What did you think of last night’s debate?

Last night, President Obama and Mitt Romney met for their first debate. Today’s Question: What did you think of last night’s debate?

  • Clark

    The stress of the job clearly showed on obama. He was flat and uncertain. Perhaps he has realized his leftist economic idealogy has failed and he has no plan B.

    Obama’s math for taxing and spending does not work.

    “You can fool some of the people most of the time” obama’s hope for an election win.

    Sorry looney left, your guy remains clueless.

  • phil

    Clark, I may be clueless but I know this, a persons name is always capitalized, “Obama,” whether you like him or not, is still a persons name. If highly educated people like you are voting for Romney, maybe I need to rethink my vote. (FYI-this is called sarcasm)

  • Rich

    At this point, Romney/Ryan’s entire campaign appears to be based solely on the hope that their supporters don’t understand the difference between “math” and “meth”.

  • Gary F

    The emperor has no clothes.

    I can’t wait for next week’s debate.

  • Emery

    Romney turned in a better debate performance. Those tuning in for a clear and accurate assessment of policy plans received nothing of the kind. Those who tuned in for entertainment value could have been watching Baseball. I wonder whether Obama will sharpen in future debates; he’s competitive and hates getting shown up in things like this. But the broad story remains: Romney has a fair bit of ground to make up, and while good debate performances can help he needs assistance from deteriorating economic data to pull this out. And right now, the data are moving against him.

  • Allison

    Obama only needed to avoid losing. Romney needed to draw some real blood. On that metric, Obama can feel good coming out of this, even though his performance was underwhelming on an absolute basis. Obama’s presentation was not slick but he made no gaffes. Romney also avoided making gaffes and effectively countered most of Obama’s specific points, at least for people who don’t have intimate knowledge of the specifics. However, this was probably not enough to put a dent in the president’s numbers.

  • Charlie

    Romney did an outstanding job dodging Obama’s incessant prods for details. Aside from Mitt’s one-liner about capping total deductions, which is actually somewhat intriguing, this endeavor was wholly uninformative. Overall, I genuinely regret watching the last half hour of the debate instead of South Park.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I heard a lot of shaking of the Etch A Sketch last night, as Romney tried to sound moderate after trying to sound “severely conservative” during the primaries. Other than that, I found it remarkable that no one­­– not Romney, not Obama, not even Jim Lehrer– challenged the myth that the president has any significant control over the economy.

  • John

    I thought Gary Johnson clearly won even though he wasn’t invited. Gary’s stance on the issues are superior to either of these clowns.

  • Steve the Cynic

    And what the heck does “trickle down government” mean?

  • andy

    It’s too bad that the camera was fixed on Obama and Romney the whole time – poor Gary Johnson and Jill Stein didn’t even get a chance to answer a single question. It’s almost like they weren’t even there…….

  • Bear

    I think the twins were weak at pitching and made way too many fielding errors. Oh well there is always next time.

  • Bear

    I think the twins had weak pitching and made too many fielding errors. Oh well there is always next time.

  • GregX

    another poorly done national political marketing spectacle. softball questions, poor adherence to the rules, rheotric accepted as answer. Obama – just avoiding being a gaffe-ster. Romney – the preppy pleaser lap dog he always is. FIX #1.

    Give the moderator the on-off switch for the microphones. or a cattle prod.

  • Lance

    I think 95% of the probable voters have their minds made up and think their guy had a respectable showing. I think people in the other 5% didn’t watch anyway, but may be hoodwinked by a debate comment taken out of context in somebody’s political ad during the next 33 days.

  • Susan

    Romney did a better job of making his case – if you believe anything he had to say. I wish President Obama would have more forcefully made the case that the middle class are suffering after a decade of Republican policies. And the reason Gov. Romney was successful in Mass. was because unlike the current Republican majority in Congress, Democrats in Mass. were reasonable and put the interests of the people ahead of their own.

  • James

    Lots of great comments already today. And some comments from Clark too.

    That was a good brawl. Both were on their games, although Romney more so than Obama. (Kind of like Rory and Tiger in the FedEx playoffs.)

    I am less anxious about the outcome of the election now, as clearly there are 2 well intentioned, smart, moderates running. I got whiplash watching Romney move to the middle, which candidly is no surprise, and is fine by me.

    Neither of them have a clue how to simultaneously fix the economy and deal with the deficit. Again no surprise. It’s an almost impossible problem.

    Neither of them have a clue how to deal with out-of-control health care spending. Obama is more honest about the problem than Romney, but neither of them can mention the word “rationing” while campaigning, although we all know that’s what they have to do.

    Obama’s education improvement program is more compelling than anything Romney has up his sleeve.

    Romney killed him on the “avoiding gridlock” issue. Maybe he can reach across the aisle. Obama can reach across the aisle too, but no one did, or will take his hand. That’s a real problem for him.

    No knockouts, but Romney really helped himself last night.

  • http://. Jim G

    The difference between a politician and a statesman were obvious. Romney was the consummate politician when he denied that he would not push for tax cuts for the rich and not raise taxes on the middle class when for 18 months he and other Republicans have been shouting for tax relief for millionaires and billionaires and their mythical “job creator” status.

    Obama as the statesman defending his record appeared flat footed and needs to step it up and point out the differences his campaign has been good at getting across. Why was the 47% comment left out? This is hardball and the Romney campaign prepared their guy well, and aren’t afraid to lie to the American public about what he’s said over the past 18 months. They’re working that etch-a-sketch with skill, trying to erase the T-Party rhetoric and positions he laid out in the Republican debates.

  • bob

    Anyone who engages in name-calling is not worthy of regard. Take note, Clark.

    I’ll be voting for Obama, but it sure won’t be on the basis of his debate performance. He was defensive, and he needed to skewer Romney on his 47% comments, as well as hold his feet to the fire about which programs he’d actually cut. Here’s hoping he ups his game for the next debate.

  • georges

    Anyone who is using the term “Etch-A-Sketch” this morning…….

