Thursday, October 4, 2012

2012 Election 1st Debate: High School Bully Pummels Nerdy Wimp

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 01:  Republican president...
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 01: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally on October 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
From Denny:  President Obama sat on his lead in the polls and lost this first debate.  What a stupid strategy.  He really looked bad.  Obama should have kicked Axelrod and his stupid strategies down the road years ago.

Again - senior adviser and campaign manager David Axelrod did not know how to handle yet another situation for Obama that ended up backfiring on the President.  The country has suffered for four years under the thumb of Axelrod's "last guy in the room" atrocious advice and half-baked policy strategies.

Axelrod blew it again, this time with terrible debate advice and lousy debate preparation.  It's bad enough Axelrod is inexperienced and utterly clueless about smart and effective foreign and domestic policies.  It's also glaringly evident he is not adept at what should by now be his own wheel house:  a national political campaign.

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Could the President look any worse than he did last night?  Why did Obama not discard the bad debate advice and do what he knew in his heart was the better tactic:  truly be himself, warts and all?  Talking heads are opining that maybe Obama looked bad because he had fallen into the same trap as previous presidents: peevish about not wanting to be challenged so publicly and directly in his face.  True; that was the underlying base of Obama's problem.

Another dimension to it is that - as President for four years - he has surrounded himself with enablers and fighters too willing to protect his wimpy ego.  As a result, that enabling has kept Obama weak and ineffective.  He hasn't grown much as a President, or as a person, since the two are inextricably linked.  In short, Obama does not do his own fighting - nor does he yet appear he wants to learn how to do so at this late date.

After all, Obama's closest adviser and close friend, progressive Valerie Jarrett, is known in Washington circles as Obama's Spine.  That sure doesn't say much for Obama that he desperately needs and is co-dependent upon Big Momma Ferocious Helicopter Parent to protect him from the world.

Remember Karl Rove as Friend of the President Turd Blossom and as Bush 43's Brain?  Remember Condi Rice as Bush 43's Helicopter Parent holding hands with him in the presidential limo, baby-sitting him for eight years?  Why is it that we have so many wimpy presidents in this Boomer generation?

It's evident that Jarrett means well to protect her long time friend as well as the all-important first black presidency but after four years we all should be well past this over-protective strategy and bad practice.  This excessive gatekeeper attitude doesn't help Jarrett's political future any more than it does Obama's.  If Obama is serious about winning this campaign for a second term, it's time he take off the training wheels and discard his copious group of enablers.

Obama looked emotionally lazy in this debate, refusing to bring any fight to the political beat down he could have easily delivered, considering how many public gaffes Romney has made in recent weeks.  (See Hardball's Chris Matthews, chomping at the bit to provide free and in-depth zinger and debate advice to this White House.) Worse, Obama was instructed to look down when Romney was speaking.  Body language wise all that did was bolster Romney's position.  It made Romney look like he was winning by bullying.

Obama also looked very tired, not emotionally engaged, no fight for the debate at all.  He also looked angry like he had just had a heated disagreement with someone just prior to taking the stage.  Clearly, Obama had his Bush 41 moment where his whole attitude reflected he quite decisively did not want to be there.  He telegraphed it as much as Bush 41 did when he kept rudely looking at his watch, ready to exit his debate.

The real and better Obama surfaced a couple of times.  His best moment was when he discarded bad debate prep, telling the audience: "If you are under age 54 you might want to listen to this" when he was arguing about Social Security his way vs. Romney's.  He scored on that point decisively when he allowed his real self to peek out if only for a few moments.  Then he melted back down into debate mediocrity.

The worst of Obama also surfaced when he fell back into lingering bad habits with long muddled and unclear professorial answers that do not fit a debate or TV format.  That's when it was decisive that Romney was winning by forcing Obama into an emotional defense.  After that it was pretty much downhill for Obama for the remainder of the debate.

Most of the night Obama was on the defensive with Romney's relentlessly contentious and bickering offense.  Most of the time Obama kept his cool quite well, just looking annoyed and above the fray, trying to appear more presidential.  However, eventually, as the night wore on in the tense 90-minute debate, Obama started looking as bad as my LSU Tigers on the field this season: no passion for the game, lacking appropriate focus and fumbling the football far too many times.  Obama acted like he was going to win the debate just by showing up and standing on stage.  "Yeah, how did that work out for ya?"

