Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Live-Blogging Presidential Debate No. 1

Thanks to the election heating up, September was the biggest month yet on the blog. We had 5,438 page views. October should be good what with Presidential Debates, LDS General Conference, and all.

Keep clicking back. We'll try to keep updating . . .

CNN Panel isn't too bad tonight. And I love James Carville. (I saw him once do Cross-Fire live).

Oh, it's Jim Lair-UH (Jim Lehrer). I always wondered how to pronounce that.

Here they come . . . [no one asked, "Can I call you Joe?]

Differences on Job Creation - Prez says most important point is his anniversary (20 years). Prez is cool and focused. Gov is smiling forcedly. Prez says we need to invest in education and infrastructure and reduce deficit in a balanced way. Up to the voters. double down on top earners or America does best when Middle class something.

Gov smooth and complementary on Obamas' anniversary. Gov goes homey with Reaganesque vignettes as he goes "tender." It takes a different plan - not top down, cut taxes for the rich. Go after China. Balanced budget. Champion small business. Gov knows what it takes to get business going to hire people. He says Prez is all about bigger government taxing more, etc.

Lehrer asks Prez to respond to Gov on trickle down. Prez doesn't take bait but talks rehearsed lines on education. Then onto corporate tax rate lowering and closing loopholes encouraging going overseas - energy production. O&G production up - and alternate energy. All possible have to close deficit. how do we deal with tax code. How do we get revenue. 5 trillion tax cuts. on top of W's 5 and increased military spending.

Gov would like to ask question. Tells Prez he's not cutting 5 trillion he's not cutting anything. Uses the middle class "buried" line he stole from Joe. Energy trade budget deficit. Education is key. 47 programs need to be reorganized back to the states. Taxation. Bring rates down. Energy. critical. production up inspite of Prez's policies cutting it in half on public land [fact check] Gov likes coal. He wants to burn it. Not looking to cut massive taxes - no cut that adds to the deficit but reduce burden on middle income.

Prez on taxes. He said he would cut for middle class and he did. We do best when the middle class is doing well. Maybe they can buy a car or a computer for the kid. Gov's proposal is for 5 trillion cut and 2 trillion more for military (numbers changing) Gov has been asked a hundred times and won't tell us how he pays for it. Independent studies say it will burden the middle class. Top down economics.

Gov- everything Prez says about that tax plan is innacurate. He will not add to deficit. He will not reduce the share paid by top end. As dad of 5 he learned that boys keep repeating it doesn't mean it's true [was that prepared?] He will lower taxes on middle class. The studies are wrong. Bring rates down and lower deductions. Small business pay the individual rate. If we lower that, they will hire more. This is about jobs.

Prez says he's been running on this tax plan and now it's "never mind." It's math you can't cut it and find enough loopholes and deductions. Prez says he lowered taxes 18 times for small business [fact check] We should go back to Clinton rates. Reduce deficit and make investments necessary for education and energy. 97% of small business. Donald Trump is a small business - he doesn't like to think he's small anything [zinger?] Education, science, research.

Gov talks over Lehrer "it's fun isn't it." Businesses in last 3% employee half of the workers. And he has another story about some other guy he talked to. Adds up all his taxes it adds up to more than 50%. It will cost 700,000 jobs. Gov's priority is jobs. Same principle as behind Bowles-Simpson [Is Romney endorsing that?]

Prez if you believe we can cut by 5 trillion and add two trillion and close loopholes and deductions on the well to do - math, common sense, and our history show that's not a recipe for growth. We've tried both approaches - this is the same as 2001 - 2003 culminating in worse crises since great depression. Clinton tried something like his plan and economy grew. Economy works best when middle class have tax cuts and extra money.

Gov says it's not a 5 trillion tax cut plan - revenue neutral - [but he doesn't explain it!] Emphasis is to get people back to work. People stop looking for work. Gov lecturing. Prez looking a little peeved.

Question on deficit:

Gov - critical issue - moral issue. Not moral for his generation to keep spending and pass debt on to future generation - not moral - 3 ways raise taxes cut spending grow economy - Prez prefers raising taxes He wants to cut spending and grow economy. Won't borrow from China to pay for Obamacare or Big Bird. Politely asks Prez if he can use "obamacare." "I like it" - Prez. Says Prez doubled deficit.

