warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

First Debate Showed Romney Lacks Credible Fiscal Policy

Christian Patterson |
October 3, 2012 | 8:59 p.m. PDT


Mitt Romney's discussion of his plan for the economy showed that he doesn't have a credible one. (Talk Radio News Service, Creative Commons)
Mitt Romney's discussion of his plan for the economy showed that he doesn't have a credible one. (Talk Radio News Service, Creative Commons)
Governor Romney exceeded a lot of people’s expectations in the first presidential debate. He spoke articulately about his economic policies. He defended his plans against attacks made by the President, and he laid out a vision that he thinks will get America on the right track. The problem with Romney’s performance was that he turned his biggest strength – the perception that he had a more realistic deficit plan – into his biggest weakness.

The GOP’s big argument against progressive proposals (i.e. universal healthcare, college tuition assistance, education funding, etc.) has always been to question our ability to pay for them. Republicans have done a relatively good job of framing themselves as the party that is willing to make the tough choices. They effectively sold the Tea Party as a movement to create more responsible spending policies. Their “budget-hawks,” like Paul Ryan, have managed to associate themselves with fiscal discipline and budget responsibility. They’ve even done a good job of making people forget the budget surplus that Bush squandered.

Governor Romney ruined all of that great PR work with his debate performance tonight. He was issued a challenge by the President: to explain how he could increase spending on the military, issue a five trillion dollar tax cut, not cut Medicare and Social Security, and pay for it all by eliminating a few budget loopholes. He didn’t do so well with Obama’s challenge. In fact, he never even tried to explain how the math would work.

Governor Romney’s only real argument in response to Obama’s throwing of the gauntlet was to assert that his tax cut wouldn’t add to the deficit. A dubious claim, considering the impact that a decade of Bush-era tax policies has had on our nation’s fiscal stability.

There’s a reason independent economic analysis from non-partisan think tanks and major universities concludes that Romney would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to keep his plan deficit-neutral. Romney’s living in fantasy land if he thinks that we can keep entitlement programs strong, exponentially increase our military spending, and lower tax rates without bankrupting the government. What was it that George Bush said in one of his 2000 debates against Al Gore; something about “fuzzy math”?

Governor Romney had made a solid case for why he had the only realistic plan to cut the deficit and get our fiscal house in order. He showed tonight that the only house he’s working with is a house of cards.


Reach Columnist Christian Patterson here; follow him here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.