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  • Morning Bell: Heritage Experts React to First Presidential Debate

    During last night’s debate between President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney, Heritage’s domestic policy experts were live-blogging their analysis of the ideas discussed. Below are some of the highlights of our experts’ reactions to the major points made.

    We will be discussing the debate in a live Twitter chat with Heritage experts today at 10 a.m. ET. Follow @Heritage and join us by searching and using the hashtag #DebateChat2012.

    Competing Tax Plans

    Most of the time on taxes was spent on Romney’s tax plan. Romney’s plan, like most tax reform plans, would lower tax rates and make other changes to the tax code to encourage growth. The economy will not recover fully until we have tax reform.

    Obama repeated the falsehood that Romney’s plan would raise taxes on the middle class. This incorrect assertion was spread by a biased report from the Tax Policy Center. Romney’s plan can make pro-growth changes to the tax code and doesn’t have to raise taxes on the middle class.

    Some time was also spent on Obama’s plan to raise the top marginal tax rate over 40 percent. It is important to keep in mind that raising the top rate would fall heavily on job creators and hurt job creation.

    Obama falsely claimed businesses can take a deduction for moving jobs overseas. No such deduction exists.

    Curtis Dubay

    Education Spending as a Broad Answer on Jobs and Other Issues

    Further increasing federal education spending will fail to improve academic outcomes. Policymakers need to trim federal spending—not increase it—and empower state education leaders with control over their share of education funding. And there is plenty of room to cut spending.

    Since the 1970s, federal per-pupil expenditures have more than doubled (after adjusting for inflation). Those increases haven’t all gone to the classroom or toward teacher salaries. Much of that money has gone toward expanding bureaucracy and non-teaching administrative positions in our nation’s public schools.

    A better prescription for improving educational outcomes is empowering states with control of education dollars and decision-making, giving them the ability to craft policies that allow parents to direct their children’s education. Here’s Heritage’s plan for how to do just that.

    Lindsey Burke

    The Contrast on Medicare

    Obama has already made significant changes to Medicare through his health care reform law. He depends on failed government price controls to cut Medicare by more than $716 billion over the next 10 years, not to help shore up Medicare for future generations, but instead to help pay for Obamacare. Moreover, he depends on a board of 15 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats to enforce more cuts. [To read more, see Obamacare Ends Medicare As We Know It]

    Similar to the Heritage plan, Romney’s plan restructures the Medicare program for future generations. His proposal, called premium support, would provide a government contribution toward the cost of a private plan or traditional Medicare. It also guarantees that seniors would have access to plans that cover the government contribution while ensuring plans meet the same level of Medicare benefits.

    Premium support is not a “voucher” any more than is current law. It just says government will pick up a big part of the tab for your health insurance, and if you want to spend more, then you pay the difference. There’s nothing exceptional about this. It is exactly what happens today under Medicare Advantage.

    Alyene Senger and J.D. Foster

    Obamacare Raises Taxes on the Poor and Middle Class

    Obama proclaimed that he reduced taxes for the middle class. What he failed to mention is that he also increased taxes on the middle class. Let’s not forget that the President’s health care law will raise taxes on the middle class and the poor in four years as reported by the Congressional Budget Office. For instance, a family of four making about $24,600 per year, the projected federal poverty level in 2016, could be subject to Obamacare’s controversial individual mandate tax. This is only one of the 18 taxes and penalties imposed by Obamacare, some of which will hit Americans as early as January 2013.

    Romina Boccia

    The Role of Government and the Ladder of Opportunity

    When asked about the role of the government, Obama brought up his favorite metaphor, “the ladder of opportunity.” And as usual, he incorrectly suggested that it’s government spending that creates these ladders of opportunity.

    In reality, while government has an important role to play in upholding the rule of law, ensuring access to education, and providing a safety net, it cannot compete with the free market when it comes to creating opportunities. That’s why economic freedom—and not government spending—is one of the pillars of our American Dream.

