A few more comments on last night’s debate:
• I don’t think the college student worried about his job prospects was looking for the answer Obama gave about the budding rise of manufacturing. He’s not looking for a factory job. I think high-skill manufacturing should absolutely be part of the mix of the 21st-century job landscape, but there’s a way to tailor that to a graduate of higher education, such as through research and development, or even administrative or executive roles.
• Romney’s alibi on “Let Detroit go bankrupt” has little basis in reality. Only the managed bankruptcy process connects Romney and Obama’s prescriptions: Romney didn’t want to put government money into the mix as a bridge loan to finance operations during the bankruptcy process. That would have doomed the automakers GM and Chrysler, without any question. They couldn’t get financing on the open market.
• Obama’s response about how he’s only deporting “gangbangers” may have been the first time that reference has been made in a Presidential debate since Admiral Stockdale (trust me), but it stretched the truth quite a bit. We have the data on who has been deported, and it shows that just 14% of deportation victims had a criminal record in the first quarter of 2012, when the directive on only deporting criminals should have been followed in earnest. This aligns favorably with the previous data.
• Romney gave a variant of his tax plan last night, where he would allow a certain level of deductions, perhaps capped at $25,000. This enables him to say he won’t eliminate any deductions, just limit them so the overall effect is the same. The problem is that this doesn’t come close to filling the tax hole from a 20% cut in rates.
• In Romney’s first response, he said he would continue the Pell grant program. In his white paper on education, he said he would reverse the growth in Pell grants.
• Romney’s best lines are his recitations of the economic struggles during Obama’s first term. That can only get you so far. It will get people to listen to you, but after that you do need to offer something to actually improve circumstances.
• The gun control section was absolutely painful. Both sides have supported the assault weapons ban, either at the state or federal level, at one time or another, but neither of them offered any hope of renewed effort. Obama called for its renewal but shifted quickly into a discussion of education, as if gun violence is only attributable to kids (and as if education is the answer: the last three major mass gun murderers in America, Cho Seung-Hui, Jared Loughner and James Holmes, all attended college). Romney couldn’t come close to advocating new gun laws, so he shifted over to education, single mothers, and dolloped on the Fast and Furious scandal.
• Romney at one point criticized Obama for only creating half as many jobs as Ronald Reagan did coming out of recession. We are in the midst of a sluggish recovery, but the Reagan recovery’s circumstances were completely different. They had to do with Paul Volcker dramatically dropping interest rates to spur investment, which was impossible in the current environment.
• Here’s the debate in a far better format: Songified.