Okay, I watched the debate —- and jotted down responses as I watched. These jottings were made in real time while trying to listen to the candidates, and are, I’m sure, in many cases, not as well thought out as they ought to be. But here they are, unedited:
1) Romney off to pathetic start with tearjerker stories.
2) What is this fetish with small business? Why are small businesses more important than big businesses? Aren’t they mostly small because mostly they’re not very good?
3) Obama, asked to respond to “trickle down” issue, goes off talking about education. Can you say “non sequitur”, boys and girls?
4) Obama wants different tax rates for different industries (lower for manufacturing). What could possibly qualify as more “top down” economics than politicians in Washington deciding which industries to favor?
5) Romney totally buys into the class warfare with “high income people are doing fine”, we have to help the middleclass, etc etc. This is vomitworthy. With Romney’s peddling Obama-style class warfare, it’s hard to see why anyone would prefer him.
6) Romney says “all of the increase in energy has been on private land, not govt land”. Very ignorant. If there were more drilling on govt land, there’d be less on private land (assuming there’s any truth at all to Hotelling style models and how can there not be?)
7) Haven’t looked at numbers, but I bet Obama is exactly right that Romney can’t possibly cut taxes by 5 trillion and make it revenue neutral by closing deductions taken by the rich.
8) There goes Romney again with “I will not reduce the share paid by high income individuals”. In other words, we have no diversity of opinion on whether the tax code is too progressive as it is.
9) Romney off again on “we need to lower rates because of *small businesses*”. This fetish with small business is driving me nuts.
10) Wait a minute! Now Romney points to the top 3% of small businesses as the major job creators — but still ignores the big businesses?
11) Romney’s basic view on taxes — cut rates but also cut deductions — is of course exactly right, and nearly all economists agree on this. But those same economists will also say that rates on capital income should be much much lower than rates on wage income — and Romney is either too ignorant or too gutless to point this out.
12) Romney to cut PBS subsidies. Note that the Republicans have controlled Congress for much of the past 20 years and haven’t managed to do this.
13) Both of them seem extremely articulate if you don’t listen too closely to the content.
14) (at the 9:30 mark) Obama clearly winning, I think.
15) Obama semi-endorses Bowles/Simpson, which is much better than where he might have gone.
16) Obama attacks Romney on not agreeing to $1 of tax increase for $10 in spending cuts. Romney should respond: “That was in response to a question that didnt specify the spending cuts. Of course I can’t agree till you tell me what you’re cutting”.
17) Romney is right that Obama didnt run with Bowles/Simpson when he could have/should have, and that Obama is dissembling about this.
18) Romey appears to be hogging time. I don’t think is likely to play well.
19) obama right that we shouldnt subsidize oil, then undermines himself by giving a ridiculous reason (“they’re already making lots of money”). What matters is not what the oil companies are making, it’s the incentives at the margin.
20) Romney gets in superb zinger — Obama complains about subsidies to oil but subsidizes green energy at something like 10 times as much.
21) Romney should follow up on this zinger by explaining that these subsidies create disincentives for people to find creative, alternative, *unsubsidized* energy sources. It’s very important to make this point, because otherwise naive people think “ooh, green energy, good thing”.
22) Romney making the case for federalism in poverty programs —- Obama should point out that this is the same Romney who *complained* when Obama administration proposed giving states more flexibility on welfare.
23) Obama says his grandma could live independently only because of social security — and implies the same is true for elderly people generally. As if there was no alternative investment for the social security taxes people pay their whole lives? It’s impossible for us to save unless the govt does it for us???!?
24) Obama probably right about adverse selection issues with Ryan’s Medicare plan, but I haven’t looked at this or thought hard about it.
25) Obama: “The primary beneficiaries of Romney health policies are insurance companies”. This can’t be true. Competition (even in a highly regulated industry like insurance) limits profits. Short-term higher profits must mean long-term lower premiums.
26) Romney good on importance of competition in Medicare provision.
27) Obama: With Romney health care “the money has to come from somewhere”. Romney already explained that savings come from greater efficiency that comes from competition. Hope he reiterates this and points out that Obama seems not to have heard it the first time.
28) Romney does come back with an excellent comeback on this! (If govt can do it cheaper, people will choose that! Why not give them a choice?). This was a good good moment for him.
29) Romney: “you can’t have people starting up banks in their garages”. Why the hell not?
30) Romney good on deficiencies of Dodd Frank, but misses the bigger point that D/F does nothing to attack the problems that caused the current crisis.
31) Romney again with “I met a woman in NH; I met a couple in Appleton, WI”. For Christ’s sake, just tell us your policies and your rationale.
32) Romney: “How did he come into office with 23 million unemployed, unemployment rising, and put all his passion into Obamacare?”. Fair or not (I think it’s not) this is a big winner for Romney; he should have found a way to get it into the first half hour.
33) 10pm: I think I give the second half hour to Romney, but not sure.
34) Romney very good on differences between romneycare and obamacare.
35) Obama defending a board of experts to make health care decisions — romney should come back with “I thought you were *against* top-down economics”.
36) Generally speaking, this is substantially less frivolous than the average political debate. Probably Lehrer gets a lot of credit for that, but so, I think, do the candidates.
37) Obama dead right that Romney’s pro-competition proposals dont help if you’ve got a pre-existing condition. Romney claims he has that covered elsewhere in his plan; dunno if that’s true.
38) Romney attacking that unelected board pretty effectively, and absolutely right on this issue.
39) Romney showing some real passion on the power of competition in health care (and by implication more generally). Looking real good on this.
40) I repeat: They’re both on their game. Ignoring the content of what they’re saying, they both sound great.
41) Given the expectations game, this is probably real good for Romney.
42) Sounds like we get something like Bowles/Simpson with either guy.
43) Glad to hear a call-out to the 10th amendment!! Kudos to Romney.
44) Obama: The federal govt has the capacity to expand opportunity, etc etc. Of course this is true in some cases, but the view that this is very generally the case is a genuine difference. Good to see it aired.
45) Obama says we need more teachers; Romney says we need great teachers. O is wrong; R is right. Great to see this key difference aired.
46) Romney doing very well with “role of govt” question. Must have practiced for this.
47) Yes! Romney said “trickle-down government”!!! That’s exactly the phrase he should keep pushing. I’ve been saying this for weeks. Has he said this before and I missed it?
48) Romney doing great I think on whole cluster of issues right now, including “letting lower income kids go to school of their choice”
49) Romney sounded very very positive on education, etc, then Obama went for negative with “his budget cuts taxes and therefore must cut education….”. Makes Romney look big and Obama look small.
50) Obama repeats the canard that if we give more grants to college students, more will be able to go to college. This is completely ridiculous, and Romney should say so.
51) Romney getting better and better as we come up on the close. Gets in zinger about green energy companies owned by Obama contributors. Showing real passion on educational choice.
52) Going into closing statements, Romney clearly won the last half hour.
53) Closing statements: My attention wandered. Missed most of the content. But thought Obama looked a little tired and out of it; Romney looked strong.