Barack Obama in First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate


On Budget & Economy: Economic patriotism instead of top-down policies

I think we've got to invest in education and training. I think it's important for us to develop new sources of energy here in America, that we change our tax code to make sure that we're helping small businesses and companies that are investing here in the United States, that we take some of the money that we're saving as we wind down two wars to rebuild America and that we reduce our deficit in a balanced way that allows us to make these critical investments.

Now, it ultimately is going to be up to the voters, to you, which path we should take. Are we going to double-down on the top-down economic policies that helped to get us into this mess? Or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says America does best when the middle class does best? And I'm looking forward to having that debate.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Budget & Economy: $5T in tax cuts & $2T on defense is failed recipe from 2003

OBAMA: Gov. Romney's proposal calls for a $5 trillion tax cut, that he is going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions. When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper-income individuals are currently taking advantage of, you don't come close to paying for $5 trillion.

ROMNEY: If the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I'd say absolutely not. What I've said is I won't put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. So there's no economist that can say Mitt Romney's tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.

OBAMA: Well, for 18 months he's been running on this tax plan. It is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. It's math. It's arithmetic. Look, we've tried this. Gov. Romney's approach is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003, and it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Budget & Economy: Deficit came from two wars paid for on a credit card

OBAMA: When I walked into the Oval Office, I had more than a trillion-dollar deficit greeting me. And we know where it came from: two wars that were paid for on a credit card; two tax cuts that were not paid for; and a whole bunch of programs that were not paid for; and then a massive economic crisis. We had to take some initial emergency measures to make sure we didn't slip into a Great Depression, but what we've also said is, let's make sure that we are cutting out those things that are not helping us grow. And we cut a trillion dollars out of our discretionary domestic budget. That's the largest cut in the discretionary domestic budget since Dwight Eisenhower. Now, we all know that we've got to do more. And so I've put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan. It's on a website. You can look at all the numbers, what cuts we make and what revenue we raise.

ROMNEY: You've been president four years. You said you'd cut the deficit in half. We still have trillion-dollar deficits.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Corporations: Lower tax rate to 25% and incentivize investment at home

When it comes to our tax code, Gov. Romney and I both agree that our corporate tax rate is too high, so I want to lower it, particularly for manufacturing, taking it down to 25%. But I also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas.

How do we deal with our tax code? And how do we make sure that we are reducing spending in a responsible way, but also, how do we have enough revenue to make those investments? And this is where there's a difference, because Governor Romney's central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut--on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts--that's another trillion dollars--and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn't asked for. That's $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments that we need to make, without dumping those costs onto middle-class Americans, I think is one of the central questions of this campaign.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Corporations: End $4B tax break for shipping jobs overseas

OBAMA: When it comes to corporate taxes, Governor Romney has said he wants to, in a revenue neutral way, close loopholes, deductions--he hasn't identified which ones they are--but that thereby bring down the corporate rate. Well, I want to do the same thing, but I've actually identified how we can do that. And part of the way to do it is to not give tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. Right now, you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas. I think most Americans would say that doesn't make sense.

ROMNEY: Look, I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant. The idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case. What we do have right now is a setting where I'd like to bring money from overseas back to this country.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Corporations: Toughest reforms on Wall Street since the 1930s

Q: Do you want to repeal Dodd-Frank?

ROMNEY: Well, I would repeal and replace it. We're not going to get rid of all regulation.

OBAMA: The reason we have been in such an enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behavior. Does anybody think that there was too much oversight and regulation of Wall Street? Because if you do, then Gov. Romney is your candidate. But that's not what I believe. You had loan officers that were giving loans and mortgages that really shouldn't have been given, because the folks didn't qualify. But you also had banks making money hand over fist, churning out products that the bankers themselves didn't even understand, in order to make big profits, but knowing that it made the entire system vulnerable. So what did we do? We stepped in and had the toughest reforms on Wall Street since the 1930s. In the meantime, by the way, we also made sure that all the help that we provided those banks was paid back every single dime, with interest.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Education: 2 million more slots in our community colleges

We've got to improve our education system and we've made enormous progress drawing on ideas both from Democrats and Republicans that are already starting to show gains in some of the toughest to deal with schools. We've got a program called Race to the Top that has prompted reforms in 46 states around the country, raising standards, improving how we train teachers.

