Where was populist Obama at the debate?
The president ceded crucial ground on Social Security, Simpson Bowles and the deficit, and downplayed jobs
Politics aside, I want to zero in on the substance of what bothered me about Obama’s performance. I am bewildered about why he embraced Mitt Romney on the issue of social security, and let the entire first section of the debate, which was supposed to be about jobs, get derailed into a discussion of taxes and the deficit.
Now, you can say Obama isn’t a demagogue, and red-meat rabble-rousing populism doesn’t come naturally to him. He may believe he and Romney would do the same thing on Social Security. But he has no reason to give Romney the benefit of the doubt on it. None. He has every right, in fact every duty, to tie Paul Ryan around his neck in every debate. Ryan led the charge to privatize Social Security. Romney himself has proposed raising taxes on it and perhaps hiking the age of eligibility. Given the importance of both Social Security and Medicare to Obama’s lead in states like Ohio and Florida, giving Romney the benefit of the doubt on Social Security is political malpractice.
Daily Kos (Blog)
Bowles-Simpson Attack Bold Progressive Candidate Annie Kuster
One of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee-endorsed candidates for Congress, Annie Kuster in New Hampshire, just got attacked in full-page ads by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles of the Simpson-Bowles Commission -- which famously proposed gutting Social Security and the social safety net.
In their attack on Kuster, Bowles and Simpson praised her Tea Party opponent, Congressman Charlie Bass, for supporting their plan to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. Their attack ad is appearing in three local newspapers: the Concord Monitor, New Hampshire Union Leader, and the Nashua Telegraph.
Talking Points Memo (NAT)
Romney: I’ll Cover Pre-Existing Conditions, Obama: No, You Won’t
“Pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan,” he said. “Young people are able to stay on their family plan. That is already offered in the private marketplace. You do not need the government to mandate that.”
He charged Obama with turning to “an unelected board who will decide what kind of treatment you ought to have,” a reference to an independent panel of experts created by the ACA tasked with controlling overall Medicare costs, but not individual patients’ treatments. The only problem: Romney has made that guaranteed issue claim before, only to repeatedly have his campaign clarify that his unnamed plan for health care reform would not allow people with pre-existing condition to obtain insurance. It would only allow them to maintain continuous insurance, for example if they lose their job, something that is already in the law but often prohibitively expensive with employer subsidies. As recently as last month Romney’s campaign confirmed his policy stance.
Huffington Post (NAT)
Austerity War Revs Up: Peter Peterson Drops Millions On New Budget Campaign
Peterson's allies aren't waiting for the election, however. In New Hampshire, the co-chairmen of the 2010 Simpson-Bowles commission -- former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson and former Clinton White House official Erskine Bowles -- have endorsed incumbent Republican Rep. Charlie Bass, who supported a budget bill with many of their austerity recommendations, over progressive Democrat Annie Kuster. Bowles and Simpson have become fashionable politically, so Bass is taking full advantage of their endorsement, running full-page ads in newspapers across the state. Kuster, who lost a squeaker to Bass in 2010, has hit back hard. "Let me be clear: I will never cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. My Tea Party opponent will," she said in a statement.
Tweaking our lives
All I can say about the debate last night is that Romney looked like he accidentally drank President Obama's double espresso. But I think what was really surprising about it was the fact that Romney lied so much to make himself appear moderate, yet did it in a way that was so aggressive his bloodthirsty base won't mind. It's a pretty savvy strategy. Unfortunately, President Obama's strategy seemed to be based on the bizarre idea that people are yearning for him to agree with Mitt Romney. For instance, this: LEHRER: All right? All right. This is segment three, the economy. Entitlements. First — first answer goes to you, two minutes, Mr. President. Do you see a major difference between the two of you on Social Security?
OBAMA: You know, 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 Speaker — Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill. But it is — the basic structure is sound.
NBC News (NAT)
Truth Squad: The debate
Tonight, President Barack Obama made a claim about Social Security.
OBAMA: Social Security is structurally sound, it's gonna have to be tweaked the way it was by Ronald Reagan and Speaker, Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neill. But it is, the basic structure is sound.
The New Yorker (NAT)
SEVEN CHANCES OBAMA MISSED
I quote that in full to get at how strangely tentative Obama’s approach to this encounter seemed (the strong values declaration didn’t really come, though there was an anecdote about his grandmother). Does Obama really believe that, whatever he trusts Romney’s good sense to tell him, Social Security would be as safe with a Republican President and Congress as otherwise? What about Paul Ryan’s dalliance with Social Security privatization? The commitment to protecting Social Security has long been an advantage for Democrats, because it is so crucial to so many Americans. Obama shrugged. Similarly,
Huffington Post (NAT)
Translating the Big Topics in the Presidential Debate
Social Security What it is: The federal government’s program providing retirement benefits, of course. What Obama said: “You don’t need a major structural change in order to make sure that Social Security is there for the future.” In effect, he didn’t draw any significant distinction between himself and Romney.
Social Security field offices to close 30 minutes earlier
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Face-to-face service hours for people visiting Social Security Administration field offices will be cut by 30 minutes starting Nov. 19. Mary Glenn-Croft, deputy commissioner for the Social Security Administration, issued a nationwide memo Wednesday morning that said beginning Monday, Nov. 19, field offices will be closed to the public at 3 p.m. -- 30 minutes earlier. The new hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
The Daily Beast (Blog)
Why Obama Lost
And when finally Jim Lehrer invited the two candidates to discuss their differences on Social Security - a program that Romney’s running mate has derided as a “collectivist welfare transfer system” - Obama begged off, disclaiming any important difference at all. http://www.thedailybeast.com/
New York Times (NAT)
Romney’s Sick Joke
OK, so Obama did a terrible job in the debate, and Romney did well. But in the end, this isn’t or shouldn’t be about theater criticism, it should be about substance. And the fact is that everything Obama said was basically true, while much of what Romney said was either outright false or so misleading as to be the moral equivalent of a lie. Above all, there’s this: MR. ROMNEY: Let — well, actually — actually it’s — it’s — it’s a lengthy description, but number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.
The Hill (DC)
Obama campaign: Adjustments will be made in debate strategy
Adjustments will have to be made in President Obama's debate strategy, his advisers said Thursday, the morning after the president stumbled in his first showdown with Mitt Romney. David Axelrod, Obama’s senior campaign strategist, said they are going to take "a hard look" at Obama’s debate performance and that they’ll “have to make some judgments about where to draw the lines in these debates and how to use our time.” “It’s like a playoff in sports,” Axelrod said to reporters on a conference call, adding that there are strategic judgments “that have to be made and we’ll make them.”
Greenwich Post (CT)
McMahon statements make Social Security, Medicare campaign issues
In a race that is still anyone’s game, Connecticut Democrats believe they smell blood in the water against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon after a video was released last week where she suggests “sunset provisions” could be looked at for Social Security. Ms. McMahon, a Greenwich resident, is locked in a tight race with U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy (D-5th District) for the seat of retiring Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), with polls showing her either narrowly ahead or narrowly behind, something that has surprised many political observers since Mr. Murphy was expected to be a heavy favorite. Because of that the Murphy campaign last week pounced on the video of Ms. McMahon speaking before a Tea Party Patriots forum in Waterford in April, which also included all the other Republicans running for the seat, where she spoke about Social Security’s sustainability.
Those old Obama debate blues
In fact, Obama let Romney off the hook on a range of toxic topics, from Social Security to the tax deductions he’d eliminate to make his tax-cut plan “revenue neutral.” Some omissions seem like political malpractice.