    Gets his daily Marching Orders from the White House, the DNC, MoveOn, Acorn, etc…..And is devoid of any thoughts that could be considered original.

    Ordinary, common, everyday Democrats……..Marching to the slaveship drumbeat of the Party.

    HarHarHar

  • Wally

    Bush I got skewered for looking at his watch during his debate with Clinton. Any pundits criticizing Obama for frequently looking down and smirking during Romney’s comments?

    Romney won on style, neither won on substance.

    Obama has failed. Romney will be little better.

    The inexorable expansion of the debt, by compounding interest, will confound the reign of any president who does not face the flaws of our banking system, wherein banks create money from thin air, and collect interest on it.

    I doubt I can hold my nose hard enough to vote for either.

  • Ruthann

    I am an one of those pesky undecideds that just recently made up my mind to vote for Obama. I am doing so because I know the approach that Romney holds to is one that will create pain for many, many Americans. That being said, quite frankly in most of the speeches I have heard this political season Obama has sounded like he did last night…hesitant, measured, uninspired. I was disappointed by his performance last night. He had an opportunity to lay out a clear difference between himself and Romney and between two very different futures for America. He didn’t make that difference clear and as a result didn’t outline why his difference would make for a better America. There is a need for Obama to articulate what is possible and his plan for making that happen. He says give him the time he needs. I think Americans will do that if he communicates with confidence to the voters that with extra time he knows what he will do to turn the corner and how he will make it happen. Mr. Obama, tell me what is possible and then tell me how you will get us there.

  • Clark

    Even Chris Mattews called him clueless but considering the puffball questions of the left leaning press the past four years, it was really nice to see Obama forced into the corner by a smarter and vastly wiser man, Romney.

    Wait, wait, I forgot, it’s all Bush’s fault.

  • Carrie

    I don’t think President Obama was prepared for the outright denials by Mitt Romney of basically everything he’s said in his 18 months of campaigning. I doubt that will happen again. The real “losers” last night were Jim Lehrer and anybody who tuned into the campaign for the first time.

  • Regnar James

    What debate?

    It was just a couple of stuffed shirts dribbling non-truths.

    The presidential candidate needs to have a written contract of what each MUST achieve during their four years.

    If they don’t get it done they will be imprisoned for treason.

    Like buying a new car: I am for or against XXXX, I will complete it by xx-xx-2013.

    Simple.

    DTOM

  • Jonathan

    What the audience who watched last night’s debate saw was a well-rehearsed, question-screened performance. It’s the case for any televised debate, and on that measure, what we saw was one man who has had 20 previous attempts at a debate and another who has been busy running the country.

    What a debate comes down to is being practiced at a very specific framework for relating information (and since television, one that is increasingly about performance rather than discourse), and last night’s moderator made it clear that the outcome for the debate was to simply to draw distinctions between the candidates. Many of us already know those distinctions evince themselves in the accumulated actions and rhetoric of each candidate that we’ve seen throughout this year, and I think many of us have already decided.

    Anyone who made a decision based on last night’s performance needs to weigh their choice on the fact that the president actually has little bearing on the economy, and that our better days in terms of economic growth are nearing the end (yes, I’m citing the Freakonomics segment from last night’s Marketplace).

    My opinion, a debate (or rather, a true measure of a candidate’s qualifications) should consist of how his/her policies address the things government should do according the Preamble of the Constitution: a) establish justice, b) ensure domestic tranquility, c) provide for the common defense, d) promote the general welfare, e) secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity. More pointedly, a candidate should make it clear how these points relate to their responsibilities as the executive branch.

  • Pearly

    I think the real President Obama showed up last night.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Jockamoo/georges, are you really that deluded, or are you just pretending to be? I take marching orders from no one on what I write. If liberal spin-meisters (whom I don’t listen to) are also mentioning the “Etch-A-Sketch,” that just shows it’s more than just me who made that connection. Romney is tacking hard toward the center (“tacking” is a yachting term he would no doubt understand) after steering hard astarboard for the whole primary season. Shrub did that too in 2000 to woo moderates, and then turned hard right after he was sworn in.

    Etch-A-Sketch!

    Etch-A-Sketch!

    Etch-A-Sketch!

    Etch-A-Sketch!

    Etch-A-Sketch!

  • Gary F

    it’s fun to see all you leftists come unglued!

  • Gary F

    They talked about real issues last night. Not “dog on top of car” or “Bain this, Bain that” or “tax return talk”.

    They discussed real issues.

    Either Obama can’t discuss the issues, or his issues don’t work.

    Take your pick.

    “the middle class has been buried the last 4 years”

    Mr Bidon, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Next week is going to be a gas!

  • Gary F

    And why old dinosaur media types like Jim Lerher?

    How about some one under 40? Under 50?

    Why old liberals as moderators? Where is the diversity in that?

  • Steve the Cynic

    There really aren’t very many “leftists” posting on these pages, Gary F. Maybe moderates, and those of us who question all ideologies, look leftist from your off-the-scale-to-the-right perch, but that’s another issue.

  • Sue de Nim

    Romney doesn’t have any credibility with me when he promises to work with his opposition in Congress, after pandering for lo these many months to the anti-compromise Tea Party wing of his own party.

  • Gary F

    For those according to their needs and from those according for their ability to pay.

    Right Mr Cynic?

  • Vickie

    I was disappointed with Jim Lehrer’s inability to keep Romney in check.

  • Pearly

    Steve the moderate!

    Im sure “Shrub” is President Bush? Got any cute moderate pet names for Obame you care to share with us?

  • Steve the Cynic

    Like I say, Gary F, I don’t see anyone on these pages espousing that ideology. If you hear that when folks argue for reasonable regulations, progressive taxes, and an adequate social safety net, that says a lot about you.

  • georges

    Ahhhhhh…….

    There’s my lil boysenberry……..

    It’s always the leftists that are farthest left that think they are moderates…..