Immediately after the debate there was polling asking who won.  Romney won hands down by a huge margin because Obama delivered such a lack luster performance.  Obama's head was not in the game and Romney's was.  After all, Romney's campaign was dead on arrival and he had to do something to revive it.  Romney went out last night on a mission to convince his own party to vote for him.  He may have achieved it finally but lost the rest of the country in choosing that strategy.

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Romney-Ryan: Stupid on Steroids. Open mouth; insert foot. Lose election. It really is that simple.

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Romney's performance may have been crisp and aggressive but it only played well with male media talking heads and conservative Republicans looking for a beat down.  The rest of America watched in horror, especially the Independents.

Romney's reference to how he would allow the destructive XL Pipeline to proceed was a clear signal to Wall Street and the Koch Brothers:  business as usual and feel free to screw over the American public.  After all, who cares if the pipeline tries to tunnel under the only water source, an underground glacier, for half of America?

You know they will screw it up just like BP screwed up the Gulf of Mexico.  The Koch Brothers paid Romney's campaign over $300 million just for him to push through this stupid project to get oil sands up from Texas to Canada.  Right now Big Business is out of control, indifferent to the environmental and economic destruction they cause to pursue billions of dollars in profits per quarter.  And it's painfully obvious neither the Republicans nor the Democrats show any trustworthy signs of reining in said greedy Big Business.

Romney came across like the Know It All too slick used car salesman, quick to pass a succession of lies off as real truth.  He talked so fast you automatically knew not to trust a word of it and walk off the lot.  The Romney campaign can argue Romney was just trying to fit a lot of facts into a short time debate period.  Yeah?  So why were the majority of his assumptions incorrect and not based in fact?  It was obvious that Romney was well coached as how to verbally perform a fast-moving Shell Game meant to confuse listeners. All it did was piss us off.

While Romney scored debate points and aggression points with the experts and male media it turned off most of America and the world watching it.  While it's understandable that Romney needed to impress in order to turn around a dying campaign it was socially tone deaf yet again.  The man displayed a low emotional intelligence and a complete disdain for courtesy even in the smallest of circumstances.

You could practically hear the collective shocked gasps from viewers as Romney showed just how bullying and aggressive he could truly be.  Romney actually Cheshire Cat smiled at the moderator, The Most Boring Man In News, Jim Lehrer of PBS, and arrogantly announced to the long time news man and the world the equivalent:  "You're fired!"  Were we watching a debate or an episode of a yucky Donald Trump re-run of his idiot show?

PBS Moderator Jim Lehrer is an ex-Marine and staunch conservative Republican.  Lehrer was both shocked at Romney's foot-in-mouth speech vomited onto him and angry at being attacked in such an unprofessional and juvenile manner on a national stage.  Romney announced how he would get rid of the nationally funded PBS public education that caters to small children and adults.  Romney kept making ridiculous claims of how America borrows money from China to fund PBS and other social programs.  Romney conveniently forgot that China is also our national banker for home mortgages, business loans, student loans and more.

PBS is such a tiny part of the national budget it's laughable.  However, Jim Lehrer has now experienced the in-your-face garbage the middle class has "enjoyed" from his destructive Republican Party Lehrer has voted for and supported time and again.  Hmmm... bet this year Lehrer changes his vote after that nasty tirade from Romney.

Romney also failed to make his case to the middle class he would not rip apart what few social safety nets are left, existing in tatters.  He never did deliver true specifics and pushed cliched generalities.  Romney tried the Sympathy Ploy of sounding like he understood and cared about struggling people.  After all, he had to do damage control for his now famous 47 Percent idiot remarks at a closed door donor meeting to other excessively rich guys who want control of the presidency.

At what point did Romney fling the door wide open to reveal his true character?  That sure was an eye-opening experience.  Romney tried to denounce and dismiss away Obama's facts, labeling them as lies.  Had he done that directly and succinctly he might have gained some points with the lame minds out there in Voter Land.  However, he didn't.  He was Classic Foot In Mouth Romney.

What did Romney do that was so egregious?  He actually decided to use the metaphor of his family to prove Obama had to be lying.  On national TV and to the world Romney announced his disdain for his own family. He called all five of his adult sons Liars, yes, he called his children liars.  Talk about another audible gasp from the viewing audience, especially parents.  Who the hell trashes their own children in a national political debate in order to score points?  What a putz! Is he now ready to sacrifice his children on a bed of fire on top of the mountain?

