THE FINAL DEBATE: The dream of Lynn University namesake Christine Lynn comes true tonight. It is costing the school $5 million to host the third debate, and over 3000 journalists will be in attendance. The university is across the street from where IBM invented the first personal computer.
The topics are: America’s role in the world, Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan, Red Lines – Israel and Iran, The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism [30 minutes] and The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World.
Unfortunately foreign policy debates have typically mattered less than discussions of domestic issues. Survey data indicates the swing voters both candidates are trying to woo care little about foreign affairs right now.
You can expect considerable discussion of the Benghazi attack and China’s monetary policy. The debate is important because while Romney has a clear lead on economic issues, the President has a 10 point advantage in foreign policy according to the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. Tonight is Romney’s best chance to close that gap.
We expect all of these topics to be covered tonight but we would have swapped “soft power” for “Syria.” Our guess is that Syria will be in the debate headlines on Tuesday morning.
Romney has already made it a sharp contrast and says “In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets.”
What is the Romney vision? he says “Obama thinks America’s in decline. It is if he’s president. It’s not if I’m president.” In his 2010 memoir No Apology, Romney has a chapter titled “Why Nations Decline.” He says the “improbability of decline by the great has long piqued my interest.”
He goes on to observe that “No great power in history has endured indefinitely.” The Ottomans, the Portuguese, the Spanish, and the British — all great powers in their day — eventually crumbled, one after another. In Romney’s estimation, each succumbed to some combination of isolationism, protectionism, profligacy, or cultural decay.
Each ignored the warning signals of impending collapse, “turning their ears instead to the comforting voices that claimed continuity and comfort.” Now, Romney argues, it is America that is spending too lavishly and borrowing too heavily.
America’s culture — defined by hard work, educational attainment, risk taking, and religiosity, according to Romney — is “under attack.” Indeed, he writes, “each of the conditions that existed in the failed great states of the past is present in America today. This alone is cause for concern.”
In the past, world powers failed to correct their course because of their “failure to see growing threats, the short-term self-interest of common citizens.” There were “warning voices” among the Ottomans, Spanish, and British, he notes, but they were ignored. Romney will once again give us that warning tonight.
Last night Obama insisted that oil production has been up and that the oil companies have been granted permits to drill but refuse to do so. Governor Romney pointed out that the government is not granting many permits to oil companies, particularly on federal land.
Romney said: “Oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.”
Obama’s Interior Department has banned drilling on 11.5 million acres of petroleum reserve.
The granting of oil drilling permits under Obama is down 36 percent compared to the Bush administration and Clinton administrations.
The GM bailout was a topic in last night’s debate. What was not said was that Obama allowed very generous terms for his UAW supporters. He did not help GM trim costs, and he reversed the strict conditions imposed by Bush.
Taxpayers are expected to lose a minimum of $23 billion on the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. According to the Heritage Foundation, “The administration violated basic principles of bankruptcy law and transferred money to the UAW at taxpayer expense. The government could have executed the bailout with no net cost to taxpayers” if it had followed standard Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules.
Instead, the Obama administration granted of preferential creditor status to the UAW which cost an extra $26.5 billion. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says “the deal eschewed the typical wage corrections associated with reorganizational bankruptcy and there were no union pay cuts at GM. ”
Had the car companies just gone bankrupt without government interference, they would have had the protection of the courts, and union contracts would have been renegotiated or just torn up. Barack Obama rescued the UAW, not GM and Chrysler. Romney’s December 2008 op-ed article in opposition to the bailout is being criticized. He advocated a structured bankruptcy with no special treatment for the UAW.
A formal bailout failed in the Senate in 2008 because conservatives did not believe the conditions were stringent. Bush deserves credit for setting tough targets for the two companies — a two-thirds cut in debt, a 50% reduction in payments to health care funds for UAW retirees, and proof of net positive value by March 31, 2009. The money Bush lent was repaid in April 2010.
Obama increased the loans to $80 billion and the government still owns GM stock in connection with the company’s June 2009 out-of-court prepackaged bankruptcy. Once again, it was orchestrated by the Obama administration to protect the UAW. Bond holder rights were subordinated to UAW rights.
The bond holders were essentially wiped out. The United Auto Workers, as an unsecured creditor, received a 17.5% ownership interest in General Motors and 55% of Chrysler, while the companies’ bondholders got hosed.
Finally, the government caused part of GM’s problem. For three decades fuel-economy rules ensured that Detroit couldn’t specialize in its most profitable models—pickups, minivans, SUVs—and had to continue making smaller sedans at high-cost UAW-organized factories that it sold at a loss.
In the first debate, Obama repeatedly said Romney was proposing a $5 trillion tax cut, and Romney repeatedly said he wasn’t. Obama said Romney couldn’t cut taxes as much as he wants to without increasing the budget deficit. Romney said he could, and demonstrated how it would be done.
The Romney plan will promote a stronger middle class. By making trade work for America, balancing our budget, and championing small business, we’ll create 12 million new jobs.
This election presents a clear choice, and an important one: Will America once again be the best place in the world to start a business, hire a worker, or find a job? Or will it continue down the path that President Obama’s borrowing and taxing and spending has led? America is still waiting for its economic recovery and, as president, Mitt Romney will deliver it.
In today’s polling averages Romney is ahead by 1.4%. Four years ago today Obama had an 8.2% lead. All of the attention is on Ohio but Pennsylvania has more electoral votes.
It is now in the tossup category and three recent polls have Romney within the margin of error. Romney campaigned in the state this week and predicted victory. The change is most apparent in the Pittsburgh region among what use to be called Reagan Democrats. The area has thousands of signs proclaiming “Stop the War on Coal – Fire Obama.”
In September, the House passed the “Stop the War on Coal Act.” In addition to coal, 270,000 Pennsylvania jobs are connect to hydraulic fracturing, and there are few Obama fans in the energy industry. They could provide the crucial 2% victory margin the GOP needs.
This cartoon is from 2007 but the point is still valid. Clement Vallandigham (D-OH) was a Member of Congress (1858-1862) and the leader of the pro-South “Copperhead Democrats.” He was the 1864 Ohio Democratic gubernatorial nominee even though he was living in exile in the South.
Vallandigham said the United States under Abraham Lincoln was “the worst despotism on earth,” and he sought the intervention of a foreign power to help the Confederacy. He urged young men not to enlist in the Union Army and attacked “King Lincoln” for waging a war to liberate blacks.
In Illinois the Democratic majority in the state legislature urged Lincoln to withdraw the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves. Indiana’s Democratic majority in the legislature had the same opinion, and they came close to taking over the state militia so it could withdraw from the Civil War.
They presented a serious challenge to the first GOP president, and Lincoln referred to them as “the fire in the rear.” Vallandigham was convicted of treason but was pardoned by Lincoln. He died at age 50 after accidentally shooting himself.