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  • Morning Bell: Heritage Experts Analyze Second Presidential Debate

    During last night’s debate between President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney, Heritage’s 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.

    Join us today at 11 a.m. ET for a Google hangout as Heritage experts discuss the debate with state and national bloggers. You can watch the hangout on our Google+ page. Submit questions—starting now—on Twitter with the hashtag #HeritageFan.

    “Getting Tough on China”: The Truth About Trade

    President Obama said during the debate that he signed three trade deals. Not true. Obama was left three free trade agreements on his desk when he took office. Those deals and many others were initiated, negotiated, and signed by President Bush. The one trade agreement that Obama has prioritized, the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) involving now 11 countries, was also initiated by President George W. Bush.

    What Obama did was to delay passage of agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama that were already completed. He did so to appease labor unions and others in his political base. During the three years of waiting for the President to submit the U.S.-Korea FTA, the U.S. lost $30 billion in exports.

    The United States needs an energetic, committed trade policy. We need a TPP that is truly a free trade agreement and of sufficient scale to make a major impact on the U.S. economy. That means accommodating the world’s third largest economy and U.S. ally, Japan. It means folding in other willing free trade partners like South Korea. And it means putting TPP on a timeline that gets it completed, passed and implemented as quickly as possible.

    “Getting tough on China,” something both candidates claimed to aspire to, is good—as long as what is meant by that is ensuring China abides by its international trade commitments. But this is not enough—it is not a trade policy. The U.S. needs to create opportunity with trade, not just manage bad behavior.

    – Walter Lohman

    Chinese Currency Manipulation and U.S. Employment

    Governor Romney suggested that China’s currency manipulation was related to business activity and job creation in the U.S. However, as Heritage’s Derek Scissors showed, there is in fact little to no relationship between China’s currency policy and U.S. employment:

    [T]he exchange rate between the yuan and the dollar has no direct effect on American prosperity or American jobs. It never has. Seventeen years ago, China sharply devalued the yuan against the dollar. Yet American unemployment fell for years afterward. Since 2005, the PRC has been slowly raising the value of its currency, which is what protectionists say they want. And American unemployment has soared.

    There are, however, other policies the U.S. President and Congress should pursue to return America to a place where businesses want to invest and hire workers. These include pro-growth tax reform, reducing undue regulatory burdens on the economy, and enabling energy exploration and production.

    – Romina Boccia

    Did Someone Say Libya?

    The issue was raised in the debate: What did the Administration do about security before the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and how did it respond afterward? It was the question that the President never clearly and explicitly responded to. When it comes to how the White House responded to the attack, the Administration has a lot of explaining to do. Its series of explanations was muddled and misleading.

    When it comes to responding to the attack, Americans of course expect that our government will go after the perpetrators. The questions of how our government responded to the terrorist threat in Libya, however, still has to be answered.

    James Jay Carafano

    Are Oil Companies Sitting on Leases?

    Are oil companies sitting on leases? The short answer is no. President Obama made this statement tonight, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar routinely makes this statement. But as Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, recently testified:

    By looking at the statistics over time, it is evident that industry has become much more efficient over the last several decades. While we used to hold 80,000 leases and produce on 24% in 1988, we now hold just 49,000 leases and produce on 46%. Secretary Salazar’s statements that this shows industry is intentionally leaving leases idle is tired rhetoric that fails to take into account the huge obstacles the federal government places in the way of oil and natural gas producers, and the fact that not every lease has recoverable oil and gas.

    Just because oil companies aren’t drilling, this does not mean that no activity is occurring on that land. Environmental review, permitting, seismic research, and exploration may be occurring. But even that fails to address the real problem: The environmental review and leasing process takes entirely too long.

    Rather than implementing an efficient leasing process, the Department of the Interior added three unnecessary and duplicative administrative regulations to the leasing process in 2010. Oil companies are not sitting on leases; they are simply not being issued by the DOI, or the DOI is making it more difficult to actually obtain the leases.

    – Nicolas Loris

    Energy Production on Federal Lands Has Fallen

    While President Obama made the familiar statement that oil and gas production is the highest it has been in eight years, Governor Romney was right to point out that this was driven by production on private and state lands. Oil and gas production on federal lands is, in fact, down.

    According to a recent report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy production decreased 13 percent on federal lands in fiscal year (FY) 2011 when compared to FY 2010. The official moratorium and de facto moratorium as a result of a molasses-like permitting process reduced planned capital and operating investments by $18.3 billion and cost the Gulf more than 162,000 jobs in just the past two years.

