Home > Election 2012 > The First Debate: Live Comments

The First Debate: Live Comments

October 4th, 2012

Not gonna crowd the post with constant comments, but would like to make a few points.

Romney is coming across much better than he has in the past; he is not coming across as very awkward, and does sound passionate, while Obama sounds more level, wonky, and even a little whiny. Side by side, Romney does have a richer voice, and all the stuff he says sounds more appealing than what he’s said before. Obama pauses, Romney doesn’t. Romney is steamrolling through Lehrer and making up his own debate direction, which many may reward. From just watching these guys and not thinking or referencing facts—which most viewers are doing, alas—Romney sounds like he’s scoring as many points as Obama. And this is where the debate may have its impact.

On the other hand, we have a factual assessment… in which case, Romney is coming across the way he has in the past: as a huge liar. He said Obama doubled the deficit: not true, and misleading as the deficit was handed him almost as-is at the same time the economy was cratering. He said he was not going to cut taxes on wealthy people or rack up trillions in new debt, which goes contrary to what he has explicitly stated over time. He dishonestly exaggerated the unemployment numbers. He lied about Obama doing health care before jobs. He lied about public oil production. He lied about government boards and health care. He even dragged out the old “cut Medicare by $716 billion” lie. And that’s just so far.

In short, he’s hoping that all he has to do is lie confidently and convincingly and hope most people won’t look at the fact-checking the next day, will look at partisan “fact-checking” friendly to Romney, or if they do look at the checking, will see false equivalencies and keep some of the initial impressions they got when watching.

And that may very well work. Initial impression: Romney will “win” this debate. Not on facts, but on bull.


Ooohh… Romney just pushed the Religion button.


Romney is probably going to get points for not looking like an idiot or an ass. But a lot of the “not being an ass” element is Romney contradicting much of what he has been pushing for the past year. All of a sudden, he wants no benefits for the upper class and is the champion of the middle class, he loves PBS, he loves all the popular causes he’s been attacking and proposing cuts for. Looks great, sounds great, but is not what he’s been saying all along. He’s definitely trying to reboot himself yet again. All based on lies and BS, but it’s about appearances.


Oooh! A zinger! “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own airplane, your own house, but not to your own facts.” Make Obama look like an elitists with a private jet while at the same time getting entitlements!


I know Obama can’t spend his time blaming Congress… but Romney’s BS about working with the other side is exactly what Obama said and actually did. It’s something Romney should do, because Democrats would actually cooperate; it’s something that Obama shouldn’t have done, because Republicans were solidly bent on sabotaging the process and had no intention of honest cooperation.


Obama just slipped bin Laden in.


Ha! YouTube cut off their broadcast at exactly 10:30… cutting Romney off just as he started.


Post-debate assessment: Romney won by looking more confident and passionate, but mostly by lying his ass off with conviction. Obama looked beleaguered, stuttering, almost bored. Romney looked far better than when he’s off-the-cuff, his nervous energy serving him here instead of hurting him.

Obama missed at least a couple of huge targets, didn’t even fire at them at all. The 47% as a lead-in to defining Romney, rather than his tax cut program. He could have done a mini-litany of Romneyisms, including “corporations are people,” “I’m not concerned about the poor” and “It’s not my job to care about them.” Second, Republicans in Congress. A tangential target, perhaps, but pointing out that he has pushed jobs plans that Republicans have shot dow, that Republicans have not concentrated on the economy, have put politics above all else—and Romney has done nothing to challenge that, hardly a bipartisan cooperative approach. Finally, Obama should have attacked Romney with as much passion as Romney attacked Obama.

Obama can only come out of this looking good on the facts. Cue the fact-checkers to gloss over some of Romney’s lies and straining to point out every small inaccuracy by Obama in order to achieve yet another false equivalency.


Last word: the jobs numbers for September will be out in a few days. It has the potential to either extend and strengthen Romney’s boost from the debate, or give Obama the ability to stamp it out. I don’t know about jobs numbers, but I have predicted that the unemployment rate will continue to fall, perhaps to 7.9%, which would be a big psychological boost for the economy for crossing the 8% threshold.

Categories: Election 2012 Tags: by
  1. Troy
    October 4th, 2012 at 11:23 | #1

    Best way to judge who won a debate is watch it with the sound off.

    I caught 5 seconds of Romney teeing off on Obama for having 4 years already and I assume that direction would be working on people who haven’t made up their mind completely on Obama vs. Romney.

  2. Kensensei
    October 4th, 2012 at 15:07 | #2

    What does a guy have to do to show he *is* actually doing what the GOP accuses him of NOT doing?

