Obama On Romney's 5-Point Plan: It's A 1-Point Plan
With 82 uncommitted voters given the task to draft questions for the debate, the debate started with a first-time voter asking a question.
Jeremy Epstein, a college student, asked about what the nominees would do to ensure that he will have a chance to get a job once he graduates.
Mitt Romney said he wants to make sure the Pell grant and loan programs make it possible for people to go to college. He said he knows what it takes to create "good jobs" again after how the middle class "has been crushed" in the last four years under debt.
Barack Obama said that he wants to build on the 5 million jobs he's built in the private sector alone. He cited Romney's quote about letting Detroit go bankrupt, and reminded Epstein that he had faith in American workers.
Obama said that he wants "everyone" to get an education to train for available jobs. He also mentioned using energy sources like solar, wind and biofuels, as well as redirecting the money used for the military to education.
Moderator Candy Crowley asked about those who have faced long-term unemployment who "need a job right now."
Romney hopped on the chance to criticize the high unemployment rate during the Obama administration. He said he has a five-point plan to create 12 million new jobs for America. Romney also rebutted the "Detroit" comment by saying that Obama actually took many companies bankrupt, rather than just talking about it.
Obama said that what Romney said "just isn't true," because Romney wanted to take them through bankruptcy without seeing it through.
"Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan he has a one-point plan, and that is to see that the people at the top play by a different set of rules," Obama said.
"That's what's been squeezing middle class families," he added.
Romney made sure to add that Obama's Detroit answer was "way off the mark."
Phillip Tricolla nervously asked the next question, about energy and gas prices.
Obama said that we can't just reduce traditional energy sources but also double clean energy production. He said that he wants to build on the direction he's already headed, with a continuing focus on finding efficient energy plans.
Romney's plan, he said, is for the oil companies to make the energy policies, and without concern for clean energy.
"I expect those new energy sources to be built here in the United States," Obama said.
Romney said we should focus on Obama's actions and not his rhetoric on the subject. He alleged that Obama prevents "us" from making leaps in oil and coal. He said he had been in "coal country" and people had grabbed his arm asking Romney to save his job.
"Let's take advantage of the energy sources we have as well as the energy sources for the future," Romney said.
If elected, lost jobs will come back within eight years, Romney said. Crowley asked if "we're looking at the new normal" with gas prices.
Obama said that Romney had championed the closing of a coal plant in Massachusetts while he was governor.
"Our oil imports are down to their lowest levels in 20 years," Obama said.
The new strategies for clean energy, Obama said, will create more jobs.
"But that's not what you've done in the last four years," Romney said.
Obama and Romney started to banter, moving towards each other on the stage, with Romney accusing Obama of sidestepping the truth and Obama saying that Romney's plan makes no sense.
"I don't think anyone believes that you're for oil, gas and coal," Romney said.
He said that current gas prices indicate Obama's weakness on the energy issue.
Crowley asked Obama to counter this statement. Obama said that the economic crisis (that was orchestrated by economic policies Romney supported) caused gas prices to drop as low as they did in 2009 when he took office.
Mary Eileen Pollano asked the third question, concerning taxes, especially in regards to the middle class.
Romney reiterated stats about how prices have raised over the last four years.
He said that the "people at the top" will pay the same they have been, while the middle class will get a tax break.
Obama reiterated his four-year support of middle class families and small businesses.
"If we're seriously about reducing the budget…then in addition to some tough spending cuts, we have to be sure that the wealthy are doing a bit more," Obama said.
He claimed that 97 percent of Americans won't see a rise in tax rates, and that Republicans have prevented him from changing the way things are.
Obama said that Romney had said on 60 Minutes recently that it's fair for people who make $20 million a year to pay lower taxes, that it makes the economy grow.
"You should believe him, since that's been his history," Obama said.
Romney reasserted that the rich's tax rates wouldn't change, and that the middle class would see more tax relief. He said that because he's worked in the private sector, he knows what makes jobs.
"We haven't heard from the Governor any specifics but Big Bird and Planned Parenthood on how he's going to change investments," Obama said.
Romney said that "of course the numbers add up" on his plan, because in all his business experience the numbers have added up.
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