In a way, Romney and Obama both need to do the same thing tonight. And no, I’m not talking just about winning.
Both Romney and Obama need to make the case for why their preferred policy agenda will actually “empower” Americans. It sounds cliché, and it is; it sounds simple, but it’s not.
Personally, I’d like for Romney to come out swinging, and continue the mantra from his Party’s convention a month ago. I’d like to see him candidly ask the President: why do you want to raise taxes and regulatory burdens on small businesses and job creators?
We are facing one of the worst recessions in the last 100 years, and all you want to do, Mr. President, is make it harder for the private sector to start growing again.
Families are hurting, wages are stagnating, and unemployment is still too high, and you’ve now had four years to fix it. And in all that time, the only answer you’ve come up with is to stifle the energy market, encourage draconian regulations on businesses, and raise taxes.
Mr. President, the government isn’t what got us into this mess* and it’s not what can get us out of it. It’s hardworking people who have made the American economy what it is. We built it. Not Washington D.C. And until we start letting Americans keep more of what they earn, make more of the choices that are theirs to make, we aren’t going to be able to get the economy going again and be prepared to face the rest of the challenges that await us in the 21st century.
Blah, blah, blah—so on and so forth.
I would urge Romney to make education and health care two key components of this line of attack. Not only does Obama want to overregulate and overtax the private sector, he also wants to take choice out of the hands of families, and rely on the government to decide things instead. Talking points about Obamacare** and charter schools ensue.
President Obama has to take the same approach, but with the opposite spin. He needs to look squarely at Romney and say that government isn’t THE solution, it’s PART of the solution. Corporations and the stock market have bounced back, and the rest of the private sector is slowly but surely starting to grow more as well. But while the private sector is doing its job, the government needs to keep doing what it can to ensure the recovery continues.
This means support for families trying to get back on their feet, more investment in public infrastructure and education, and continued relief (payroll tax cuts, keeping various deductions, etc.) for those hit hardest by the recession. We can and should keep government off the backs of small businesses and corporations, but we also need to keep supporting struggling households by *insert talking points about jobs/recovery act*.
Tonight’s debate is about domestic policy, and as such I’d like to see both candidates take a strong stand on what they, or at least their Party, claims to believe. I’d also like to see statistics and numbers used in more than one response, but on this front I am much less hopeful.
That being said I’ll leave you with a few thoughts and one question:
- Whoever runs first from one of their perceived weaknesses, rather than boldly confronting it, will lose the debate.
- Romney should try to use whatever clever one-liners he can, as long as he doesn’t flub them. A botched zinger hurts more than a good one helps.
- At some point Obama will look somewhat incredulously wide-eyed at Jim Lehrer, asking if he can’t respond to whatever bull$#!% that other guy just said.
- At many, many, all too many points in the debate, Romney will squint so severely that it’ll look like he’s smiling. He’s not, Apple is still just working out a few bugs in its iRomney 6 operating system.
- Finally, what beer should I (and anyone else) purchase to celebrate the night’s festivities with? Names according to preference (IPA/Lager/etc.) much appreciated.
*He most definitely can’t say this, because Republicans have spent too much time making the less politically sellable point that the financial collapse was the government’s fault (because super de-regulation is the same as over regulation, or something).
**Romney needs to own health care in Massachusetts. The short version of this argument, which dovetails with my “it’s the people that will lead this recovery,” is the one he’s tried to make in the past, but re-packaged: What I did was right for the state of Massachusetts, what you did was wrong for the entire country. We have states and federalism for a reason, Mr. President, and the way to address health care in this nation is by competition between states, and between providers and insurers—not by giving up control to bureaucrats in Washington D.C.