ChrisWeigant.com

Snap Debate Reactions

[ Posted Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 – 20:59 PDT ]

There is a whole lot wrong with the way the media reports debates, on that we can all agree, I think. The overemphasis on who "won" and "lost," for starters. The inevitable boiling-down of ninety minutes into a nine-second soundbite from both candidates (which we'll see everyone agree on by tomorrow morning).

In writing about debates, I don't think I've ever called a "winner" and "loser" because it's so rare that a debate happens where one candidate is so overwhelmingly better than the other. And often times the lessons the media takes away from the debates is the wrong one -- some "bad gaffe" that the voters didn't care much about when it actually happened.

So all I'm saying, up front, is don't look for "Obama won!" or "Romney won!" sorts of pronouncements in this column, because they won't be forthcoming.

Caveats aside, here are some general thoughts before I peruse my notes taken during the debate itself. I thought both candidates turned in an adequate, but not overwhelming, performance this evening.

Mitt Romney had a lot to prove tonight, and at times he seemed desperate and annoyed. But walking the tightrope he had to walk is tough, and one of his main goals this evening was to get feisty with President Obama -- which he succeeded in doing. Appearing feisty without going overboard into "angry" or "combative" or any other negative sort of emotion is a very tough thing to pull off on national television.

Mitt Romney was aggressive in his answers. He didn't "go for the throat" in an off-putting way, but he did essentially call Obama a liar several times, which was feisty enough. I think Republicans who have been getting worried over Romney's campaign will be pleased with this performance. How it came across to the American public, we'll have to wait and see. From my admittedly biased perspective, Romney started strong, got dangerously close to sheer desperation, and then pulled back for a strong close. But again, that has to be seen as nothing more than a gut level personal reaction, and my gut doesn't put up with a whole lot of Republican talking points.

Barack Obama didn't lose his cool all evening, and didn't rise much to Romney's baiting. Obama seemed competent and collected, although at the start he was tense and rushing his answers a bit. Obama's biggest challenge tonight was to get his answers as short as possible, and while he started off OK on this front, as the evening wore on his answers seemed to get longer and longer. Obama played offense and defense admirably well, but wasn't attacking at the same level as Romney. Again, how this comes off to the American public is anyone's guess. For those who like to see calm confidence, they'll probably approve of Obama's performance, while those who like more of a fighter will probably be drawn to Romney's performance tonight. Obama missed a few opportunities to counter some of what Romney was saying tonight, but I'll get to specifics in a bit.

Overall, it seemed that Jim Lehrer lost all control of the event very early on. Mitt Romney seemed, at times, to be debating Jim more than he was debating Obama. The supposed 15-minute first segment went on for over 25 minutes, and things went downhill from there.

One thing is for sure, the fact checkers are going to have a field day tomorrow. Both men's answers were dense with detail at times, and both made claims that seem very easy to check, so we'll all be enjoying reading the fact-checking bonanza tomorrow morning. But even so, with all these reams of "facts" to check, I thought both men "talked past" each other much more than they did answering the questions put to them, or answering each other's criticisms. I suppose modern debates are always thus, but it was a little disappointing not to see the two candidates engage each other directly more.

In fact, not knowing what the specific rules of the debate were, it seemed odd that neither man really directly addressed his opponent much at all. The few times when they did both seem aware that there was another man on stage with them were the most interesting of the entire debate.

OK, some specific comments from my scribbled notes. Romney's main theme of the evening (at least, what he tried to make his theme) was either an "applause line" or "laugh line" that fell flat, since the audience wasn't allowed to do either: "Obama wants trickle-down government." Now, you just know some political consultant got paid a hefty amount to come up with that, but other than Romney hitting this line once at the beginning and once at the end, it really kind of had nowhere to go.

Obama's main point seemed mostly to be "Where are Romney's specifics?" which he made several times in several different ways. We'll see whether this got through or not, but it was a theme that should sound familiar since it has been a question asked by not just lefty media but several prominent Republican pundits.

Romney was supposed to have "zingers" in his pocket, that he'd be using all night. Other than at the very end, I didn't really notice any zingers at all. Romney's other reported tactic was going to be "correcting" Obama's "falsehoods," which he did use more effectively and steadily throughout the evening (see: comment on fact checkers' field day). Both men were filling the air with figures, although for the most part Obama was talking about his plans while Romney was talking about his opponents, when tossing the numbers around.

