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October 5, 2012

The First Debate

Joe Charlebois

Wednesday’s presidential debate was revealing. It was revealing in the fact that it exposed Mr. Romney as someone who didn’t match the caricature manufactured by the president and his allies, as well as exposing the president as someone who was noticeably lost in his inability to defend his own record.


It may not have been moderated well, but the format was a more open line of communication and allowed each candidate to expand upon their ideas instead of issuing a pat 30-second sound bite.


There were several takeaways from the debate, but one thing is sure; Mr. Romney owned this first debate. From the start he put the president on the defensive and communicated the Republican point of view better than any of his predecessors since Ronald Reagan.


President Barack Obama, on the other hand, weakly attempted to compare what he is doing to that of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton.


Key points to be drawn from this debate are the two candidates’ stark differences in philosophy, taxes and the economy.


Mr. Obama attempted to tie his plan for success to that of President Clinton’s: “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.”


But Mr. Romney simply pointed out the “evidence of the last four years.” He went on to point out instead of healthy growth in the economy “we’ve got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country...When the president took office, 32 million people on food stamps; 47 million on food stamps today; economic growth this year slower than last year, and last year slower than the year before small business owners pay 35% in taxes (it would go up to 40%).”


On the ever increasing national debt, Mr. Romney effectively framed it as not just an economic issue but a moral one as well. “I think it’s, frankly, not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation and they’re going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives. And the amount of debt we’re adding, at a trillion a year, is simply not moral.”


Mr. Romney went on to point out that the president’s “idea” of $4 trillion in cuts is a great idea, but not realistic since his future budgets still project a $1 trillion deficit for at least the next four years.


He also pointed out that when the president retained the Bush era tax cuts in 2010, he stated he was doing it because raising taxes during a bad economy will only slow the rate of growth further. Now that Mr. Obama has turned 180 degrees in this tax philosophy, he has lost all credibility.


Mr. Romney also turned one of Mr. Obama’s favorite talking points into confetti by pointing out the hypocrisy of attacking “big oil.”


Mr. Obama attempted to tie tax breaks to ExxonMobil and other oil companies as critical to fairness and balancing the budget. He failed.


Mr. Romney pointed out that the annual tax break for companies in the oil industry amounts to $2.8 billion. He went on to point out how unfair Mr. Obama’s approach is when in one year he “provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world.” He said that this was equivalent to nearly 50 years of tax breaks and that most of those breaks (to oil companies) go to the much smaller companies involved in exploration and drilling.


Later in the debate when it came to education, Mr. Romney revisited the topic of the $90 billion spent on tax-payer funded green energy investment. He responded to the president’s call for the hiring of an additional 100,000 teachers by saying “You put $90 billion into – into green jobs. And I – look, I’m all in favor of green energy. $90 billion, that would have – that would have hired 2 million teachers. $90 billion.”


There were many other points in this debate that were clear victories for the challenger, but there are also two more debates to review prior to election day and you can guarantee that the president will be better prepared for them.


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