    HarHarHar

    The following is still the silliest whacked out lefty post ever made here. And it was posted by steve the zimm………

    “The entire Republic of Maldives could disappear, as could huge tracts of land in places like Myanmar/Burma. Are you willing to pay to mitigate the harm those people will suffer due to activities that you and your ancestors benefitted from?”

    Imagine…..

    Thinking that anyone owes anyone else for legal activities of their ancestors. A screw is loose, somewhere…….

    Of course, just like taxes, you can send them all your money…..anytime……just, you know, send a Western Union. They will appreciate it……Hahahahahaha

  • Mark

    I had this feeling while watching the debates that Romney was letting the Democrats and President Obama what he thought, Moreso, than working on strengthening his base which already were going to vote for him. Romney did try to move to the center to attract independant voters. We finished watching the debate thinking how can Mr. Romney state certain things when the Romney of the past has demonstrated practices of shuttering factories, moving American jobs overseas, and sheltering his income in foreign countries and islands, and not paying a “fair share” in taxes. I am reminded of the quip “actions speak louder than words” and am having a hard time reconciling Mr.Romney’s words with his actions up to today.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I realize this is probably a nuance that’s beyhond your grasp, georges/jockamo, but there’s a difference between legal and moral or ethical. You sound like the typical corporate exec confronted with allegations of predatory business practices who says, “I did nothing wrong!” when what he really means is, “…nothing I can be convicted of in a court of law.”

  • Linda in Plymouth

    The debate was wonderful and very telling. This is why I am still so glad to be life in America. There is hope for a better future when all can see the name calling and lies the far left have used for so long. It took a black man, a writer to write the book, How the Democrats steal the blacks and treat them as fools.

    I heard our President use many things I heard as a child, he used different words but the same meaning and ideology.

    “For those according to their needs and from those according for their ability to pay.” Pay their fair share” But he never says what is fair. Is 50% fair? Should a farm family have to sell their parents farm just so they must pay the Death Inheritance tax/”

    I heard Obama say how he is talking_ talking about doing all these great things but after four years, his record was still all failures. The best line was when Governor Romney said, ” You spent $90 billion for your campaign contributors to finance losing Green energy grants, think how many teachers you could have hired instead with that money_ 2 million?” Everyone should first Google the speeches of Obama in 2003 and 2007 where he spoke to ministers and one where he talked about Katrina. Why does he say blacks are treated so as not to count by the government? WHY did he change his tone, his speech accent and grammar to sound under educated with a southern states accent when in those speeches? Why does NPR and CNN not disclose those tapes years a go before the election? Does not America have freedom of the press to be honest to their citizens?

  • Wally

    It’s “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Sometimes as “needs.”

    That was by Karl Marx, who would probably like both candidates.

    It’s always interesting to see Republicans trying to Out-Democrat the Dems, and vice versa.

  • Leonard

    I think debates could have better if they talked more about confronting what each said about so called facts. Romney did that well. The You tube of Obama Caught Lying-In His Own Words could have been very telling.

  • dewber

    i think romney got up and did what he does best and that is lie

  • kevins

    I like Big Bird and where he/she comes from. Mitt does not know how valuable free TV is to poor people, not because it is free, but because it is educational. And the education comes with; no cost Clark, no bias Linda, no guns, no skin color, no hostility and no lies or manipulation. Mitt is senseless about poverty issues, and I will not vote for him. Vague plans to balance the budget, to protect the disabled and elderly, and to educate our children are Mitt’s public TV, but Big Bird does not hurt people.

  • Fritzie Borgwardt

    I am just an old journalist who was put out to pasture long ago. So I have editorial questions, not answers.

    Here is what I began to write, staying up all night the night of the debate. I did not put it up when finished because this spot was unavailable then.

    The First 2012 Presidential Debates on October 3, 2012: A Criticism by Fritzie Borgwardt

    QUESTIONS IN CAPS

    Funny what the media seizes upon these days. Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama: Who won? Was this a football game? Is a competitive sport all the American people are capable of understanding? What our learned journalists seem to have forgotten is that it really does not matter who won up on the stage. All that matters is that the American people lost.

    Americans got a formatted, timed debate whose script both candidates ignored anyway and drove in divergent self-serving circles. What voters did not get was real follow-up journalism. I am not faulting the seasoned and trusted Jim Lehrer. From what I saw him say in one pre-debate interview on KTCA’s Almanac, he appropriately planned a journalistically neutral attempt to dig in. But in a world where each candidate is coached to avoid answering the questions each wants to ignore, this traditional approach no longer works to fully inform us.

    It’s much easier to analyze after the fact, but before the fact, why these debates? Give me instead the candidates vs. just one rare journalist on one non-existant network who feels free to stop the clock, throw out the stop watch, and ask for clarification. Tough and fair questions with answers-as-long-as-they-take are the very least we could ask of two men who vie for the reins to the future of the free world.

    Today before the debate, on NPR Reporter Alix Spiegel looked into the way candidates “pivot” the subject in order to dodge the question. This practice was alive and well in the first Presidential Debate of 2012. Where are the real answers that lurk under the rapidly shifting veil? Only the teeth of a bull dog can pull it off and ask. But the dogged questions will likely remain unanswered all the way to the polling booth.

    Inserted UNDERLINED IN BOLD into a partial transcript of the public domain debate with attending video courtesy of the New York Times, are the questions I screamed in real-time to be asked, so I feel I have no choice but to ask them. Here, for the untrained viewer, is how the candidates fought answering even the scripted questions: with some follow-up questions that still go begging for answers, in a new format, perhaps rude, but critical to informing the public.

    Am I the only one who wants to know?

    If Americans will not demand to see this for themselves, someone should demand it for them. It’s not like they’ve been spared rudeness until now. Then, let the real fact-checking begin. With any luck, the candidates have checked first, and PR-speak will bow down to the truth.

