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.
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.
Shown at the Romney rally today in Las Vegas are Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM), Ann-Marie Murrell of PolitiChick, and actress Courtenay Turner of the ‘Living the Life’ TV series. Martinez is the first Latina to hold a governorship, and has been campaigning for the GOP ticket in Florida and Arizona.
When she took office, Martinez fired the chef in the governor’s mansion, grounded the executive jet, halved her staff, and balanced the budget. She addressed the Republican National Convention immediately before Paul Ryan.
Today she said “Too many Americans are out of work, and our debt is out of control. This election needs to be about those issues. Obama promised to bring us all together, to cut unemployment, to pass immigration reform in his first year, but he didn’t even have the courage to try.
“He promised to cut the deficit in half in his first term, but it has been four straight years of trillion dollar deficits.”
Murrell says “Las Vegas is crucial to this election. It has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12.1%, and one of the highest foreclosure rates as well. I drove all through the suburbs today and saw only a few Obama signs.”
NATIONAL (Fox News): Romney 46% vs. Obama 45%
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Romney 48% vs. Obama 47%
COLORADO (Quinnipiac): Romney 48% vs. Obama 47%
FLORIDA (NBC-Marist): Obama 48% vs. Romney 47%
MONTANA (Montana State University-Billings): Romney 49% vs. Obama 35%
MONTANA (PPP): Romney 52% vs. Obama 41%
NEVADA (SurveyUSA): Obama 47% vs. Romney 46%
NEW HAMPSHIRE (Rasmussen): Obama 48% vs. Romney 48%
NORTH CAROLINA (Rasmussen): Romney 51% vs. Obama 48%
OHIO (Gravis): Romney 46% vs. Obama 45%
PENNSYLVANIA (Pulse Opinion): Obama 47% vs. Romney 45%
VIRGINIA (NBC-Marist): Romney 48% vs. Obama 47%
WISCONSIN (Quinnipiac): Obama 50% vs. Romney 47%
WISCONSIN (Rasmussen): Obama 51% vs. Romney 49%
MICHIGAN (Gravis): Obama 46% vs. Romney 44%
MONTANA-GOVERNOR (Montana State University-Billings): Rick Hill (R) 40% vs. Steve Bullock (D) 38%
NEVADA-US SENATE (PPP): Sen. Dean Heller (R) 47% vs. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) 44%
NEVADA-US SENATE (Suffolk): Sen. Dean Heller (R) 40% vs. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) 37%
PENNSYLVANIA-US SENATE (Pulse Opinion): Sen. Bob Casey (D) 44% vs. Tom Smith (R) 41%
PENNSYLVANIA-US SENATE (Susquehanna Research): Sen. Bob Casey (D) 46% vs. Tom Smith (R) 44%
VIRGINIA-US SENATE (NBC/Marist): Tim Kaine (D) 47% vs. George Allen (R) 46%
VIRGINIA-US SENATE (McLaughlin): George Allen (R) 49% vs. Tim Kaine (D) 46%
VIRGINIA-US SENATE (WeAskAmerica): George Allen (R) 46% vs. Tim Kaine (D) 41%
WISCONSIN-US SENATE (Quinnipiac): Tammy Baldwin (D) 48% vs. Tommy Thompson (R) 46% (47); Obama 50-47 (51-45)
PHOTO: The Pennsylvania US Senate race has received little attention but GOP candidate Tom Smith clearly has the momentum. In two polls released today he is behind by just 2% and 3%. He is shown with Congressman Tim Murphy, and Smith says “As the owner of several coal mining companies, I was on the receiving end of President Obama and Senator Casey’s costly, job-killing regulations.
“I saw firsthand the damage that an out-of-control government can do to an American economy struggling to create jobs. The President’s EPA has clearly declared a war on coal – an industry crucial to our economy. Dozens of coal plants in Pennsylvania could close under the proposed EPA regulations, destroying jobs and increasing the cost of electricity for families and small businesses.”
Romney is in Van Meter, Iowa (population 1,073) at noon today. He is speaking at the 127 year old farm of Margaret and James Koch, who said “I am overwhelmed by it. I didn’t really think I’d ever get a chance to see him in person. He knows agriculture is important to this country, and it speaks volumes that he will come to a farm.” As the candidate speaks, combines in the background will be harvesting corn and soybeans.
Romney will promise farmers that he will cut government red tape and regulations. America has had no trade agenda during the Obama administration, and Romney will tell the farm audience they will have greater access to world markets.
The Republican will conclude trade negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and ask Congress for the authority to pursue new agreements. He says “The president has stalled ongoing negotiations, and initiated no new ones.”
He is promising change so they will be able to pass down a farm to children without losing over half its value to taxes, and keep their energy costs as affordable as possible.
Craig Hill, the president of the Iowa Farm Bureau, said “We haven’t seen enough assurance that we’ll be able to operate our farms without a heavy burden of regulation and taxation under the Obama administration.”
The Republican candidate will also spell out his vision for making the agriculture economy grow and prosper.