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Obama and Romney Conclude Their First Debate

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The first presidential debate between Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, got underway at 9 PM on October 3rd at the University of Denver. Jim Lehrer, of PBS’ News Hour, moderated.

The principal focus of this first debate was domestic policy. Specific areas discussed included the economy, the role of government and the process of governing. In summary, the candidates made the following statements with President Obama opening the debate.

The president opened by discussing the stock market crash of 2008. He explained that over 5 million jobs were created in the recent 30 months, that housing is beginning to move forward and that taxes have been cut. Obama cited the “Race to the Top” program implemented in 46 states and the hiring of 100,000 new math and science teachers. In addition, he cited investments in wind and solar power energy.

The president stressed that he lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times and that 97 percent of small businesses have not seen their taxes increase. He criticized unfunded wars and explained his own cuts to discretionary spending of nearly a trillion dollars.

Obama went on to state that his $716 billion Medicare savings meant that insurance companies will no longer be overpaid for basic services. Instead, the Medicare savings will go for funding prescription drugs. He explained that putting Medicare under a voucher system could result in costing seniors a lot more. Ultimately, he described how Medicare does a better job of minimizing administrative costs than private enterprise. At bottom, a voucher system could put seniors at the mercy of insurers.

Obama pointed out that patients could keep their own insurance and that children could remain insured under a parental plan until age 26. He discussed how his plan would result in rebates and that group rate plans would drive costs down by 18 percent or more. Obama also pointed out that his plan was tried and worked well in Massachusetts without destroying jobs. He also praised the work of the Cleveland Clinic in reducing costs while providing quality healthcare. He fears that repealing Obamacare could result in 50 million people losing their insurance.

Obama stressed that budgets reflect choices. He fears that cutting taxes could result in also cutting things like education. Obama cited the efficiency of community colleges in crafting education programs that provide skills that employers need. He explained that his proposed education programs cut out banks as the middle men to provide more affordable student loans directly to students.

The president explained that if implemented, his programs would make the middle class stronger. His administration pushed through three trade deals which would result in higher exports. He cited the newly found pride auto workers have in building American cars again in record numbers. 

As an aside, Obama told a story about how President Abraham Lincoln facilitated financing the Transcontinental Railroad and gateway colleges in the middle of the Civil War. He explained how the dual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are either ended or winding down. Obama praised the fight to end the excesses on Wall Street and praised the Dodd/Frank legislation to regulate the financial sector.

Obama concluded by stating that he would fight every day on behalf of the American people. He praised the hiring of 100,000 new teachers and
pointed out that we would have a better work force as a result of this action.

Former Governor Romney opened by discussing the cornerstone of his programs which would include creating 4 million new jobs by pursuing energy independence, opening up more trade to Latin America, supporting education, balancing the federal budget and strengthening small business. Romney indicated that new business startups are down and that trickle-down government has not worked.

Romney explained that his programs will not add to the deficit. He stressed that he will not support decreasing taxes on the wealthy. Instead, his administration would cut taxes for the middle class. Romney indicated that 54 percent of the people work for small business. He criticized the Obama administration for increasing tax rates on small business from 35 percent to 40 percent. Romney explained that lowering tax rates for small business would grow the economy and balance the federal budget through more tax revenues.

Romney pointed out that he would not cut taxes that add to the deficit. He also decried the fact that the number of people on federal food stamps grew from 32 million to 47 million. He stressed that we cannot spend more than the government receives in tax revenues. He would lower spending, cut out Obamacare, cut some subsidies and increase government operational efficiency. He criticized Obama for accumulating more debt than all other previous presidents combined.

Romney took on a $2.8 billion tax break for oil companies and contrasted that with $90 billion of federal money that went to green energy. He noted that Obama picked losers like Solyndra. Romney would like to send Medicaid money back to the individual states who could then spend the money more prudently.

Romney indicated that the Ryan/Wyden plan would result in no change for current retirees or people near retirement. He pointed out that the Obama plan to cut $716 billion from Medicare would result in physicians opting out of the program. He wants the Medicare program to be there for younger people too. Romney would repeal Obamacare because it would cost over $2500 more for insurance than current pricing. In addition, he fears having an unelected Independent Payment Advisory Board of people who might disturb the relationship between physicians and their patients. Romney believes that the private sector could provide better choices for people.