    Given the President’s statist and egalitarian impulses, perhaps the “escalator of results” might be a more fitting analogy next time: Everybody just hops on and we all get to the same place with little effort on our behalf.

    David Azerrad

    What We Didn’t Hear Last Night

    What wasn’t said at tonight’s debate spoke volumes. In an hour and a half focused largely on the economy, not a single mention was made about the importance that marriage plays in combating poverty. Not a single mention of how federal welfare programs can function as poverty traps, especially as the Obama Administration has gutted the work requirements that made welfare reform a success. As the debate turned to focus explicitly on health care reform and the role of government more generally, not a single mention of how the federal government under Obamacare, rather than protecting religious liberty, is actively coercing citizens to violate their consciences. The nuts and bolts of taxation, regulation, Medicare, Social Security, and other domestic policies are important, but so too are the ways that these and other government actions shape culture and interact with civil society. At the end of the day, culture and the institutions of civil society are what make America great. Our government shouldn’t be weakening them.

    Ryan Anderson

    For more analysis of the debate, video, a slideshow of photos, and a word cloud of Obama’s and Romney’s answers, visit our Debate 2012 page.

    Quick Hits:

    • “A State Department officer told [House] panel members there were 13 threats made against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya during the six months before the Sept. 11 attack on the facility,” reports CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson.
    • Sensitive documents are lying in the wreckage of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, “offering visitors easy access to delicate information about American operations in Libya,” reports The Washington Post.
    • Turkey is striking back at Syria after “aggressive action against its territory.”
    • Facebook now has 1 billion users per month.
    • Join our live Twitter chat at 10 a.m. ET today! Heritage experts will be taking your questions about the debate. Just search for (and use) hashtag #DebateChat2012.
    Posted in Obamacare, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    36 Responses to Morning Bell: Heritage Experts React to First Presidential Debate

    1. Boogalie says:

      Well, on balance I am tickled at the outcome of the debate. Romney …if he is not swayed to the establishment magnet anymore than now, suggested he can be right minded about regular Americans. I was particularly proud that he seized the opportunity to acknowledge we are indeed a Nation under God. And made a play for religious freedom (a reference to Obamacare's ignoring same). So, a cautious yahoo…plenty of time left though. Semper Fi.

    2. George Kauffman says:

      I thought the Boston red Sox were having another bad night until I turned on the debate … Barrack without his Tele Prompter showed his True Color …

    3. mbrosch says:

      I thought these were the best moderated debates I have seen in years. I do think Romney comported himself well and left a better overall impression, but both men seemed to understand that they would be held accountable for any misconduct. Strange that Obama was allowed to run over his time so often, but he certainly wasn't comfortable. After having slept on it, I think Romney will pickup points.
      Ryan will eat Biden for lunch and demonstrate what a fool the man really is.

    4. Greg S says:

      Concerning "What We Didn't Hear Last Night": Maybe more relevent questions would be asked by a moderator other than Jim Lehrer. He seems to be the "go-to guy" for a lot of these debates. Do we always have to have moderators from PBS or network TV news shows? Lehrer stated before the debate that he chose the questions himself from a list of suggestions. I'm sure a more conservative moderator would have chose differently.

    5. Paul Stone says:

      A lot was discussed thoroughly in 90 minutes and enough was left over to make another debate that's not scheduled. Romney showed clear command of the issues and emphasized specific objections by numbering them-1,2,3,4,- and so on . Obama primarily made a speeches and ocasionally made his point which Heritage normally proves to be false

    6. Bernard Giroux says:

      Need a pointed discussion about the Constitution, the method of government of a republic; the ignoring of the Constitution by Obama, etc. He cannot defend himself from these observations.

    7. Michele C says:

      An annoyingly liberal acquaintence on FB posted this from a Talking Points Memo regarding a claim from one of Romney's advisers contradicting Romney's claim that his plan includes pre-existing conditions….can you please clear this up for me…and for her?

      After the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Colorado on Wednesday night, one of Mitt Romney’s top advisers acknowledged that, as a result Romney’s plan to repeal Obamacare, people with pre-existing medical conditions would likely be unable to purchase insurance.

