ROMNEY ON MEDICARE
The structure of the Medicare conversation is interesting. Romney emphasizes that his plan won’t touch anyone over age 55, and then he spends some time attacking Obama for the Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act. It falls on Obama to introduce Romney’s premium-support plan into the conversation.
The way Romney approaches the whole discussion suggests he thinks it’s a political loser, and the way he repeatedly emphasizes that it won’t touch current seniors is, in my view, a political mistake, as it signals to non-seniors that this is an awful plan that they will hate.
OBAMA SHINES ON HEALTH CARE
For whatever reason, Obama is notably clearer and stronger in the health-care sections of the debate. This is true when he’s debating premium support with Romney and true when he’s defending the Affordable Care Act. He seems to have a much better idea of what he wants to say about health care than about the economy. Make of that what you will.
In general, I don’t really know what it is that people wanted Lehrer to do as moderator. His job is to structure a conversation between the two candidates. By and large, he did his job. I don’t see it as such a bad thing if they go over their time a bit, so long as both go over their time more or less equally. But in the Dodd-Frank section, Lehrer really fails as a moderator. Romney eloquently attacks Dodd-Frank for essentially designating some financial institutions as too big to fail. The idea, of course, is that these actors are subject to much more stringent regulations and oversight so that they don’t fail. He says he disagrees with this approach, and that he’ll repeal and replace it. But neither Lehrer nor Obama ever force him to say what he would replace it with.
The bottom line is that four years after the fall of Lehman, we don’t know what one of the two presidential candidates would do to regulate the financial sector. That’s rather extraordinary.