    Federal production in the West has experienced a similar fate: The Administration’s delays on permitting oil and gas projects public lands are preventing economic activity. In Utah and Wyoming, for instance, projects held up by the National Environmental Policy Act process are preventing the creation of 64,805 jobs, $4.3 billion in wages, and $14.9 billion in economic impact every year.

    – Nicolas Loris

    Immigration: Finally, Debate Touches the Third Rail

    For the first time in two debates, the issue of fixing our broken borders and flawed immigration system was finally addressed by the two sides that want to occupy the White House. They offered two very different approaches and a distinct choice. One approach is to change the laws to accommodate the unlawful population that is already here—an approach that will not only not fix the problem, it will just make America a magnet for more problems. The other approach is to make the laws work and create a legal system that gets employers the employees they need when they need them to grow the economy and create more jobs.

    There are good answers to address these tough problems. What we need in Washington is leadership that is willing to do the job.

    – James Jay Carafano

    Tax Plan Details: No Taxes on Savings

    Governor Romney, when giving more details on his tax plan tonight, discussed that families making $200,000 or less would face no taxes on savings. The Heritage Foundation’s New Flat Tax would deduct savings immediately from taxable personal income, and savings would remain tax exempt until spent on consumption. This would lead to greater financial security for the American middle class by providing incentives for greater personal savings.

    The New Flat Tax, as outlined in Heritage’s Saving the American Dream plan, would replace today’s convoluted tax system with a simple, neutral, and transparent tax system that would allow America to achieve its full economic potential.

    – Romina Boccia

    The Auto Bailout and Bankruptcy

    President Obama once more criticized Governor Romney for saying GM should go bankrupt. But Romney tonight finally cleared the record, pointing out that that is exactly what happened – GM and Chrysler DID go bankrupt. But, as Obama confirmed, the administration didn’t stop there – it nationalized the firms. Taxpayers are still some $25 billion in the hole and still own a quarter of the shares of GM. Bankruptcy was the right solution; a bailout was not.

    – James Gattuso

    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:

    • President Obama had more than three extra minutes of speaking time last night compared to Governor Romney.
    • The number of people on food stamps continues to top record highs.
    • Despite high demand for a smartphone app that allows customers to hail a cab, New York City’s taxi regulators are trying to shut down the app.
    • Russia has been helping Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who has presided over the massacre of Syrians. At noon ET today, Heritage will host a discussion of what the U.S. should do about the Russia-Syria relationship. Watch online here.
    • Join us at 11 a.m. ET for a Google hangout to discuss last night’s debate. Heritage’s Brian Darling and Israel Ortega will be chatting with bloggers Neil McCabe, Melissa Clouthier, and Steve Malzberg. Watch on our Google+ page and submit your questions via Twitter using the hashtag #HeritageFan.
    Posted in Energy, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    35 Responses to Morning Bell: Heritage Experts Analyze Second Presidential Debate

    1. eva says:

      Mr Romney I am your supporter, but where you sleeping ? What about comments of Obama to Medvedev
      AFTER THE ELECTION I WILL HAVE MORE FLEXIBILITY !!!? There is lot more to attack Obama and
      you are dismissing it , looks like you don't want to win like the previous McCain . We can not afford four more
      years of this socialistic ideas ,

      • B Goldstein says:

        Wait for next week's debate which is on foreign policy and see Romney get into action.

      • Bee says:

        What about Obama claiming the Iraq withdrawal deal as his own. That deal was negotiated and signed by President Bush.

    2. JoeUSA says:

      Too bad not many people are reading this page.
      This is a well done piece.

    3. Heratige Foundation analysis of the 2nd Presidential debate.

    4. Pete says:

      This is good info for me and a sharp reminder that details matter. The question is, how do we get the voters topay attention to the details?

    5. I'm reading it and Forwarding it; and asking others to pass it along. We have to Enlighten those who are ill/unimformed.

    6. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Just about what we expected. Obama lied and distorted his way through another debate. But what was surprising was the bias Miss Piggy showed. Not only did she give Obama two shots at answering some questions, while cutting Romney off from finishing just one, but she supported and encouraged Obama's lie about what he said the day after the attack in Libya. The most disappointing fact is the clueless Republicans approved the moderators for all the debates knowing full well they are dedicated leftist that are there to promote and protect Obama.

