College Republicans argue Romney's performance in debates will ensure success

Joe Selvaggio and Josh Cohen
Contributing Writers

The first presidential debate of the 2012 campaign took place Oct. 3 at the University of Denver in Denver, Colo. It is clear that the challenger, Mitt Romney, came away besting the incumbent president, Barack Obama. An Oct. 4-5, Gallup poll revealed that
those who viewed the debate overwhelmingly believe Romney did a better job than Obama, 72 percent to 20 percent. Sources from both the left and the right agree that Obama’s performance lacked preparedness and presidential gravitas, while Romney appeared more confident, more capable and better equipped for the debate.

Throughout the debate, Romney pressed Obama hard on a multitude of critical domestic policy issues.

On energy, Romney discussed his goal of becoming energy independent by focusing on harnessing untapped domestic energy sources, such as oil and natural gas. He criticized Obama’s energy policy, highlighting regulatory suffocation, such as the drastic reduction in drilling permits, and the $90 billion of wasted investments in the president’s green-energy agenda.

Romney’s ability to command the stage carried on into the discussion about jobs, where he focused on the importance of allowing the private sector to create new jobs by reducing individual tax rates, which are being paid by 54 percent of small businesses that currently employ over half of all private sector employees. He also plans to eliminate incentive-distorting tax deductions for both individuals and corporations, many of which were inserted into the tax code over the years as sweetheart deals for supporters of politicians of both parties. Many of these tax deductions simply lead to suboptimal resource allocations, as individuals and corporations respond to tax incentives instead of market price signals. In addition to the micro-economic benefits of shifting from tax preferences to lower marginal tax rates, Romney points to the macro-economic benefit of lower marginal tax rates, which incentivize increased employment of labor and capital leading to economic growth and increased tax revenues.

Romney argued that the president’s current plan will only do more to stifle the job market, based in part on the abysmal record that Obama tallied in his first term. Obama sold his 2009 stimulus plan to a naïve Congress, based largely on a promise that the unemployment rate would not rise above 8 percent, if the plan were to be approved, and that by September 2012 the unemployment rate would be no higher than 5.6 percent. Of course, the actual unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent in 2009 despite passage of the stimulus bill. The actual announced unemployment rate in September 2012 was a whopping 7.8 percent, and if it weren’t for discouraged workers leaving the labor force since Obama took office, the rate reported in September would have been 10.7 percent.

The vaunted “job growth” of the president and his surrogates during the exceptionally weak recovery of his term has been insufficient to keep pace with the growth of the population of working-age Americans. Romney stayed true to his campaign’s message throughout the course of the debate. He championed small government, while slamming the president on his reckless deficit spending and amassing of a huge national debt. He was able to voice his opinion decidedly against Obamacare and the individual mandates that it brings, while maintaining that healthcare reform would be a priority of a Romney administration.

Besides displaying a clear understanding of key domestic policy issues, Romney was finally able to show his presidential poise. For the first time since campaigning began, he stood toe-to-toe on the same stage as the president of the United States and debated as no less than an equal, coming away as the victor. Thus far, election polls have shifted dramatically across the board as the second debate approaches. It will be interesting to see how Obama responds to the challenge of being behind 0-1 in the debates and behind in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. It has yet to be seen if Obama has the ability to climb out of the shadow cast by Romney.

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