with interest. Does anyone think there was too much Wall Street regulation?
Romney: Against the bailouts, get rid of Dodd-Frank. Claims Dodd-Frank doesn’t have clear regulations.
Romney: Repeal ACA. Must look at costs. Claims Obamacare increases insurance rates (insurance companies are run by conservatives, Mittens. conservatives increased insurance rates). Effect of Obamacare on your hiring plans? Obamacare has killed jobs? [most of Obamacare is not in effect until 2014]
Obama: Families have members with pre-existing conditions, were afraid of going broke. List benefits of Obamacare.
[Lehrer cuts off the prez but continues to allow Romney to go on and on ]
Romney: Obamacare was not bipartisan.
Obama: Romney advisors wrote Obamacare. [over 500 republican amendments to obamacare]. When Obamacare is fully implemented costs will have gone down. Insurance rate increases have been much lower. Romney wants to repeal Obamacare and leave it to the states. No indication that people will then get to buy insurance.
Romney: Death-panels … boards telling us what treatments we can have. [out of touch! insurance companies have panels that decide on what treatments we can have, now, today. I've been on the losing end of an HMO panel. Romney and his rich pals wouldn't know about HMOs].
Obama: Boards are prohibited by the law. Romney’s pre-existing condition claim is not in his plan. Romney has no new plan. Has no details on his tax plan, none on regulations, none on a replacement for Obamacare. Is Romney keeping secrets about his ideas because they’re too good? No, because they are bad.
Romney: [interrupting the moderator, again.] More claims that the prez doesn’t work with the other side [the side that decided they will not work with him on day 1].
The role of government:
Obama: Role is to keep America safe. Fed gov has the capacity to create opportunity. Government and private sector can work together. Education needed reforming, gave states flexibility. Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers (in public schools).
Romney: Military increases, commitment to religious tolerance (unless you’re a Muslim), right to pursue their dreams. “Trickle-down government approach” under Obama [attempt to confuse folks on their trickle-down economics?]
[When they compare the time each candidate was allowed to use, I would bet Romney received twice as much time to speak]
Romney: etch-a-sketch – public education is good
Obama: Budgets matter on education. Ryan plan cuts education and Romney supports it. Cuts education up to 20%. [Lehrer interrupts the prez to pass it to Romney?! the prez took back control - finally!]. Student loan rates were lowered. Romney said “borrow from your parents”. Most people don’t have that option.
Romney: charges of favoritism, 90 billion too much for green industries, money went to your donors.
Romney: Will work with both sides of the aisle (that’s what Bush said).
Obama: Philosophy has been to work with both sides and has worked on many issues [again, paul ryan, gingrich, and conservatives met on Obama's inauguration day to shut-down and obstruct Obama's agenda]. Part of leadership is saying no. Romney does not have willingness to say no to extreme parts of his party.
Obama: Four years ago, crisis, but we got through it. Faith in our future, in our people. Auto industry has bounced back after our bailout. Need to close tax loopholes for job shippers. Promised he’d fight for middle-class and he has. Promises same for second term.
Romney: Concerned about direction of country. Claims America will struggle under Obama, but no problem for him as president. Ends with the same, discredited lie about the Prez’s medicare cut. Will increase defense spending.
Worst out-of-control debate format I’ve ever seen. The moderator could not control Romney, who spoke much longer than the President at every chance and spoke over the attempts of Lehrer to hold him to his allotted time. But Lehrer seemed to have no problems cutting off the president. May as well have been run by Fox.
Romney could not have been more phony. Like the Univision forum, Romney presented himself as the candidate for all of America, denied the policies he’s campaigned on for the past year or more, misled the audience on his plans for Medicare and Medicaid, and lied about his proposed tax cuts. Unfortunately, the President seemed unable to capitalize on the lies and project strength, and unable to insist on as much time to speak as Romney. I expect when the stats come out on how long each candidate spoke, Romney will have had nearly twice as much time as the President.
Just a pathetic job by PBS and Jim Lehrer. After this debate, I agree with Romney; cut PBS funding. You don’t deserve it. Seriously.