    JIM LEHRER:

    Let’s start the economy, segment one. And let’s begin with jobs. What are the major differences between the two of you about how you would go about creating new jobs? You have two minutes — each of you have two minutes to start. The coin toss has determined, Mr. President, you go first.

    MORE TO THE POINT: MR. PRESIDENT: HOW WILL NEW JOBS RESULT FROM YOUR POLICIES?

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, thank you very much, Jim, for this opportunity. I want to thank Governor Romney and the University of Denver for your hospitality.

    There are a lot of points that I want to make tonight, but the most important one is that 20 years ago I became the luckiest man on earth because Michelle Obama agreed to marry me. (Laughter.) And so I just want to wish, Sweetie, you happy anniversary and let you know that a year from now, we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people. (Laughter.)

    PIVOT TO TALKING POINT:

    You know, four years ago we went through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Millions of jobs were lost. The auto industry was on the brink of collapse. The financial system had frozen up. And because of the resilience and the determination of the American people, we’ve begun to fight our way back.

    MORE TO THE POINT: MR. PRESIDENT: HOW WILL NEW JOBS RESULT FROM YOUR POLICIES?

    DIVERT TO TALKING POINT:

    Over the last 30 months, we’ve seen 5 million jobs in the private sector created. The auto industry has come roaring back and housing has begun to rise. But we all know that we’ve still got a lot of work to do. And so the question here tonight is not where we’ve been but where we’re going. Governor Romney has a perspective that says if we cut taxes, skewed towards the wealthy, and roll back regulations that we’ll be better off.

    MORE TO THE POINT: MR. PRESIDENT: HOW WILL NEW JOBS RESULT FROM YOUR POLICIES?

    DIVERT TO TALKING POINT:

    I’ve got a different view. I think we’ve got to invest in education and training. I think it’s important for us to develop new sources of energy here in America, HOW? that we change our tax code to make sure that we’re helping small businesses and companies that are investing here in the United States, HOW? that we take some of the money that we’re saving as we wind down two wars HOW CAN WE SAVE MONEY WE BORROWED? (in all fairness this was pointed out by Syndicated Columnist Mark Shields during the PBS post-debate commentary) to rebuild America and that we reduce our deficit in a balanced way that allows us to make these critical investments.

    Now, it ultimately is going to be up to the voters, to you, which path we should take. Are we going to double down on the top-down economic policies that helped to get us into this mess, or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says, America does best when the middle class does best? HOW? And I’m looking forward to having that debate. YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE HAVING IT.

    MR. LEHRER: Governor Romney, two minutes.

    MR. ROMNEY: Thank you, Jim. It’s an honor to be here with you, and I appreciate the chance to be with the president. I am pleased to be at the University of Denver, appreciate their welcome and also the presidential commission on these debates.And congratulations to you, Mr. President, on your anniversary. I’m sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine here — here with me, so I — (laughter) — congratulations.

    MORE TO THE POINT: GOV. ROMNEY: HOW WILL NEW JOBS RESULT FROM YOUR POLICIES?

    PIVOT TO TALKING POINT:

    This is obviously a very tender topic. I’ve had the occasion over the last couple of years of meeting people across the country. I was in Dayton, Ohio, and a woman grabbed my arm, and she said, I’ve been out of work since May. Can you help me? Ann yesterday was a rally in Denver, and a woman came up to her with a baby in her arms and said, Ann, my husband has had four jobs in three years, part-time jobs. He’s lost his most recent job, and we’ve now just lost our home. Can you help us?

    And the answer is yes, we can help, but it’s going to take a different path, not the one we’ve been on, not the one the president describes as a top-down, cut taxes for the rich. That’s not what I’m going to do. My plan has five basic parts. One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about four million jobs. HOW? WHERE ARE YOU GETTING THIS INFORMATION SO WE CAN CHECK IT? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Number two, open up more trade, particularly in Latin America; HOW WILL THAT AFFECT JOBS HERE AT HOME? crack down on China if and when they cheat. ARE THEY CHEATING NOW? WHAT DO YOU MEAN? AND HOW, EXACTLY, IS IT COSTING OR COULD IT BE COSTING AMERICANS JOBS? Number three, make sure our people have the skills they need to succeed and the best schools in the world. HOW? We’re far away from that now. Number four, get us to a balanced budget. HOW? Number five, champion small business. PLEASE DEFINE WHAT YOU MEAN BY “SMALL BUSINESS” AND CHAMPIONING?

    It’s small business that creates the jobs in America. HOW? DOES THAT MEAN THE LOCAL MCDONALDS? IS A FRANCHISE WHAT YOU DEFINE AS A “SMALL BUSINESS?” And over the last four years small-business people have decided that America may not be the place to open a new business, because new business startups are down to a 30-year low. ARE YOU SURE THAT’S NOT BECAUSE THE BIG FRANCHISES AND WALMARTS HAVE GOBBLED UP THE MARKET AND NOW MONOPOLIZE IT? The president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years ago, that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more — if you will, trickle-down government would work. That’s not the right answer for America. I’ll restore the vitality that gets America working again.

    Thank you.

    YOU DID NOT REALLY ANSWER THE QUESTION, WHICH WAS HOW WILL NEW JOBS RESULT FROM YOUR POLICIES? WHERE WILL THEY COME FROM?

    MR. LEHRER: Mr. President, please respond directly to what the governor just said about trickle-down — his trickle-down approach. He’s — as he said yours is.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me talk specifically about what I think we need to do.

    ADDRESS TRICKLE DOWN GOVERNEMNT. THE GOVERNMENT HAS A ROLE TO PLAY IN EDUCATION? WHY? DO YOU TRUST THE STATES TO DO THE RIGHT THING WITH THE MONEY UNDER ROMNEY’S PLAN? WHAT IF THEY SHOULD LOSE FEDERAL MEDICAID DOLLARS UNDER ROMNEY AND VOUCHERS DON’T WORK? WILL STATES HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN GRANDMA GASPING ON THE STREET AND A SCIENCE TEACHER? WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE STATES THAT ALREADY PERFORM NEAR THE BOTTOM OF THE HEAP? WILL IT WIDEN THE EDUCATIONAL DISPARITY GAP BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE? RICH AND POOR?

