The debate opened with a question from a young college student who asked what each candidate
Romney answered vaguely, by stating the most important part of his plan was to make sure it’s easier for young people to afford college. Romney stated that he wants to keep the Pell Grant. He said he knows what it takes to create jobs and get the economy going again, and that he would create jobs if elected president.
Obama told the man his future is bright, and that his investment in higher education is very important. Obama stressed that jobs are important, but made a distinction between jobs and high-paying jobs. The president gave a list of solutions to the young people looking to make sure their education is worthwhile: building manufacturing jobs, creating incentives for job creation in the U.S. and helping small businesses. He stated that he would make sure community colleges would continue to offer classes. He also stated that we need to control our own energy, reduce the deficit in a balanced way, and take the money we’re not spending on war and reinvest it into the American infrastructure.
Obama also mentioned that Romney wanted Detroit to go bankrupt.
Romney was then asked what he would do about the Americans who need a job right now. Romney replied that the president’s policies have not put people back to work and that fewer people are at work today than when Obama took office. Romney stated that if unemployment were recalculated to take into consideration the people who dropped off because they stopped looking for work, that the number would be closer to 10.7%. Romney then mentioned that he has a vague plan to get America 12 million new jobs.
Romney stated that he wanted the automotive companies to go bankrupt just like Seven-Eleven and Macy’s because it keeps the companies accountable for their actions. He implied that the president made them go bankrupt.
Obama claimed that Romney wanted them to go bankrupt without providing them an ability to stay open, which would have cost jobs. Obama also claimed that executives at GM and Chrysler both stated the Romney way would not have worked. Obama was skeptical of Romney’s plan, stating that there is no 5-point plan, and that Romney’s real plan was to continue to let the Americans at the top of the economic bracket follow different tax rules than everyone else does.
[Romney has defined his 5-point plan as energy independence for North America, more trade agreements and a crack-down on China for currency manipulation, a balanced budget, fixing training programs for workers, and helping small businesses.]
Obama stated that under Romney’s plan, people can make tons of money, pay less in taxes, ship jobs overseas, and get a tax break for that, go bankrupt, lay off workers, strip pensions, and still make money afterward. He said we as a country have been fighting for four years to get out of the mess we got into from that kind of methodology, and we don’t need to reinstate it. Obama wants everyone to have the same rules to follow.
The second question was about whether it is important to reduce gas prices, and who was responsible for that reduction.
Obama stated that it is most important to control our own energy. Domestic oil production is at its highest level in 16 years, natural gas is the highest in decades, and that coal production has been on the rise. He also understands the importance of the energy of the future. This means green energy, which equates to hundreds of thousands of jobs. Reducing the demand for gasoline decreases the cost.
Obama claimed that Romney plans to let oil companies write the energy policies, and that Romney doesn’t have a clean energy plan.
Romney was emphatic about stating that the increase in oil production was not because of the Obama administration, stating that production is down by 14 percent on federal land and waters. He claimed the president brought criminal action against the companies in North Dakota because of some birds that were killed.
Romney stated that he thinks renewables are important, and that he thinks the president is keeping us away from our oil, natural gas, and coal resources. Romney stated that regulations are too tough on coal companies, which makes people not want to build them. Romney also claimed Obama cut licenses and permits [for oil drilling] on federal lands and waters.
Romney promised an energy-independent North America within 5 years, including more drilling and a new pipeline from Canada.
Obama countered stating that they opened up public lands for drilling more than Bush did. Obama also said, “natural gas isn’t just appearing magically.” He also told America that Romney is not a coal guy, stating that Romney had, in the past, stood in front of a coal factory and said, “this plant kills” and then shut the plant down.
Obama stated that the proof of his success is that oil imports are lower than they have been in 20 years and that America is now building more efficient cars to export around the world.
Obama stated that he did cut licenses and permits for drilling on federal land and waters, but it was because companies were not doing anything with them. He was making them use it or lose it, and they lost it. He wanted to make way for companies that were serious about drilling there.
Romney reminded America that gasoline prices were $1.86 when the president took office, and now it’s over $4.00 a gallon. Obama rebutted that gasoline was that cheap when he took office because the economy was on the verge of collapse.
The third topic was about tax overhaul. The question was addressed to Romney concerning his claims that he would reduce tax rates for all tax brackets and work with Congress to eliminate deductions to make up for the loss in revenue. The mortgage deduction, charity deduction, the child tax credit, and the education tax credits were mentioned specifically but not mentioned by the candidates.