What was most revealing about Romney is that if all your children lie it's because the parents are liars teaching their children to lie.  As the result of poor or abusive parenting Romney must have created an atmosphere where his children still feel compelled to lie.  Any way you look at it, do we really want a guy as our President that trashes his own kids so publicly, denouncing them as bald-faced liars?

As is always true here:  The guy that aggressively marches out to denounce someone else as a liar is in truth the real liar.  Romney's campaign rode on the assumption that if he is the first to toss out the accusation of liar, doing it often and consistently, then the voters will finally believe his lies to be the truth.

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And the saddest truth of all?  Third party candidates were elbowed out of the national debates.  Oh, how I would have loved to see some serious competition on that stage for Romney and Obama.  Sadder still, is the media crowds out third party alternative candidates from developing any kind of traction with the voters in an important election like this one, all for profit.  The third party candidates don't take corporate or lobbyist money so they cannot afford the million dollar ad buys the Republicans and Democrats can afford.  So much for The Fourth Estate doing its job for the public.

More annoying is how the very first historical two-women presidential ticket is getting overlooked and ignored by the media and women's groups this year:  the Green Party.  As usual, a couple of capable experienced women are deemed as unimportant in the national political process.  The Green Party presidential candidate is Dr. Jill Stein, an advocate for a workable health care system and experience testifying in front of Congress among other things.

Her Vice pick is Cheri Honkala, an anti-poverty advocate with 30 years experience.  Right now the country is in dire need of a truly affordable health care system and someone serious about addressing the issues of half of the middle class dropped down into poverty.  Here are two Green Party candidates with that experience and their message is drowned out by the two national parties and corporate greed.

Well, good news, put up a video of the third party candidates' real-time responses to the paused debate of Obama and Romney.  Talk about clever!  The third party candidates of the Green Party (Dr. Jill Stein) and the Justice Party (Rocky Anderson) will no longer be silenced by the pressures put upon the debate organizers to shut the door on them.  Check out this video:

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Here's the rush transcript from Democracy Now!  You might want to think about donating to their site as these guys are doing the jobs of real journalists - getting out all the information to the American voter.


