On Wednesday, October 3rd, President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney will hold their first debate on domestic policy from 9:00-10:30 pm EST at the University of Denver.
With Romney slipping in the polls and his campaign on the brink of implosion, this will be Romney's first chance to strike back at the president personally. Obama will undoubtedly be looking to maintain his edge over Romney while trying to portray himself as the candidate with experience and trust.
From my libertarian perspective, I will be focusing on the debate from a non-partisan stance with little enthusiasm for either candidate but a keen interest on how they portray themselves to the American public. Obama and Romney will predictably be trying to distance themselves from each other and how they offer two different "visions" for the country despite their many, many similarities. From this lens, I will attempt to help navigate the messages from a perspective that values peace, individual liberty, and a free economy and trying to answer a few questions: Who really is the lesser of two evils? Who would be better on domestic policy? Foreign policy?
I will also be liveblogging the vice presidential debates on October 11th and the last two presidential debates on October 16th and 22nd. So stay tuned!
PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live. For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.
Gridlock? Yes, Democrats and Republicans are bickering over some hangnails on the Leviathan monster that is the federal budget, but Congress and the White House are really on autopilot. Debt grows, deficits get bigger. Both parties agree that the Bill of Rights is negotiable, that every conflict around the globe should be policed by 19-year-old American Marines, and that federal intervention is the driver of all that is good and noble in the country.
Question: What would you do about partisan gridlock?
7:24pm: Romney: How can government make private enterprise more efficient? That seriously gave me chills. I don't know Mitt, Mussolini and Francisco Franco had some great answers to taht question.
7:20pm: Romney: A lot of rhetoric and talking points, but very little in specifics about the role of government. Pursue happiness, protect freedom, blah, blah, blah. He sneaks in his love of monstrous government by his support for a massive military budget disguised as "defense."
7:17pm: Obama: Role of government is to keep Americans safe. "There are some things we do better together." I agree! But government is such a non sequitir to this fundamental truth. One of the biggest fallacies of a free society is the "radical individualism" caricature. Libertarians love cooperation and the ultimate manifestation of this: the division of labor, the free market, and voluntary organizations.
Obama cites railroads as an example of government success. But the first railroads were privately funded, and negotiated with Indians rather than seizing their lands as the federal government did. In fact, nearly all infrastructure in the 19th century was privately funded.
Question: What is the role of government?
7:11pm: Obama is hammering Romney for his "repeal and replace" motto, and Obama is right to a certain extent. Romney is wrong to want to replace these awful government programs with something, but because Romney and Obama are cut from the statist cloth, Romney thinks that a Republican-managed government program is the answer to those evil, socialist Democrat programs. What about repealing Dodd-Frank and NOT replace it? Repeal Obamacare and NOT replace it?
7:08pm: Is it me or does Obama look exhausted and worn out? Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown...and picks who should be killed on "Terror Tuesdays."
7:01pm: Obama: We have seen this health care system work...in Massachussetts! Obama got his zinger too.
6:58 pm: They both emphatically say "YES!" Romneycare vs. Obamacare. Ah, choice.
Question: Differences in health care?
6:55 pm: Obama talks about "risky behavior." How was this chaotic, reckless lending allowed? By Fed policy of artificially low interest rates that send the wrong signals to the economy. This opens Pandora's box that NO amount of federal regulation can tame.
Romney sounds absolutely clueless about what he calls "regulation." He stutters and stammer around a bit talking about people opening up banks in they're garage. Repeal and replace Dodd-Frank? That ought to be the Romney campaign motto for everything. We need Republican regulations, not Democrat ones!
6:50pm: Hey Obama, if insurance companies are so inefficient and only care about the bottom line, how come they love Obamacare and governent intervention in the health care market in general so much?
6:46pm: Obama: I want to talk about the values behind Social Security and Medicare. Romney: I fundamentally believe in preserving Social Security and Medicare. So in other words, to answer the debate question, no there is no difference between us.
6:42pm: Obama's grandmother "put" money into Social Security and Medicare. Really? What about the fact that this money was withheld, by the threat of force, from her and others' paycheck?
Obama says Social Security is "structually sound." He's President, he has to know that this simply is not true.
Question: Differences on Social Security?
6:41pm: Romney: We talk about picking winners and losers, but you pick the losers. Romney got his zinger!
6:40 pm: Obama: brings up Exxon-Mobil and their evil corporate profits. Okay, but what about the subsidies that they receive from the U.S. government? They, and countless others, are the real welfare queens.
