Observers give first round to Romney

Just as people started filing into the University of Denver’s Ritchie Center to witness the first presidential debate of the 2012 election Wednesday, a threatening cloud and gusting wind blew overhead.

Clutching their tickets to guard them from blowing away, some joked that the matchup between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney wouldn’t be as exciting.

They were wrong, several said afterwards.

Many observers agreed, including some Democrats, that Romney roared like a thunderstorm, while Obama’s performance seemed more like a spring trickle.

“I expected a great performance of Mitt and I think we saw one,” said former U.S Rep. Bob Beauprez, R-Colo. “He was articulate, he was precise, he was very specific. He obviously had done his homework.

“But my surprise was not Mitt Romney doing well,” Beauprez added. “I really expected a great deal better performance from the president. He seems almost distracted, like he wasn’t prepared, like he was disorganized. He rambled. He got the filibuster trophy for sure. His mind seemed like it was somewhere else.”

When it came to knowing his position on the issues, and articulating it, it was clear that the former Massachusetts governor won the debate, agreed Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call.

At the same time, the president seemed distracted and unprepared, he said.

“The president seemed back on his heels, he seemed uncomfortable, he didn’t seem himself,” Call said. “In contrast, you saw a very assertive, articulate Mitt Romney that was laying out in great detail and great clarity his vision for America and how he would lead. We saw a strong and decisive leader. The president didn’t seem comfortable.”

Even Colorado House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said he had to admit Romney performed well.

Still, Ferrandino said Obama won the battle of the facts.

On the national debt, raising taxes on the rich and even Obamacare, the president got his message across that the failed policies of past Republican administrations just didn’t work, Ferrandino said.

“Definitely Governor Romney was the more aggressive of the two, but when you look at actually the substance of what they said, President Obama had a much clearer vision and plan moving forward,” he said. “Every time that President Obama challenged Mitt Romney on his plan, he didn’t have a plan. The problem is, Governor Romney can say all these things, but it doesn’t tie with what he’s been saying for the last 18 months. He just continues to show that he’ll say whatever, and change it to make sure he looks in the best light.”

Perhaps, but the president has had four years to address that and things not only aren’t better, in some ways they’re worse, the Republicans said.

“I was a little surprised,” said Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, who attended the debate. “I’ve never been around President Obama. I see him on TV like everyone else. He just seemed very disconcerted. It looks like someone really challenged him and he was lost.”

Scott, like the other Republicans, said he wasn’t trying to be partisan by saying Romney won the debate and Obama looked bad. The president really did, they said.

“Romney was on point, he had numbers, he had a vision, he was very clear,” Scott said. “Romney looked very presidential.”


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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 core “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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