Moral Low Ground

US Government

How Obama Can Win the Next Debate

Looking up once in a while might help…

What the @$#!&&%!— if that was your reaction watching the first Presidential debate between Obama and Romney, then you, my Democratic friend, were not alone. Within the first 10 minutes it was clear Romney was winning the tax and economy argument. For about hundred years, the Republicans have been using the low tax, less regulation argument and the Democrats still haven’t come up with a winning, convincing counter-argument. Obama couldn’t defend his ideas on tax, education, or even his single big achievement–‘Obamacare’.

So what does Obama have to say to win the next debate? First of all, Obama’s body language has to exude confidence. In the first debate, he kept looking down and wouldn’t look at Romney straight in his eyes. He also blinked more than Romney and worst of all often nodded while he was being attacked.

In terms of substance, this is how Obama should counter Romney’s typical Republican arguments (I have added some of my own ideas which are italicized):

Taxes and Deficit:

Republicans have a one-size-fits-all solution – cut taxes and de-regulate. Whether the economy is booming or struggling they would cut taxes and deregulate. And they do it regardless of the effects on income inequality or our national debt.

Cutting taxes across the board including the millionaires and billionaires makes no sense right now. The Top 1% have benefited tremendously over the last 30 years. While their income and wealth have increased many folds, the middle class has actually lost income adjusted for inflation. This happened when American workers’ productivity doubled in the same time period. That’s why back in the 1950s or 60s, an American family could prosper with a single income while now, for most families, it takes a husband and a wife to work full time jobs to support their family.

Trickle down or Voodoo economics says if the super-rich get more money, they will spend it and the money will trickle down to the middle class and the poor. But the American families need more than a trickle to buy a house and a car, pay mortgage, plan for their retirement, and give their kids good education. Tax cuts to middle class and low-wage workers stimulate the economy since they are more likely to spend their money on real goods and services as opposed to putting their money in Cayman Islands or Swiss banks.

The national debt tripled during the 12 years of Reagan and Bush I; the debt doubled during the 8 years of Bush II. We borrowed as a country and redistributed the money to a few at the top and this has created enormous inequality. It’s time to cut the national debt and ask the wealthiest to chip in to reduce the debt.

Specifics of Tax Cuts:

The Governor says his tax cuts are “revenue neutral”. So he is going to tinker with the whole tax system to end up with nothing? He also warned a few days ago that the middle class should not expect a big cut. So what deductions is he going to eliminate…the mortgage deductions, charitable deductions, child credit? Maybe this is his way of making the 47% — the single mothers, the retired, the veterans, and the working poor– pay more income tax.

He promises that the wealthiest Americans won’t pay less because he will eliminate deductions. So if they are going to pay the same, why the change? Here is the truth: an income tax is a sure thing. On the other hand, deductions for the wealthiest are complex and can be manipulated. Not to mention, special loopholes can always be introduced in legislation later on. In 2011, more than 4000 millionaires paid zero federal income tax and this number will skyrocket under Governor Romney’s plan.

My proposal is to increase the tax rates on a small number of wealthiest Americans to what we had under Bill Clinton when the economy prospered and the rich also did very well. I will cut the income and payroll taxes for the middle class and low-wage earners; and increase child credit which, by the way, every Republican President since Ford has championed. To foster home ownership and thus the economy, I would increase the mortgage deduction on the primary homes by 50% (so for every $100 you deduct now, you will be able to deduct $150). There will some limit on the price of the homes for which this will apply.

Helping Small Business:

It’s true that small businesses form the backbone of America and play a huge role in creating high-paying jobs. However, the laws have been changed by the lobbyists so much that now Donald Trump or a business with 1000+ employees could be considered as small business. Tax cuts for small businesses have been benefiting primarily the top 3%. I will cut the tax for the truly “small” businesses with new deductions for hiring full-time employees who get paid at least $20/hr.

I will also selectively raise the minimum wage that large corporations have to pay their employees. Truly  small businesses would be exempt from this. There are huge corporations making billions of dollars in profit while their average employee makes $9 or $10 an hour and is forced to depend on government support such as food stamps. With higher wages, these Americans would not fall into the 47% which might actually help my opponent’s party!

My opponent’s plans are simply George Bush’s ideas gift-wrapped with a new paper. We have been down that road and faced one of the worst financial crises of our times. We need ideas that help all Americans and not just a few. We are making progress together and we are on the right track now. We have added 5 million jobs in the last 2.5 years, the unemployment rate is dipping, the stock market has grown 100%, mortgage rates are at record low, the housing market is picking up, and consumer confidence is growing rapidly. With your help, the next four years will be prosperous for all Americans. Finally, while my opponent is soft on Wall Street and hard on Sesame Street, I look forward to hosting Big Bird and the gang at the White House to commend them on the tremendous service they have provided by educating the children of this great nation!


Chris Kanthan has degrees in physics and engineering and a minor in economics. He’s traveled to more than 30 countries and currently calls San Francisco home. He cares deeply about politics, finance and food. Chris can be reached at:

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One Comment

  1. XrandiXOctober 10, 2012 at 10:11 amReply

    Hopefully Al Gore was right about the altitude thing…

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