Colorado Mesa students listen, with nods to both candidates

An audience of about 75 watched the debate at Colorado Mesa University’s University Center, including, below, Max Freter, center, and Patrick Weolongo.

His brow furrowed, Stephen Stern, third from left, watches the presidential debate Wednesday with Rebecca Ely, to his right, on a big screen in the University Center game room at Colorado Mesa University. Stern is a biology professor at Colorado Mesa University, and Ely is a social worker.

About 75 people, most of them Colorado Mesa University students, watched raptly as President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney faced off in the first of three presidential debates on Wednesday.

College Democrats hosted an open debate watch party, with pizza, in front of the big screen in the University Center game room.

Obama’s zingers — “His big, bold idea is, never mind,” as Obama described his challenger’s tax plan — drew the most applause of the evening, but the audience was far from unanimous.

“I think Romney brought up more specifics and numbers,” Eric Nimtz, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering and defensive end on the Mavs football team, said after the debate. “Overall, Romney had more facts. I’m an engineer, so I’m looking for facts.”

Nimtz and Jade Welch watched the debate as Romney supporters, just as Rebecca Ely, a social worker, and biology professor Stephen Stern watched as already-committed Obama supporters.

“I think he did a good job,” Ely said of Obama’s performance, while Stern said he was looking for Obama to signal that he would continue governing as he has.

“I think the course he has been taking has been working,” Stern said.

Senior Nicole Bradt agreed.

“Obama really defended Obamacare quite well,” said Bradt, a supporter of Obama since his first visit to Grand Junction in 2008. She supports the president’s health care law because she had been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, Bradt said.

What was missing from the debate, Bradt said, was discussion of issues such as abortion, reproductive rights and gun control.

That was just as well for Welch, the Romney supporter, who said the framing of women’s issues misses an important element when it comes to issues such as abortion.

On reproductive issues, it’s not just women, Welch said, “It’s you and someone else.”

The clear winner, Nimtz said, was moderator Jim Lehrer, whom Nimtz said he feared would try to tilt the debate toward the president.

Lehrer posed the questions and, much to Nimtz’ relief, “Let ‘em talk.”


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The Sentinel’s reporting of the AP’s fact-checking of yesterday’s presidential debate (“Factual missteps included health insurance, jobless”) omitted several falsehoods chronicled in the AP’s on-line version (“Fact Check:  Presidential debate missteps”).

One curious omission was the AP’s analysis of Romney’s campaign-touted tax plan.

Logically, the net effect of tax code changes is calculated by subtracting total revenue-increasing offsets from total revenue-decreasing tax cuts (i.e., arithmetic).

Romney’s published plan calls for 20% across-the-board cuts in tax rates – and thus a 20% reduction in federal income tax revenues ($5 trillion over ten years).

Romney would also extend the expiring Bush tax cuts for all brackets – costing another $1 trillion, and would increase defense spending by $2 trillion – a total of $8 trillion.

Romney claimed that his tax cuts would always be “revenue neutral”—because revenue reductions created by his plan would be filled by limiting as-yet-unspecified deductions for the “top 3%” (to be “negotiated” with Congress), thus admitting that there might be no tax cuts whatsoever – prompting President Obama to caustically retort “never mind”.
As President Obama stated – and as the widely-regarded non-partisan Tax Policy Center concluded—there is simply not enough revenue available from those deductions to close a $5 trillion gap, so either deficits would explode or the middle 50% of taxpayers (97% minus the bottom 47% who pay none) would average $2300 in annual tax increases.

Romney dismissed that inconvenient fact by disingenuously referencing “other studies”—produced by conservative “think tanks”—which close Romney’s (and Ryan’s) revenue shortfalls by arbitrarily assuming that their tax cuts (if any) would stimulate sufficiently robust economic growth to generate the necessary additional tax revenues.  Magic!

That is the “shell game” of “Voodoo Economics” and, as the AP noted, “Congress doesn’t use those kinds of projections when it estimates the effect of tax legislation”.

                Bill Hugenberg

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