Predictably, the Mainstream media is declaring Mitt Romney the winner of last night’s debate. If the debate was between Romney and Jim Lehrer, Romney definitely won. He took over the debate, as a CEO would in a boardroom. If this indicative of how he would “listen” to Democrats during those weekly bipartisan meetings Romney talked about in the waning moments of last night’s performance, he will be getting the first word, the last word, and every word in between.
Compared to a calm President Obama, Romney came across as hyperactive and ready for a fight. Post debate discussion focused on Romney’s energy and ability to take down Jim Lehrer. One problem: he isn’t running against Jim Lehrer.
Another problem: while certain pundits would like to call this a game changer, ultimately we saw the same things in Mitt Romney that have plagued him throughout the campaign.
Romney’s lies to American voters were frequent. Even his fans acknowledged that.
He lied about his plan to increase taxes on the middle class to pay for the $5 trillion tax cut he plans to give to the rich. As both Jason Easley and Sarah Jones pointed out, independent experts who looked at Romney’s tax plan concluded one of two things can happen under Romney’s tax plan. Either the deficit will sharply increase or Romney has to raise taxes on the middle class.
Once again, Romney dodged and weaved on an important question about his tax policy. Romney said that he would pay for the 20% tax cuts for individuals and 10% tax cut for the corporations that actually pay taxes, with yet unspecified elimination of tax loopholes and deductions. He couldn’t provide just one example of whose tax deductions he would eliminate.
Romney’s position on healthcare is a bit more confusing to pin down. He etch a sketched his position on Romneycare so many times, it is pretty difficult to know where he stands.
Last night, he went back to endorsing Romney care, which is the basis for Obamacare that Romney intends to repeal on his first day in office. The few details that Romney thinks we deserve to know about his idea of a healthcare plan would result in fewer people having insurance than was the case before Obamacare became law.
According to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, Romney’s healthcare plan (the one he thinks is good enough for the rest of the country) would leave 72 million Americans without insurance. In other words, Romney wouldn’t just recreate all the problems that Obamacare resolved, his plan means you would be worse off than you were four years ago.
Romney lied again when he claimed that Obamacare costs jobs. In fact, the CBO disagrees with him.
The more disturbing aspect of Mitt Romney’s performance is his new found concern for middle class and working class Amerians. This is the same man, who described half of the country as freeloaders, who don’t take responsibility for their lives. Are we really to believe that he had a sudden epiphany after hearing a story at a campaign event? It’s worth noting that Romney made his 47% comments in his natural habitat and while under the belief that his comments would never go public. His new found concern for the little people was made when he knew the cameras were watching during his performance in the debate. I’ll grant that he told a good tale, but Romney lacked in the believability factor.
Romney also talked up teachers, a radical departure from his previous public statements.
Since Romney would send Medicaid and Education back to the states, maybe those are the Federal government agencies Romney mentioned a desire to eliminate. Maybe he would eliminate more government agencies. He didn’t say. When he spoke of government spending, we do know he intends to eliminate funding to PBS, but he also wants to make huge spending increases in defense.
There is a common element between Romney’s lack of specifics on tax deductions, healthcare and reducing the size of government. If Romney told the truth about his intentions, he would be unelectable.
During the discussion on Medicare, Romney was selling more snake oil. Romney repeated the pants on fire lie that the President took money from Medicare beneficiaries to pay for Obamacare. Actually, the savings come from reduced payments to insurance companies, hospitals and other providers.
Mitt Romney acknowledged that he plans to offer the choice between vouchers and Medicare to tomorrow’s seniors while claiming that today’s seniors would continue to enjoy the benefits they have under Medicare.
Analysts say that Romney’s plan would bankrupts Medicare by 2016, meaning even today’s seniors will not have Medicare. It goes without saying that if there is no Medicare, tomorrow’s seniors would not have a choice between Medicare and a voucher that won’t come near paying for the health insurance they need. An article in the New York Times, explains it:
While Republicans have raised legitimate questions about the long-term feasibility of the reimbursement cuts, analysts say, to restore them in the short term would immediately add hundreds of dollars a year to out-of-pocket Medicare expenses for beneficiaries. That would violate Mr. Romney’s vow that neither current beneficiaries nor Americans within 10 years of eligibility would be affected by his proposal to shift Medicare to a voucher like system in which recipients are given a lump sum to buy coverage from competing insurers.
As I mentioned before, Romney claimed he was the great bi-partisan governor and he would bring that experience to the presidency.
While Romney did reach across the aisle for Romneycare, that’s where it ended.
Michael Widmer, from Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation (non-partisan group) told ABC
“Health care was a rare exception where he worked with the legislature in his state, according to Widmer.
Widmer went on to point out that the legislature was “frustrated usually” with Romney because he wanted to govern like a “CEO” and “didn’t pay heed to the legislature and they resented that.”
If anything, what the pundits are calling a new Romney really is the same old Governor Romney.
I’ll grant that after months of practice, Romney was very well rehearsed for this debate. However, once you get past the aggressiveness; Romney’s chronic problems with honesty and specifics remained dominant. His penchant for being having like a CEO he always was came through loud and clear. Romney’s inability to share with others came through just as loud and clear.
Last night, Romney was without question the hare, and Obama was the tortoise. Of course, we know how that race turns out.
Image from justjared