Obama tried a few jokes (more "jokes" than "zingers" for the most part), including one on Donald Trump. Some were sort of funny, but again, with a silenced audience it's hard to tell if any of them will "have legs." Both men tried, at times, speaking directly to the camera ("I want to address the American people right now..."), which is always an effective tactic for any politician.

Romney inexplicably only came up with one federal government program to cut -- PBS. Shades of Romney visiting London, since Jim Lehrer was sitting right in front of him.

Jim Lehrer tried to get one solid answer out of Romney with "Do you support Simpson/Bowles?" but Romney punted with "I've got my own plan."

About a half an hour in was when Romney started getting as feisty as he knows how to. Again, different people will have different reactions, but it came off as desperation and not very authentic to me. This was around the same time Romney started almost every answer by arguing with Lehrer.

The best moment of the debate for me was a simple interaction, when Romney tried to say that tax breaks for oil companies were somehow OK because they'd been around "for 100 years" and Obama pounced with a quick: "It's time to end it!" I really would have liked to see much more of this direct back-and-forth, but neither candidate did a whole lot of directly answering each other tonight other than isolated moments.

Obama showed Romney how to personalize an issue without pandering by talking about his grandmother when it came to Social Security. Romney was trying to flex his empathy muscle all night, but none of it sounded anywhere near as authentic as Obama's grandmother.

Obama pretty much mopped the floor with Romney on the Medicare segment, and Romney sounded a tad bit elitist about how he'd "choose a private plan" since we all know the cost of any such plan won't be an issue for him. Obama quoted AARP repeatedly, which worked a lot better.

But Obama missed two big openings on the whole issue. Number one: "If that $716 billion savings in Medicare is so wrong, why did Paul Ryan include it in his budget?!?" Number two: "We've tried private insurance competing with Medicare. It was sold to us as a way to keep costs down through the free market. You know what? It didn't work as advertised -- Medicare Advantage is much more expensive than it was sold as being, and that is part of the savings we'll be accomplishing."

Obama's biggest line of the night will likely be one of the ones where he essentially says "We don't know the details of Romney's plans -- any of them!" There was one in there about secret plans which would be "too good for the middle class," but I didn't write the whole thing down, sorry.

At the end, Romney finally pulled out one of his zingers: "You are entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not to your own facts." Of course, this could backfire on Romney depending on what the fact checkers have to say tomorrow, so we'll see. As zingers go, it really wasn't all that zingy. To be fair, Obama's "Romney's going to have a busy first day, what with repealing Obamacare and all" zinger was pretty much of a wet noodle as well. Obama did have one funny line at the end about how Mitt would likely agree that he was "not a perfect president" though.

Both men's closing speeches were sort of run-of-the-mill. Obama concentrated on optimism and the future more, while Romney concentrated more on attacking Obama.

Overall, Romney was said to be facing a make-or-break moment tonight. He didn't fall on his metaphorical face, he didn't do anything wildly surprising. He turned in a feisty performance, which was one of his main goals. How much this will convince anyone who is not already backing him remains to be seen. Obama entered the debate needing nothing better than a draw, and that's seemingly what he got, in the end. Both men made their case, pretty much ignored each other's points, and walked all over the moderator in various ways. We'll see what the public has to say about it in the next few days.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

58 Comments on “Snap Debate Reactions”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Didn't you notice any blatant "Etch-A-Sketch" moments where Romeny seemed to disavow what he has been saying on the campaign trail?

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    For example, didn't he say tonight that he didn't want to reduce taxes on the wealthiest Americans?

  3. [3] 
    Chris1962 wrote:
  4. [4] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM -

    I'll be interested to read what the fact checkers have to say tomorrow.

    Chris1962 -

    Yeah, seems like the public and the pundit world agree that Romney "won" tonight. I always write these before looking at other reactions, and am almost always astonished when my reaction is far different than everyone else's...

    We'll see whether it changes the horserace polls in the next three or four days, that'll be the true test of tonight's impact.

    -CW

  5. [5] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Yeah, seems like the public and the pundit world agree that Romney "won" tonight. I always write these before looking at other reactions, and am almost always astonished when my reaction is far different than everyone else's...