Prez inherited  1 trillion deficit - 2 wars on credit card and disastrous economy. He cut military spending and failing programs, cut waste out of medicare medicaid. Cut federal budget [yep]. Put forth 4 trillion dollar cuts on the website - $2.50 for every cut $1.00 of additional revenue. Mentions Bowles-Simpson - some revenue and some cuts. This is where we differ. Gov on 10 for 1 tax pledge - unbalanced approach. Prez talking on and has much more play time so far.

Gov do you support Simpson Bowles - he has his own plan - but Prez should have grabbed it. You've been prez 4 years and said you'd cut it in half but you didn't and we see deficits every year. Gov doesn't want to raise taxes on people. Gov says we shouldn't raise taxes when it's going slow. [OK his time is catching up to Prez] Gov impassioned.

Prez says Gov has ruled out revenue. Gov "absolutely." We want more business and more working to generate more revenue.

Prez - if we're serious we have to take a balanced approach - oil industry gets 4 billion a year in corporate welfare - Does Exxon Mobile need extra money? Why not eliminate that? Eliminate corporate jets - no special breaks. Gov says its revenue neutral cuts without identifying loopholes or deductions - deduction for moving plants over seas. That doesn't make sense. Teacher in Las Vegas - homey story with kids sitting on floor [seems more genuine than Gov's forced] Magnitude of Gov's tax cuts would end up with severe hardship but would not help us grow - talking about a 30% cut on Medicare - not a big deal on paper but real for families.

Gov - that's a lot of issues. DOE says tax cut in less - been in place for 100 years (Prez - time to end it) Gov says you've spent much more in breaks for alternate energy. You put all that waste into Solyndra - you pick the losers not even winners and losers. Gov has no idea what he's talking about getting tax break to move overseas "maybe I need to get a new accountant" Prez raises eyebrows. Gov says Governors can care for poor and medicare more than feds. States laboratories of democracy. Rely on the people and states not the feds.


Prez says we can tweak Social Security like Tip O'Neal and Reagan. Then tells story of hard working Grandma. These are folks who worked hard - "entitlement" term implies dependency. Cutting over payments in medicare - could lower drug costs. The way to deal with Medicare is to lower health care costs. Social Security does not need major restructuring

Gov says our people depend on these programs - neither the Prez nor I are proposing any changes to those over 55 or 60. Oh, I forgot. Prez is doing one on Medicare 716 billion [rehearsed] Gov arguing numbers [fact check] Putting 1 dollar back for every 16 cut isn't good. To cut to pay for Obamacare.

Prez on Gov's medicare voucher program. If your 50 - 55 listen up because it will affect you. It will cost average senior $6K a year. Independent economists say traditional medicare will collapse with senior dependent again on private insurance. AARP agrees. Prez has become fond of term Obamacare [the CNN on women's favorable rating on Prez is going up]

Gov do you support voucher? not for those 55 up and the Prez cuts 716 billion from medicare. Gov would rather have a private plan not the government plan  - he'd like to get rid of them if he doesn't like them. Idea came from Wyden and Bill Clinton's chief of staff - get competition into Medicare [Hoo yah!!] [I'm kidding]

Prez says private has to make a profit and has higher overhead. Money has to come from somewhere - voucher system puts senior at mercy of insurance companies. AARP says this would weaken medicare. We do have to lower cost of health care.

Gov lets get back to medicare. Gov says private sector is lower. They both agree the voters have a clear choice on medicare.


Gov says its essential [there goes the Libertarian vote] But he thinks its now out of date and excessive - Prez's fault and it's hurt the economy. Dodd-Frank bad. Banks guaranteed by fed government. Gov would repeal and replace Dodd-Frank you need some of it.

Prez big grin on Lehrer cutting off the Gov. Prez says there was reckless behavior across the board, not just Wall Street - loan officers, people buying houses they couldn't afford - banks making money hand over fits with products they didn't even understand but knew it made the system vulnerable [Prez confident and this seems right that all had a share in blame] Recognizes that Gov says the market needs some regulation. Does anyone think there was too much regulation and oversight of Wall Street.

