BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
It was a night full of constructive attacks from both sides, as President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney make their case to the American people, in a head to head debate dominated by issue of taxes, health care and the economy. To say Mitt Romney carried the day as indicated by the news media would be a windfall. However, the candidate did not fall short of a fierce criticism of the President’s record as a promoter of big government and a leader whose vision of hope for America is far from reality.
Since the release of the Romney video criticizing 47% of America, many analysts have indicated that in order to redeem his campaign from its damaged mode, Romney must make a turnabout with his performance at the debate. While Mr. Romney did not disappoint his base with his performance last night, President Obama did not fall short either though, he could have done more.
Both candidates were extremely careful in their approach to the questions and issues put forward by the moderator. Maybe it was a strategy designed by both campaign teams and intended to make each candidate look appealing to voters and the audience, President Obama, did not want to look too aggressive while Romney, also wanted to show a softer side though, he appeared more forceful in his response to the President’s attack on his economic policy.
At a point during the debate you expect President Obama to establish dominance by responding more to Romney’s attacks but he kind of played it safe with occasional smiles, as Romney, continued to hammer his records on the economy. Romney’s best moment came when he attacked the President’s unemployment record and the slow economic recoveries which he said shows the President’s policies have not worked. He said “There is no question in my mind if the President is re-elected, you will continue to see a middle class squeeze.” He also attacked Obamacare and its mandatory insurance provision, which according to him would make people pay more on insurance and allow the government to decide for Americans on whether or not to have insurance.
President Obama was able to neutralize Romney’s attacks by arguing that his policies were working for the American people. He emphasized on the benefits of his healthcare policy as a plan that would provide affordable insurance for the people and prevent insurance companies from making excessive profits on premium at the expense of the people. He did not forget to remind the audience about what he has said throughout his campaign, that his healthcare plan is a model same as one put in place by then Governor Romney in Massachusetts.
The President also questioned Romney’s plan for America and why so far, the GOP candidate has refused to reveal specifics about his proposed tax plan for the nation and his healthcare plan, since he has vowed to repeal Obamacare the next day he takes charge of the White House. Romney has also indicated his disapproval of excessive financial regulations, put in place by the Obama administration especially those affecting Wall Street, which he said he would repeal on becoming President; however, he has failed to say how he intends to regulate financial institutions. Though, he agreed regulations are essential during the debate.
“At some point, the American people have to ask themselves if the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans secret is because they are too good,” Obama said, he went further by saying the reason Mr. Romney has failed to give details is a reflection of the difficulty in making “tough decisions.” Romney did not back down but repeatedly attacked Mr. Obama on the healthcare issue, criticizing him for promoting a measure that passed without bipartisan support instead of devoting his time to creating jobs.
He said, “I just don’t know how the President could have come into office, facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis at the… at the kitchen table, and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people.” In response, President Obama, said Romney’s plan to have state craft their own healthcare plan will not only amount to “vouchering”, but would also allow insurance companies to be the main beneficiary at the expense of consumers.
On the tax issue which dominated a major part of the debate, Obama said Romney’s plan to continue the Bush Era tax cuts which are skewed heavily to the rich, would not help lower the deficit without increasing tax revenue on the wealthy, a plan which the GOP candidate has flatly rejected. Unlike the Romney plan, the President said his plan would help cut the deficit by $4 trillion by letting the Bush tax cut expire for people making more than $250,000 a year. Mr. Obama also hope to lower the deficit from savings already agreed to when the White House and Congress accepted the proposition to increase the debt ceiling a year before.
Romney rejected the idea that he supported a $5 trillion tax cut saying, “My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit.” He then criticized the President’s plan to increase tax on income over $250,000 and $200,000 for individuals to return to the higher rates of the 1990s, saying that the National Federation for Independent Business has indicated the Obama plan will cost 700,000 jobs.
Mr. Romney said he would reduce the deficit by making the Bush tax cuts permanent for all income levels and then cut rates by an additional 20 percent. He would repeal the alternative minimum tax and permanently repeal the estate tax to lower the deficit. The candidate even went as far as to say he would cut unnecessary spending on programs that don’t work including removing subsidy to PBS.
Based on a report by NBC News, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center has concluded that Romney’s tax plan would cost $4.8 trillion over ten years. The candidate continue to say he would reduce deficit by closing loopholes in the tax code and by getting rid of some tax deductions but so far, he has failed to state exactly what deductions he planed to eliminate. The fact is Mr. Romney is a business man who likes to sell but so far, he has failed to sell his plan to America.
It is unclear who won the debate but obviously, President Obama could have done better. The incumbent failed to mention the Romney video where the GOP candidate trashed 47% of Americans. Whatever happened to Romney’s failure to declare his taxes, the President just sucked it up and did not mention it. Maybe it was a campaign strategy but President Obama may have disappointed some of his supporters and those in his base for failing to be a little tough on Romney. Many felt the energy and aggressiveness expected from the President was missing however, it is not too late for Mr. Obama to fire-up and take it to Romney, before his popularity begins to slip away.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade (E.JD) is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations. He is the author of ‘Murder of Diplomacy,’ ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ a newly published fiction. Follow on Twitter @san0670.