Well, it's that time again. With the world economy in crisis, and the administration sticking to it's "Everything's gonna be OK" strategy, our candidates are holding a "town hall"-style debate. I live-blogged the last debate, and it wiped me out and pissed off the other people in the room, but the online response was quite positive, so we're gonna try this again.
(An auditorium of undecided voters---why the hell is anyone "undecided"?)
Tom: Intro, with Brokavian gravitas
Friendly greeting. Both appear comfortable, Obama more so, perhaps.
Tom: Econ will be biggest issue
Q to O from bald guy: How to help old folks in bad econ.
O: General thanks for having me. "worst financial crisis since Great Depression". Connecting with audience. "Final word on failed econ policies of last eight years" Give details of bailout, with distinct left-populist bent, as expected. Then moves onto middle class tax cuts, and vague help to homeowners. Shout out to his other issues, and connects them to personal financial woes.
M: ty, all. To bald guy (connects to him), personalizes his responsibility to fix plan (very presidential) --- Let's get out of this without raising anyone's taxes (It's magic!)
Cut gov't spending, energy, peace on earth. We have to do something about home values. "I would order SecTreas to buy up bad mortgages and re-write them" (how to pay for it without taxes???) Claims he has answers separate from O and GWB. Asked and answers re cadidates for SecTreas.
O: Launches second attack on "trickle down". (squiggly lines useless). Wants middle-class tax cut (again--not a bad thing to emphasize). McCain right about stabilizing housing prices.
Black guy with beard: what about bailout helps real people?
M: It's not bailout, it's "rescue". Mainstreet is paying heavy price, I suspended campaign to protect tax payer (really??) Economy will recover. (Approaches black man rather menacingly, and tells him he probably never heard of Fannie and Freddy. Bad.) Blames citizens for bad borrowing. Bad idea again (even if true to extent). Obama was getting payoffs from Fannie and Freddie (legally). Housing loans to be bough up (again).
O: Explains to black guy in non-condescending manner. Give brief econ lesson. Deflects M's attack on him (M blamed him for being supporter of F and F). Returns blame to "deregulation". Says that two years ago he made noise about impending sub-prime crisis, but got Cassandra'd. Says M kept fighting for dereg.
Repersonalizes crisis. Connects well.
O: I'm confident about economy, but needs better leadership and regulation. 20th century regs for 21st century problem. "ordinary families" "health care" "energy".
M: Econ depends on what we do, gives housing plan again (very smart to keep on that for average voter). I have magic letter...show you later. American workers best in world. Obama watching him attentively. Workers innocent bystanders to crisis.
Middle-aged white lady: why should we trust either of you?
O: I understand your frustration. You've been doing your job, managing your household, but Washington not. There's a lot of blame to go around, BUT, surpluses before W., now huge debt and deficit. No one is innocent, but W. is mostly to blame because of deficit spending, and M voted for most of the budgets. I will help you by helping with energy and health care. Jingoistic shout out to Saudis and Chinese. Must also make spending cuts--"Im cutting more than im spending...my priorities are yours"
M: Menacingly approaches middle-aged white woman. "washington is broken, im a reformer" We need bipartisanship, and O doesn't do that. Suggests you call up watch dog organizations and find O to be liberal big spender, and im not. O voted billion in earmarks (what's a billion, really at this point??) Get people working, yada yada, energy independence, drilling, nuclear power, yada yada, i know how to fix economy.
Tom: What are your priorities? in order
M: You can do all at the same time, must reform entitlements, we can't give same benefits as we used to (ouch! true, but bad move). I'm bipartisan. (sorry, M, Lieberman doesn't count). Lots of nuke plants will create jobs. Wind, clean coal, yada. We can overcome. some of 700 billion ends up with the terrorists (WTF???) Second, health care, third education.
Damned back end running slow, sorry.
Caller: what sacrifices will you ask americans make in this time of crisis?
M: Must cut gov't services, waste, earmarks, defense waste, even have to cut good projects. SPENDING FREEZE EXCEPT DEFENSE, VETS, AND "VITAL PROGRAMS". Ugh. So much for Keynes.
Hospital calling..you're on your own for now...
Here's the deal: between the slow blog back end machinery, and the hospital calls, this may get spotty. Sorry. I'll try harder!
O: share the sacrifice.
