My Thoughts on the Presidential Debate

I was not able to watch the Presidential Debate live as it happened, but I watched most of it the next day.  It was an interesting debate.  I did not like the way either candidate handled himself, there were too many instances of them interrupting each other and the moderator who was trying to facilitate the debate in an organized manner.  And, to be honest, it seemed like most of what they were saying was simply a “He said this” with little actual “what I plan to do”.

President Obama kept saying that Romney’s plan would do this or do that to the economy, and Governor Romney would reply saying, “No, it’s not”, but the President would repeat himself just  few minutes later. And Governor Romney would say that the President’s policies are doing this, that, and the other, and the President would reply with, “That’s not true”, but neither one of them cited sources for their ‘facts’.  There were a lot of numbers being thrown around, too.  A billion here, several hundred thousand there, a couple million over there, but again, there were no sources to back up these numbers.  I really want to get a copy of their speeches with footnotes that explain where they are getting these numbers from.  It all sounds very good to say that you’ve got a plan that will save this much or cut that much debt or do some other amazing thing, but it didn’t seem like either of them really explained what exactly these plans were.  It’s nice that they have a plan, but I’d like to know what that plan is, so that I can decide if I like the plan or not.  I don’t want to just vote for a candidate based on the grandiose promises he makes, but on the actual merit of his ideas or proposed policies.

As far as the specifics go, when they did mention a few specifics of their plans, I thought Governor Romney had the better ideas.  During the section where they were discussing health care plans, Romney stated that he would reform the federal health care plan and pass it off to the individual states to determine how they would use Medicare dollars.  I like that idea.  I’m not usually a State’s Rights kind of guy, but in this instance it makes sense.  The federal government is too big and there are too many factors involved for health care to be governed well from a federal level.  But local state governments should be able to come up with plans that best meet the needs of their citizens, adapting them to local situations and needs.  Of course, one of the silliest specifics that Romney mentioned was his plan to cut federal funding of PBS, as if that were some great new idea that would solve all of our deficit budget woes.  Well, for one thing, PBS doesn’t really take all that much funding from the federal government, that is a very minuscule part of the federal budget.  There are other areas where more could be saved. For another, a lot of people like PBS and I am of the opinion that PBS should be, at least in part, federally funded.  There are certain things that I feel the government should fund to make sure that they exist, things that the free market may not necessarily fund on its own.  PBS does receive a lot of its funding from “Viewers like you!”, but apparently that is not enough, since they also use some federal funding.  That’s okay, but I get Romney’s point.  There are some parts of the federal budget that do need to be rethought and cut out if we cannot afford them.  The federal government should function much the same as a normal family – if there is not enough money to pay for everything, then certain luxuries get cut.  When we could not afford it we cancelled our cable subscription, we ate out less, we stopped going to the movies.  That’s what happens, but the government seems to think it is okay to just keep spending and racking up a debt.  Romney has the right idea, he just chose a poor example.  PBS is not breaking the bank, but some programs do need to be cut or modified.

When they talked about the deficit, though, I didn’t think either of them had any real plan or good ideas.  Romney talked big about adding jobs, which would then allow more people to have money to pay taxes, decreasing the deficit that way without the need for a tax cut.  A great idea, but again, I want specifics on how he plans on creating jobs.  He seems to have this idea that by lowering the corporate tax rate, companies will have more money (since they are paying less to the government) so they will naturally use that excess money to hire more workers.  I don’t get that.  Companies do not base their hiring practices only on the available budget, they hire more people when they need more people to work.  And they need more people to work when the demand for their product is higher than they can meet.  A company that finds itself with an excess of money is not going to automatically give that money away hiring new employees, if they do not need more people working for them, they are much more likely to just pocket the increase.  And who wouldn’t?  When I get a raise at work and find that I now have more money than I did before, my first thought is not to go out and hire a maid or some help around the house.  I did not need a maid when I had less money, having more money does not mean that I suddenly need to hire someone.

In the end, I was unimpressed with the debate.  It was a great opportunity to see both candidates and hear them discuss some important issues and to explain to the American people how they differ on these issues, but there was still something missing for me.  I realize that this is just the first debate and there will be others on different subjects, and this one was specifically about the economy, but I don’t feel that a president needs to be strong only on the economy.  The economy is important, especially in a time where there are a lot of people without jobs, but there is more to being president than that.  I felt that Governor Romney had the better presence at the debate and was able to articulate himself better when it came to these economic issues.  That’s to be expected, he has been a very successful businessman for his whole life, he’s got experience with the economy and how to make a business successful.  But the US Government is not a business, it cannot be, its primary focus cannot be simply making a profit, it has to be ensuring all of its citizens are cared for and have their basic needs met.  I am looking forward to the rest of the debates, to see what else these two men have to offer as the President of the United States.   This is a very important position, and we have the solemn responsibility to choose a candidate we feel will best fulfill the duties of the Office of the President of the United States.  Please, no matter who you vote for, get out and vote!  If you choose not to vote then I will ask you to kindly shut up for the next four years, you forfeit all rights to complain if you do not exercise your right to vote.

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