    The GOP has been all over the president for not cutting govt spending.
    Last I heard, the $716 Billion in Medicare *is* a spending cut. Trimming the military budget *is* a spending cut. Cut the waste where it’s not needed, and use it elsewhere for people who need it…

    Here’s a thought: how about Romney goes home and to cut his own damn spending! Leave our medicare, social security alone because once those are gone, they’re gone for good.

    Romney spent a lot of time talking about freedom of choice and govt taking over private sector industries blah blah. Question: what good is freedom of choice when one cannot afford to pay for what he has chosen? What kind of a choice is that?

    I mean, even now I have a choice to buy a new $250K Lambourgini. That’s my choice. But if that choice is going to cost me my house and my retirement pension, why offer it to me?

    Romney misses the point; it’s not a about freedom of choice, it’s about having choices that the public can afford. That’s where govt needs to step in and offer choices to those who the private sector has lost interest in. Once that choice is available, the wealthy can *choose* to go with the more expensive plan if they want to.

    Americans need a real choice. Obama 2012!

    –kensensei

  3. matthew
    October 5th, 2012 at 01:40 | #3

    Did not watch the debate. Read the reaction. Dumbfounded. How could Obama NOT spank Romney? Hell, I could do it with a hangover.

  4. Troy
    October 5th, 2012 at 06:57 | #4

    The Medicare cutback in PPACA is basically a knee in the balls to Medicare Part C, the (Clinton-approved) Republican idea of medicare “reform” from the late 1990s that is just raising the health insurance skim by allowing private insurers to offer medicare plans.

    It’s really quite stupefying to me how far the present public discussion is from reality.

    The bullshit’s up to our necks now but nobody sees it.

    Japan’s in the same boat — if not worse in some respects — and even the saner nordic states have their own systemic imbalances that people just have to live with.

    Romney misses the point; it’s not a about freedom of choice, it’s about having choices that the public can afford.

    actually, the entire conservative “point” is bullshitting people to give up what they won at the ballot box from the plutocrats over the past 100+ years.

    plan’s working too. The US is about 10 years away from some very Bad Times.

  5. Troy
    October 5th, 2012 at 07:31 | #5

    How could Obama NOT spank Romney? </i

    "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes"

    If you were around here a couple of years ago, you could see how that was working in Luis' comments. Someone would say something distorted, and me and/or Luis would have to spend 10-20X the time & effort refuting it.

    And at the end of the day is all that happened in the thread was the debate centered on where the bad guy wanted it, not what Luis wanted to say.

    Complicating matters is that Obama has NOT been a leftish president at all, in the manner of say Howard Dean (who wasn't very leftish anyway, Dean could have been a Rockefeller Republican too).

    Obama doesn't have the public bona fides of what FDR or Truman had. He's more in the trimming / triangulating mode of Clinton, trying to work the centrist policy zone to keep the Republicans moving farther and farther away from him and thus into the extreme right.

    But by being a centrist he doesn't have a lot of strong policy "vision" to present to the public.

    Another complication is, again, the bullshit. For Obama to actually level with the American people would cause us to undergo hysterics. Carter meeky tried that in his so-called "malaise" speech, but that didn't work out so well for him over the long run.

    We can't handle the truth.

  6. Troy
    October 5th, 2012 at 07:32 | #6

    How could Obama NOT spank Romney?

    “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes”
    If you were around here a couple of years ago, you could see how that was working in Luis’ comments. Someone would say something distorted, and me and/or Luis would have to spend 10-20X the time & effort refuting it.

    And at the end of the day is all that happened in the thread was the debate centered on where the bad guy wanted it, not what Luis wanted to say.

    Complicating matters is that Obama has NOT been a leftish president at all, in the manner of say Howard Dean (who wasn’t very leftish anyway, Dean could have been a Rockefeller Republican too).

    Obama doesn’t have the public bona fides of what FDR or Truman had. He’s more in the trimming / triangulating mode of Clinton, trying to work the centrist policy zone to keep the Republicans moving farther and farther away from him and thus into the extreme right.

    But by being a centrist he doesn’t have a lot of strong policy “vision” to present to the public.

    Another complication is, again, the bullshit. For Obama to actually level with the American people would cause us to undergo hysterics. Carter meeky tried that in his so-called “malaise” speech, but that didn’t work out so well for him over the long run.
    We can’t handle the truth.

  7. Troy
    October 5th, 2012 at 11:41 | #7

    http://i.imgur.com/2eCgv.png

    is another of Obama’s weaknesses right now.