    First, we’ve got to improve our education system. And we’ve made enormous progress drawing on ideas both from Democrats and Republicans that are already starting to show gains in some of the toughest-to- deal-with schools. We’ve got a program called Race to the Top that has prompted reforms in 46 states around the country, raising standards, improving how we train teachers. So now I want to hire another hundred thousand new math and science teachers and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keep tuition low for our young people.

    WHERE WILL THESE TEACHERS COME FROM? HOW ARE THEY BEING TRAINED NOW?

    When it comes to our tax code, Governor Romney and I both agree that our corporate tax rate is too high. So I want to lower it, particularly for manufacturing, taking it down to 25 percent. But I also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. I want to provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States. WHAT DO THOSE LOOPHOLES LOOK LIKE? IS THIS TRICKLE-DOWN GOVERNMENT?

    On energy, Governor Romney and I, we both agree that we’ve got to boost American energy production.

    And oil and natural gas production are higher than they’ve been in years. But I also believe that we’ve got to look at the energy source of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those investments.

    So, all of this is possible. IS THERE ANY PROMISE IN ANY OF IT? HOW HAS OUR WORLD CHANGED TO MAKE THESE CHANGES ARE NECESSARY? HOW CAN PROMOTERS OF THE OLD TECHNOLOGIES AVOID BEING THE BIGGEST LOSERS? HOW CAN AMERICANS GET MORE, NOT FEWER JOBS FROM SUCH A SHIFT? WHAT DOES TRICKLE DOWN GOVERNMENT HAVE IN MIND?

    Now, in order for us to do it, we do have to close our deficit, and one of the things I’m sure we’ll be discussing tonight is, how do we deal with our tax code, and how do we make sure that we are reducing spending in a responsible way, but also how do we have enough revenue to make those investments? And this is where there’s a difference because Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut, on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, so that’s another $2 trillion, and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for. That’s $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit and make the investments that we need to make without dumping those costs on the middle-class Americans I think is one of the central questions of this campaign. WHERE DID YOU GET THIS INFORMATION?

    MR. LEHRER: Both of you have spoken about a lot of different things, and we’re going to try to get through them in as specific a way as we possibly can.

    But first, Governor Romney, do you have a question that you’d like to ask the president directly about something he just said?

    MR. ROMNEY: Well, sure. I’d like to clear up the record and go through it piece by piece. First of all, I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about. My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people. DO YOU MEAN INCREASE THE SHARE PAID BY HIGH-INCOME INDIVIDUALS TO MATCH THE SHARE PAID BY INDIVIDUALS IN THE MIDDLE CLASS? High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They’ll do fine whether you’re president or I am.

    HOW DO YOU KNOW? ARE THEY IN CHARGE?

    The people who are having the hard time right now are middle-income Americans. Under the president’s policies, middle-income Americans have been buried. They’re — they’re just being crushed. Middle-income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. WHAT DO YOU MEAN? WHERE DID THAT NUMBER COME FROM? This is a — this is a tax in and of itself. I’ll call it the economy tax. It’s been crushing. HOW MUCH OF THAT ECONOMY TAX IS BECAUSE COMPANIES WISH TO MAXIMIZE PROFITS BY REPLACING PEOPLE WITH TECHNOLOGY AND/OR CHEAPER LABOR OVERSEAS? The same time, gasoline prices have doubled GASOLINE PRICES HAVE DOUBLED? REALLY? under the president, electric rates are up, food prices are up, health care costs have gone up by $2,500 a family. ARE YOU SUGGESTING THAT OBAMACARE, WHICH IS NOT YET EVEN FULLY IN EFFECT, RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?

    Middle-income families are being crushed. And so the question is how to get them going again, and I’ve described it. It’s energy and trade, the right kind of training programs, balancing our budget and helping small business. Those are the — the cornerstones of my plan. OK, THOSE ARE GOOD WORDS AND THINGS EVERYONE WANTS, BUT WHAT INDICATIONS ARE YOU GIVING US THAT YOU CAN PROVIDE THOSE THINGS IN THE DYNAMIC OF OUR CURRENT ECONOMY? HOW WOULD YOU DO IT?

    But the president mentioned a couple of other ideas, and I’ll just note: first, education. I agree, education is key, particularly the future of our economy. But our training programs right now, we got 47 of them housed in the federal government, reporting to eight different agencies. Overhead is overwhelming. We got to get those dollars back to the states and go to the workers so they can create their own pathways to getting the training they need for jobs that will really help them. ONCE YOU TAKE THE DOLLARS OUT OF EDUCATION AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, WHAT GUARANTEES WILL WE HAVE THAT CONGRESSIONAL GRIDLOCK WON’T PREVENT THOSE DOLLARS FROM GETTING TO THE STATES? WHAT IF STATE LOBBYING GROUPS LIKE ALEC WRITE LEGISLATION FOR REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS THAT DIVERTS THE FUNDS INTO HELPING CORPORATIONS MAKE MORE MONEY?

    The second area: taxation. We agree; we ought to bring the tax rates down, and I do, both for corporations and for individuals. But in order for us not to lose revenue, have the government run out of money, IS THIS A POSSIBILITY WHEN WE ARE BORROWING? I also lower deductions and credits and exemptions so that we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth.

    The third area: energy. Energy is critical, and the president pointed out correctly that production of oil and gas in the U.S. is up. But not due to his policies. In spite of his policies. Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and license in half. If I’m president, I’ll double them. And also get the — the oil from offshore and Alaska. And I’ll bring that pipeline in from Canada.