    The golden rule of the advertising industry: Always look at things through the eyes of the consumer, not your own. ;D I could tell from your article that you were watching the debate as a liberal. Watch it again as an "undecided." You'll see a very different debate go down.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris1962,

    So, what kind of a debate did you see?

  7. [7] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    I saw the one the average undecided voter saw.

  8. [8] 
    Buckeye54 wrote:

    As an Obama supporter, I would call this either a draw or give Romney a slight edge.

    But, where Romney failed to move the needle at all was in his "likability," which certainly wasn't increased by his performance. He talked over Jim Lehrer and broke the debate rules--which was contrasted by President Obama's always cool demeanor.

    Romney tried to move to the middle but abandoned several positions--who knew he really liked Obamacare--he just seems to want to change the name back to Romneycare?

    He won't decrease taxes if it means increasing the deficit--of course he could decrease taxes while claiming ignorance about how they will blow a hole in the deficit but the 1% must have been dismayed that their tax cut is now longer ironclad.

    He gave President Obama talking points to use in the coming days. I predict the poll numbers will twitch for a few days, but since Romney possibly increased his "unlikability" quotient it will probably hurt him in the end.

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    romney was in control of the narrative nearly the entire time. he did not let the moderator moderate, got in all of his own talking points, and effectively avoided any rebuttal. obama appeared disinterested, almost casual, and did not take advantage of any of the gaping logical holes in romney's narrative.

    speaking as perhaps the only undecided voter in the room, i will confirm that romney had a MUCH better debate than obama did. i still disagree with romney on virtually everything - heck, romney disagrees with himself on virtually everything. but in the debate room, he was the one in charge; not the moderator and certainly not the president.

  10. [10] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Personally I think this has got to go down as probably one of the worst performances I've ever seen Obama give in his life.

    CW
    For those who like to see calm confidence, they'll probably approve of Obama's performance...

    Yes he calmly stood there while Romney spouted a bunch of nonsense from la-la land - miraculous tax cuts (that aren't tax cuts), a magical healthcare plan (that doesn't exist in detail), magestical military expansion (unpaid for), deregulation (that is also regulation!) and gutting of Medicare (that isn't really gutting Medicare). He might just as well have promised free flying Unicorns for everyone, since Obama would've let him get away with it. The average uniformed voter would've loved this: we get tax cuts and healthcare and a big military! Wow, this Romney guy sounds too good to be true (because it is too good to be true - it's from cloud cuckoo land).

    There were only a couple of times that Obama actually pointed out how nonsensical and ludicrous what Romney was proposing - but doing so in a calm manner didn't really get the point across about how ludicrous and crazy his proposals are. He needed to get more agitated to demonstrate how crazy, illogical and unbalanced Romney's proposals are.

    There are a few saving graces for Obama:
    - His campaign team is very good and they will pick apart the Romney magical fairy world he created in this debate in the coming weeks.
    - He already had a big lead so a swing towards Romney will still see him in the lead (at least in the battlegrounds)
    - He definitely won the Medicare argument. About his only 'win' of the night (sorry CW, but people look at 'wins' and 'losses'!). This should serve him well in Florida.

    But Obama missed a huge chance to put the nail in Romney's campaign - he let him get away with some ridiculous nonsense and let him get back in the game.

  11. [11] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    But, where Romney failed to move the needle at all was in his "likability," which certainly wasn't increased by his performance.

    CBS's post-debate poll showed Romney's likeability going up 30 points, to 63%.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris1962,

    Are you unable or just unwilling to present your own analysis of the debate?

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    michty,

    Every once in a while I find myself disagreeing with Joe Biden.

    It is performances like Obama's last night - which harken back to similar performances throughout his first term - that make me think that the Democrats most certainly did NOT get this presidential ticket in the right order back in 2008. And, that's me being extremely kind to Obama in that the order of the ticket isn't the only problem.

    The only thing I can think of that could possible account for the complete and utter failure of President Obama to challenge the nonsense of the Republican cult of economic failure and of his challenger - who, by the way, Etch-A-Sketched himself into a few glaring contradictions last night - was that he was trying to give Romney enough rope to hang himself. But, then again, he's tried that before and he must know it's not working.

