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On the Issues: Romney vs Obama

By Maddie Stachniak and Alex Ray in Opinion & Politics

Taxes After the first Presidential debate earlier this month at the University of Colorado at Denver, many angered democrats called for Obama to be more aggressive in his debate tactics. We saw a shadow of his former self on stage; he was submissive, quiet, and he never called Romney out on his numerous “myths” (27 myths in 38 minutes, according to While some, desperately trying to rationalize Obama’s newfound, submissive self, made the argument that it was all part of the plan. Some even said Obama was far enough ahead in the polls that he could afford to sit back and weather the onslaught. I am pretty far left on the political spectrum and will defend Obama as much as the next guy, but that is just not true. Before the debate, polls were saying that Obama had 52% of the vote compared to Romney’s 48%, well within the margin of error. Obama was unconvincing; he was ineffective; and he was on the receiving end of a vicious--yet ill-conceived--political beatdown. I believe that if that was the gameplan--to play the helpless dog that Romney was beating--then, it was a bad plan. Definite improvement was shown by the President’s camp in the Vice Presidential debate on October 11th. Joe Biden burst out of the gates in style. Animated, sarcastic, and often playing the Romney-Ryan game better than they do, he showed that his camp wasn’t going to take the beating lying down. The general consensus across the world-wide-web was that Biden won on substance, but lost on style, despite Romney and Ryan debating with the same disrespect and tactlessness. However, the message was made, and the stage was set for Obama on October 16th, in the second Presidential debate. One of my personal qualms with Romney is his consistent lack of evidence to support his unbelievable claims. In the first debate, Obama sat back and watched as Romney made statements like “My — my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.” It is clear that there is no--I repeat, no--way that Romney could cut taxes, or even let them remain as they are, and still cut the deficit. Unless he has found a magical seed to grow money trees, it is mathematically impossible. When proposed with a tax-related question in last night’s debate, Romney responded with “I will not -- I will not under any circumstances, reduce the share that's being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class.” Again, same statement, same lack of evidence. In Obama’s response to the same question, he said “Now, Governor Romney has a different philosophy. He was on 60 Minutes just two weeks ago and he was asked: Is it fair for somebody like you, making $20 million a year, to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or a bus driver, somebody making $50,000 year? And he said, ‘Yes, I think that's fair.’ Not only that, he said, ‘I think that's what grows the economy.’” said Obama, for background information. He continued, “Well, I fundamentally disagree with that. I think what grows the economy is when you get that tax credit that we put in place for your kids going to college. I think that grows the economy...So we just have a different theory. And when Governor Romney stands here, after a year of campaigning, when during a Republican primary he stood on stage and said ‘I'm going to give tax cuts’ -- he didn't say tax rate cuts, he said ‘tax cuts to everybody,’ including the top 1 percent, you should believe him because that's been his history.” Finally, Obama concluded “That’s exactly the kind of top-down economics that is not going to work if we want a strong middle class and an economy that's striving for everybody.” This was a strong, concise, well articulated response that showed the poise and ambition that wasn’t portrayed in the previous debate. It also called Romney out on his constant change of ideas, as well as exposing his clear lack of a plan of action for cutting the deficit. It is clear that if Obama can keep this sharpness and energy for the final debate--on foreign policy--then he will be in a great position heading into the final polls. Women’s pay equity and gun control When asked about equal pay for women, President Obama said “the first bill I signed was something called the Lilly Ledbetter bill. And it's named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less.” He continued, “that's an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family. This is not just a women's issue, this is a family issue, this is a middle-class issue, and that's why we've got to fight for it.” Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter bill into law on January 29, 2009. The bill addresses pay equity for women and fights against gender discrimination in the workplace. As a female, I was overjoyed that Obama would fight not only for myself but also for mothers, grandmothers, sisters and women across the nation. Unfortunately for my fellow women and I, Mitt Romney said of the issue: “We're going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I'm going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they're going to be anxious to hire women.”

Wait...seriously? Employers, you say, will be so desperate for new employees that they’ll even hire women? Romney here is heavily implying that women in the workforce are only second class to men. Wow. Even worse, Romney also said, “I went to a number of women's groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.”

This is not even true in the first place. In reality, several women’s groups had already brought these lists to Romney, which he then did very little with. And even if this was true, it is utterly irrelevant. You hired women, Mitt--good for you-- but you never named even a single thing that you would do to help them.

It gets even worse. He went on to say that “if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff... had two kids...She said, I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids.” Of course. Everyone knows that a woman’s primary job is being a homemaker, so if she even decides to work at all, she still needs to be home in time to get back in the kitchen and whip up a dinner for Hubby and the kids. Are you serious? The candidates were, as usual, answering a plethora of questions, so it is possible that Mitt just made a slip up on just this one issue. Or not. Another topic addressed during the debate was gun control. President Obama believes that “we have to enforce the laws we've already got...but we've got more to do when it comes to enforcement.”

This was a decent and important point for Obama to make, especially after the tragic shootings in an Aurora theater and a Sikh temple. Mitt Romney, however went off on a rather strange tangent, saying “We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the -- the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that's not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that's a great idea.”

In truth, I can’t even think of anything to say about this. There’s no way I could exaggerate it or change it in some way to make it funnier or more ridiculous. Apparently single parents are the problem behind people blowing each others’ brains out. Stay classy, Mitt.

Honestly, I cannot understand how women, or anyone for that matter, can justify voting for this man. And though I myself tend to be more liberal, I do not dispute the fact that there have been very respectable and good Republican candidates. George H. W. Bush or John McCain, war veterans and experienced politicians, were both decent conservative candidates. But Mitt Romney is not that man.

At times, the whole campaigns and debates just seem like some sort of surreal carnival-like satire. I half-expected Romney and Obama to get into a fist fight during the debates. And I really would not have been all too surprised if that had actually happened. This constant back and forth has really become mind-numbing by now. But that’s election season for you; expect astronomical amounts of cognitive dissonance.

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