    7. Insightful and honest. Well written.

    8. Paul says:

      Newt Gingrich would have cleaned his clock.

    9. Excellent piece, but I agree that Mr. Romney should take the gloves off and go after Obama about his comments to Medvedev

    10. Guest says:

      "We don't have a Commander-In-Chief in the White House. We have a Campaigner-In-Chief."
      - Margo Blades, age 93

      "President Obama doesn't have a record to run on. He has a record to run from!"
      - Margo Blades, age 93

      • William Stell says:

        Also age 90. Next debate: Obama foreign policy began with the Egypt statement that Americans are arrogant; it has ended with an apology for a movie no-one has seen that was responsible for our ambasador and three others,

    11. Amy says:

      During this debate didn't he mention campaigning for 4 years? I thought I heard that.
      In closing it sounded like his dream for America was to see us strive to be middle class.
      Positively mediocre.
      Since when does America strive to be middle class?

    12. Pete Houston says:

      The president resorted to mud slinging vs standing behind his record. That alone should be enough to let him go. Time for a one man layoff and the entire czar structure. When Romney needs an area in the budget to cut (Look under the line item for czars) Go back to a cabinet structure and hire some professionals vs campaign contributors that are looking for a financial payback for the previous contributions.

    13. Watch4Rocks says:

      Mr. O lied about putting more agents on the border, the agents that were hired were put in place by the Bush administration & when that quota was met Obama signed an executive order to cease all hiring & end all internships, which caused hundreds of agents that had already started the process to get fired & get nothing for their wasted time or f orced to reapply & start over under the new guidelines. He has also stated he has deported more illegals than any other president, returning bus loads of illegals to a different port of entry than they originated is not a deportation! He simply changed the Voluntary Return policy so it was more difficult for illegals to cross in the same spot to change the statistics!!

    14. Dainne Davis says:

      Did I hear Mr. President say " When I was President", please tell me I wasn't the only one who heard him say this. This occurred in the last 15 minutes of the debate

    15. A Person Who Things says:

      On the oil production issues, did everyone forget about that whole BP thing? I mean, I think that has a significant impact on oil production. I'm so surprised someone from the Heritage Foundation (why does his quote even matter?) came to a conclusion that supports what Mitt Romney says.

    16. David says:

      Great analysis of the debate from the conservative perspective. Thank you! As a undecided voter I would appreciate a more In-depth critical analysis of Romney's positions.

    17. toledofan says:

      I think the stage is set for the next debate and foriegn policy should really provide some sparks. It sounds like there are some folks who think Romney should have done more, said this or that, and although they may be right, yesterdays format didn't lend itself to a good forum becaue the moderator was in Obama's court. It was clear that some of the questions, like why are you different than G. Bush, or about AK47's and contraception were definately skewed. Many times Romney wanted to respond but was silenced. It would be great top see Heritage moderate the next debate and then finally we might see the real Obama.

    18. maureen says:

      I would love to have both canidates comment on what they would do about the Postal Reform Act. This could afffect a million jobs nation wide.

    19. Mark Simmons says:

      While I appreciate the analysis, I think we often miss the main point of these debates. The 'prize' is influencing undecided voters. In the first two debates these voters broke sharply toward Romney and I suspect the same will be true of this debate. Undecided voters are already disappointed with Obama or they wouldn't be undecided. They also aren't as into all the details like you or me. They are specifically looking for some reason why they should expect the next 4 years under Obama to be different than the last four and simultaneously looking for some reason why the next four years under Romney would be different than the last four. Obama doesn't apologize for anything. He insisted we're on the right track and need to keep going. That dog won't hunt. Further, like the vast majority of Americans, undecideds want to see a leader that can work with other people to get things done. On that point Romney and Obama could not provide a bigger contrast.

      I think it is really that simple and why we're seeing the swing these last two weeks (that and the poll samplings are moving to something more realistic.)

    20. LOU says:

      I don't like the townhall format although the questions were good. I hope the 3rd debate is like the 1st debate format. I don't understand why the Repubs agree to these liberal biased moderator- why can't they get conservative moderator? Are there rules about who can moderate a debate? This # 3 debate, again Cindy favored blatantly Obama, and Martha with Binden. The results so far show in all debates ObamaBiden getting 4+ mins more speaking time in the past 3 debates. I think people see right through the bias but Repubs should try and get a conservative moderator. I for one would like to see the contrast.

