Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Running Against the Last Four Years

Some Thoughts on the Second Presidential Debate

Hill's Auto Parts. Photo by H. Peterson.

Resembling a boxing match, more than a town hall meeting at times, the second Presidential debate was a lively exchange. THYME has these thoughts:

First of all, both men appeared to be running against the actual record of the last four years. Mitt Romney again emphasized his plan for energy independence and tax simplification. The President chimed in with a "Me too" statement, but left himself open to criticism as his administration has actually stifled domestic energy production. Energy Secretary Steven Cho's statement that: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” though later retracted, is telling, nonetheless. Romney clearly wants to go after proven traditional resources while advancing market-ready renewables. The President's actual record does not support claims to be advancing energy independence. His 90 billion dollar 'investment' in green energy has not produced results.

Exploration for new resources off the coast of Virginia are on hold, blocked by the Administration, as is the full construction of the Keystone Pipeline. Romney correctly asserted that actual energy production gains have occurred on private land, such as in the case of the Bakken formation. Indeed, the Administration has reduced permits while encouraging South and Central American nations to go for resources in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obamacare continues to make employers wary of new hiring, and rather than reduce costs as promised, it adds a new layer of penalties and mandates to an already stressed system. Indeed, the middle-class has suffered most from employer uncertainty, with average net income for those who are still working down. Unemployment stubbornly hovers above eight per-cent, even when you remove from the count those people no longer actively looking for work. Add these individuals and the underemployed and you are looking at a much worse scenario.

The President talked about legislating pay equity for women, but Romney pointed out that more women are simply unemployed. Romney's 'solutionist' discussion of workplace flexibility actually adressed the structural reality of women simply not staying in the workplace long enough to break the 'glass ceiling.'

Romney could have stressed more emphatically that tax reform and simplification, with lower rates, would actually increase revenues (both JFK and Reagan actually did this). Focusing on taxing the rich more will only send them (and their creative investments) offshore.

The answer to the country's economic problems would be to restore healthy growth along with fiscal responsibility. Romney could point to examples from his prior experiences. The President, hoping to sway undecided voters, actually had to argue that in the future he would govern more like Romney.

On foreign policy, the President seemed to want to adopt the policies of George Bush. He "got" Bin-Laden and though moderator Candy Crowley asserted that the President had said Benghazi was an act of terrorism in a Rose Garden speech, she was later forced to retract it. Indeed, the notion that those events were a spontanious riot had been perpetuated by UN Ambassador Susan Rice days after that speech.

THYME's analysis of the debate is thus: The real Mitt Romney showed up again, the President showed up to agressively argue that he wasn't who his record suggests he is. It did make for an interesting conversation.

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