    Look for Vice President Biden to save the day!

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Joshua[9]

    That was very well stated.

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Buckeye54

    He won't decrease taxes if it means increasing the deficit--of course he could decrease taxes while claiming ignorance about how they will blow a hole in the deficit but the 1% must have been dismayed that their tax cut is now longer ironclad.

    This is just one example that Obama could jump all over in the next couple of debates and Romney won't know what hit him! Oh, wait ...

    Look for Vice President Biden to jump all over it and then some!

  16. [16] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Liz,
    The only thing I can think of that could possible account for the complete and utter failure of President Obama to challenge the nonsense of the Republican cult of economic failure and of his challenger - who, by the way, Etch-A-Sketched himself into a few glaring contradictions last night - was that he was trying to give Romney enough rope to hang himself.

    If we know anything about Obama and his election team it is that they are very good and very strategic. I agree with you on this - this is the only thing I can take from last nights debate - that playing it cool/calm, letting Romney flip-flop/make up complete fantasy-world plans and not attacking Romney at all (eg. bringing up the 47% video) were all part of this plan.

    I expect to see many campaign ads and videos out there dissecting all the ludicrous fantasy stuff that came out Romney's mouth - where as Obama didn't give Republicans any material to work with. I would just have rather he dissected it during the actual debate rather than after! But Romney gave them so many good lines to use, especially on Medicare. I can only hope that this is their strategy - I guess we will see!

    The failure to bring up the 47% video (or not even mention ONCE during the entire debate the word 'Bain') baffled me. He did not attack Romney's record at all. But having thought about it, I think this was very clever and they were just out-manoeuvring Romney by thinking 1 level above them: Romney would've expected 47%/Bain to come up and prepared a nice sounding response to these claims. By not bringing them up the Obama team avoided giving Romney the chance to explain himself in his terms to the American people, which is probably what Romney would've wanted. Now they can continue to define Romney using these adverts, which have been shown to be very effective.

  17. [17] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Are you unable or just unwilling to present your own analysis of the debate?

    Here's my analysis: CEO Romney showed up last night and mopped the floor with Obama.

    Here's the good news for liberals: Obama will come out swinging like an animal in the next debate. And the next debate, as I understand it, will be a Town Hall setting, which O is comfortable in and good at. So liberals have something to look forward to.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris1082,

    Now, THAT's what I'm talking about! Well done!

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    michty,

    The only people who think more strategically than Team Obama, it seems, are Team Obama supporters!

    :-)

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris1962,

    Sorry, I couldn't see! :)

  21. [21] 
    ninjaf wrote:

    Everyone has stated here about the same things I thought. President Obama looked like he wanted to take the muzzle off but was just reminding himself to watch his tongue. Romney was aggressive.
    My husband and I were both wondering if there wasn't some national security incident that we didn't know about going on behind the scenes because President Obama seemed so distracted, especially at the beginning.
    Maybe michty is right? Maybe the campaign is playing 3-D chess and we are just waiting for everything to be revealed.
    Or maybe not?
    It was frustrating to watch and I think this may be the last debate Jim Lehrer will moderate. He didn't control things at all.

  22. [22] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    Just two comments.

    First, I wasn't joking last week when I said I watch debates with the sound off. You often get a very different perspective. Rather than me commenting, you can read this:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/04/body-language-expert-romney-hyperactive-obama-measured-in-debate.html

    Second, reading what MR said, this is a 2.0. He was the channeled ghost of Nelson Rockefeller. The effective ads so far have been 47 and Bain. Now there's a whole campaign's worth of "Who's the Real Romney?" ads in what he said last night vs what he's been saying. Not to mention what his party might think about it.

    The only place the old Gordon Gekko-channeling Romney appeared was in telling the dean of NPR journalism he was going to shut him, as well as his pal Big Bird, down. Precious.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    LeaningBlue,

    Rather than me commenting, you can read this: ...

    Your comment would be more interesting to read than clicking on link. I hate clicking on links. That's not why I'm here.

  24. [24] 
    michty6 wrote:

    I'd like to predict that the next major Democratic political advert will be a debate between Romney and Romney.

    You heard it here first!

  25. [25] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    @Elizabeth Miller [23]:

    Okay. In a nutshell, MR was anxious, tight, and aggressive. The NPR comment was probably a release of some of his anxiety caused by internal dissonance.