So now I want to hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keep tuition low for our young people.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Education: Cut out the middleman on student loans from banks

When it comes to community colleges, we are seeing great work done out there all over the country because we have the opportunity to train people for jobs that exist right now. And one of the things I suspect Governor Romney and I probably agree on is getting businesses to work with community colleges so that they're setting up their training programs. When it comes to making college affordable, whether it's two-year or four-year, one of the things that I did as president was we were sending $60 billion to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, even though the loans were guaranteed. So there was no risk for the banks or the lenders, but they were taking billions out of the system. And we said, "Why not cut out the middleman?" And as a consequence, what we've been able to do is to provide millions more students assistance, lower or keep low interest rates on student loans.
Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Energy & Oil: Does anyone think Exxon-Mobil needs a subsidy?

OBAMA: Let's talk about corporate taxes. Now, I've identified areas where we can, right away, make a change that I believe would actually help the economy. The oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare. Basically, they get deductions that those small businesses that Governor Romney refers to, they don't get. Now, does anybody think that ExxonMobil needs some extra money, when they're making money every time you go to the pump? Why wouldn't we want to eliminate that? Why wouldn't we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets? My attitude is, if you got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break for it.

ROMNEY: First of all, the tax break for oil companies is $2.8 billion a year. And it's actually an accounting treatment, as you know, that's been in place for a hundred years.

OBAMA: It's time to end it.

ROMNEY: In one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Health Care: Shifting Medicaid to states means some people don't get help

OBAMA: When you talk about shifting Medicaid to states, we're talking about potentially a 30% cut in Medicaid over time. Now, you know, that may not seem like a big deal when it just is numbers on a sheet of paper, but if we're talking about a family who's got an autistic kid and is depending on that Medicaid, that's a big problem.

ROMNEY: I would like to take the Medicaid dollars that go to states: you're going to get what you got last year, plus inflation, plus 1%, and then you're going to manage your care for your poor in the way you think best. Don't have the federal government tell everybody what kind of training programs they have to have and what kind of Medicaid they have to have. Let states do this.

OBAMA: Governors are creative. But they're not creative enough to make up for 30% of revenue on something like Medicaid. What ends up happening is some people end up not getting help.

ROMNEY: If a state gets in trouble, well, we can step in and see if we can find a way to help them.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Health Care: We reduced senior Rx prices & pushed preventive care

OBAMA: in Medicare, what we did was we said, we are going to have to bring down the costs if we're going to deal with our long-term deficits, but to do that, let's look where some of the money's going. $716 billion we were able to save from the Medicare program by no longer overpaying insurance companies by making sure that we weren't overpaying providers. And using that money, we were actually able to lower prescription drug costs for seniors by an average of $600, and we were also able to make a significant dent in providing them the kind of preventive care that will ultimately save money throughout the system.

ROMNEY: That's $1 for every $15 you've cut. They're smart enough to know that's not a good trade. I want to take that $716 billion you've cut and put it back into Medicare. By the way, we can include a prescription program if we need to improve it. But the idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of ObamaCare is, in my opinion, a mistake.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Health Care: I don't think Medicare vouchers are the way to go

ROMNEY: With regards to young people coming along, I've got proposals to make sure Medicare and Social Security are there for them without any question.

OBAMA: I think it's important for Governor Romney to present this plan that he says will only affect folks in the future. And the essence of the plan is that you would turn Medicare into a voucher program. It's called premium support, but it's understood to be a voucher program.

Q: And you don't support that?

OBAMA: I don't. And let me explain why.

ROMNEY: Again, that's for future people, not for current retirees.

OBAMA: The idea, which was originally presented by Congressman Ryan, your running mate, is that we would give a voucher to seniors and they could go out in the private marketplace and buy their own health insurance. The problem is that because the voucher wouldn't necessarily keep up with health care inflation, it was estimated that this would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Health Care: Voucher system puts seniors at mercy of insurance companies

ROMNEY: For people coming along that are young, allow them either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan. Their choice. And if the government can be as efficient as the private sector and offer premiums that are as low as the private sector, people will be happy to get traditional Medicare or they'll be able to get a private plan.

OBAMA: Medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurance does, which is why seniors are generally pretty happy with it. And private insurers have to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that. That's what they do. And so you've got higher administrative costs, plus profit on top of that. And if you are going to save any money through what Governor Romney's proposing, what has to happen is, is that the money has to come from somewhere. And when you move to a voucher system, you are putting seniors at the mercy of those insurance companies. And over time, if traditional Medicare has decayed or fallen apart, then they're stuck.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Health Care: Boards of experts identify best practices & keep costs down

ROMNEY: ObamaCare puts in place an unelected board that's going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don't like that idea.