    And by the way, I like coal. I’m going to make sure we continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it’s getting crushed by your policies. I want to get America and North America energy independent, so we can create those jobs. SCIENTISTS HAVE WARNED THAT IF WE BURN THE ALL THE RESOURCES YOU ARE PROPOSING, WE WILL PASS THE TIPPING POINT WITH GLOBAL WARMING. IS THE GOVERNMENT PREPARED TO COVER THE COSTS OF WHAT WILL RESULT?

    And finally, with regards to that tax cut, look, I’m not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce the — the revenues going to the government. My — my number one principle is there’ll be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. SO DOES THAT MEAN NO NEW TAX CUTS, YET NO NEW TAX INCREASES?

    I want to underline that — no tax cut that adds to the deficit. But I do want to reduce the burden being paid by middle-income Americans. And I — and to do that that also means that I cannot reduce the burden paid by high-income Americans. EXPLAIN YOURSELF. ARE YOU PROMISING NO NEW TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY? So any — any language to the contrary is simply not accurate.

    MR. LEHRER: Mr. President.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think — let’s talk about taxes because I think it’s instructive. Now, four years ago when I stood on this stage I said that I would cut taxes for middle-class families. And that’s exactly what I did. We cut taxes for middle-class families by about $3,600. And the reason is because I believe we do best when the middle class is doing well. THIS MAY SEEM OBVIOUS TO MANY, BUT WHY? AND HOW CAN THEY DO WELL WHEN ALL OF THEIR MONEY SEEMS TO BE TRICKLING UP?

    And by giving them those tax cuts, they had a little more money in their pocket and so maybe they can buy a new car. They are certainly in a better position to weather the extraordinary recession that we went through. They can buy a computer for their kid who’s going off to college, which means they’re spending more money, businesses have more customers, businesses make more profits and then hire more workers.

    I THINK MOST FOLKS USED THAT TAX CUT FOR BARE NECESSITIES. HOW DO THOSE NUMBERS BREAK DOWN WHEN WE TALK ABOUT BUYING A NEW CAR? WHAT WAS YOUR INCOME LEVEL IF YOU DID SO? HOW MUCH DID THOSE TAX CUTS CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEFICIT AS OPPOSED TO THE WALL STREET BAILOUT? HOW MUCH IN SALARIES DID INVESTMENT BANKERS NET FROM THE BAILOUT? AND IF THEY MADE THAT MUCH, WHERE DID THE FUNDS COME FROM THAT PAID BACK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WITH INTEREST? ARE WE JUST MOVING MONEY AROUND IN A GAME OF MUSICAL CHAIRS THAT WILL LEAVE THE MIDDLE CLASS WITHOUT A SEAT WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS?

    Now, Governor Romney’s proposal that he has been promoting for 18 months calls for a $5 trillion tax cut FOR WHO? on top of $2 trillion of additional spending for our military. And he is saying that he is going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions. The problem is that he’s been asked a — over a hundred times how you would close those deductions and loopholes and he hasn’t been able to identify them. HOW, SPECIFICALLY WOULD YOU IDENTIFY THEM? PERHAPS THE TWO OF YOU COULD BRAINSTORM TOGETHER INSTEAD OF DEBATING, SO WE CAN FOLLOW EACH RATIONALE?

    But I’m going to make an important point here, Jim.

    MR. LEHRER: All right.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper income individuals can — are currently taking advantage of — if you take those all away — you don’t come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional military spending. And that’s why independent studies looking at this said the only way to meet Governor Romney’s pledge of not reducing the deficit — or — or — or not adding to the deficit, is by burdening middle-class families. ASK HIM SPECIFICALLY WHO WOULD BE BURDENED AND HOW?

    The average middle-class family with children would pay about $2,000 more. Now, that’s not my analysis; that’s the analysis of economists who have looked at this. And — and that kind of top — top-down economics, where folks at the top are doing well so the average person making 3 million bucks is getting a $250,000 tax break while middle-class families are burdened further, that’s not what I believe is a recipe for economic growth.

    MR. LEHRER: All right. What is the difference?

    MR. ROMNEY: Well —

    MR. LEHRER: ANTICIPATES THE PIVOT. Let’s just stay on taxes for —

    MR. ROMNEY: But I — but I — right, right.

    MR. LEHRER: OK. Yeah, just — let’s just stay on taxes for a moment.

    MR. ROMNEY: Yeah. Well, but — but —

    MR. LEHRER: What is the difference?

    GOOD JOB, JIM.

    MR. ROMNEY: — virtually every — virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate.

    MR. LEHRER: All right, go —

    MR. ROMNEY: So — so if — if the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I’d say absolutely not. I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. PIVOT HERE What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. THIS IS A DODGE. DO NOT TELL IS WHAT YOU WON’T DO. TELL US WHAT YOU WILL DO. BE SPECIFIC. IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVEN’T ADDED UP THE NUMBERS AND ARE WAITING TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS SO YOU CAN MAKE A CHOICE YET TO BE DETERMINED. That’s part one. So there’s no economist can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds 5 trillion (dollars) if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.

    Number two, I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. I — I know that you and your running mate keep saying that, and I know it’s a popular things to say with a lot of people, but it’s just not the case. Look, I got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it — (scattered laughter) — IS THIS NOT THE VERY TACTIC YOUR PARTY AND SOME TALK SHOW HOSTS USE TO SWAY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE? but that — that is not the case, all right? I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans. IS THIS BECAUSE THEIR INCOME IS LIKELY TO INCREASE UNDER YOUR PRESIDENCY? WILL YOU BE COMPENSATING THEM FOR THEIR LOSS OF LOOPHOLES BY REDUCING THEIR INDIVIDUAL TAX PERCENT? AND WHICH LOOPHOLES WOULD YOU CUT? WHICH WOULD YOU KEEP? CAN YOU TELL US WHAT RATE ALL AMERICANS SHOULD PAY? WILL IT BE DIFFERENT FOR HIGH INCOME PEOPLE THAN IT IS FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS.