Gov says we have to have regulation on Wall Street but not designating 5 banks as too big to fail. Mortgages to people who weren't qualified - exactly right. We don't know what a qualified mortgage is these days. Dodd-Frank didn't get out clear regulations. Keeps talking over Lehrer - who notes another clear difference


Gov wants it repealed and tells a couple more forced stories from the road [he sure isn't Reagan]. Prez made false promise on bringing down health care. And back on the 716 billion on medicare cuts. Tells people what kind of service people can have. It makes business less likely to hire. It was the wrong priority for the Prez instead of fighting for jobs [one of the better arguments he has] He should have allowed states to craft it at their level - like in Mass.

Prez - he talked to people too. The problem was families worried about going broke over medical emergencies - pre-existing conditions - hitting limits - He worked on it along with working on jobs. You get to keep your insurance but the companies can't jerk you around with arbitrary limits, keep your kid on until 26 years old. If you don't have insurance you get to benefit from a group plan. ["I had 5 seconds before you interrupted" to Lehrer] Gov did a good thing in Mass building the model - it hasn't destroyed jobs, people are covered, it helps bring down costs.

Gov asked to tell why he thinks Prez is wrong. He likes what they did in Mass. But the Prez pushed through a plan without Gov support blaming Reid and Pelosi. In Mass we voted together - we didn't raise taxes you raised them by 1 trillion. We didn't put in a board to tell people what treatments they could have. Cites authorities as to why it's wrong. Republicans have a plan - something this big has to be done bipartisan [good argument]

Prez. He has a good line about Democrats in Mass might have given some good advice to Republican in Congress on how to cooperate. The board is to give advice as to how best to provide services. Cites Cleveland Clinic - great care cheaper than average - patient comes in get all doctors and do one test at once. do preventative care instead of procedures. Use purchasing power of medicare and medicaid to pursue these best practices. Health care premiums have gone up but slower than any time in past 50 yrs. Gov doesn't say what he intends to replace it with.

Gov what he would do. Lengthy description - preexisting - kids can stay on in private market. Unelected board to decide these things in Obamacare - private market can do it best like in Cleveland practice. He used to consult to health care businesses. We need plans providers etc on incentives. Intermountain Health Care does it well [Yay - shout out]  Private market and individual responsibility always better than government.

Prez back to defending board. Says the Gov doesn't cover pre-existing it just gives continuous coverage if its only been 90 days. Romneycare was an expansion of private insurance just like Obamacare. Gov isn't giving us the details on what he is going to replace it with. Close deductions and loopholes. Replace Dodd-Frank but doesn't tell us what and the same with Obamacare. Are they too good to share? [this is all the Prez on his rehearsed lines]

Gov says he has to respond. His experience as Gov was not to say my way or the highway [this is actually what the Republican Congress said - not the Prez]. He has some ideas [but won't tell them which are his or how he'll do it] Mass is a model to the nation state by state not the feds and cites the 10th Amendment [maybe the Libertarians come back]

Role of Government

Prez Mission of federal government differences. first is to keep the nation safe. But it also has the capacity to help open opportunity create ladders of opportunity. Genius of America is Free Enterprise - but as Lincoln said there are also some things we do better together in the midst of the Civil War - railroad, land grant colleges, Nat'l Academy of Sciences. [well, he got Lincoln in there] State reform on education and higher math and science teachers. Gov doesn't think we need more teachers but I do. We need a skilled people.

Gov believes in schools. Goes to Cons. & Declaration - big military - endowed by Creator with rights - religious tolerance and freedom - pursue happiness - those less fortunate are cared by one another - we care for those that have difficulties and we look for discovery and innovation to provide pursuit of happiness and for people to pursue their dreams an not have government trickle down approach. Jumps on Gov dependency - no jobs. Path is not working.

Does fed gov have role in education - Gov says its a state issue. Some good ideas in race to the top. All fed funds follow child [vouchers?]