M: O will raise your taxes, and that's like herbert hoover. Econ sucks, but small businesses are wonderful. O's taxes will hurt small businesses. He's EVILLL. Let's not raise taxes, and let me give you a 5000 dollar tax credit to buy 12K worth of insurance.
O wants to respond, brokaw tries to cut it off a bit.
O: Agree with Tom, have to take on entitlements, but can't guarantee it will be first priority, but hopefully in first term. Going back to talking about M's misrepresentation of his tax plans. Emphasizes that 250K and up will get increases. Under 200K will get tax cuts. Tax credits to small businesses to buy health insurance for workers. M wants to give 300 billion tax cut to the richest and biggest. (Pretty powerful point). If we get tax policies right by middle class, and reverse bush/mccain problems, we will be in a place to deal with entitlements.
M: Bipartisan, bipartisan, yada yada, Reagan, yada yada, approaches menacingly again, Obama wants higher taxes, has done it before, will do it again, that's his record.
Black woman named "ingrid": what will M do about the environment?
M: Econ times are hard, but i've disagreed with bush on environment, and fought for environment, shout out to climate change, likes nuclear as first solution. Thinks obama hates teh nuculars.
O: one of biggest challenges for our times, challenge and opportunity, if we create new energy economy, good for jobs (a lot like what M said). We will have to make investment to do this (adds dose of reality to M's ideas---innovation ain't free). Directly contradicts spending freeze.
Brokaw again tries to keep candidates in line.
M: R and D from govt is appropriate (what happened to your spending freeze?) Drilling offshore is vital as bridge.
(My wife says this is boring and they are saying the same old shit...i think she's right).
OK, now talking bout health care.
O: Keep your plan, work with employer to lower premiums. If no insurance, yo ucan buy same ins as fed employees. M''s plan is different. He says he will give you tax credit, but doesn't mention he'll tax employer provided plans, and will allow deregulation of insurance plans by dissolving state borders.
M: Health care costs important. Fundamental difference between me and O. He want's gov't, and will fine you for not doing what he says...will fine mommies. I, OTOH, will give you tax credit and it's good to allow you to cross state lines. According to squiggly lines, all the men are asleep. McCain isn't making much sense about health plans. Really. Taking about choice. He doesn't really get health care AT ALL. Really. He's totally fucked up on this issue, more than any other single issue.
Philosophical difference: M.--health care is a responsibility. O--health care is a right.
O admits gov't is important in health care, if state borders down, insurance companies will just impose lots of restrictions by running to least regulated states. It eliminates consumer protections.
Moving on to national security. Back end was hanging so i missed a bit.
McCain lays out his foreign policy creds. Says O is wrong about all policy is wrong and doesn't get it. No 'on the job training'
O: O needs to get this right this time. "i don't understand. I dont' understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 911 while qeada set up camp elsewhere"
You are a very brave blogger doing this with the back end in shambles!!!
Well, between hospital pages, and MT, i had to give up, but hopefully it will get discussion going.
Was he twirling his moustaches as well?
I chuckled at Brokaw trying to keep them both in line. They both had so much more they wanted to say, but the format didn't allow it. I also thought the questions were very good.
It seems to me that McCain appealed to the emotions a lot. He took the edge out of his voice and spoke very softly. He seemed to be trying really hard to be likeable. The 9th or 10th time he addressed the audience as "my friends," I got totally exasperated and said, "WILL YOU STOP SAYING 'MY FRIENDS'?!" Still, he did better than I expected. In particular, he didn't get nasty, which was a relief. (One of the MSNBC commentators said something to the effect that "he lets his running mate do that.")
Obama was a lot more cool and "presidential," but it bothered me that he started off most of his remarks with "uhh...." which may have made him look a bit hesitant to the crowd that gets hooked in by the emotional stuff. OTOH, there was more substance in his answers - although neither candidate really said anything new (no surprise there).
Obama says health care is a right. In any civilized country except ours, it certainly is! And what's with McCain's $5000 tax credit for people to buy their own health insurance? How is that different from a universal health care plan, aside from being woefully inefficient? I suspect the Feds could cover universal health care as a "group plan" - and include mental health parity (an issue near and dear to my heart, as someone who relies on head meds and regular visits to a doc and a therapist to keep my chronic depression more or less at bay) for a lot less money.
what's a billion, really at this point??
"A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money." Can't remember who said it, but yeah.........