Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s months of hard work paid off last night. Romney’s diligent preparation resulted in an aggressive performance against President Obama in their first of three presidential debates. The GOP candidate was lively, well-informed, and impassioned, while the president seemed sluggish, repetitious, and vague. Romney effectively outperformed Obama in each section of the debate, moderated by an inept Jim Lehrer.
Charging out of the gate, Romney first gave an overview of his plan for economic recovery. He said his plan has five basic parts: energy independence, opening up trade, particularly to Latin America, education with a focus on skills, a balanced budget, and to champion small business.
“It’s small business that creates the jobs in America,”
he said, adding,
“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. I know what it takes to get small business growing again, to hire people.”
Obama’s first-round remarks also talked about the economy, but from a murky angle. He talked about investing in education, wanting to hire 100,000 more math and science teachers to prepare those entering the workforce. On the economy, Obama also said he would favor cutting the corporate tax to 25 percent and said America was based on free enterprise. But here, Romney called the president to task.
“Ninety Seven percent of the businesses are not…taxed at the 35 percent tax rate,”
“They’re taxed at a lower rate. But those businesses that are in the last 3 percent of businesses happen to employ half — half of all the people who work in small business. Those are the businesses that employ one-quarter of all the workers in America. And your plan is to take their tax rate from 35 percent to 40 percent.”
He went on to say that according to a recent study by The National Federation of Independent Businesses this will cost 700,000 jobs.
In addition to this, Obama’s comments were vaporous and contrasted the president’s policies of the last four years. Regarding education, school districts are not only hiring less teachers, but due to state and federal regulations and the increase in mandatory health care cost due to Obamacare, are laying off more teachers than before Obama was elected. Evidence of this is seen locally. This year, Fannin County laid off several teachers, saying it will receive $2.1 million in state austerity cuts ( a result of a recessionary national economy), and are facing $1 million in additional health care cost due to Obamacare. In Gilmer, Superintendent Bryan Dorsey and the BOE recently denied a charter petition for the second time based on the district’s financial constraints. And, Pickens County has recently adjusted its health insurance plans to try to lower cost, and is currently looking at outsourcing its transportation services to save money. As such, state and local superintendents were likely doubtful of Obama’s proposal to hire 100,000 more math and science teachers.
“You put $90 billion into green jobs,”
“$90 billion, that would have hired 2 million teachers.”
Additionally, Obama’s mention of free enterprise seemed ironic, recalling his myriad efforts over the last four years to counter free enterprise, such as bail-out money for GM and the passage of Obamacare, both of which are viewed as attempts to nationalize previously private industries.
On healthcare, Obama’s defense of his health legislation was pallid, where his main defense of the bill was that it would cover people who are not already covered. Here, Romney clarified the facts.
“I was in New Hampshire,”
“A woman came to me and she said, look, I can’t afford insurance for myself or my son. I met a couple in Appleton, Wisconsin, and they said, we’re thinking of dropping our insurance, we can’t afford it.”
He went on to explain that small businesses are also dropping health insurance because they can’t afford it. He also noted that the Congressional Budget Office said Obamacare will cost $2500 a year more than traditional insurance, adding that $716 billion was taken from Medicare to pay for it.
“I want to put that money back in Medicare for our seniors,”
Romney also addressed the bureaucratic panels, known as “death panels,” dictated by Obama’s health care law.
“It puts in place an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don’t like that idea,”
To cut spending, Romney said he will eliminate all federal programs that are not so critical that the U.S. has to borrow money from China to pay for them. Invoking the tenth amendment, he said he would give the authority for states to manage certain plans without federal interference, such as Medicaid.
Through out the night, though, the debate returned to the economy, the number one issue on voters’ minds as they head to the polls in November. And, in each instance, Obama lacked any specific plans to recover the economy, giving only vague answers, while Romney outlined his plan, citing certain strategies.
By all standards, Romney was clearly the victor last night, a victory that doubtless re-energized his campaign.
The next presidential debate is scheduled for October 16th, followed by the final debate on October 22nd. The Vice Presidential Debate is scheduled for October 11.