    Not in that article, but the biggest tell for me was one shot of him while the President was speaking, where he was blinking, tight faced, at a rate of more than once a second.

  26. [26] 
    michty6 wrote:

    This was BEFORE the debate and Romney said he was going to cut the channel that the debate moderator works for (and Big Bird). It is very weird to see the Onion (almost) being right: http://www.theonion.com/articles/panicking-romney-attempts-to-lay-off-debate-modera,29790/

  27. [27] 
    michty6 wrote:

    If you haven't had the chance, check out the Big Bird/Sesame St memes out there. This might be my favourite: http://static.fjcdn.com/pictures/Shit+just+got+real..+Oh+hell+no_facb0c_4140760.jpg

  28. [28] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    "More than 58 million people watched the first Presidential debate last night between President Obama and Mitt Romney, up substantially from the first debate in the 2008 election cycle, which had 52.4 million viewers...."
    http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/debate-ratings-fox-news-tops-cable-news-for-first-debate-as-more-people-tune-in-than-2008_b148739

  29. [29] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    Best anti-zingers (where you might not have shot yourself in the foot, but probably ruin a perfectly good pair of shoes):

    MR: "need a new accountant" and "Big Bird"

    Best cognitive dissonance moment inflicted on the opposition: "I like Obamacare."

    Damn. Now the opponents are going to have to make up a new "clever" derogatory term for it.

  30. [30] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Actually all we are seeing is the biased liberal media in action - rallying behind Romney, trying to save the election that was slipping away from him. Oh. Wait. Suddenly the media ain't so 'biased' anymore... ;)

  31. [31] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Romney really was the Bain CEO last night: coming in to tell the shareholders (people) 'Don't worry. We'll look after the company. Tax cut? What tax cut? I never said anything about a tax cut, you must have been mishearing me for 5 years'.

    It's hostile takeover 101 - say anything you need to get the deal secured then move in with your real agenda, sell the assets off and screw the company. Except now the company is America and the people he wants to screw are the poor and middle class.

  32. [32] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Three quick thoughts ...

    1. As long as there was no big game changer, Obama wins the debate. I believe this was their strategy. I think long term all anyone will remember from it is Big Bird and Jim Lehrer.

    2. The strategy Romney used during the debate is called the Gish Gallup. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/04/1139926/-Romney-Won-Using-a-Debate-Technique-Called-the-Gish-Gallop

    3. If there really was a liberal media (that is, a coordinated media effort to support liberals along the lines of FoxNews), Democrats would never lose.

    :)

    -David

  33. [33] 
    akadjian wrote:

    BTW- For the record, I thought Romney looked sharper and more prepared and Obama fell into professor mode (especially later in the debate as Chris mentioned). This, however, is a "win" only on style.

    On substance, I think Obama may have won because Romney told a number of lies which might bite him later.

  34. [34] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Nice article about 'Gish Gallop' David. I still think Obama should have seen this coming. For example, Romney has been preaching about this miraculous (read: made up) nonsense about being able to make his tax cuts revenue neutral by limiting deductions (even though this literally impossible because there aren't enough deductions) for a couple of weeks now (since 47%gate) and Obama should have had better responses ready. And it was pretty clear Romney was making up new policies from the get-go - Obama should have been prepared for these flip-flops and responded. He didn't really respond to the Romney bull-crap at all...

  35. [35] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    "On substance, I think Obama may have won because Romney told a number of lies which might bite him later."

    I agree. Moreover, while it's generally not a good idea to attribute to strategy that which can be explained by a "fail," I'm not completely sure it wasn't Rope-A-Dope.

    Did you listen to the President's "Some other guy [other than Romney] was on the stage" speech this morning?

  36. [36] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Moreover, while it's generally not a good idea to attribute to strategy that which can be explained by a "fail," I'm not completely sure it wasn't Rope-A-Dope.

    Agreed. And by all means, I'm not saying that all of this was Obama's strategy, but a couple things I would bet on:

    1. He decided to refuse to take the bait and get into it with Romney because the right would have played the "angry black guy" card.

    and

    2. He was playing not to lose.

    That said, I think Romney surprised him with his sudden shift to the center. His comments about how much he likes regulation and how his lie about not offering tax cuts and his sudden care for the middle class all seemed to catch Obama by surprise. I hope he raises his game in the next debate.