AMY GOODMAN: With less than five weeks before the general election, President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney squared off in their first presidential debate Wednesday in Denver, Colorado. For 90 minutes, the candidates faced off over taxes, unemployment, economic regulations, Social Security, health care, education, partisan gridlock and other domestic issues.
Romney repeatedly attacked Obama’s record, often putting the president on the defensive. Many supporters of Obama have expressed surprise that he never mentioned several of Romney’s potential weak spots, including his record as the private equity firm Bain Capital. Also his vast personal wealth and offshore investments, and his recent remark that 47% of Americans are government dependents. Some domestic issues went virtually unmentioned Wednesday night, including immigration policy, global warming, gun control, incarceration rates, and poverty.
Some key voices were shut out the conversation, including those of third-party presidential candidates. As Obama and Romney were facing off at the University of Denver Wednesday night, Democracy Now! was just miles away airing a special three-hour broadcast expanding the debate. We broke the sound barrier by pausing after President Obama’s and Romney’s answers to get real-time responses from Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice the party. Dr. Stein is a physician from Massachusetts. Rocky Anderson is the former mayor of Salt Lake city. We also invited Gary Johnson, (Libertarian Party) though he declined to join us. Today we bring you highlights from our Expanding the Debate special. We begin with the debate moderator Jim Lehrer.
JIM LEHRER: Let’s start the economy, segment one, and let’s begin with jobs. What are the major differences between the two of you about how you would go about creating new jobs? You have two minutes. Each of you have two minutes to start. A coin toss has determined, Mr. President, you go first.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, four years ago we went through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Millions of jobs were lost, the auto industry was on the brink of collapse. The financial system had frozen up.
And because of the resilience and the determination of the American people, we’ve begun to fight our way back. Over the last 30 months, we’ve seen 5 million jobs in the private sector created. The auto industry has come roaring back. And housing has begun to rise.
But we all know that we’ve still got a lot of work to do. And so the question here tonight is not where we’ve been, but where we’re going. Governor Romney has a perspective that says if we cut taxes, skewed towards the wealthy, and roll back regulations, that we’ll be better off. I’ve got a different view.
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 on 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.
JIM LEHRER: Governor Romney, two minutes.
FORMER GOVMITT ROMNEY: Thank you, Jim. It’s an honor to be here with you, and I appreciate the chance to be with the president. I’m pleased to be at the University of Denver, appreciate their welcome, and also the Presidential Commission on these debates. And congratulations to you, Mr. President, on your anniversary. I’m sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine, here — here with me. So I...
Congratulations. This is obviously a very tender topic. I’ve had the occasion over the last couple of years of meeting people across the country. I was in Dayton, Ohio, and a woman grabbed my arm and she said, "I’ve been out of work since May. Can you help me?"
Ann yesterday was at a rally in Denver and a woman came up to her with a baby in her arms and said, "Ann, my husband has had four jobs in three years, part-time jobs. He’s lost his most recent job and we’ve now just lost our home. Can you help us?" And the answer is, yes, we can help, but it’s going to take a different path. Not the one we’ve been on, not the one the president describes as a top-down, cut taxes for the rich. That’s not what I’m going to do. My plan has five basic parts. One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs.
Number two, open up more trade, particularly in Latin America. Crack down on China, if and when they cheat.
Number three, make sure our people have the skills they need to succeed and the best schools in the world. We’re far away from that now.
Number four, get to us a balanced budget.
Number five, champion small business. It’s small business that creates the jobs in America, and over the last four years, small business people have decided that America may not be the place to open a new business because new business startups are down to a 30-year low.
Now, I’m concerned that the path that we’re on has just been unsuccessful. The president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years, that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more — if you will, trickle-down government — would work. That’s not the right answer for America. I’ll restore the vitality that gets America working again. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: As Democracy Now! expands the debate, we put that question, "how would you create more jobs," to the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein.
DR. JILL STEIN: Thank you, and thank you so much for expanding this debate tonight, as you so often do, Amy, here on Democracy Now! So, first just want to acknowledge the crisis is not getting better. We still very much still have a crisis in our economy. One out of two Americans are in poverty or living at a low income and heading towards poverty. About 25 million people are either jobless or working in jobs that do not pay living wages. There are millions of people who’ve lost their homes, approximately 8 million. There is no end in sight to the foreclosure crisis. And we have an entire generation of students who are effectively indentured servants, who are trapped in unforgiving loans and do not have the jobs to pay them back with unemployment and underemployment rate of about 50% among our young people.
So, we very much need new solutions. What we hear, really, from both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are essentially a rehash of where we have been not only for the past four years, but certainly for the eight years before that. We’re hearing more about deregulating business and Wall Street, as if we didn’t have enough problem from that already. We’re hearing more about more tax breaks for the wealthy, and we’ve seen tax breaks continue over the past many decades across all sectors of the tax code to where the wealthy are not paying their fair share now. We’re hearing more about energy, dirty energy.