OBAMA: When Governor Romney talks about this "unelected" board that we've created, is a group of health care experts, doctors etc., to figure out, how can we reduce the cost of care in the system overall? So what this board does is basically identifies best practices and says, let's use the purchasing power of Medicare and Medicaid to help to institutionalize all these good things that we do.

ROMNEY: In order to bring the cost of health care down, we don't need to have a board of 15 people telling us what kinds of treatments we should have. We instead need an incentive: performance pay, for doing an excellent job, for keeping costs down,

OBAMA: This board that we're talking about can't make decisions about what treatments are given. That's explicitly prohibited in the law.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Health Care: ObamaCare says insurance companies can't jerk you around

Q: You want the Affordable Care Act repealed. Why?

ROMNEY: I sure do. It's expensive. It has killed jobs.

OBAMA: Well, four years ago, it wasn't just that small businesses were seeing costs skyrocket, but it was families who were worried about going bankrupt if they got sick. If they had a pre-existing condition, they might not be able to get coverage at all. If they did have coverage, insurance companies might impose an arbitrary limit. And let me tell you exactly what ObamaCare did. Number one, if you've got health insurance, it doesn't mean a government takeover. You keep your own insurance. You keep your own doctor. But it does say insurance companies can't jerk you around. They can't impose arbitrary lifetime limits. They have to let you keep your kid on your insurance plan until you're 26 years old. And it also says that you're going to have to get rebates if insurance companies are spending more on administrative costs and profits than they are on actual care.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Health Care: ObamaCare and RomneyCare both expand private insurance

OBAMA: Governor Romney said "what we did in Massachusetts could be a model for the nation." We used the same advisers, and they say it's the same plan.

ROMNEY: The right answer is not to have the federal government take over health care and start mandating to the providers across America, telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they can have. That's the wrong way to go.

OBAMA: There's a reason why Governor Romney set up the plan that he did in Massachusetts. It wasn't a government takeover of health care. It was the largest expansion of private insurance. But what it does say is that "insurers, you've got to take everybody."

ROMNEY: The federal government taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the 10th Amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is not the course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Principles & Values: If all Americans get opportunity, we're all better off

Q: How do you view the mission of the federal government?

OBAMA: The first role of the federal government is to keep the American people safe. That's its most basic function. And as commander-in-chief, that is something that I've worked on and thought about every single day that I've been in the Oval Office. But I also believe that the federal government has the capacity to help open up opportunity and create ladders of opportunity and to create frameworks where the American people can succeed. As Abraham Lincoln understood, there are also some things we do better together. So, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, let's help to finance the Transcontinental Railroad, let's start land grant colleges, because we want to give these gateways of opportunity for all Americans, because if all Americans are getting opportunity, we're all going to be better off. That doesn't restrict people's freedom. That enhances it. What I've tried to do as president is to apply those same principles.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Social Security: Tweak Social Security like Reagan did, but keep entitlements

Q: Do you see a major difference between the two of you on Social Security?

OBAMA: I suspect that, on Social Security, we've got a somewhat similar position. Social Security is structurally sound. It's going to have to be tweaked the way it was by Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neill. But the basic structure is sound. But I want to talk about the values behind Social Security and Medicare--what's called entitlements. You know, the name itself implies some sense of dependency on the part of these folks. These are folks who've worked hard, and there are millions of people out there who are counting on this. So my approach is to say, how do we strengthen the system over the long term? And in Medicare, what we did was we said, we are going to have to bring down the costs if we're going to deal with our long-term deficits, but to do that, let's look where some of the money's going.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

On Tax Reform: We got middle-class tax cuts of $3600

ROMNEY: Middle-income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. This is a tax in and of itself. I'll call it the economy tax. It's been crushing.

OBAMA: Four years ago, when I stood on this stage, I said that I would cut taxes for middle-class families. And that's exactly what I did. We cut taxes for middle-class families by about $3,600. And the reason is, because I believe that we do best when the middle class is doing well. And by giving them those tax cuts, they had a little more money in their pocket, and so maybe they can buy a new car. They are certainly in a better position to weather the extraordinary recession that we went through. They can buy a computer for their kid who's going off to college, which means they're spending more money, businesses have more customers, businesses make more profits, and then hire more workers.

Source: First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 3, 2012

The above quotations are from First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate (in Denver Colorado).
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Page last updated: Oct 16, 2012