Romney stated that his plan is to bring taxes down, simplify the tax code, and to lower the rate on middle-income taxpayers. He wants to limit the deductions for exemptions and credits, particularly at the high end. Romney stated that the top 5 percent would still be accountable for 60 percent of taxes, (which is about what they allegedly pay now) and that the middle income will get a break by not being taxed on capital gains (interest made on investments.) This tax break would affect everyone making less than $200,000 a year (and who have the knowledge or means to invest and make capital gains). Romney said that he would under no circumstances lower taxes for the rich or increase them on the middle class.
Romney concluded that two minutes by stating that the president’s spending and borrowing would raise taxes on everyone.
[It’s no wonder people are doubting Romney’s math skills. If he plans not to raise or cut taxes on the rich and to lower taxes on the middle class, where does the missing tax revenue get made up without causing a deficit?]
Obama stated that he has already cut taxes for the middle class by $3,600, and that he has cut taxes for small business 18 times. He wants to continue those tax cuts. Obama stated that we need to tax the wealthy more than we already do (reminding America that in reality, Romney pays less taxes than most from the middle class do, and that Romney thinks that is fair).
Obama claimed that 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small businesses would not see an increase. He said he is ready to sign the bill into law right now, but that Republican Congress is holding it hostage to ensure a tax break for the top 2 percent of Americans.
Romney countered that 54 percent of American workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals, so if the government would bring those tax rates down, those people would get to hire more workers.
Obama countered that the cost of lowering rates for everyone across the board by 20 percent like Romney proposes, as well as an elimination of estate tax, and his changes to corporate tax cost an extra $5 trillion. Romney also wants to give an extra $2 trillion to the military that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs did not ask for. Obama states that Romney also wants to continue the Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, equating to $8 trillion. Obama does not know how this can be possible without adding to the deficit.
Obama called Romney “sketchy,” pointing out that Romney does not plan to cut the capital gains tax break that allows Romney and others like him to only pay 14 percent in taxes (and that includes a few extra percent of a donation to the U.S. government for good measure.)
In response to his math being questioned, Romney stated that his math makes sense. He reminded America that he has been in business for 25 years and has operated that business with a balanced budget. Romney reminded America of Obama’s runaway spending, resulting in a bigger deficit than all other presidents, and that the projection puts America at a $20 trillion deficit if nothing is changed.
The fourth question was about the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent what their male counterparts earn.
The president spoke about his upbringing and then added that the first bill he signed was one concerning the equality of salaries of women. Obama recognizes that women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners of families, and he plans to improve scholarship programs to bring more women into the workforce.
Romney stated that in Mass. more women were raised to senior leadership positions than in any other state. Romney stated that women need a more flexible work schedule, and that his plan is to create a new, stronger economy that is so anxious to hire women that they will hire women who need a flexible schedule. To Romney, the key is a strong economy.
Obama reminded America that when Romney was asked about the bills supporting equality of working women, he didn’t have a response.
Obama stated that other issues are important to a higher, more equal employment of women, to include healthcare. Romney’s plans to cut funding to Planned Parenthood would affect women who rely on them for women’s health doctor visits. Government telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies sociologically affects women working, and the equality of the sexes, which is why the President does not want to force decisions about abortion or contraception.
The fifth question was from an undecided voter who stated that she is disappointed with the lack of progress over the past 4 years, but does attribute that in part to the mess left over from George W. Bush. She wanted to know how Romney is different than Bush.
Romney stated he is different than Bush because this is a different time. Romney said that unlike Bush, he can get all the energy we need domestically, and that wasn’t possible when Bush was in office.
Romney stated that unlike Bush, he is going to crack down on China and add more free trade agreements. He also stated that he would balance the budget. Romney clarified that while Bush was interested in the health of big businesses, that he is different because he is interested in the small businesses.
Obama does not think that Romney and Bush are different enough, stating that we are still crawling out of the hole that was made by Bush politics, and we do not need to get back into that chasm. He clarified, stating that the centerpiece of the plans of both men is tax cuts, which did not work.
Obama also said that Romney is not going to get tough on China, and said he thought that because Romney has investments in Chinese companies and U.S. companies that have outsourced to there.
Obama said that Romney is different from Bush because Bush never proposed Medicare be changed to a voucher system, nor did he propose the elimination of Planned Parenthood. Obama called Romney’s social policy “extreme.”
The sixth question asked Obama what he did these past four years.
Obama stated he cut taxes for the middle class, cut taxes for small businesses, ended the war in Iraq, focused on Al-Qaeda and under his leadership Osama bin Laden was killed. Obama put in place healthcare reform as promised, and reigned in excesses on Wall Street. Obama reminded America that he saved the auto industry.
He stated that he recognized that some Americans are still struggling. He said that to help this, he would use the money that we are not using for war to rebuild America and get people back to work.