    -David

  37. [37] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    and how his lie about not offering tax cuts

    What "lie"? Obama is the one who keeps citing the Tax Policy Center study, neatly neglecting to mention that the Center later issued another document, retracting its original claim. So if anyone's "lying," it's O. I believe it's called lies through omission.

  38. [38] 
    dsws wrote:

    Romney said he wants to cut tax rates, and make up the revenue out of the economic growth that will magically result. That policy prescription was described with one of the most memorable debate quotes to date, back in 1980.

  39. [39] 
    akadjian wrote:

    What "lie"?

    "I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut."

    He's stated he wants to cut taxes across the board by 20% and that he will make this up by closing some unnamed loopholes. Sure ... and I've got a bridge I want to sell you in Brooklyn.

    BTW- Where is this "retraction," Chris1962?

    I did see this excellent chart which shows who would get the biggest tax breaks under the Romney plan. Surprise ... it's people making more than a million dollars

    http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/numbers/displayatab.cfm?Docid=3296

    -David

  40. [40] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    He's stated he wants to cut taxes across the board by 20% and that he will make this up by closing some unnamed loopholes. Sure ... and I've got a bridge I want to sell you in Brooklyn.

    Just because you don't personally choose to believe him doesn't mean he's "lying," David.

    BTW- Where is this "retraction," Chris1962?

    Following the uproar by Team Romney over this bogus "report" — arrived at by handily taking guesses at which loopholes might be closed — the Center put out another document on August 8th, saying that if Romney put all deductions on the chopping block that "there is no reason why that full-reform proposal would have to raise taxes on middle class households." It was reported by evil Fox News, which included a quote from the Center's president, Donald Marron, who said, "I don't interpret this as evidence that Governor Romney wants to increase taxes on the middle class in order to cut taxes for the rich, as on Obama campaign ad claimed."

  41. [41] 
    Chris1962 wrote:
  42. [42] 
    dsws wrote:

    Here's a take from someone on Media Matters:

    But with that quote, the center was actually making the point that Romney's tax plan cannot remain revenue neutral without also including such offsets as raising taxes on the middle class:

    We also emphasize that the various goals of tax reform are achievable, but there are tradeoffs among revenues, lower tax rates, and progressivity. For example, if Governor Romney eventually specifies a full tax reform proposal that is not revenue-neutral and/or that raises taxes on some forms of saving and investment, there is no a priori reason why that full-reform proposal would have to raise taxes on middle-class households. [emphasis added [by Media Matters, not by dsws] ]

    Indeed, what TPC did in both studies was look at Romney's tax plan as laid out on his campaign website. Because Romney has not issued a detailed plan -- his plan relies on the elimination of unspecified tax deductions and loopholes -- TPC filled in the blanks in a way that made "the resulting tax system as progressive as possible." This means the studies were configured to keep taxing the higher-income earners as much as possible and the lower-income earners as little as possible -- all the while adhering to Romney's primary goal of not adding to the deficit.

    In both cases, however, TPC realized that Romney's tax plan as proposed would raise taxes on middle-income Americans.
    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/10/04/foxs-debate-fact-check-on-romney-tax-proposals/190373

  43. [43] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    This isn't about the debate. I was going to post last night about everyone needing to sit back and have popcorn ready to eat for breakfast when the NFP (market-speak for the Non-Farm Payroll report) numbers came out, but I had "thread-relevance" guilt, and didn't do so. But now, I just have do it. The responses are just too precious.

    A sharp reduction in unemployment rate was spring loaded last month in the labor force participation drop. Here's why: Say you have 3 officially unemployed in a labor force of 12. Then 2 leave the labor force because they haven't found work and their benefits expire, or they just give up. Now you have 1 in 10 unemployed. The rate goes from 3/12 = 25% to 1/10 = 10%. Bada bing.

    What's funny is watching the right-media's reaction: They, the purveyors of bullshit, get bullshitted by a number that matters (that's the "B" in BLS, by the way), and all they can do is howl, because, in the words of Paul Ryan, voters will change the channel if they try to wonk it through. They should have seen it coming and set the groundwork.

