Debate: The Rewrite

In advance of the debate tonight, I would like to make some corrections to Obama's debate responses from last Thursday. Just gonna pretend that he's in my writers' group, and do a little critique.

Jim Lehrer asked: What are the major differences between the two of you about how you would go about creating new jobs?

Cut the 1st and 3rd paragraphs entirely, and don't start sentences with "I think."

We've got to invest in education and training. It's important for us to develop new sources of energy here in America, that we change our tax code to make sure that we're helping small businesses and companies that are investing here in the United States, that we take some of the money that we're saving as we wind down two wars to rebuild America and that we reduce our deficit in a balanced way that allows us to make these critical investments.

Lehrer: Mr. President, please respond directly to what the governor just said about trickle-down -- his trick-down approach, as he said yours is.

Mr. Obama, you had three long paragraphs that didn't respond to the question. You brought up taxes before anyone else even mentioned it. I would suggest this answer:

My policy is not trickle-down government. That won't work any more than will a trickle-down economy. What we need right now is trickle-up government. We need to provide help for those who are hurting, who can't find jobs, who need training and re-training for the jobs that are here now. We need to invest in building and re-building infrastructure which has been too long neglected or ignored. We need to provide for jobs that will spread income throughout communities and spur production of goods and need for services up the line. This will help small, neighborhood businesses grow, who will, in turn, need the products of our larger businesses - machines, office supplies, and technology - who will then need to hire people to produce enough for the demand.

On that back and forth about taxes - Romney made three claims:

  1. I'm not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut.
  2. I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals.
  3. I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families.

You started out all right, pointing out that these were not policies he had been running on so far, but then you gave him a gimme with "Governor Romney and I share ..." No, no, no, no, no. You and Governor Romney don't share. You don't share at all. This is where you confront him specifically with things he has actually said and ask him if he has changed his mind. Lehrer isn't doing it, so you should do it. Somebody should do it.

Romney: I don't want to cost jobs. My priority is jobs. And so what I do is I bring down the tax rates, lower deductions and exemptions, the same idea behind Bowles-Simpson..

Remind him that his running mate was instrumental in killing Bowles-Simpson.

Deficit: Is the program so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I'll get rid of it.

  • Obamacare's on my list.
  • I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things.
  • I'll make government more efficient and to cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments. My cutbacks will be done through attrition, by the way.

Possible responses to each of the above:

  • So you are saying that the health of the nation's citizens is not critical?
  • What other things would you include in that list? NPR? NASA? CDC?
  • What kind of attrition? It has been argued that attrition in the number of security forces needed in U.S. embassies and consulates, an attrition put in place by a Republican Congress, played a part in the recent tragedy in Libya.

I could, Mr. Obama and gentle reader, go on and on, but if I still have your attention, I doubt I would keep it. Let me wrap this up with one suggestion. Which was the wrap-up itself. And if we ever needed a zinger, it was here. Might I suggest a retrospective response:

Given your comments tonight, Governor, it seems you support many of the ideas and policies I have been trying to put into place over the past four years, so I have to wonder, if you mean what you've said here, why have you bothered running at all? And if you actually do mean what you've said, then I suggest you direct some of your campaign budget to electing Democratic candidates for the Senate and the House. Because, even if you win, that is the only way the best of your ideas will ever come to fruition