Question on plan to reduce all taxes in all brackets and eliminate deductions (mortgage, child, education, etc.): what would be your position on those things?
Romney [reaganesque]: Let’s simplify, yes! middle income class people need to see reductions. [Then crocodiles’ tears, and promise of reductions] And tough tax policies on the top incomes, that is, no change. I want to help people in the middle class [oh? what of raising of health fees, education fees? follow up question please?]. And balanced budget plus less taxation on everyone.
Obama responds with essentially the same tune. Attack on tax breaks for the 2%. Attack on Romney and the plan to reduce taxation on top incomes and capital. Top down economics is not going to work.
Romney retorts with: wealthy people will continue to pay high rates [? but doesn’t their income come from financial instruments taxed at 15% max. More crocodile tears on lower class and the poor; if voters swallow that one, good luck to them]. Wants to give a tax cut to the middle class.
Obama: Romney is proposing 8 trillion dollars bleed while proposing a future balanced budget, without telling people where he will cut the budget…
Question: if the numbers don’t add up, would you be willing… [question not completed by moderator, who pretends to be tough but is actually very tame]
Romney: of course the numbers would add up. I’m a magician: Bain, Olympic games in Colorado, etc.
Next question: how do you plan to rectify gender imbalances in the work place?
Obama: I know the problem well. We have been doing it. We’ll continue to push on this.
Romney [sounding more and more like Reagan]: I did work on this as a governor. Flexibility of schedules, I know everything about all of that. Women have been losing jobs, many in poverty [how many times did he use the word by now?], we’ll correct that. I know what a good economy looks like and I know what to do.
Obama: Romney previously was not forthright on this issue. What of health care? contraception? funding for planned parenthood?
Question by undecided voter to Romney: much of US problems and foreign problems due to Bush’s decisions. How do you differentiate yourself from Bush?
Romney: [flip flops and goes to contraception] Says Obama is wrong. Bush and I are different people. My five-point plan is different. For instance, energy security. Trade: I’ll crack down on China. Budget deficit: it was wrong under Bush but Obama didn’t change anything. Small business: I am a small business person [isn’t that the song they all sing?]. My priority is jobs.
Obama: when we came in in 2008-9, we were losing 800K jobs. Now job growth and more are coming. Center piece of Romney’s plan is tax breaks for the rich. Re China: Romney invested in companies that do good business with China. Then some good jiu-jitsu: Bush was different, indeed, but in some ways, re. social policies for instance, Romney is more extreme.
Question: I voted for you (Obama) in 08. What have you done to earn my vote in 12?
Obama: I cut taxes for middle class, stopped war in Irak, got Osama bin Laden, reined Wall St in, created 5M jobs, saved the auto industry. Yet, many are still struggling. So need to support education, control energy, etc. But look at Romney: his plans do not include any of this.
Romney: we can’t afford 4 more years like the last ones. Attacks Obama on health plan, deficit cutting, immigration. [nice touch, coming from a party that paralyzed all action]. 23M still looking for jobs. What of poverty [4th or 5th time he talks about this]? Mentions Reagan’s times. [he is sounding more and more like him: hear the lilt]. Whoa, at the end, cherry on the cake, defense of employment by someone who made money making companies “lean”!!
Question for Romney about immigration policy?
Romney: first a little song on this, a nation of immigrants. My dad born in Mexico [an immigrant? emigrant?]. We should give green cards to people with professional training [in other words, let’s steal people who have cost nothing to this country for our companies here]. No amnesty for those coming here illegally. I’m tough.
Obama: variant on the song, we are a nation of immigrants. And a nation of laws. We need to fix the system. Teaching mode again. Then something about people who are here illegally: only go after criminals. We should make sure we give a path to citizenship to the many. [a real difference between the parties here]
Romney on China becomes a bit heated, good! Makes a mistake in attacking president on his own pension, how it has investments in China. Obama says that he doesn’t look often at his pension which is smaller than Romney’s and segues into a plan on work. Made a point here finally.
Question about Lybia, the tricky question. How come enhanced security was denied a few weeks before the Bengazi incident?
Obama provides the presidential, incumbent’s answer, a bit of fog about the White House process. Followed by an attack on Romney, the press release issued by the Republican campaign. Look, I delivered what I promised: Irak, Iran, bin Laden, etc. I mean what I say.
Romney: important question. The buck stops at the president’s desk. Feels sympathetic for the families. Goes a little into the detail. Attack on Obama who goes to a money-raising event on the next day. This was an attack by terrorists, for god’s sake, not a demonstration! Look, Syria, Israel, Iran. The president’s strategy is unravelling…. [should be easy to throw out of court but there is no real discussion of what our defense system and diplomacy is doing in that part of the world]
Obama reminds everyone he is the president… [God, do we need to go there?] We go into the detail again, grieving with the families…
Question on AK47 and limits on assault weapons…
19H20 PST: I am ready to give up. Questions and answers are very limited and I don’t see much daylight between the candidates.
Finally, at the very end, we get (almost) to brass tacks. The last question on China triggers a couple of comments not only on fairness and currency manipulations—the usual attacks on China—but on the real reasons for the transfer of manufacturing capacity: cheaper labor! Romney is clear on his old-school capitalist faith and god: we want to create the conditions here that will create good jobs. [read: we want cheaper labor, less health and social security protections, which he actually connected to the topic]. Obama is a new-school capitalist defender: better jobs, more education, the second- and third-tier jobs aren’t coming back from China or India.