He was clear. He was (almost) concise. He was specific and he was energized.
In what can only be described as a brilliant performance, Republican nominee Mitt Romney dominated President Barack Obama in Wednesday evening’s first debate, when the questions pertained to domestic policy, specifically the economy, health care and the role of government.
President Obama appeared lackluster while speaking and did not project confidence, even as he described his vision for a “new economic patriotism” while attempting to scare undecided voters by stating that “the only way” to cut taxes — as Governor Romney plans through tax reform — is by cutting education and other important domestic programs.
While Obama gazed at the ground or spoke directly to moderator Jim Lehrer, Romney projected enthusiasm as he directed his answers directly to Obama.
Romney clearly and unequivocally denied Obama’s assertion that his tax reform plan would do anything other than help the middle class. Although Obama did not offer any specifics to improve the American economy, Romney pointed to his five-point plan, which, he claims, will broaden the tax base by putting more Americans back in the workforce.
Energy independence is Romney’s first economic goal, which he believes will create four million jobs. He also wants to open up Latin American trade, eliminate Chinese “cheating,” improve skills training and education, balance the budget and “champion” small business.
'Trickle Down Government'
Romney observed that new business startups under Obama are down to a 30-year low.
“Trickle down government is not the answer for America,” Romney said, thus spinning a well-worn liberal slogan to a conservative advantage.
Romney expressed disbelief, and rightfully so, that President Obama would choose to focus the first two years of his presidency on passing health care reform, which Romney noted did not receive one Republican vote, instead of working to put Americans back on the job — and on the tax rolls.
President Obama appeared tired and nearly disinterested as he repeated worn and inaccurate Democratic talking points pertaining to tax policy, education and entitlement programs.
Romney, on the other hand, appeared presidential, energized, knowledgeable and forthright — especially during the countless number of times he pointed to putting people back to work as his top priority: “this is about jobs”, “my priority is jobs”, “create more jobs” and “putting people back to work” were heard consistently throughout the evening from Romney.
Obama mentioned his desire to hire 100,000 math and science teachers; to this point, Romney retorted that with Obama’s green jobs plan, he could have hired two million teachers.
“My friend told me, [Obama] doesn’t pick the winners and the losers, [he] just picks the losers,” when it comes to investing in green jobs, Romney said, referring to Solyndra and other failed taxpayer-funded green business initiatives.
The Middle Class
For the most part, Obama refrained from blaming the George W. Bush administration for the failures of the past three-and-a-half years. But he was unable to refute Romney’s observations that the economy is growing more slowly now than it was last year or the year before that and that gas, food, energy and health care costs — important issues to middle class voters — have all risen under Obama.
“I call it ‘the economy tax,’” Romney said.
Romney also criticized Obama for failing to reduce the deficit as promised and for failing to take advantage of the reforms suggested by the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission.
“You should have jumped on that” recommended bipartisan reform, Romney said.
Obama’s response that his new plan would take into account elements of Simpson-Bowles felt too little, too late. And Obama’s claim that he listens to all ideas regardless from whom they come rings false, as any close observer of the 2009 stimulus package knows.
In fact, each of Obama’s “plans” are warmed over talking points from 2008. The difference is, he’s had 3.5 years to deliver and has failed to do so. And all we have left is a higher cost of living, a stagnant job market, a precarious foreign affairs predicament and a tarnished international reputation.
Obama performed better when he spoke about entitlements, such as Obamacare, Medicare and Social Security, although Romney won the point when he said his entitlement policy would be, “I would ask myself, ‘is the program so critical that we have to borrow money from China to pay for it?’”
Ultimately, the difference between the two candidates was most stark near the end of the debate when Lehrer asked about the role of government in society.
Obama noted that he believes government offers people a “ladder of opportunity” and that “some things we do better together.”
Romney, on the other hand, pointed to the words written on the backdrop behind the candidates from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The president should “promote and protect the principles of those documents,” Romney said.
“We are seeing a belief that government can do a better job than the individual,” he continued. Yet “college graduates can’t find work, more Americans are on food stamps.”
Obama also noted his responsibility to keep Americans safe.
I can’t help but wonder what the diplomatic staff in Libya thinks about that.