      The admission directly contradicts the GOP candidate’s claim during the debate that “pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan” — a contention Romney has repeated on the trail and that his campaign has repeatedly walked back.

    8. Pete says:

      Last night was a good debate. Some commentators said that this debate was much better than one between Reagan and Carter. Still what both candidates did not get address is quality of education. They mentioned program in which private sector should be involved with college.student. That is nice but not enough. private sector (companies) should be involved with students in High School. I am talking about the last two years. In 1991, when we were in Colorado Springs, my daughters attended High School. There a Japanese firm was involved with students doing project with robotics and manipulators. It seems that project attracted many students. Here is an idea. If more companies can do that, they could actually select graduating students to eventually work for them. Company could pay for their college or trade school education and in return students would for for them at least 8 plus years or more as a payment for helping them. Government in-turn could give company tax break for each student they successfully educate and employ.

      • sdfultz says:

        Isn't that a type on indentured servatude?

      • Stirling says:

        There is education options for (last 2 years of high school) already out there. It's called Votech schools which offer programs (1/2 day in HS, 1/2 day at the tech school) in the Trades (hvac,plumbing,graphic design,etc). Most tech schools have aprentice programs that offer the ability to move from high school to a job with additional training. Making a government-private sector alliance is "crony captialsim" which is prone to corrpution and political manipulation. Companies are individuals and should have the freedom to do what's in their best intrest without government coersion as the market demands.

    9. MWMemphis says:

      It is truly amazing how the alphabet media is trying to spin the debate. I guess it's proof of how well Romney did do.

      • Lisa says:

        Libs doing the blame game again! Let's blame the moderator for our guys poor performance.

      • JC Young says:

        Actually most of the media I saw simply stated that the Prez was not on his A-game and the Romney came out very well. What alphabet did you watch?

    10. toledofan says:

      Great debate performance by Romney, Obama, for sure, did a terrible job representing America. For sure there were a lot of questions or topic that didn't come up and as time goes by and during the next debates maybe some substansive topics will be broached. It's clear, at least to me, that Obama has been an empty suit for the almost four past years and he showed everyone watching how inept he really is; no solid record, he spouted talking points other than substance about the country and clearly showed how he doesn't care about the middle class he keep touting. Anyone still considering a vote for Obama after yesterdays debate must be from Mars.

    11. Well as expected! When you lie with a telepromter you can mange to get away with 50% of your lies. But when you take the Sheetheads Tele away He trips over all the lies! He was mad that he has not had the opportunity to tee off lately!

    12. sdfultz says:

      I think the debate was the best information to this point on issues of substance. I was surprised that Romney turned to the center and debunked the 5T dollar tax issue, but I'm disappointed in how he plans to get the deficit down.

    13. Frank says:

      1. Neither tax plans dump the IRS & Income Tax & Corporate Taxes to go for a simple Federal Consumption Tax, like the Fair Tax which would help bring trillions of Corporate dollars back home & lead to an explosion of jobs (among other things). Neither tax plans balance the budget "soon".
      2. Neither candidate wants to dump the funding for the failed Dept. of Education or stop the Federal restrictions on how the money has to be spent.
      3. Neither candidate wants to simply "block grant" Medicare/Medicaid dollars to the States & cut them overall by 43% to help try & balance the budget & cap the increases.
      4. Only Obama wants to continue ObamaCare, and we are not sure of Romney on that issue either as he's made conflicting remarks about if he favors a 100% repeal or not.
      5. Neither candidate rejects the role of Big Government as having a role in creating jobs & opportunities. Romney at times says some good things, but his past actions betrays him. Bottom line: both support big Big Government.
      6. What we didn't hear last night: a credible plan to balance the budget before the US Dollar & world economy collapses, no return to sound money or ending the Federal Reserve, no dismantling of the NDAA & return of our liberties, no ceasing of endless & unaffordable wars, no return of our troops from 800+ bases in 120+ nations around the world left over from the Cold War, no end to crony capitalism, no return to truly free markets, no shrinking the Federal Government down to size as envisioned by our Founding Fathers.
      7. What we did get last night: 2 clowns (as described by Judge Andrew Napolitano) talking. Neither one deserving to be President & neither one with a credible plan to fix our problems before the nation implodes.