    Now watch: along with firing Bernanke, repealing KillerCare ("ObamaCare" is so yesterday, hence my suggestion for new name), and killing Big Bird, will come cries for abolishing the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  44. [44] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Because Romney has not issued a detailed plan -- his plan relies on the elimination of unspecified tax deductions and loopholes

    Yeah, there's a reason for that: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/49285872#49285872

  45. [45] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Just because you don't personally choose to believe him doesn't mean he's "lying," David.

    I know. Rather it's the part where he's lying.

    He does have a trillion dollar tax cut.

    He's been very specific about that. 20% across the board. This makes "I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut." a lie. Because that's the amount of his tax cut over 10 years.

    The other thing he has claimed is that it will not add to the deficit.

    This is the part I don't believe. Why? Because he hasn't really said how he's going to accomplish it.

    He'll have to cut $480 billion a year and/or eliminate deductions to raise this money.

    The CPC used some assumptions in their estimate to figure out what these were. Why? Because the Romney plan was missing the detail.

    Now the other reason I don't believe Mr. Romney is simply because conservatives have never paid for a tax cut.

    Here, you'd be correct in saying I don't believe Romney. But when he says he is not going to enact a $5 trillion tax cut, he is lying.

    -David

  46. [46] 
    michty6 wrote:

    He'll have to cut $480 billion a year and/or eliminate deductions to raise this money.

    You could cut EVERY SINGLE deduction available to high income earners and it would not be enough. Calling it revenue neutral is laughable. Anyone with half a brain knows that he is just saying this because his old line of 'tax cuts for the rich will spur the economy' was deeply unpopular. So he has polished the turd up a little with this 'revenue neutral' phrase. If you don't think the rich are still getting their tax cuts under a Romney Presidency I have some shares in Enron I'd like to sell you.

    If the tax cut was really revenue neutral why even bother with it? Basically he is revamping the entire tax system just for a laugh? As if this is the most important thing needing to be done just now??

    It's fantasy-world nonsense of the highest order.
    It's what a CEO taking over a company tries to sell to the shareholders because telling them that he plans to fire the employees and strip the companies assets would scupper the deal. Unfortunately, as Wed night (and many hostile takeovers) show, it is very effective because people buy into the bull shit.

  47. [47] 
    michty6 wrote:

    PS. I love checking out what Fox/Rush are saying in the face of good economic news. Fox headline just now: "Is The Number Real?". Doesn't even quote the number. Amazing.

  48. [48] 
    akadjian wrote:

    It's what a CEO taking over a company tries to sell to the shareholders because telling them that he plans to fire the employees and strip the companies assets would scupper the deal. Unfortunately, as Wed night (and many hostile takeovers) show, it is very effective because people buy into the bull shit.

    Yup.

    Is it really a tax cut for the middle class when you cut rates but eliminate the mortgage and health care deductions?

    More like a shell game.

    -David

  49. [49] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Fox headline just now: "Is The Number Real?"

    Apparently this is the conspiracy theory du jour.

    "Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers," - Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric

    Nutty ...!

  50. [50] 
    dsws wrote:

    He's been very specific about that. 20% across the board. This makes "I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut." a lie. Because that's the amount of his tax cut over 10 years.

    It's semantics. If a plan really were revenue-neutral by decreasing rates and removing deductions or exemptions, I wouldn't want to call it a tax cut -- the plan as a whole, that is. But Obama didn't either. He said it was a $5T cut that was supposed to be offset by something-or-other that doesn't add up unless a substantial part of the offset lands on the middle class.

    The other thing he has claimed is that it will not add to the deficit.

    This is the part I don't believe. Why? Because he hasn't really said how he's going to accomplish it.

    He didn't absolutely spell it out, but it seemed pretty clear to me. He said something about growth. That is, voodoo economics: the claim that tax cuts will cause so much economic growth that they increase tax revenue.

    If the tax cut was really revenue neutral why even bother with it?

    Theoretically, marginal tax rates are what affect the incentive to work. If you can cut rates and cut an equal amount of deductions, you can get the same revenue with less drag on the economy. The theory behind the claim isn't entirely correct, but it isn't entirely crackpot either.

