By Richard C. Bartlett
If one judges a debate by performance, as many political pundits seem to have done, then the challenger did put on the best show. The President took too seriously the advice not to appear be a bully critical of a vague and secretive opponent. It cost him the immediate victory. However, as people think through how their lives and our country's future would be impacted, the real winner will be President Obama.
For example --- the Romney/Ryan platform announced the ending of Obamacare on day one. That would eliminate the current law's requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions (and the insurers would be the sole judge of that), could re-establish arbitrary caps on payments (meaning canceling your coverage if your medical bills threaten their profits), and turning it into a voucher program (covering so little of the average families medical expense that a serious illness or accident could bankrupt the victim's family). That approach to medical insurance cancels the very purpose of insurance --- to give peace of mind to the insured.
On taxes --- the Ryan plan, two House-passed bills, and the Republican platform all give an additional 20% tax cut to the super-rich. In the debate Romney suddenly reversed his year-long position and says he wont do that. But with a campaign caught in many outright lies how good is his word? He says he'll close loopholes so his tax plan wont affect the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office and nearly all reputable economists say the math can't be contorted sufficiently to make that possible.
On education --- Romney says he's pro-education and loves teachers, yet he would end federal aid to states and localities. They too are struggling economically, so schools would have to fire some of those beloved teachers and make do with fewer books and computers. That is hardly a formula for making our youth competitive with other nations and furnishing our businesses with able workers. He let slip his personal preference, which would be to have federal education money go directly to parents as vouchers to pay over to the school of their choice. This would starve the most needy schools of their chance to improve. Looks like the beginning of privatizing education.
On defense --- Romney's position is indefensible. Although our military budget is already equal to the sum of all the other nations of the world, he wants to add $200 billion. No details. He wants to add 100,000 more military. No details. He would continue building costly aircraft that fail in testing and are unwanted by the Joint Chiefs. He would add 15 unspecified naval vessels. He thinks we should stay in Afghanistan.
On the deficit --- I'd just like to add an observation of my own. A very significant part of America's annual deficit goes to pay interest on the money Bush borrowed for his unfunded two wars and his unfunded tax cuts. The ever-increasing job losses that occurred in the Bush years cut into his revenue stream and eventually caused a near depression. Obama doesn't deserve to have all that Republican deficit blame hung around his neck.
We can see beyond the show biz of the debate. We know America is a country of good hearted people who want everyone to get a fair shake. So the November 6th choice seems pretty obvious.
Richard C. Bartlett