      • Frank if that's the way you feel…then don't vote

      • Nancy says:

        I agree with you Frank, but we know what kind of stooge we have by the prior 4 years…lets try a new direction. Maybe he can turn some negatives into positives. The people have spoken and Romney and Obama are our only choices of whom one will be elected. Gary Johnson and other write ins do not have a chance. On another note, if Congress is not cleaned out, no one can turn things around.

      • Nick says:

        You running this year?

    14. Sally Brown says:

      The "pre-existing condition" conundrum is a straw man. First there were already laws on the books that prevented insurance denial for those conditions, a Federal program as well as individual State Mandates. Second many of the policies that denied based on pre-existing conditions only denied for a 6-12 month period.
      Third Romney has stated that there are some good provisions in that more than 2000 page, that should be adopted and that the pre-existing condition coverage is one of them, and potentially the keeping adult children covered under the Family policy (until a certain age) is another.
      Overall ACA doesn't lower premiums, it raises them; it doesn't expand treatment, it limits it; it doesn't decrease the insurance burden on the poor, the middle class, the elderly, or those with chronic conditions, it increases it. As an example, medical insurance codes have increased (animal bite vs animal bite: snake & type, dog & type, horse, turtle, cat, etc.), which has already resulted in a massive increase in hospital & Physician payments. The more codes the more treatment, the more administrative costs, the more prices rise.

    15. sharida Mohammed says:

      Mitt Romney and the Republicans have no shame. They lie, they cheat and with that they win. They are the majority in Congress and they beat Obama on the head each time he thinks. Obama is a brave man against those coward Republicans. The USA saw four years of peace with Obama, if the Republicans win look out for a war with anyone.

      • @jslagra says:

        You are kidding right? You know what O has been doing with the drones right? I don't disagree with the drones in general but guess what, it's called KILLING honey. 4 years of peace? What rock do you live under? Have you seen what's happening in Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan & every other muslim country.

    16. Javelin47 says:

      Obama & Team constantly ask for specifics of Romney's plans, but I'm still wondering wha tObama's plans are, specifically, aside from Obamacare, higher taxes and 4 more years of the same.

    17. Duke Burnett says:

      While Romney did well and won debate, I feel he spoke too fast and sometimes stumbled over words. He was not real assertive about refuting obama's lies. .
      obama without prompter was slow and not real impressive. hope it cam over like that to everyone.

    18. KC-NM says:

      There will continue to be concerns about both Obama and Romney as the debates continue. However, last night, Obama showed his true colors as being a President who is in way over his head. He does not have the experience or leadership skill that is required.
      What Romney needs to do in the next two debates is to continue to be on the offensive side and to bring up the President's records of non-accomplishment. Romney also needs to capitalize on his comment that a leader brings to Congress the directions and goals without specifics. Then he needs to work with both sides to develop the specifics and a workable plan that benefits the majority of America and not just the special interest groups. Romney is right on regarding his leadership skills.
      Romney is needed now and America needs to wake up from the liberal media's lack of reporting the truth. Time to vote intelligently and to get rid of Obama's direction for destruction of America. Remember the slogan – "Destroy America – vote Democrat, Rebuild America – vote Republican".

    19. boberic says:

      Re. a tax on consumption. At first blush it sounds like a good idea in that everyone will have skin in the game. However the 16th ammendment gives congress the right to impose a tax on income not sales.therefore the only constitutional remedy would be a flat tax. This could be done with a simple vote in congress and a signature by the Pres. But don't hold your breath there are too many special intrests on both sides of the isle to ever let this come to a vote.

    20. BuddyLama says:

      Romney is not a Marxist.
      Judge Andy is not always right. Libertarians refuse to accept that a huge majority of the electorate rejects their naive and suicidal foreign policy rhetoric precisely because it IS naive and suicidal.