    And number three, I will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. ARE YOU ACCOUNTING FOR THE FACT THAT THE MIDDLE CLASS WILL PAY LESS ANYWAY IF IT SHRINKS? IS THAT PART OF YOUR MATH? Now, you cite a study. There are six other studies WHICH ONES? TELL US HOW WE CAN FIND THIS INFORMATION. that looked at the study you describe and say it’s completely wrong. I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by (3,000 dollars) to $4,000 on — on middle-income families. WHICH ONES? There are all these studies out there.

    But let’s get to the bottom line. That is, I want to bring down rates. BUT, AS YOU SAID EARLIER, YOU WILL STILL NOT REDUCE TAXES PAID BY THE WEALTHY? PLEASE CLARIFY. EVEN YOUR STRONGEST SUPPORTERS WILL WANT TO KNOW. I want to bring down the rates down, at the same time lower deductions and exemptions and credits and so forth so we keep getting the revenue we need. HOW WILL THIS BE ENOUGH? WILL WE NOT NEED AS MUCH UNDER YOUR PRESIDENCY?

    And you think, well, then why lower the rates? And the reason is because small business pays that individual rate. Fifty-four percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed not at the corporate tax rate but at the individual tax rate. And if we lower that rate, they will be able to hire more people. REALLY? SO IF YOU WERE A STRUGGLING SMALL BUSINESS OWNER AND YOU GOT A BETTER TAX RATE, WOULD YOU NOT TAKE THAT AS PROFIT? AS OPPOSED TO HIRING MORE PEOPLE TO MAKE GOODS FOR DEMAND THAT DOES NOT EXIST, WHILE PAYING MORE FOR HEALTH CARE?

    For me, this is about jobs. SEE THE ABOVE QUESTION.

    MR. LEHRER: All right. That’s where we started.

    SO JUST IN CASE WE DID NOT SEE THE PIVOT, SAY IT AGAIN SO WE BELIEVE IT.

    MR. ROMNEY: This is about getting jobs for the American people.

    MR. LEHRER: Yeah.

    Do you challenge what the governor just said about his own plan?

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, for 18 months he’s been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he’s saying that his big, bold idea is “never mind.” IS HE? MAKE HIM TELL YOU FOR SURE. STOP. BOTH OF YOU TELL US WHERE THE DISCREPANCY COMES FROM. And the fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you describe, Governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. It’s — it’s math. It’s arithmetic. ADD IT UP FOR US. OR TELL US WHERE WE CAN SEE THE MATH THAT WE CAN UNDERSTAND.

    Now, Governor Romney and I do share a deep interest in encouraging small-business growth. So at the same time that my tax plan has already lowered taxes for 98 percent of families, I also lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times. I AM SURE THE FACT-CHECKERS WILL COUNT FOR ACCURACY. And what I want to do is continue the tax rates — the tax cuts that we put into place for small businesses and families.

    But I have said that for incomes over $250,000 a year that we should go back to the rates that we had when Bill Clinton was president, WHAT WERE THEY? when we created 23 million new jobs, went from deficit to surplus and created a whole lot of millionaires to boot.

    And the reason this is important is because by doing that, we can not only reduce the deficit, we can not only encourage job growth through small businesses, but we’re also able to make the investments that are necessary in education or in energy. HOW DO WE KNOW WE CAN?

    And we do have a difference, though, when it comes to definitions of small business. Now, under — under my plan, 97 percent of small businesses would not see their income taxes go up. Governor Romney says, well, those top 3 percent, they’re the job creators. They’d be burdened. But under Governor Romney’s definition, there are a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses. Donald Trump is a small business. And I know Donald Trump doesn’t like to think of himself as small anything, but — but that’s how you define small businesses if you’re getting business income. And that kind of approach, I believe, will not grow our economy because the only way to pay for it without either burdening the middle class or blowing up our deficit is to make drastic cuts in things like education, making sure that we are continuing to invest in basic science and research, all the things that are helping America grow. And I think that would be a mistake.

    MR. LEHRER: All right.

    MR. ROMNEY: Jim, let me just come back on that — on that point.

    MR. LEHRER: Just for the — just for the record —

    MR. ROMNEY: These small businesses we’re talking about —

    MR. LEHRER: Excuse me. Just so everybody understands —

    MR. ROMNEY: Yeah.

    MR. LEHRER: — we’re way over our first 15 minutes. I WONDER IF WE WOULD BE ON TIME IF PIVOTS WERE PENALIZED BY A BUZZER?

    MR. ROMNEY: It’s fun, isn’t it?

    MR. LEHRER: It’s OK. It’s great.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s OK. BRAVO. LISTEN TO THE OTHER SIDE.

    MR. LEHRER: No problem. No, you don’t have — you don’t have a problem, I don’t have a problem, because we’re still on the economy, but we’re going to come back to taxes and we’re going to move on to the deficit and a lot of other things, too.

    OK, but go ahead, sir.

    MR. ROMNEY: You bet.Well, President, you’re — Mr. President, you’re absolutely right, which is that with regards to 97 percent of the businesses are not — not taxed at the 35 percent tax rate, they’re taxed at a lower rate. BRAVO. A POINT OF AGREEMENT. MAYBE, IF YOU TWO WEREN’T ANSWERING TO SO MUCH SPECIAL INTEREST MONEY, AND THE ELECTION WERE NOT THE PEOPLE VERSUS CORPORATIONS, YOU COULD BOTH BE PRESIDENT AND GET A LOT OF GOOD THINGS DONE. But those businesses that are in the last 3 percent of businesses happen to employ half — half — of all of the people who work in small business. ISN’T THAT OXYMORONIC? ARE THEY REALLY SMALL BUSINESSES THEN? Those are the businesses that employ one quarter of all the workers in America. IS THIS THE WAY WE REALLY WANT IT? ISN’T MORE COMPETITION A GOOD THING? And your plan is take their tax rate from 35 percent to 40 percent. WHAT IS THE REAL AVERAGE HISTORY OF THIS 3 PERCENT? HAVE THEY CREATED MORE JOBS WITH TAX BREAKS? OR ELIMINATED THEM?

