Debate the First

Last night’s Presidential debate created more of the same questions for me regarding either candidate. Can anyone answer this question?

Who was the candidate that stated these points?

Believes in lower tax for the middle class

Wants to eliminate the deficit

Wants to invest in alternative fuels sources and decrease the US dependence on foreign oil

Wants to create more opportunities for businesses to succeed

Wants to provide Americans the skills they need to help these businesses to succeed

If you said Obamny or Rombama you are correct. Strangely enough, both of these men spent more time agreeing with each other than debating any issues. I found the 90 minute format to be an excellent platform for Romney and Obama to continue doing what they have done their entire political and professional lives; tell people whatever it is they think they want to hear so they can get the necessary votes to do whatever it is they say they are going to do.

I wish that I could say that either candidate offered some form of substance to implement their talking points. It would have been a lot easier if they just put up a Power Point slide with these 5 points listed and just left the room. Neither candidate offered any type of specific idea to implement these plans. Neither candidate was able to articulate to the American people why their plan is better because neither candidate offered a substantive plan.

Romney presented himself in a better light than the President, there is no question. Every major and minor pundit in America will agree with this. He “won the debate”. Unfortunately he won based solely on style points. In fairness, he did offer a few points to focus on as glimpses of how he might implement some of these ideas, but I don’t think he meant to.

Romney say he wants to eliminate deductions and loopholes in the tax system to create jobs. I didn’t hear how he plans on eliminating these loopholes and deductions. Hell, I didn’t even hear what loopholes and deductions he’s talking about. Charitable donations, mortgage interest, small business out of pocket expenses? What individual loopholes and deductions are so out of control that are applicable to individuals (where Romney stated he would make these cuts because these same issues are the ones affecting small business growth) that it can turn the economy around? If it was simply a matter of tax cuts, the why didn’t the economy turn around when we had 2 years worth of individual tax credits under the current administration? How quickly people forget that under Obama individual tax credits were increased, causing  a lower tax burden to the average citizen. There were also a number of one off tax breaks related to home purchases, including a new first time home buyer tax credit of $6500 for 2 years. And yet unemployment is still over 8% and the economic recovery is not what people expect or want. So the answer is to implement a system of tax cuts that failed under Obama?

Like Romney, I am a proponent of States rights. I also understand the the realities of Government. Eliminating Federal dollars to States for funding of “entitlement programs” is a good pandering statement. However, in my opinion it shows how little Mitt Romney understands how the job he is trying to get. Here’s some interesting facts. Currently, Alabama (my home state of residence) has proposed and passed a General Fund operating budget for FY 2013 at $13.9 billion dollars. Of this, $12.3 billion dollars are earmarked Federal dollars.  In other words, the General fund budget for the State of Alabama is currently over 90% financed by Federal dollars. This is not even taking the education fund into consideration, where the earmarks drop to just over 60%. Think about that. $20 billion of Alabama’s $26 billion dollar budget (factoring in the education fund) is subsidized by Federal money. This includes schools, police and fire departments, child abuse protection agencies, prosecutors office, prisons, and other Federally funded “entitlement” programs. Lets not forget the number of hospitals that are affiliated with State universities, since they also get “entitlement” dollars.

Mitt Romney is not about raising taxes.  I agree since he proposes that we turn over the administration of these programs to the States and let them work it out. Well, based on Alabama’s numbers (which place us number 22 for overall acceptance of Federal money) that would mean that just to keep things status quo, which is to say not very good, we would have to somehow makeup the difference of nearly $20 billion dollars. So how do you do this? You eliminate government  jobs and increase taxes. Just not on the Federal level. However, as Alabama has proven time and time again they would rather shoot themselves in the foot than increase taxes. Bob Riley proposed a tax increase over the course of several years that would have put Alabama in a position of financial strength. We voted it down and waited until the system was so broke that we allowed the Legislator to hijack our only form of a safety net; the oil and gas reserves. I personally think that given the current climate in America that money was better left alone for when the real civil emergencies hit our State.

I would have spent some time going over the specifics of Obama’s plan, but he didn’t offer any, so how are we supposed to figure out what he plans on doing?

Style over substance. That’s what people like to see and here. Romney wins on style; both lose on substance. Ultimately, the people are the biggest losers. Unfortunately, we don’t get a fabulous prize at the end of this reality show.

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