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.
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.
ROMNEY: You've been president four years. You said you'd cut the deficit in half. We still have trillion-dollar deficits.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The above quotations are from First Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate (in Denver Colorado).
Click here for main summary page.
Click here for a profile of Barack Obama.
Click here for Barack Obama on all issues.
Barack Obama on other issues:
Please consider a donation to OnTheIssues.org!
Click for details -- or send donations to:
1770 Mass Ave. #630, Cambridge MA 02140
(We rely on your support!)