10-04-2012, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: In the land of The Crazies
Member Number: 16666
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Re: presidential debate
Meh, I wasn't impressed with either.
Romney looked like he was more prepared for the questions, that's about it. Neither has a solid plan to reduce gov't spending or lower the deficit in the near future.
The bad news from last night's debate affects those of us who suit up for neither Team Red or Team Blue and the 60 percent majority who feel government is already trying to do too much. Debate moderator Jim Lehrer constantly drew attention to the notion that Obama and Romney were in fundamental disagreement over the size, scope, and function of government. That they had radically different visions for the United States when it came to the issues under discussion. The candidates gamely obliged, saying yes to each invocation of hard-core splits.
But such claims were nowhere to be found in what the candidates were actually talking about. To be sure, Obama played the role of traditional liberal. He stressed a need to balance respect for free enterprise and freedom (the "genius" of America, he declared at one point) with a muscular vision of a large government that helped people out every day and in every way (he unconvincingly linked this vision to Abraham Lincoln's support for land-grant colleges during the Civil War). He openly embraced the phrase Obamacare to describe his signature legislative accomplishment from his first (only?) term in office. He defended Dodd-Frank financial regulations not so much on the grounds that it was good policy but that the only possible alternative was zero regulation. He talked about adding even more teachers (ostensibly paid for from the federal till) and never touching the old-age entitlements (Medicare, Social Security, and the large chunk of Medicaid that goes to seniors) that are bankrupting the country.
Romney pointed to all this and defined himself as having a boldly different vision, one that...supported the private sector and individual initiative and achievement and...a virtually indistinguishablly big government.
When it came to all the major spending elements in the federal budget, Romney is far, far more like Obama than he is different. When it comes to Medicare, his vision of "premium support" or vouchers with which seniors would buy care is so far off in the distance that it might as well not exist at all. Since 1975, Medicare spending per enrollee in real dollars has doubled even as the numbers of enrollees doubled. That's not in spite of reform efforts - it's because of them. The system is the problem.
Romney stressed that nobody anywhere near the age of 65 had anything to worry about, that things wouldn't change for them. Which is another way of saying that we will keep kicking the can down the road until there is no more road (and then we'll keep kicking it anyway). He stressed that he wasn't going to cut education funding. That we needed to keep plowing more dollars into defense spending (without mentioning the 70-percent-plus increase in real funding to the military over the last dozen years). That he wasn't going to repeal and replace "all" of Obamacare. His praise of his signature state-level health-care reform in Massachusetts is troubling, to say the least, given that state's massively expensive health care spending. That while Dodd-Frank was bad (and it is) he wasn't going to do away with all regulation. That he's going to help "small businesses," help kids go to college, and on and on.
In his campaign literature, Romney stresses that he will bring government spending - the single most-meaningful proxy for the size and scope of government - down to 20 percent of GDP "by the end of his first term" (Obama in contrast would spend over 22 percent). Let's leave aside some inconvenient facts for the current moment. Such as that Romney has never credibly indicated how he will accomplish that, especially given his repeated commitments to fully funding Medicare, Social Security, and defense spending at current or higher levels. Or that the Republican budget plan authored by his running mate Paul Ryan and passed by the House earlier this year forecasts federal revenues over the next decade as averaging just 18 percent of GDP, thereby guaranteeing 10 more years of deficits.
The plain fact is that even at 20 percent that level of government is far too much for us to afford. Since 1945, the federal government has managed to raise revenue equal to more than 20 percent of GDP precisely once - in 2000 - and that was in a year where the feds spent the equivalent of 18.2 percent of GDP (did we go hungry or unclothed or uneducated in 2000?). And that's assuming that Romney is actually able to deliver on numbers.
Look at these eyebrows. These are attack eyebrows! They could take off bottle caps!