While they go back and forth on the deficit/debt issue, neither of them are admitting the fundmental truth: the U.S. government is beyond broke. $16 trillion in on-the-books debt, $221 trillion in future unfunded liabilities, and a dollar that plunges in value because the Fed keeps printing up the money to finance this nonsense. I'll bet Mitt Romney $10,000 he won't bring this up. Obama too.
6:31pm: Immediately, Obama seems more adult in his answer. He brings up actually cutting something from the massive military budget (!), but every single defense budget he has signed has been bigger than the one before. And cutting the rate of mandatory increases in the budget are NOT cuts.
Romney's litmust test: if we have to borrow money from China in order to fund it, he'd cut it (Side note: Romney seems to make a habit out of portaying China as some sort of enemy). CUT PBS??? Are you kidding me?
Question: What do to about the federal deficit/debt?
6:25 pm: Obama keeps mentioning that Romney wants "$5 trillion in tax cuts." Is he serious? Where is the evidence for this? Romney is advocating cuts in rates, but closing loopholes and keeps stressing how he wants people paying taxes and increasing revenues.
6:21 pm: Romney stresses JOBS. Yes, everyone is concerned about unemployment, but if "jobs" were an end in and of themselves, then why not just ban farm equipment? Or cars? Or conscript everyone into the military? That would create millions of jobs. If he understood anything about economics, than he would understand that it is not about creating jobs, but creating value. When companies create value in the marketplace that other people voluntarily purchase, then the spiral effect of jobs is created.
It's just like Keynes said: we could create tons of jobs by digging ditches, filling them up again, digging ditches, etc.
6:16 pm: Obama brings up a point that he frequently makes about the 2008 recession, jobs lost, and the auto industry. He cites 5 million jobs created, cites housing, auto success and says there is a lot of work to do.
This is a common argument made by the President, but it simply isn't true. The 2008 recession was caused by the Fed's monetary policy of too much debt and low interest rates, and Obama has continued this policy on steroids.
Obama says that he is "winding down two wars?" That is a lie! Obama has promised that U.S. troops will be in Afghanistan until 2024, and the Persian Gulf is being increasingly militarized with weaponry and troops in Qatar, Oman, and U.A.E.
Ah, Romney and his soind bites. Energy independence! Balanced budgets! Champion small business! Anyone who knows Romney understands that this is impossible with the spending increases that Romney wants. Obama is right about one thing: Romney wants $8 trillion of increases in federal spending.
Romney is running as far away from the Obama caricature of him as possible. Romney says he will only cut taxes on the middle class, and eliminate deductions on the rich. In other words, raising their taxes. What exactly is different about this than Obama? Obama has said pretty much the exact same thing: cut middle-class taxes and either raise taxes on the rich or keep them the same.
Question: What are the major differences between the two of you about how you would go about creating new jobs?
TUESDAY PRE-ELECTION NIGHT NEWS
As many commenters have noted below, it is an absolute shame that Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson will not be allowed to debate against Obama and Romney tomorrow night. The good thing, however, is there has already been a bit of a backlash.
Two of the original sponsors of the debate are pulling out over Johnson's exclusion. "Multinational corporation Philips Electronics and the women's organization the YWCA both dropped their sponsorship after being flooded with E-mails and letters from supporters of former Republican New Mexico Gov. Johnson," according to Washington Whispers. And good for them!
On a similar note, eighteen "good-governance" and media watchdog groups demanded to see the lengthy, and secret, contract governing the upcoming presidential debates. Unsurprisingly, their simple request has yet to be accepted.
Here is a great interview with Johnson on C-SPAN from yesterday concerning the two-party system, his exclusion from the debates and polling, and how the rules are stacked against any third-party running.
In Maine, where some of the worst shenanigans took places, Ron Paul will officially be a write-in candidate. Could this potentially tip the scales? Who knows. Many will undoubtedly write him in as a protest vote, and I couldn't agree more with anyone who does. If anything, to let the establishment know, on an official government document, who you support and that you are willing to write his name in in order to send the message.
Meanwhile on Twitter, John (@goodinohio) gets it:
Simon Albert expresses exactly what all libertarians feel and why many conservatives and Republicans are nervous: Is Romney really our option to beat Obama?
Hey, and while you're at it, follow me on Twitter!
Interesting...according to a National Journal poll conducted September 27-30, Obama and Romney are tied at 47-47. It even has Romney leading by 8 points among independents. Now I tend to be skeptical of polls (espeically since we are bombarded with them on a daily basis), but this is surprising indeed. But then again, it could switch next week or in two weeks.
What really catches my eye is that Obama is currently at 74% at Intrade to be re-elected. That is huge, almost a 3 to 1 shot. The money and the insider scoops seem to be on him.