    Now, I talked to a guy who has a very small business. He’s in the electronics business in — in St. Louis. He has four employees.

    He said he and his son calculated how much they pay in taxes. Federal income tax, federal payroll tax, state income tax, state sales tax, state property tax, gasoline tax — it added up to well over 50 percent of what they earned. THIS WOULD BE MORE CREDIBLE IF YOU ADDED IT UP YOURSELF.

    And your plan is to take the tax rate on successful small businesses from 35 percent to 40 percent. The National Federation of Independent Businesses has said that will cost 700,000 jobs. I don’t want to cost jobs. My priority is jobs. And so what I do is I bring down the tax rates, lower deductions and exemptions — the same idea behind Bowles-Simpson, by the way. Get the rates down, lower deductions and exemptions to create more jobs, because there’s nothing better for getting us to a balanced budget than having more people working, earning more money, paying — (chuckles) — more taxes. That’s by far the most effective and efficient way to get this budget balanced.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Jim, I — you may want to move on to another topic, but I would just say this to the American people. If you believe that we can cut taxes by $5 trillion and add $2 trillion in additional spending that the military is not asking for — $7 trillion, just to give you a sense, over 10 years that’s more than our entire defense budget — and you think that by closing loopholes and deductions for the well-to-do, somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Governor Romney’s plan may work for you.

    But I think math, common sense and our history shows us that’s not a recipe for job growth. Look, we’ve tried this — we’ve tried both approaches. The approach that Governor Romney’s talking about is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003. And we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years. We ended up moving from surplus to deficits. And it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Bill Clinton tried the approach that I’m talking about. We created 23 million new jobs. We went from deficit to surplus, and businesses did very well. YES, BUT WEREN’T THERE OTHER ECONOMIC FACTORS IN PLAY LIKE DEMOGRAPHICS AND LESS GLOBAL OUTSOURCING AND LESS TECHNOLOGY TAKING OVER THE WORKPLACE?

    So in some ways, we’ve got some data on which approach is more likely to create jobs and opportunity for Americans, and I believe that the economy works best when middle-class families are getting tax breaks so that they’ve got some money in their pockets WILL THEY HAVE ANY MONEY IN THEIR POCKETS AT ALL IF WE FAIL TO DO A BETTER JOB OF PLANNING AN ECONOMY THAT PROVIDES FOR ALL? and those of us who have done extraordinarily well because of this magnificent country that we live in, that we can afford to do a little bit more to make sure we’re not blowing up the deficit. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “BLOWING UP.” HAVE WE NOT DONE THAT ALREADY?

    MR. LEHRER: OK. (Inaudible) —

    MR. ROMNEY: Jim, the president began this segment, so I think I get the last word, so I’m going to take it. All right? (Chuckles.)

    MR. LEHRER: Well, you’re going to get the first word in the next segment.

    MR. ROMNEY: Well, but — but he gets the first word of that segment. I get the last word of that segment, I hope. Let me just make this comment. NOW CHILDREN…WE ALL NEED TO RESPECT THE RULES.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: (Chuckles.) He can — you can have it. He can —

    MR. ROMNEY: First of all —

    MR. LEHRER: That’s not how it works. GOVERNOR ROMNEY DOES NOT CARE. SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS?

    MR. ROMNEY: Let me — let me repeat — let me repeat what I said — (inaudible). LIKE YOUR OWN BOYS? I’m not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. That’s not my plan. My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit. That’s point one. So you may keep referring to it as a $5 trillion tax cut, but that’s not my plan. WELL WHERE IN THE WORLD DID OUR PRESIDENT GET THAT IDEA THEN? IS THAT HIS PIVOT CONFLICTING WITH YOUR PIVOT?

    SORRY YOU TWO. I DON’T SEEM TO BE GETTING ANY NEW INFORMATION WITH ANY SPECIFICS, NO MATTER HOW SPECIFIC SOME MEDIA-TYPES SAID YOU WERE, SO I AM DONE FOR THE NIGHT.

    TO BE CONTINUED …

    Commentary submitted to:

    Bill Moyers

    National Public Radio

    Minnesota Public Radio

    The Huffington Post

    The New York Times

    The Economist

    The site formerly known as “The Future of News”

    The Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Campaigns

  • jockamo

    Well, look at that……

    Frau Debbie WaWa Schultz, and her roving gang of Bullies……

    Are sure getting long winded.

    They must be really, really, afraid……..

    Giddy-yup……..

    HarHarHar

  • georges

    I for one am shocked…..shocked, I say……..that no one seems to be offering congratulations to Barry and Shelly on their 20th wedding anniversary.

    So, therefore, here’s to you, Barry and Shelly, 20 down, maybe 20 more to go……

    And, a hearty shout-out to the Rev Jeremiah Wright, that decent sort of American, who was the guy that married them.

    And, wasn’t Bill Ayers the best man? Or something? We’ll just say “Yo” to Bill…..

    Say……

    Maybe there is a reason they don’t want to make a big deal out of the 20th………

    Oh, well. I will still step up……Hydee Ho Ho Ho………Good vibes to all who were involved……..

  • Steve the Cynic

    Molotov crock tales.

  • jockamo

    In the aftermath of the first debate, former Gov of New Hampshire John Sununu said that Barack Obama is “lazy” and “incompetent”….

    How in the world can he get away with saying such a thing? I thought we had laws against that sort of characterization. You know, Hate Speech Laws.

    Stereotyping a person who is a member of a protected class is just……….wrong. That’s why we “protect” them. They need Federal Government protection.

    This Sununu comment should be thoroughly investigated. A Congressional committee needs to be formed. We cannot allow this to stand.

  • Steve the Cynic

    What’s ironic, though, is that many of the folks who are bashing Obama now were declaring it unpatriotic to criticize Shrub when he was lying us into war with Iraq.