Romney indicated that consumers need transparency in the financial sector, as well as limits on leveraging transactions on Wall Street. He believes that the Dodd/Frank legislation is too much regulation. In addition, Romney criticized the idea of banks being too big to fail. 

Romney praised what he did for health care in Massachusetts without raising taxes or putting into place an advisory board. He noted that in Massachusetts he had worked with a legislature composed almost exclusively of Democrats. He declared that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered under the Ryan/Wyden Plan, as will young adults, on their parents’ plan, until age 26. Romney pointed out that the Cleveland Clinic positive experience is a private sector achievement. He asserted that government should not direct doctors and tell them how to treat patients.

Romney pointed out how President Reagan reduced tax rates to grow the economy. He explained that great schools like those in Massachusetts, rated first in the nation, are needed. He cited the Declaration of Independence and the need to protect life, liberty, religious freedom, care for the elderly and the pursuit of happiness. Romney would like individuals to have the right to pursue their dreams. He decried the fact that 23 million people are out of work and that 50 percent of college graduates cannot find work. He would like federal funds to follow each child rather than an allocation to a bureaucracy alone. Romney would not cut funding for education.

The debate closed with the candidates being greeted on stage by family members. Both President Obama and former Governor Romney performed well in the first debate. Neither candidate stumbled in any major way.

The candidates do differ in their approach to government. President Obama believes that the government has a role to play in health care, education and regulating financial institutions. Former Governor Romney believes that financial institutions need some regulation in areas like transparency and leveraging limits. He would put more Medicaid money directly  into the hands of the states, as opposed to the federal government. In addition, he would not cut taxes for the rich. Instead, he would cut taxes for middle class small businesses.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.
  • Some part of Igor’s solution can be implemented easily. The United States Government has a vast
    purchasing power which could be utilized to promote solar and wind power in federal buildings and
    military bases domestically and overseas. The electric car concept could be utilized in all federal
    vehicles along with natural gas and other modalities. In addition, much infrastructure work needs
    to be done with the national highway system, protecting the coasts and monitoring earthquake
    activity in key areas like the San Andreas and San Madrid faults.

  • Igor

    What I propose is NOT socialism, but a “mixed system” comprised of competing capitalist and entrepreneurial elements under the direction of a government agency. In other words Eisenhowers “modern republicanism”.

    It worked well in the 50s, under Eisenhower, and it will work again. The alternative is the kind of capitalistic privilege system we have all grown to loath, OR revolution and bloodshed and imposition of rule by an aggressive minority.

    Eisenhower was right. And, may I say, Ike was NOT the ineffective dufous that the ill-educated claim him to be. I lived thru the Ike years (even voted for him in 56) and saw where that could lead. Young people don’t know how close we were to open revolution in the 20s, 30s and into the 40s when the excesses of capitalism were even more egregious than today, and the dangers of a power-hungry elite willing to commit any crime, even a temporary alliance with the soviets, to gain power.

    You’re a fool if you think we can go to the brink of catastrophe and then pull back. Again.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    But…but…Igor! That’s socialism! Besides, you know that NASA never did anything right, and our freeway systems are terrible and our planes are crashing right and left because of the air traffic controllers!

    Having everything done by the sacred free market is always the best – that’s why we’re 38th on the life-expectancy list, and 36 of the 37 nations that have a higher life expectancy are all socialized democracies that just make up statistics, just like when Obama was leading in the polls.

    But now that we’ve had the first debate and Romney’s ahead in the polls, that obviously means the polling agencies saw the error of their ways and started giving the real information!

    Please don’t encourage socialism, because everyone knows that government is all bad, all the time, and private companies are all good, all the time – just ask the residents of Bhopal!

  • Igor

    Solyndra was a private company operated by private parties for private profit, so it’s failure is a failure of ‘privatization’, rather than government administration. I believe that the CEO took out a $10million Golden Parachute.

    So, it looks like we’d do better by creating a US Federal agency to do that kind of development.