  51. [51] 
    Chris1962 wrote:
  52. [52] 
    akadjian wrote:

    If you can cut rates and cut an equal amount of deductions, you can get the same revenue with less drag on the economy. The theory behind the claim isn't entirely correct, but it isn't entirely crackpot either.

    Ah yes. The old Laffer curve argument. If you tax someone at one hundred percent then they will have no incentive to work.

    Why you don't hear this argument from conservatives much anymore (accept when they're trying to confuse people who don't know any better) is because even this tired chestnut doesn't really support their arguments for lower taxes anymore.

    Why? Because once you lower taxes far enough, revenue decreases even if you're growing. And this seems to be the point we're at.

    But economics does not matter to the core conservatives anyways. They've just always used it to justify the following:

    1) More tax cuts
    2) More deregulation
    3) Less government

    All of these are important to the conservative movement solely because they are important to the corporate donors who sponsor the Republican party (and some within the Democratic party as well).

    Less taxes = more profit for wealthy owners.
    Less regulation = more profit for wealthy owners.
    Less government = less ability to regulate and tax.

    It's quite simple really. Trickle down theory again and again and again.

    Now there was a time when it was easier to buy this sales pitch that if you help the producers you will help the entire country.

    But we've been following this philosophy for 30 years now. Under both Dems and Reps. Does it appear to be good for the country?

    I would say not so much. Oh, it's great if you happen to be at the top. But nowhere else.

    -David

  53. [53] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Crap. Sorry about the italics :(

  54. [54] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    The Romney Tax Plan: Not a Tax Hike on the Middle Class

    "...The TPC model has an important limitation when it is used to consider the impact of such large reforms as Romney’s plan. It assumes that any tax reform would not help the economy. In this sense, the TPC model is consistent with the models used by the official revenue estimators at the U.S. Treasury Department and the Joint Committee on Taxation. But those models are intended primarily to analyze the impact of modest changes to the tax code, not fundamental tax reform...."
    http://american.com/archive/2012/october/the-romney-tax-plan-not-a-tax-hike-on-the-middle-class

  55. [55] 
    dsws wrote:

    Ah yes. The old Laffer curve argument.

    The Laffer curve nonsense was in there too, but it's not what I was calling "not entirely crackpot". Taxes, even low taxes, do cause some distortion of the economy. There's a valid question as to how taxes should be structured so as to minimize this distortion.

  56. [56] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Chris1962 [17] -

    Now, see, that's what I like about you -- your non-partisan nature. Heh.

    LeaningBlue [22] -

    Rockefeller Republicans -- now there's a term I haven't heard for a while. Heh.

    michty6 [26] -

    You're right, The Onion pretty much hit it out of the park on that one. Life imitates art, and all of that...

    [30] -

    Amazing how all of that "liberal media" also put the debate in Romney's column... or maybe it's all just a lie... heh...

    David [32] -

    OK, that Gish Gallop thing was funny...

    LeaningBlue [43] -

    That bit about abolishing the BLS could be quite prescient. I hope not, but I could see it happening from today's GOP.

    michty6 [46] -

    I've been contemplating the whole "revenue-neutral is bullshit" thing, and will be writing an article about it soon, I think...

    akadjian [53] -

    Fixed italics (I think).

    -CW

  57. [57] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    It's semantics. If a plan really were revenue-neutral by decreasing rates and removing deductions or exemptions, I wouldn't want to call it a tax cut

    It's not. It's tax reform.

  58. [58] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Now, see, that's what I like about you -- your non-partisan nature. Heh.

    Oh, I'm a Rightie, through and through, and make no bones about it. ;D But I'm also trained in the fine art of stepping outside one's own shoes and into the consumer's. It comes in real handy, too, when the subject is politics (product category), candidates (products), their messages (communication strategies), and a specific, targeted audience (undecideds). Folks forget that undecideds decide national elections. And, no, they're not all "low-information" people, as the Left likes to assume. There are plenty of "shoppers" in that crowd, who aren't particularly thrilled with their first purchase of Obama, a product that hasn't lived up to expectations. Shoppers are wondering if/why they should make a repeat purchase or give the competitor's brand a try.

    What did you think of that video clip I posted (somewhere), assessing the monkey business that's been going on with the polling? http://on.wsj.com/RHcPLR I'm seriously considering just sticking with Gallup and Rasmussen, going forward.

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