So, we are calling for a Green New Deal modeled after the New Deal that actually got us out of the Great Depression. They created approximately 4 million jobs in as little as two months. So, there is a lot that we can do if we put our mind to it. We’re calling for jobs created at the level of our communities that are nationally funded and which put decisions in the hands of the community about which kinds of jobs they need both in the green economy and meeting their social needs, that would be focused and controlled locally, but funded at the national level.
AMY GOODMAN: Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, how to create jobs?
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, President Obama would like us to ignore what is happening is past four years. Granted, he came into a tough situation, but we have to consider that during the last 43 months we have had more than 8% unemployment. It is the only time in this nation’s history that we have had a president that has presided even over three years of over 8% unemployment. The fact is, that those 43 months of over 8% unemployment during President Obama’s term is four months more than all of the months of over 8% unemployment from 1948 until President Obama’s inauguration. He talks about recovery, all the new jobs. The fact is, that in the downturn, 60% of the jobs lost were mid skill and mid paying jobs, and only 20% of the new jobs during the so-called recovery are of that category; the mid skill and mid paying jobs.
Most of the jobs are low-paying jobs, these new jobs he brags about are in retail sales and food preparation. So, there are things that have been proven in our history to work. We could have put in place, and it needs to be put in immediately, a WPA Works Progress Administration kind of program where we are investing in the future by building up our nation’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, putting people to work. In the WPA project they 8.5 million people to work. We could be putting 20 million to 25 million people to work and making that kind of investment in our nation’s future.
We need to renegotiate the outrageous free trade agreements and make sure they are fair trade so that we’re not discriminating against those employers who want to hire the United States workers and also we need to get a handle on health care costs, because there are a tremendous competitive disadvantages because of the cost of health care in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: Third party presidential candidates Rocky Anderson and Dr. Jill Stein joining in real time through Democracy Now!’s special Expanding the Debate broadcast with Mitt Romney and President Obama as they debated at the University of Denver here in Colorado. Back with the debate in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road in Denver, Colorado, as we continue our special coverage of the first presidential debate, expanding the debate. This is what democracy sounds like. As President Obama and Mitt Romney squared off, we broke the sound barrier by expanding the debate to include two other presidential candidates in real-time. The Green Party’s Jill Stein in the Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson. We turn now to Social Security. During the official debate, moderator Jim Lehrer asked Obama and Romney if there were any differences in their views on social security. This is President Obama.
PRESIDENT BARACK 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. But — but I want to talk about the values behind Social Security and Medicare, and then talk about Medicare, because that’s the big driver of our deficits right now.
You know, my grandmother — some of you know — helped to raise me. My grandparents did. My grandfather died a while back. My grandmother died three days before I was elected president. And she was fiercely independent. She worked her way up, only had a high school education, started as a secretary, ended up being the vice president of a local bank. And she ended up living alone by choice. And the reason she could be independent was because of Social Security and Medicare. She had worked all her life, put in this money, and understood that there was a basic guarantee, a floor under which she could not go.
And that’s the perspective I bring when I think about 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, like my grandmother, 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.
$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 — make a significant dent in providing them the kind of preventive care that will ultimately save money through the — throughout the system.
So the way for us to deal with Medicare in particular is to lower health care costs. When it comes to Social Security, as I said, you don’t need a major structural change in order to make sure that Social Security is there for the future.
JIM LEHRER: We’ll follow up on this. First, Governor Romney, you have two minutes on Social Security and entitlements.
FORMER GOVMITT ROMNEY: Well, Jim, our seniors depend on these programs, and I know anytime we talk about entitlements, people become concerned that something’s going to happen that’s going to change their life for the worse. And the answer is neither the president nor I are proposing any changes for any current retirees or near retirees, either to Social Security or Medicare. So if you’re 60 or around 60 or older, you don’t need to listen any further.
But for younger people, we need to talk about what changes are going to be occurring. Oh, I just thought about one. And that is, in fact, I was wrong when I said the president isn’t proposing any changes for current retirees. In fact he is on Medicare. On Social Security he’s not.
But on Medicare, for current retirees, he’s cutting $716 billion from the program. Now, he says by not overpaying hospitals and providers. Actually just going to them and saying, "We’re going to reduce the rates you get paid across the board, everybody’s going to get a lower rate." That’s not just going after places where there’s abuse. That’s saying we’re cutting the rates. Some 15 percent of hospitals and nursing homes say they won’t take anymore Medicare patients under that scenario. We also have 50 percent of doctors who say they won’t take more Medicare patients.
