News Release

Debate: Independent Analysis


See a transcript of last night’s debate between President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.

Democracy Now aired the debate along with comments by presidential candidates Jill Stein (Green Party) and former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson (Justice Party).

LORI WALLACH, via Steven Knievel [email]
Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Wallach said today: “While President Obama and Mitt Romney both claimed that their trade policies would create U.S. jobs, both quietly support a massive Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement that would greatly expand U.S. jobs offshoring, give Chinese firms a waiver to ‘Buy American’ procurement policies and further erode the U.S. manufacturing base. With polls showing that majorities of Independents, Republcans and Democrats believe our trade pacts cost jobs, in last night’s debate both candidates were notably united in silence about what would be the largest U.S. trade deal since the World Trade Organization.”

Mokhiber is editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter and was at the debate last night in Denver. He said today: “Obama lied about single payer — he said there ‘isn’t a better way of dealing with the pre-existing conditions problem’ than Obama-Romney-care. Not single payer? The debates and the candidates are bought and paid for. The only winners were the corporations who control the two parties and who paid for the debates. Thank you Wells Fargo for the media bag. Thank you Budweiser for the beer mug and food.”

DEAN BAKER [via Alan Barber] [email]
Baker is author of The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He recently wrote the piece “Does President Obama Want to Cut Social Security by 3 Percent?”

He said today: “President Obama is paying a price for never having bothered to tell the public the truth about the nature of the downturn. We have a weak economy because the housing bubble collapsed. The collapse cost us $700 billion in annual construction demand and $500 billion in annual consumption demand, for a total shortfall in private sector demand of $1.2 trillion.

“The private sector will not replace this demand just because we want them to, it doesn’t make any sense. In the short term there is no point but to have the government fill this huge demand gap through budget deficits. In the longer term we can hope look to replace the demand with higher net exports, but that will take time. … The fact that almost no one understands these basic facts, including many of the reporters covering the campaign is largely president Obama’s fault since he has not explained them to the public.”

ARUN GUPTA [email]
Independent journalist and regular contributor to AlterNet, Truthout and The Guardian, Gupta is a co-founder of the Occupied Wall Street Journal and The Indypendent. He said today: “Leaving aside the fact that my last visit to the dentist was more informative and enjoyable than this debate, the two candidates came across as two people who essentially agree on everything but sound like they are trying to disagree.

“Once you strip away the rhetoric, it’s obvious that neither Obama or Romney is willing to stand up to Wall Street, address the epidemics of foreclosures, or meaningfully tackle the economic crisis. Both are in favor of endless war, cutting Social Security and Medicare and want to drill, baby, drill. And nothing was said about immigration, reproductive rights or poverty, which are all intertwined with economic issues.

“But all the MSM [mainstream media] can see is style, declaring Romney the winner, not the substance of a system that works overtime for the wealthy but has abandoned everyone else — no matter who is in power.”

Ferguson, professor of political science, University of Massachusetts, Boston; senior fellow, Roosevelt Institute and contributing editor, AlterNet.

He said: “My first reaction is simple: These guys have some nerve talking so cavalierly about teachers. Virtually from their first words, both the president and Governor Romney got lost in a fog of details. They begged questions, frequently argued from different premises, tossed off too many details without context, and rarely held a focus long enough for many in the audience to discern what they were talking about. The effort was a case study in how not to illuminate very much.

“So what? I’d guess that Romney’s endless talk about ‘jobs’ may persuade a few of his listeners that somehow his arithmetic actually does add up, but that number probably will not be large. I suspect, too, that the president’s highlighting how Romney’s voucher plans might change Medicare even for Americans now in their fifties probably was widely understood, too, and will work in the opposite direction. Possibly Romney, by not looking wooden, might pick up some tiny increment of public support; but my guess is that this debate changed few minds. My own takeaway is that both candidates’ harping on the genius of the American people and the virtues of the market system made it easy to lose sight of virtually all the important points at issue. I’d say the candidates battled to a draw, while America lost.

Wolff is an instructor at the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School University and senior analyst with Greencrest Capital. He wrote in a blog post today: “Mitt Romney won tonight’s debate, largely by default. He may have also lost the election. Why? He beat Obama by becoming the centrist Governor of Massachusetts. In other words, Romney became Obama. Obama responded by fumbling and becoming the challenger. He bent over backwards to agree with his trailing, flailing opponent. He was also afraid to hit Congress with an approval rating of 13%! Romney will pop in the polls, as the media needs and wants. However, his move to the center will temper the initial excitement of the right about his victory. Wait four days, better polls and grumbling from the all powerful fringe of the right.

“Remember this is a base election with few swing voters! Tonight both men hurled their bases under the bus. Romney’s base is more demanding and harsh!”