      A president alone can do nothing to shrink the size of government, but Obama wants to GROW it. Shrinking the size of government requires a conservative majority in both Houses of Congress capable and willing to over-ride a presidential veto.

      CONSIDER: Prez. Slick Willie Clinton is oft credited with a thriving economy and cited as the one responsible for "balancing the budget" and of creating a budget surplus, but he was merely present, whereas the Republican-controlled Congress wrote and passed the legislation to do these things, when Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House.

    21. Terri says:

      I disagree Frank……as soon as Governor Romney becomes President, we will see a small business surge simply based upon the level of confidence and trust they will have in the sound business principles and beliefs of our new President…..that will jumpstart the economy and head us back on the path of economic growth – won't be overnight but we can still be saved!!!

    22. Ben C. says:

      I was so pumped up last night I had a hard time getting to sleep. What Frank needs to understand is that changing back to a constitutional limited government will not be accomplished in one election cycle. Romney is a start and hopefully will be able to diminish Obama's changes. If successful and we experience a better economy (I am confident this will happen) then we can really make changes in his second term. Remember, the Senate is a big player in all of this and we need to get control of that branch and dismiss Harry Reid et al.
      Keep up the comments toledofan – I enjoy what you post.

    23. BuddyLama says:

      sharida Mohammed – you are 180° wrong on every point! The Obama lies daily. He and his administration are criminally negligent in the death of Ambassador Chris Steven's and his consulate staff' — their blood is on Barry and Hillary's hands.

      For his wanton failure to fulfill his constitutional duty of passing a federal budget for over 3 years, Harry Reid should be serving his term in prison, not in office. Maybe Rod Blagojevich would like a cellmate date with Barney Frank, Charley Rangel, Chris Dodd, and the rest of the US Senate? They are all criminal scum.

    24. PaulE says:

      Last night we were treated to a debate of substance (real facts, figures, leadership experience, etc. from Romney) versus style (hey he looks "cool", he appears on Letterman and The View, he gets to make stuff up and knows the media won't challenge him, has no plan other than "more of the same", etc. from Obama. Obviously, if someone is actually going to challenge Obama on the substance of his message, he's going to lose in a debate. There is no there there as Bill Clinton would say.

      The moderator by allowing both candidates to go over the ridiculous 2 minute time limit that has been the hallmark of these debates for years now, along with multiple rebuttals back and forth, actually forced Obama to go off script. He had to defend his statements and positions and given that most, if not all, are simply lies fabricated to sound good in a stump speech, he was left standing there looking dejected. On the other hand, Romney went through point by point on every allegation Obama made and showed both a command of the subject matter and an ability to think on his feet.

      If you had to select a leader to negotiate with Iran, North Korea, Putin, Chavez, or any other hostile world leader, would you want someone like Romney or someone like Obama at the table for you?

    25. Ron W. Smith says:

      Nice series of analysts' comments, Amy. That Obama lost this skirmish in the presidential debates is pretty clear, that he wasn't sufficiently prepared equally clear.

      When Mitt Romney said in stating his criterion for cutting federal programs deserves followup, too. "Is the program so important that it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?" Since 9/11, our national debt has ballooned the result of our being SuperPower on Call–a "program" quite above and beyond simple National Defense. Our annual deficit and annual spending the result of foreign policy decisions sustaining our international presence everywhere in the world and in intervention after intervention, war after war are almost identical $ figures–more than $1,000,000,000,000 per year. That trillion is more than is spent annually on national "security" by the rest of the world combined. For a nation far in debt and looking at shortfalls on so many domestic needs, borrowing money to support a habit born in flush times following WWII needs national debate in these leaner times, not same-old, same old.
      Can we hope that continuance of a "program" we can no longer afford will be up for debate in one or both of the remaining presidential debates and the reasons behind such extravagance thoroughly revealed?
      As a taxpayer, I'll be listening. As a taxpayer, will. you?

    26. Jeanette M. says:

      Thank God for the debates!! What a Rocky Mountain high!!!!!!

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