This — we have 4 million people on Medicare Advantage that will lose Medicare Advantage because of those $716 billion in cuts. I can’t understand how you can cut Medicare $716 billion for current recipients of Medicare. Now, you point out, well, we’re putting some back. We’re going to give a better prescription program. That’s $1 — 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. And 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.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! expanding the debate with the third party presidential candidates Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein. Jim Lehrer has just asked about Social Security and the so-called entitlements. Dr. Jill Stein.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes, I think first it’s very important to point out that while we hear a very different narrative from Barack Obama and the Democrats than we do from that Romney, with Mitt Romney’s narrative being usually harsh, scary, selfishness on steroids, and the Democratic narrative being warm and fuzzy and we’re all in this together, let’s just wait for things to get better. It is really important to look beyond the talk, to look at the walk, to look at what’s actually being proposed.
And Geoffrey sax at the University of Columbia has pointed out in his analysis of the budget proposals that both Obama and Romney-Ryan, points out that they are both aiming for essentially for the same targets. They’re both aiming for Social Security to be about 5% of GDP some years down the line whether it’s four or eight years, and on Medicare, they are both aiming for Medicare to be reduced to about 2.2% of GDP.
So, the point is, while they have different scenarios, they both have the same targets. Obama himself is also looking to cut non-security discretionary expenditures, things that cover education and housing and job training, also looking to cut that nearly in half according to his own budget figures, down to about 1.8% of GDP from 3.2% where it is right now.
On Social Security, Obama is already calling for some cuts, basically to the cost of living reimbursements. So, heads up about what is going to happen after the election. You will see the walk differ from the talk. And on Medicare, yes, it is true that they are both proposing the same changes. Again, a sign that things are not really different between these two corporate-sponsored candidates.
They’re both proposing about $700 billion in Medicare cuts. We can fix this. For Social Security, we simply need to raise the cap on Social Security. It will be perfectly solvent when the rich are paying their fair share. And on Medicare, one thing we can do right now is to fix Medicare Part D so that it’s no longer a boondoggle, a giveaway for pharmaceutical companies and to allow bargaining and negotiation to get bulk purchasing and bring down the cost.
AMY GOODMAN: Rocky Anderson, two minutes.
ROCKY ANDERSON: The solution to Medicare is to provide Medicare for everybody. To make it a single payer system. You look around the world — Canada, Taiwan — Taiwan did a study. They looked at all other nations’ systems and incorporated the best elements. And they have a single payer, basically, Medicare for all system.
We are paying more than double the average of the rest of the industrialized world per-capita for our health care costs. A large part of that is because we’re relying upon the for-profit insurance industry to provide health care for most of the people in this country. We need to get rid of that. We can control costs.
And all of these systems — and by the way, there is not another nation in the industrialized world that does it anywhere like we do, that has the waste, that has the poor medical outcomes, and where people are taking out bankruptcy by the hundreds of thousands. So that is the solution for medicare. We can make it affordable, provide better services, and we can do it for all. You just get the for-profit insurance companies out of the way, and all of the burdensome paperwork and the different billing systems and all the rest, that end up costing over a third of what we pay for what’s supposed to go toward our medical care.
As to Social Security, the Social Security payroll tax is as regressive a tax known to mankind, because if you make one $110,000, you don’t pay anything on the income over that amount. Everybody pays the same thing up to that point. We need to lift the cap.
You could reduce the percentage that workers pay. You could bring it down to 4% so that the middle class and the working poor come out ahead. You lift the cap, and then you also have those who make their money through investments pay their fair share as well. There’s no reason why working people are paying toward social security and those who are living off their investments get away, once again, without paying their fair share.
AMY GOODMAN: Back to moderator Jim Lehrer.
JIM LEHRER: Now, let’s move to health care where I know there is a clear difference, and that has to do with the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. And it’s a two-minute new — new segment, and that means two minutes each. And you go first, Governor Romney. You want it repealed. You want the Affordable Care Act repealed. Why?
FORMER GOVMITT ROMNEY: I sure do. Well, in part, it comes, again, from my experience. You know, I was in New Hampshire. A woman came to me and she said, look, I can’t afford insurance for myself or my son. I met a couple in Appleton, Wisconsin, and they said, we’re thinking of dropping our insurance, we can’t afford it.
And the number of small businesses I’ve gone to that are saying they’re dropping insurance because they can’t afford it, the cost of health care is just prohibitive. And — and we’ve got to deal with cost.
And, unfortunately, when — when — when you look at Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditional insurance. So it’s adding to cost. And as a matter of fact, when the president ran for office, he said that, by this year, he would have brought down the cost of insurance for each family by $2,500 a family. Instead, it’s gone up by that amount. So it’s expensive. Expensive things hurt families. So that’s one reason I don’t want it.
Second reason, it cuts $716 billion from Medicare to pay for it. I want to put that money back in Medicare for our seniors.
Number three, it 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.
Fourth, there was a survey done of small businesses across the country, said, what’s been the effect of Obamacare on your hiring plans? And three-quarters of them said it makes us less likely to hire people. I just don’t know how the president could have come into office, facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis at the — at the kitchen table, and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people. It has killed jobs.
