If we measure problems by the amount of sacrifice it takes to fix them, then judging from the first Obama – Romney Presidential debate things are looking pretty good. Both Governor Romney and President Obama spent most of their first debate tripping over each other to assure Americans that they would demand the least and give the most while claiming their opponent would do the opposite. The big question is who best can paint themselves as a giver and their opponent as a taker.
Governor Romney, looking Presidential and sounding refined, finally gave us a clear answer on how he would rein in ballooning federal debt, which is now over $15 trillion. We don’t have to rely on tax increases or spending cuts; there is a third option, he said, growing the economy. If we pump enough water in it will lift up the ship of state. Just like that. He failed to mention our economy has grown by leaps and bounds right along with federal debt since 1980. Leaving that aside, the federal government operates on an annual budget and Mr. Romney gave us no idea as to how many years he thinks it would take for the economy to grow sufficiently or what he would do in the meantime. But economic growth is what everyone wants to hear, it makes listeners feel good, and like any good businessman, you always tell potential customers, uh I mean voters, exactly what they want to hear. It’s called marketing 101. I’m a much younger CEO than Mitt Romney, but I get that.
President Obama didn’t do any better, utterly failing to explain how he has any credibility to tell us he can reduce federal debt when under his administration it has grown to record levels. Pledging not to touch entitlements or raise taxes on the middle class, he echoed a different version of the same empty promise voiced by Mitt Romney. Something else stood out in this debate; President Obama did not seem to have the same depth of understanding of Mitt Romney he displayed of his opponents in the last election. In 2008 candidate Obama new Hillary Clinton forward and backwards, and later seemed to know John McCain better than John McCain. In this debate Mr. Obama said “I suspect Mitt Romney and I” have similar positions on entitlements. It sounded like a guess to me. Guessing at other peoples intentions is not the hallmark of a thoroughly prepared executive, and according to Bob Woodward’s latest book it got the President into trouble early in his administration.
Getting control of the federal debt, and addressing our other problems is going to require sacrifices; if the candidates for President don’t have the guts to admit it then we better find the fortitude to admit it to ourselves. We as voters seem to want all the benefits of the status quo without the responsibilities, and we just heard two very bright and accomplished people tell us we can have it. If we can't even talk about the sacrifices that are coming, how can we possibly be expected to make them? Most major news outlets were quick to declare Mitt Romney the winner of this debate; I’d like to know exactly what it is they think he won.