Prez - feds on race to the top working with Dem and Republican governors. difference in views - budgets matter. Gov indicates he wants to cut taxes and benefit the wealthy and have to cut federal support for education and goes to Ryan budget. It wasn't very detailed this seems to be a trend [probably rehearsed] community colleges - train for jobs we have right now - Gov agrees. [Prez way ahead on time] it requires federal support. 60 billion to banks as little men on student loans - He cut out the middle man to provide millions more students with assistance. Gov cares about education - but to tell someone to borrow money from parents isn't realistic.

Gov isn't going to cut education funding - not planning to. Prez put 90 billion dollars into green jobs. That would have hired 2 million teachers. many businesses gone out of business. Man are connected to your campaign [getting in all the FOX talking points] Grade schools and let parents take kids around. Mass schools are No. 1.

Lehrer says we've only got 3 minutes.  Question on partisan gridlock.

Gov had great experience elected in state where legislature was 87% dem. He will sit down on day one with democratic legislators - not to compromise principle but to find common ground. People are really hurting - problems in middle east - Republicans and Democrats both love America

Prez says Gov will have a busy first day because he will also repeal Obamacare and the Dems that sit down with him won't be too happy with that. Ended war in Iraq and bringing down Afghanistan - Getting Al queda an bin laden with cooperation of Congress - have to say no both to the other party and those in your own party. Say what you're for and what you're against. Gov has not said no to the extremes in his party.

Prez's closing - thanks everyone thinks it was a terrific debate - 4 years ago crisis - his faith and confidence is still with the people - some mom who got training and got job - workers who gave up perks - auto workers with sense of pride building America - build on those strengths. Close loopholes on jobs overseas. Close deficit in balanced way. All designed that American people grit and determination and everybody gets fair share and fair shot. promised he wouldn't be perfect and kept that promise but he has fought for the people of America every day.

Gov concerned about America and the course we've taken over the past 4 years - two different paths. Not just words but on the record. Prez will continue the middle class squeeze. He will create millions of new jobs [was that 12?] We won't have Obamacare - allow each state to craft own program. Going all neg on the Prez. 716 million Medicare cut - Prez will cut military but Gov will keep it strong.

Well, my initial analysis is that it broke about even which certainly helps Romney. Wolf Blitzer notes Prez got more time. I didn't see any game changers. Let's see what the pundits say.

Some independent commentators and some supporters of the President say that the President was weak and let Romney get away with a lot of stuff. Others say the President was too professorial. It may be that the news cycle will finally give Romney a good day. Republicans will likely be ecstatic. Dems will downplay.

I do think that Romney did what he had to do. He was strong and respectfully, for the most part, on the attack. He successfully danced in a Reaganesque way around the substance of the details. He is certainly convinced of his non-answers on how the cuts are "revenue neutral" and that sort of confidence can sell well. Most importantly, he got in some of the powerful points against the President that are on the minds of many conservatives - fighting for health care instead of jobs - crony capitalism (Solyndra) - shout-out on the 10th Amendment -  I think Romney will bounce in the polls but not enough to win. His base will be pleased - some undecideds will go his way. I'm not sure it's enough.

Carville just said the President did not bring his "A" game.


  1. Thanks for the round up. We had a power glitch, so the DVR didn't get anything past the first three minutes. Sigh.

    I have had several friends who work for Democratic lawmakers who have been suggesting for the last couple of weeks that "letting Romney win the first debate," and letting him get the bump and then lose it, would be the best strategy for the president. It will be interesting to see how the next debate goes, and how much the fact checking between them changes the tenor.

    From your notes, it sounds like there wasn't anything really new. Was there any place that the "zingers" or off the cuff comments or body language, stood out?

    Congrats on all the readers! I come because the thoughts and conversation is substantial and well written. I learn a lot, both from the posts, and from your interactions with more conservative Mormons! (Someday I hope to grow up and be like you!)

    1. Thanks, Julia for the congrats and comments!

      After sleeping on it, I concede it was a clear Romney win. And while it's always best to win the last rather than the first debate, and historical patterns are that the incumbent often loses a first debate, it's a pretty risky strategy to concede one when the polling is so close and the President sits in a precarious position with the economy. It may be that the strategy was to let Romney take his best shot to assess his style and substance, if any, and then come back. And the Prez may have been holding back to let Romney stumble on his own - but he didn't. And the first shot packed a punch. We'll see how this develops.


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