First US Presidential Debate Review: A Worrying Night for Obama

Daniel Crump 

Image © yeimaya

Last night saw the first of a series of US Presidential debates between Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Deciding who the winner is in any political debate is not exactly straightforward, but speaking objectively, Romney certainly put in the most convincing performance by generally coming across as more enthusiastic and prepared. What was clear about this debate, particularly for the neutrals and swinging voters among us, was that Americans are genuinely being presented with a clear choice in November. That popular observation that US politics is becoming so centralised that one cannot tell the difference between Democrat and Republican anymore, just isn’t ringing true this time around.

This was clear from the very start. Round one of the debates focused on Domestic issues, with questions on jobs, the deficit, healthcare and the role of government on the table. Unsurprisingly, the two men differed in their opinions about what is causing America’s slow recovery from one of the deepest recessions this side of the Second World War. Obama was keen to point out that the problems were started by the Bush administration, although he was careful not to use his predecessor’s name directly. There was one occasion where the Governor did acknowledge the role that Bush had played in building the US deficit, but decided to focus more on the fact that Obama has had four years in which to bring it down, and has failed.

The candidates genuinely disagree about the methods with which to eliminate the federal debt, and this is where we got our first good old fashioned Left/Right mini-debate. Obama prefers a mixture of tax increases and spending cuts, asking the top earners in America to pay a little more in order to protect the programs that ordinary Americans depend upon. Governor Romney would bring down the deficit predominantly through spending cuts. In a debate that focused so heavily on sticking up for the middle class, one would assume that Obama’s plan would have come across as the most sensible. In fact, Romney did an excellent job of explaining why raising taxes on the top 3% of business in America actually punishes the firms that hire the majority of Americans, thus threatening jobs at a time of weak economic recovery. Obama clearly wanted to use this section of the debate to portray Romney as a President for the very wealthy, and the incumbent seemed a tad shaken when his plan didn’t appear to follow through. It was always going to be crucial for Romney to come across as the more ‘pro-business’ candidate in this debate, and on the point of tax revenue, he seemed to do this with ease.  Read more of this post

Supreme Court upholds Obamacare: a key victory in election year

Francis Pitt 

Image © roberthuffstutter

The United States Supreme Court has upheld President Obama’s flagship healthcare bill, a decision that has given the Democratic Party’s incumbent a boost as he looks towards November’s presidential election showdown with Mitt Romney.

The legislation, which has polarised opinion in America, will now ensure that millions of Americans, who previously would not have be able to access healthcare, will now be able to do what so many in other Western countries take for granted.

Within minutes of the announcement, Twitter was buzzing with reaction. Many Republicans were not happy with the decision of America’s highest court.  Missouri Congressman, Todd Akin tweeted, “Since its inception I have fought against the adoption of #Obamacare. We must defund and repeal all of it.” Other tweeters were also not happy with the ruling: “There is only one guaranteed way to get rid of Obamacare: President Romney taking the oath on January 20th, 2013.”

The decision was a close run thing, with the court ruling by 5-4 in favour of the bill. The decision was carried by Chief Justice, John Roberts (a Conservative) who himself voted in favour.  Justice Roberts gave his reaction to the decision to not strike down the Bill and in particular the penalty for not getting insured, which many Americans saw as a tax: “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

Despite the ruling the issue is far from over. Many Americans are still against the mere thought of a universal system similar to those in Europe, or their neighbours, Canada. They see it as an attack on their personal freedom and as something that could potentially lead to the eroding of American society as they know it. The darling of the Tea Party Right, Sarah Palin added her disgust at the ruling by tweeting, “Obama lied to the American people again. He said it wasn’t a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.”  Read more of this post

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