Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Round Two: Obama Takes It To McCain On Health Care, Taxes And Foreign Policy

In the video above taken during the second presidential debate, Barack Obama gets right to the point about the destructive effects of the economic deregulation championed by John McCain and the decisive action he would take. It was all part of an excellent performance.

Obama supporters should feel doubly satisfied. First, McCain needed a game changer. He didn't get it. Second, Obama missed no opportunities to point out the shortcomings in McCain's policies.

I thought that Obama did fine in the first debate, though I remember thinking that when McCain pointed out that he'll take care of the troops, Obama missed an opportunity to point out his opponent's terrible record on veterans' affairs. (To find out more about McCain's non-support of veterans, click here to see what Veterans For Common Sense has to say.)

This time, Obama missed no opportunities. On the subject of health care, he underscored how his plan would insure more Americans while McCain's would only make coverage more difficult:

"So here's what I would do. If you've got health care already, and probably the majority of you do, then you can keep your plan if you are satisfied with it. You can keep your choice of doctor. We're going to work with your employer to lower the cost of your premiums by up to $2,500 a year.

"...If you don't have health insurance, you're going to be able to buy the same kind of insurance that Sen. McCain and I enjoy as federal employees. Because there's a huge pool, we can drop the costs. And nobody will be excluded for pre-existing conditions, which is a huge problem.

"Now, Sen. McCain has a different kind of approach. He says that he's going to give you a $5,000 tax credit. What he doesn't tell you is that he is going to tax your employer-based health care benefits for the first time ever.

"So what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away. He would also strip away the ability of states to provide some of the regulations on insurance companies to make sure you're not excluded for pre-existing conditions or your mammograms are covered or your maternity is covered. And that is fundamentally the wrong way to go."

On taxes, McCain tried to reassure Americans that he was being fair across the board:

"...let's not raise anybody's taxes, my friends, and make it be very clear to you I am not in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy. I am in favor of leaving the tax rates alone and reducing the tax burden on middle-income Americans by doubling your tax exemption for every child from $3,500 to $7,000."

McCain's statement covered up a fundamental inequity, the regressive tax structure imposed by the Bush administration–an inequity that McCain supports. McCain would continue cutting taxes for the wealthy and major corporations despite the growing income gap, the deficit, two ongoing wars and the economic bailout. Obama readily explained how McCain's tax plans would increase the burden on the middle class:

"Now, when Sen. McCain is proposing tax cuts that would give the average Fortune 500 CEO an additional $700,000 in tax cuts, that's not sharing a burden.

"And so part of the problem, I think, for a lot of people who are listening here tonight is they don't feel as if they are sharing the burden with other folks.

"I mean, you know, it's tough to ask a teacher who's making $30,000 or $35,000 a year to tighten her belt when people who are making much more than her are living pretty high on the hog."

On foreign policy, Obama proposed his conditions for military action in Pakistan:

"...if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority."

McCain completely distorted Obama's position:

"In fact, he said he wants to announce that he's going to attack Pakistan. Remarkable."

Is taking on Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda synonymous with attacking the nation of Pakistan?

Obama had a decisive comeback to McCain's repeated statements that his opponent is naive and rash:

"Now, Sen. McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I'm green behind the ears and, you know, I'm just spouting off, and he's somber and responsible.

"Sen. McCain, this is the guy who sang, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don't think is an example of "speaking softly."

"This is the person who, after we had -- we hadn't even finished Afghanistan, where he said, 'Next up, Baghdad.' "

Regarding the demeanor of the debaters, at one point, McCain referred to Obama as "That one." It was both strange and disrespectful, and a sign of the grumpiness that characterized McCain during the first two debates. In contrast, Obama continues to come across as respectful yet confident and incisive. In a word: presidential.

Round two: Obama.


quakerdave said...

I agree: Obama missed a couple openings and stuck to his talking points a bit too much.

While he definitely looked more presidential (and far less unhinged), Obama's going to have to be a bit more aggressive next week. I think the tsunami of slime will force him to.

Jeff Tone said...

QD: As far as slime goes, it's going to be an ugly last month from the McCain campaign. The Obama campaign will have to respond immediately and attack McCain as well. They can stick to the issues and still do an effective job.