      • Roadmaster says:

        I guess the weepubican campaigns are just resigned to the fact that they ARE NOT going to get an unbiased, neutral moderator from the available list, and don't even try. I'd love to see Brit Hume do another one. He's good!

    21. PaulE says:

      Your analysis of the main points of the debate are spot on. I think Romney did incredibly well considering that he not only had Obama to contend with, but also the moderator, like in the V.P. debate, was clearly there to run interference for Obama. So based on taking on two opponents at once, Romney held his ground quite well.

      The other issue I don't see anyone addressing is that the moderator got to select which questions would be asked. This obviously opened the door towards slanting the questions to favor Obama talking points. A much fairer method would have been to randomly select audience members from say numbered seats. That way, the moderator wouldn't have been selecting (filtering) which questions made it into the actual debate. Then again, a fair debate isn't what team Obama or the mainstream media was looking for.

      Finally, when the moderator consistently allows Obama essentially unlimited time to respond, while cutting off Romney on almost every response, you know the debate isn't design to present the voters with a clear, unbiased view of each candidate's positions. I fully expect we'll be treated to a repeat of this type of biased performance from the moderator of the next and last debate.

      This is what you get when the Republican leadership just blindly accepts the hand-picked moderators the Democrats have chosen. Would it have been such an affront to the gods of the mainstream media for the Republican leadership to have insisted that they be allowed to pick one of the four moderators of these debates? After all, that would still have left the Democrats with a 3 to 1 advantage and might have provided the American people with the type of real debate we all know needs to happen for everyone to understand what is truly at stake in this election. Just a thought.

    22. Dave J says:

      Obama will go down in history as one of the best presidents ever for this country and in 20 yrs the republican party as we know it will not even exist.

    23. Roadmaster says:

      This is about the best analysis I've seen, although these dog and pony shows are more like a sales presentation, than a debate.

    24. DAVE says:

      Church once a week!! REALLY?? I'm at my Church four to five times a week. It's not just an hour
      or so, but a way of life with OUR LORD & SAVIOR.This present administration is not in keeping
      with what Out Founding Fathers had in mine. No matter the outcome in NOV, KNOW THIS: GOD
      is in Control at all times. HIS WILL BE DONE! As far as government control in our country, Henry
      David Thoreau said it best: " Government that governs least, governs best."

    25. Julia Beers says:

      I felt both candidates could have strategized better. It was entertaining, but you could tell Obama felt threatened and came to make up for lost ground in the first debate, which didn’t suit him well. And Romney could have toned it down, having better manners this time. He had already shown who “wears the pants” in their political relationship in the first round, it would have been nice to see him be more eloquent in this debate. But being the independent that I am, I am pretty sure at this point Romney has secured my vote. There is a part of me that like “yeah, yeah we need women’s rights and blah blah blah” but the bigger part of me wants someone in office that is confident in balancing our deficit. Obamas political agenda hasn’t worked for us this far and when I think about how much we are in debt, close to 135,000 per person and we are heading toward financial collapse, getting a handle on this seems more important an issue than abortion rights and gay marriage. I would like to continue living in one of the greatest nations in the world and build back our economy. Romney seems capable and his history shows he is a business leader and possesses stronger qualities than obama to get us out of this mess. I hope he wins!!

    26. Julia says:

      I felt both candidates could have strategized better. It was entertaining, but you could tell Obama felt threatened and came to make up for lost ground in the first debate, which didn’t suit him well. And Romney could have toned it down, having better manners this time. He already proved he “wears the pants” in their political relationship, it would have been nice to see him be more eloquent in this debate. But being the independent that I am, I am pretty sure at this point Romney has secured my vote. There is a part of me that like “yeah, yeah we need women’s rights and blah blah blah” but the bigger part of me wants someone in office that is confident in balancing our deficit. Obamas political agenda hasn’t worked for us this far and when I think about how much we are in debt, close to 135,000 per person and we are heading toward financial collapse, it seems more important an issue than abortion rights and gay marriage. I would like to continue living in one of the greatest nations in the world and build back our economy. Romney seems capable and his history shows he is a business leader and possesses stronger qualities then obama of leadership.

    27. Joann says:

      Funny that there was no mention of "Women in Binders" in this piece. I think Romney took a significant blow on that comment. First may I ask why were there just women in binders. I would think binders were be created based on skill and expertise, not by gender!

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