    I looked at several other ‘failures’ of this type and they all looked like successful attempts by private parties to swindle the government with promises of ‘privatization’, to me.

    So, cut out the middleman. quit trying to privatize such operations and do a straightforward government agency that hires smaller private companies to do the turnkey functions. That’s the way we built the superhighways, NASA, the ports, the airports, etc. That’s also the way we industrialized to win WW2.

    Pronounce ‘privatization’ a failure and go back to the system that worked well for us.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    The USA has the largest proven coal reserves in the world. Instead of bankrolling losers like Solyndra, we should be funding research to make coal use cleaner and more benign. It would probably cost less than the Solyndra kind of thing, and would work toward our goal of energy independence much faster than trying to develop another source from scratch.

    Today there’s no such thing as “clean coal”, as these articles from Scientific American and Popular Mechanics point out. The latter article says it best:

    The focus on mythical clean coal is particularly frustrating because practical, cost-effective alternatives do exist–and I don’t mean just wind and solar power. Natural gas is plentiful in the U.S., and gas-fired power plants produce only about half as much CO2 as coal. Not only that, but once it’s ready, the CCS technology envisioned for coal plants would be even more effective if used with natural gas. Tiny gas-fired cogeneration plants in individual homes could also help. Because these mini electrical generating systems use their waste heat to drive the homes’ climate control systems, they avoid the huge energy losses involved in making power at distant facilities. This technology exists today. Nuclear power is another proven, low-CO2-emitting option–and despite public fears, U.S. nuclear plants have been paragons of safety compared to the harm done by coal-fired plants.

    The cleanest energy option of all is also the closest at hand: conservation. As clean-energy guru Amory Lovins has shown, its almost always -cheaper to save energy than to mine or drill for it. And there are still massive efficiencies to be found almost everywhere energy is used. Boosting incentives for insulation, next-gen LED lights and ultraefficient smart appliances could do more than carbon sequestration to reduce CO2 emissions in the coming decades.

    Let’s be clear. We should continue research into making coal cleaner–that fuel will be a vital part of our energy mix for decades. But let’s not allow clean-coal myths to divert us from real-world energy alternatives that work today.

    Besides, what’s really hurting the coal industry isn’t politics at all – it’s the free market, thanks to the growth of natural gas, the price of which is at a ten year low.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Reggie –

    Yes. almost as interesting as Obama’s intimation that having the right air pressure in our tires will solve our energy problems.

    And what did Politifact have to say about that particular claim by Obama?

    Oh, I forgot. Anything Obama says must be bad and wrong and part of that vast left-wing conspiracy. And the fact-checkers are part of the conspiracy, too.

  • You are somewhat correct on that Clav. But, what did we learn from Solyndra
    scientifically? A lot of money was spent. We must have learned something about the
    solar technology. Here is part of a very good write-up:

    “As the guarantor of the loan the company received to build a state-of-the-art factory in
    Fremont, Calif., the government is on the hook for the $527 million Solyndra ultimately borrowed.

    But it’s not as though Solyndra is completely worthless. The company has some assets it could sell.
    It has that state-of-the-art factory, all the equipment inside, and a sizable inventory of solar panels.

    During bankruptcy hearings earlier this week, Solyndra chief financial officer W.G. Stover said
    the company had $859 million in assets and $749 million in liabilities at the start of 2011.

    How much those assets are worth now that the company has folded, and where the federal
    government stands as creditors line up to get their money back, are questions that will be
    hashed out in bankruptcy court over the next few weeks or months.

    But some are optimistic Washington can recoup a big chunk of its cash. ”


  • Clav

    Better to invest in a dozen Solydras, because the winning hand for solar power is renewability and lack of messes.

    That may be the “winning hand,” as you put it, but Solyndra wasn’t holding it. Recipients of government money should be much better vetted than Solyndra was (assuming it was vetted at all). The Obamanians didn’t do their homework on that one.

  • Jet Researcher Gardner wrote about the downside of coal. How about coal gasification?
    Is coal gasification any cleaner in your experience or research on the subject of coal?