And the best course for health care is to do what we did in my state: craft a plan at the state level that fits the needs of the state. And then let’s focus on getting the costs down for people, rather than raising it with the $2,500 additional premium.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. President, the argument against repeal?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, four years ago, when I was running for office, I was traveling around and having those same conversations that Governor Romney talks about. And it wasn’t just that small businesses were seeing costs skyrocket and they couldn’t get affordable coverage even if they wanted to provide it to their employees. It wasn’t just that this was the biggest driver of our federal deficit, our overall health care costs, but it was families who were worried about going bankrupt if they got sick, millions of families, all across the country.
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 so as a consequence, they’re paying their premiums, somebody gets really sick, lo and behold, they don’t have enough money to pay the bills, because the insurance companies say that they’ve hit the limit.
So we did work on this, alongside working on jobs, because this is part of making sure that middle-class families are secure in this country. 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 their insurance — 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.
Number two, if you don’t have health insurance, we’re essentially setting up a group plan that allows you to benefit from group rates that are typically 18 percent lower than if you’re out there trying to get insurance on the individual market.
Now, the last point I’d make before...
JIM LEHRER: Two minutes — two minutes is up, sir.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: No, I think — I had five seconds before you interrupted me, was ...
... the irony is that we’ve seen this model work really well in Massachusetts, because Governor Romney did a good thing, working with Democrats in the state to set up what is essentially the identical model and as a consequence people are covered there. It hasn’t destroyed jobs. And as a consequence, we now have a system in which we have the opportunity to start bringing down costs, as opposed to just leaving millions of people out in the cold.
AMY GOODMAN: We are expanding the debate with the third-party candidates. Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, health care.
ROCKY ANDERSON: We’re talking here about Obamacare and Romneycare. I would call a insurance companycare because they’re the ones who wrote it. They joined up with a very conservative foundation years ago to develop this plan, to make the American people buy this perverse product.
Again, we are the only country in the world that depends upon for-profit insurance companies for the majority of our coverage for health care, for those were lucky enough to have it. There are now over 50 million people without basic health-care coverage in this country. The latest report indicates that there will be over 30 million people without essential health care coverage when Obamacare is fully implemented. That means misery. It means extended disease. It means extended illness and injuries, and it means the loss of lives.
Now, over 40,000 people this country die every year because of the lack of health care. And I talked earlier about the enormous rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality. These are women and children dying because, primarily, because they don’t have access to health care. There is still going to be that major problem. Watch your premiums skyrocket. It’s already happened since the beginning of this program, and it’s just going to get far worse.
So, what we need is what the vast majority of Americans said they wanted during the healthcare debate. There were some 70% or more people and the majority of doctors saying, we want a single payer Medicare for all system.
President Obama and his compatriots that were colluding with the insurance companies wouldn’t even let the single payer Medicare for All proposal see the light of day in congress. And then the President folded even on the idea of a public option. It was an enormous betrayal of the public interest so that they could please the for-profit insurance companies that has such a stranglehold on our Congress and now on our White House.
DR. JILL STEIN: Dr. Jill Stein, this is your profession, health care.
DR. JILL STEIN: That’s right, it’s my profession and this is where I live. I live in the state of Massachusetts. So, I’ve seen the Affordable Care Act. We also call it Romneycare or Obamacare, take your pick. We have seen it actually rollout.
And what we’ve seen is that the Affordable Care Act actually in the flesh is neither affordable nor caring, because in fact, it provides stripped-down plans which are fairly expensive unless you are in a very low income, unless you are poor and you’re covered, costs go up astoundingly. If you are making less than $20,000 a year as a family, you’re covered. And it actually has expanded care for the very poor, and that is a good thing.
But if you’re in the $20,000-$40,000 bracket, so near poor and fairly poor, I think by many standards, actually, your costs go up 5% of your income, which is just a staggering amount of money, to add an additional 5% of your income to your health care costs. And yet you are not covered. So, on average, these plans cover about 75% of your costs — actually I think it is more like 70% of your costs. Yet you are paying approximately 10% of your income for them.
So, it’s not affordable for families. You’re not fully covered. The proof of the pudding here is that when people get sick in Massachusetts now, they go into medical bankruptcy just as much as they did before we had the Affordable Care Act.
And it’s certainly not affordable for government. Not for state government, not for municipalities, not for small businesses. Costs are skyrocketing and it’s cannibalizing all other aspects of budget.
The answer here is Medicare for all which provides care for everyone, comprehensively. You are in charge not your boss at work or not a profiteering CEO. You get to call the shots. And, well kept secret is it actually saves as trillions of dollars over the coming decade because it eliminates that massive wasteful health insurance bureaucracy and it stabilizes medical inflation. So, it is a win/win. It’s absolutely a sign of how hijacked Washington and our state capitals are that we don’t have Medicare for All right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein and Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson as a they participated in the presidential debate last night in real time, at real podiums, albeit in a different place on Democracy Now!’s special broadcast Expanding the Debate. Back in a moment.

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