Romney reminded America that Obama promised to get the unemployment down to 5.4 percent, which he didn’t do. He didn’t reform Medicare or social security. He said Obama didn’t even make a proposal about the illegal immigration problem, didn’t cut the deficit in half (doubled it, actually). He reminded America that most people, instead of seeing their insurance premium go down, saw it go up.
The next question asked what each candidate would do about immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally but are productive members of society.
Both candidates stated they want the government to do a better job enforcing the laws that are already in place and also that they want the procedure streamlined to make it easier to become a citizen.
Romney stated that he will not grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. He wants to enact an employment verification system and sanction companies that hire people who are here illegally. Romney said he will not give driver’s licenses to illegals but does want to give a pathway to the children of illegal immigrants (he specifically mentioned military service) to becoming a legal immigrant.
Obama stated that under his administration, there is now more border patrol than ever before, and that undocumented immigration is lower now than in the past 40 years. He said that it’s important to go after the ones who are hurting the country, like criminals and drug traffickers and not the students.
Obama stated that Romney voted to veto the Dream Act that would have allowed children of immigrants to have access to citizenship. He said Romney also supported self deportation (making life so miserable for the illegal immigrant that they decide to go home), and that Romney called the Arizona law a model for the country.
Romney stated that he did not say that about the Arizona bill but that he said it in regard to the e-verification portion of the law. Obama stated that Romney’s top adviser on immigration is the guy who designed the Arizona law.
Romney asked the president why he didn’t file the immigration law in the first year he was president, as he said he would. The president did not answer the question.
The next question asked about the terrorist attack in Benghazi and asked if the State Department refused extra support.
Obama said that after he found out the consulate was being overrun; they called for more support in every consulate as well as an investigation into the matter. He said he would find out who was responsible and plans to do that.
He reminded America that while his Administration was doing their job, Romney was already in a political press conference. Obama also reminded America that everything he promised concerning national defense has happened: the U.S. left Iraq, the U.S. found and killed Osama bin Laden, and the U.S. will find the one responsible for the death of the Ambassador.
Romney said that terrible things happen from time to time and there were other issues associated with the tragedy. Romney said that in his opinion the president took too long to announce that it was a terrorist act.
He also claimed that the day after the attack, the president was on a plane to campaign in Las Vegas instead of acting like a president. Romney said he thought the Obama Administration was being misleading.
Secretary Clinton was blamed for the attack.
Obama emphatically stated that Secretary Clinton does an extraordinary job and that what happened in Libya is not her fault. “Secretary Clinton works for me!” Obama stated with a solemn look on his face.
He stated that the day after the attack he was not in Las Vegas but in the rose garden addressing the nation. Obama said he told the American people at that point that it was a terrorist attack, and not 2 weeks later as Romney claimed. Obama also said that he was there to greet the coffins when they came home. He said nobody in his administration did anything misleading, and he was offended that Romney implied it.
Romney said the president did not state the event was terrorism in the rose garden, and the moderator (Candy Crowley) corrected Romney.
The next question was concerning gun control.
Obama talked about how this nation is one that believes in its Second Amendment; however, there were too many times during his presidency where he had to comfort people who lost a loved one. He wants to have better enforcement of the laws already in place and keep weapons that are designed for war (assault rifles) off the streets. Obama also stated that the country needs to give people an alternative to violence in the way of better education opportunities and a hope in a prosperous future.
Romney said he is not in favor of new legislation concerning guns, and that automatic weapons are already illegal. He agreed that America needs to do a better job enforcing the rules already in place and offer more hope and education opportunities to young people as an attempt to cut down on the violence.
Another question was about the outsourcing of American jobs overseas and how each candidate planned to get more jobs back and keep them in America.
Romney stated he wants to make it more enticing to do business in America than to go overseas. He didn’t go into specifics but mentioned cutting the corporate tax. America’s corporate tax is 35% while Canada’s is 15%. Additionally, he wants to make sure other countries are following the rules of free trade.
Obama played the role of the realist and said that there are some jobs that we will not get back. However, he thinks we can get back the highly skilled, high paying jobs in manufacturing, science, and research. Instead of adding tax breaks for people who don’t need them, Obama wants to add more funding to science and research jobs.
The last question asked them what they thought the major misconception was about them as a politician or man.
Romney said he cares about all American people (not just half of them), all the children, and that he wants to help everyone. He reminded people that his passion comes from God, that he was a missionary, and that he was a pastor.
Obama stated that he doesn’t think the government creates jobs and is a fan of free enterprise. He said he thinks risk taking should be rewarded, but that everyone should have a fair shot at success.