  • RJ

    “Both President Obama and former Governor Romney performed well in the first debate.”


  • Coal is the largest source of energy for the generation of electricity worldwide, as well as one of the largest worldwide anthropogenic sources of carbon dioxide releases. Gross carbon dioxide emissions from coal usage are slightly more than those from petroleum and about double the amount from natural gas.

    Coal is a mixture of things. It forms for an accumulation of organic matter call peat. Just what the coal contains depends on what the peat from which it formed contained. Coal is mostly carbon (at least 50%), but it also contain a certain of sulfur and mineral matter. The mineral matter comes from sediment that is deposited with the peat.

    Coal-fired electric power generation emits around 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide for every megawatt-hour generated, which is almost double the carbon dioxide released by a natural gas-fired electric plant per megawatt-hour generated. Because of this higher carbon efficiency of natural gas generation, as the fuel mix in the United States has changed to reduce coal and increase natural gas generation, carbon dioxide emissions have unexpectedly fallen. Those measured in the first quarter of 2012 were the lowest of any recorded for the first quarter of any year since 1992

    The benefits of coal in electric production:

    Coal-fired power plants shortened nearly 24,000 lives a year in the United States, including 2,800 from lung cancer.

    Generation of hundreds of millions of tons of waste products, including fly ash, bottom ash, and flue-gas desulfurization sludge, that contain mercury, uranium, thorium, arsenic, and other heavy metals.

    Acid rain from high sulfur coal.

    Interference with groundwater and water table levels due to mining.

    Contamination of land and waterways and destruction of homes from fly ash spills. such as the Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill.

    Impact of water use on flows of rivers and consequential impact on other land uses.

    Subsidence above tunnels, sometimes damaging infrastructure.

    Uncontrollable underground fires which may burn for decades or centuries.

    Coal-fired power plants without effective fly ash capture systems are one of the largest sources of human-caused background radiation exposure.

    Coal-fired power plants emit mercury, selenium, and arsenic, which are harmful to human health and the environment.

    Release of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which causes climate change and global warming according to the IPCC and the EPA. Coal is the largest contributor to the human-made increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

  • Igor

    @8-Clav: coal is hopelessly dirty. In spite of the $4billion (some of it government money) that the coal industry has spent trying to clean it up, you are left with high CO2 emission. And that’s in addition to the mess caused by “mountaintop removal”.

    Better to invest in a dozen Solydras, because the winning hand for solar power is renewability and lack of messes.

  • Baronius

    Next debate, VP. After that, a town hall format (which means it could be about anything), then a foreign policy debate.

  • Reggie Beauchamps

    Jet says:

    “…I also foun it interesting that Big Bird is fueling our deficit spending…”

    Yes. almost as interesting as Obama’s intimation that having the right air pressure in our tires will solve our energy problems.

  • Zingzing

    “clean coal is like cold fire” said someone.

  • Zingzing

    Romney did look good, although he said a lot of questionable things (on Medicare, green energy subsidies, his ability to cut taxes without upping the debt… Most of his facts and figures were exaggerations at best and he denied his own record on several occasions, knowing it wouldn’t go over well with his voters). But, he definitely won the debate, if it was all about presentation, and it is all about presentation (as clavos points out). That Obama lost this debate is a bit disheartening, but Romney did fuck up with the big bird thing. Romney basically said he wanted to be president because he’d make it all better, but he didn’t bring much concrete stuff to the table (the Reagan “guiding principles” thing was such a big copout), but Obama looked like he wasn’t sure he wanted to be president again.

    Will there be a debate on domestic social issues? This one was all economy. That’s cool, but money isn’t everything.

  • You are correct, Clav. There is something called coal gasification which is supposed to be much cleaner. We should be talking about coal gasification, the Artificial Sun, wind, solar, solar and desalination plant combinations, ocean wave energy, geothermal, NG where environmentally feasible and many others. Some really top stocks like Juhl Wind are going absolutely nowhere. ( and they should be doing much better)

  • Clav

    Last night he did mention coal and his intention, if elected, to expand the coal industry. The USA has the largest proven coal reserves in the world. Instead of bankrolling losers like Solyndra, we should be funding research to make coal use cleaner and more benign. It would probably cost less than the Solyndra kind of thing, and would work toward our goal of energy independence much faster than trying to develop another source from scratch.