    The projection shows that we’ve got 2 1/2 years still to get back to the worst of the dotcom recession.

    Now, it’s very hard for Obama to argue that the Republican House has been stopping a better recovery without coming across as a whinging powerless git. Even if it’s entirely true!

    Republicans are on-message that their way (whatever it is) is the way to recovery so we have to remove this incompetent Obama character and let us cut taxes and increase freedom from government, and things will improve again.

    This is bullshit, but as Lincoln said you can bullshit some of the people all of the time.

    I think the underlying problem is that things really aren’t fixable in any politically-available way now.

    We need to reverse the Bush tax cuts and even add more taxes, since the Clinton-era tax structure could pay for a $300B/yr military but not the $800B/yr one we have now.

    Medicare spending was $200B/yr in 2000 and Medicaid was $130B.

    For 2012, Medicare is $500B and Medicaid is $330B. And these are going to go up a LOT more this decade as the baby boom ages from the age 48-66 they are now.

    The general spending situation:

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=boY

    Blue in that graph is total government (all levels) spending divided by wages. This shows that if we implement the Republican plan of untaxing capital income we’re going to need an 80% tax rate on everyone. Um, yeah.

    Red in that graph is the federal social welfare expenditure divided by wages. This is basically what the payroll tax should be — 35%, not 15%. (!)

    Green is the DOD/wages bill, showing we need over 10% federal income tax to just pay that alone.

    Now, Japan too is particularly screwed in the deficit spending program. The situation is way too complex and I’m just a guy on the internet, so I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say about this, other than voicing my general disbelief that Japan is going to be able put their course in a good direction anytime soon.

    The good things Japan has going for it is their:

    1) depopulation that is starting now — this will enable the Japanese to scale back capital investment in new infrastructure, since from here on out there will be fewer people not more.

    2) basic trade balance — Japan can still manufacture stuff to pay its way in the world, even though the glory days of the 1970s & 1980s are gone.

    3) $3.2T net capital account http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/345186/20120525/japan-still-world-s-top-creditor-nation.htm is better than being po’

    but, like the US, Japan needs to somehow double their tax burden. It’s no accident that all the European countries are paying 40 to 50% tax-to-GDP burdens, that’s how you run a welfare economy in balance. Japan is in the mid-20s in this score.

    The US has all of Japan’s problems and a lot more, since we’re going to keep adding people, and since jobs don’t really actually grow on trees[1] this is going to make it harder to maintain our standard of living.

    [1] well they do but we’re running out of groundwater for the agricultural footprint we already have now.

  8. Troy
    October 6th, 2012 at 04:39 | #8

    http://i.imgur.com/7j1MV.png

    is an interesting chart comparing previous financial crises to the current situation.

    I especially like seeing how Japan has fared 1992-now vs the US course 2007-now.

    My suspicion, too, is that the upturn at the 16 year mark for Japan — 2008 — was entirely due to the US housing bubble boosting US imports from Japan.

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=brH

    shows how US imports peaked right then. Plus Japan Inc has some piece of the China -> US trade, too I would think.

    Here’s China (red) vs Japan (blue) exports to US:

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=brJ

    Anyhoo, back to the first chart.

    We’re not out of the woods yet. And neither is Japan.

    What the US has been doing 2007-now is deficit spending to replace the mortgage borrowing bubble of 2002-2006:

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=brO

    blue is federal deficit spending (~$1.2T/yr now) and red is mortgage borrowing (also $1.2T/yr at peak)

    We have 3 choices in our future:

    1) Raise taxes — deflationary
    2) Cut spending — deflationary
    3) Print — not necessarily inflationary if accompanied by 1 & 2, but printing alone isn’t going to help much, since we can’t inflate our way out of our future obligations

    Also, we have the prospect of abandoning past promises, like the Simpson-Bowles idea of scaling back COLAs for SSA marginally, pushing Medicare age out to 67 (Ryan Plan), reducing Medicare to a voucher plan (Ryan Plan).

    I also don’t know what’s going to happen at the state & local level with pensions. This is an immense ticking time bomb now, since in many states like California the state pension systems are rather underfunded (they were counting on 1999-era capital returns, and those are probably history).

    California alone has a $500B problem to face 2020-2050 if it can’t earn more than 4% on its current cashpile. The state lost $20B of yield last year in underperforming investments (the funds only earned 1%, not the 7.5%+ they’re officially budgeted for). This lost $20B is 2% of California wages ($900B/yr).

Comments are closed.