Let me start by saying that by all appearances, Mitt Romney won Wednesday’s (10.3.12) debate. I wouldn’t say that he blew the president away, but he was more confident, had his numbers ready to go, and overall seemed a lot more comfortable attacking the president than the president did defending himself.
That being said, Romney’s presentation was full of a lot more vigor than substance. And it’s not that vigor doesn’t matter, but I think that it’s important to point out this fact before saying that the first debate completely changes the direction of this election. Regarding his tax policy, Romney was evasive, and presently a view that was starkly in contrast to that he has been presenting since the beginning of his campaign. The president pointed this fact out, but Romney shifted and said that he would do nothing that would add to the deficit; well Mr. Romney, unfortunately you can’t have one without the other. Either you plan to cut taxes and raise the deficit, or you plan to cut the deficit and raise taxes. And he scoffed at the president’s characterization of his tax plan as a windfall for rich people, but Romney – in typical fashion – went on some diatribe about the president raising taxes on the middle class and how he [Romney] wants to cut corporate and business taxes to help spur business. These two facts have nothing to do with one another. Obama’s tax plan would not raise taxes on small businesses, unless they’ve become large enough to where they should be paying a higher rate, or they pay corporate income taxes; either way, this would have no effect on such a high percentage of businesses, that pointing to the few that would be affected is ridiculous.
In addition, Mr. Romney continued to hammer the president on the Affordable Care Act, but failed to offer any alternatives to the president’s plan, or outline what was wrong with it, except to say that President Obama would be stealing over $700 billion from Medicare, which is a lie. The $700 billion dollars is how much less Medicare will be funded over the next ten years, but that will have no impact on how much seniors will spend, but will only impact the providers in how much they will receive (should be noted that this is what providers agreed to). Romney tried to tout his plan, while distancing himself from it; a strange position to be in for a person whose party considers the ACA a “government takeover of healthcare” and “socialist”. But Romney says that it was a good policy for the state, but not a good national policy; which is hard to understand why it isn’t. Wouldn’t the federal government be better of negotiating with giant insurance companies, rather than local government? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Finally, Mitt Romney and the president went round and round about Social Security. Romney kept pushing the Ryan plan for Social Security, basically trying to pander to older voters and those already retired by saying that THEY won’t be affected by his policy, neglecting to mention the fact that those 55 and younger will have their Social Security prey to the open market under the Romney/Ryan plan. Certainly, Social Security in its current form is untenable long term, but policy-makers need to come up with a comprehensive strategy for creating a system that works, because millions and millions of seniors depend upon Social Security to live, and that fact is not likely to change anytime soon. But creating the voucher system where people will have to decide what they want to do with their SSA money is not the solution, and is more likely to create a system similar to the retirement system where some people will lose everything they have in the event of a major crash. It’s bad policy for a social safety net.
Bottom line: Romney may have won the debate, but that doesn’t mean that he did it honestly, or that it will translate to anything other than an email to send to supporters. His message is muddled, his policies are poor (and unclear), and he can’t seem to find any firm ground under which to stand, other than saying that we should elect him for the simple fact that he isn’t Barack Obama.