  • Baronius

    I am sorry about your injuries. I think the general rule is, if you mention where you got it from it’s citation; if you don’t it’s spam. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it except that you made the same comment on another thread.

    I don’t envy you your typing pain. I know that a twenty-year-old finger sprain still bugs me when I’m on the keyboard, and that’s next to nothing. You can do whatever you like in the way of comments. I’ve just seen people get called out around here for that.

    As to the comment itself, I think that oil is just something that gets mentioned a lot in elections. It’s big, it’s something that every voter can relate to, and it even touches on foreign policy. I’m surprised that Romney doesn’t talk more about coal, though. It’s a decent sized industry with a long history in some Northeast swing states, particularly PA. I wonder how many Prius owners know that they’re running on coal.

  • With my injured hands it’s difficult to type Baronious so I copied and pasted something i agreed with. it’s the damned comments section-not an article i claimed to have written myself.

  • Baronius

    Or, in the words of Rebecca Leder at Think Progress,

    Throughout the election, Romney has campaigned specifically on prioritizing oil above other forms of energy, openly consulting with oil executives and donors on his energy policy. With a team led by an oil billionaire and fossil fuel lobbyists and industry campaign donations totaling $2.2 million, it’s unsurprising Romney has been largely quiet on oil subsidies….The world’s five largest oil corporations, which include Exxon, receive $2.4 billion tax breaks annually, not the “small drillers” as Romney claims. Annual tax breaks for the entire oil and gas industry total $4 billion.

  • Throughout the election, Romney has campaigned specifically on prioritizing oil above other forms of energy, openly consulting with oil executives and donors on his energy policy. With a team led by an oil billionaire and fossil fuel lobbyists and industry campaign donations totaling $2.2 million, it’s really surprising that Romney has been suspiciously quiet on oil subsidies. Romney’s energy plan to open more public lands, wilderness preserves, and national parks to drilling and gut safety regulations would only help Big Oil.

    The world’s five largest oil corporations, which include Exxon, receive $2.4 billion in tax breaks annually, not the “small drillers” as Romney claims. Annual tax breaks for the entire oil and gas industry total $4 billion. The Center for American Progress details the specific deductions and tax breaks that oil companies receive at taxpayers’ cost.

    The public overwhelmingly favors ending these permanent tax breaks, at the same time Republicans claim they don’t exist. While the five largest oil companies earned $137 billion profit last year, and $60 billion for the first half of 2012, they paid relatively low taxes, like ExxonMobil’s 13 percent federal effective tax rate.

    If Republicans maintain the oil industry’s special tax breaks, Romney’s plan to lower corporate tax rates would provide the five largest oil companies with ANOTHER $2.3 billion subsidy annually!!!

    …I also foun it interesting that Big Bird is fueling our deficit spending…

  • Reggie Beauchamps

    Obama appeared to have had a couple of Nyquil cocktails before the debate.

  • Clav

    What was most interesting to me about last night’s event was the stark contrast presented by the candidates.

    Romney, possibly for the first time in this campaign, was coolly confident. He was well rehearsed, with all his information readily at hand, and his presentation was calm but forceful; polite but aggressive. He looked Obama in the eye (and Lehrer as well) at all times and was the very essence of an executive firmly in charge.

    Obama, on the other hand, seemed querulous and very nervous. In contrast to Romney, Obama did not appear to be in command of his information, and his delivery suffered as a result. Most of the time, Obama failed to meet Romney’s gaze, opting instead to look down at his podium, especially while Romney spoke. Perhaps it was the absence of a TelePrompter, but even his vocal delivery was flawed, he hesitated often, stumbled over words, and generally gave the impression of being very uncomfortable and unsure of himself.

    Last night was unquestionably Romney’s. Now, we shall see how he and Obama fare in the upcoming “Town Hall” meet.

  • Deano

    You failed to note the most crucial element in the debate – Romney had a bigger flag pin.

    Obviously Obama hates America.