The Presidential Debate: Apples or oranges, meat not offered

(News & Editorial/ The Presidential Debate: Apples & oranges, meat not offered )

The Presidential Debate: Apples or oranges, meat not offered
So, you went to the store to buy produce, there  you held an apple in one hand and an orange in the other.  You made a decision based on the superficial, but sometimes revealing conditions of firmness, apparent ripeness, price and past expectations.
Should your expectation be high, that your choice is the best or that either was good?
In the case of the fruit, perhaps both were picked early, while they were still not ripened and have “matured” to a pleasing hue in a refrigerated box car. Sure the apple may look better than the orange, but when you bite into your selection and find the texture wrong and sweetness missing, then you realize the truth.
It’s what you can’t see that makes the difference.
In the Presidential debates, while one candidate may have “looked and sounded” better than the other, the parameters of their discussion were highly controlled; their focus was tight, the big and important subjects were avoided. Sure you had a great time rooting for “your candidate”, but what did the “debate” clarify?  What new course will we Americans follow that will change global economics, that will reduce welfare expenditures and spending programs without rioting and putting the elderly into poverty? What are the plans for runaway prices for medical treatment, what happened to the war on drugs, what about our national borders, the meaningful growth of alternative energy, fuel-efficient automobiles, housing mortgages, the list goes on.
The following two articles, give a name to “some” of the  topics that the candidates and their national parties chose to ignore. The idea is to make the race a “popular” event, not necessarily substantive….. Mr Larry.

A.  16 Critical Economic Issues That Obama And Romney Avoided During The Debate
4 October 2012, The Economic Collapse.com,
Pasted from: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/16-critical-economic-issues-that-obama-and-romney-avoided-during-the-debate

Did you watch the presidential debate on Wednesday night? It is absolutely amazing how they can have an hour and a half debate about the economy and say so little. It seemed like both candidates were falling all over each other wanting to talk about how much they value education, but will more education really solve our problems? After all, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed in 2011. So perhaps they should just both agree that education is a good thing and start talking about how to create more jobs for all of us. If you want to grade the debate from a technical standpoint, clearly Romney was the winner of the debate. Romney was full of energy and was generally sharp with his answers. Obama looked like he had just popped a couple of antidepressants and was ready for nap time. As a result, this might have been the worst blowout in the history of presidential debates. A CNN/ORC International poll that was taken right after the debate found that 67 percent of all Americans that had watched the debate thought that Romney was the winner. Never before had any presidential candidate crossed the 60 percent mark in the history of their post-debate polling. So Romney definitely had a big night. But the reality is that both candidates were telling the American people what they want to hear. If either Obama or Romney told the truth about what we are facing they would lose votes, and in a race this tight both of them really want to avoid doing that. Obama and Romney both desperately want to win this election, and the words that are coming out of their mouths have been carefully crafted to appeal to the “undecided voters” in the swing states. If you actually believe that they can deliver on everything that they are promising, then you must not have been paying much attention to U.S. politics over the past several decades.

Perhaps the biggest failure on Wednesday night was debate moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS. His questions were about as far from “hard hitting” as you could get.

The hour and a half debate was almost entirely about the economy, and yet almost all of the critical economic issues were ignored.

Yes, Obama and Romney have slight differences when it comes to tax rates and regulations, but those small differences are not going to do much to change the direction of this country one way or another.

Meanwhile, there were some really huge issues about the economy that were not addressed at all last night….

1 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the Federal Reserve was not mentioned a single time.

2 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, Ben Bernanke was not mentioned a single time.

3 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, quantitative easing was not mentioned a single time.

4 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the term “derivatives” was not used a single time. Considering the fact that derivatives could bring down our financial system at any moment, this is an issue that should be talked about.

5 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was no mention of the millions of jobs that have been shipped out of the country. Considering the fact that both Obama and Romney have played a role in this, it is probably a topic they both want to avoid. Overall, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

6 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, neither candidate mentioned that the velocity of money has plunged to a post-World War II low.

7 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the fact that the rest of the world is beginning to reject the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency was not mentioned a single time, but this has enormous implications for our economy in the years ahead.

8 – The fact that the Social Security system is headed for massive trouble was only briefly touched on during the debate. At the moment, there are approximately 56 million Americans that are collecting Social Security benefits. By 2035, that number is projected to grow to an astounding 91 million. Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years. When are our politicians going to honestly address this massive problem?

9 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the nightmarish drought the country is experiencing right now was not mentioned a single time.

10 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the financial meltdown in Europe was basically totally ignored. But considering the fact that Europe has a larger economy and a much larger banking system than we do, perhaps someone should have asked Obama and Romney what they plan to do when the financial system of Europe implodes.

11 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the student loan debt bubble was only briefly mentioned.

12 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was not a single word about the fact that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is now larger than it has been at any point since the Great Depression.

13 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was no mention of TARP (which they both supported at the time). Would they both bail out the big banks if another financial crisis erupted?

14 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was no mention of the economic stimulus packages (which they both supported at the time). Would they both want more “economic stimulus” if we entered another recession?

15 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, neither candidate talked about the fact that most of the jobs our economy is producing now are low income jobs. In fact, since the end of the last recession, 58 percent of the jobs that have been created are low paying jobs.

16 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, neither candidate mentioned that more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government or that more than half of all Americans are now at least partially financially dependent on the government. I can’t blame Romney for avoiding this point though – he probably wanted to avoid the phrase “47 percent” at all costs.

Is this really the best that America can do?

Tens of millions of Americans tuned in hoping to become more informed about the candidates, and instead what they got was an hour and a half of tap dancing as Obama and Romney constantly tossed out buzzwords such as “education”, “energy independent” and “middle class”.

I honestly don’t know how you can possibly have a debate about the economy without talking about the Federal Reserve, quantitative easing, the trade deficit, Europe or the decline of the U.S. dollar.

But it just happened right in front of our eyes.

I don’t think that I can ever remember another presidential debate that lacked substance as much as this one did.

.
B.  What the Presidential Debates Won’t Tell You
A guide to the most important issues you won’t hear discussed at the upcoming presidential debates.

1  Oct. 2012, Mother jones,  By Mattea Kramer
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/what-presidential-debates-wont-tell-you

This story first appeared on the Tom Dispatch website.
Five big things will decide what this country looks like next year and in the 20 years to follow, but here’s a guarantee for you: you’re not going to hear about them in the upcoming presidential debates. Yes, there will be questions and answers focused on deficits, taxes, Medicare, the Pentagon, and education, to which you already more or less know the responses each candidate will offer. What you won’t get from either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama is a little genuine tough talk about the actual state of reality in these United States of ours. And yet, on those five subjects, a little reality would go a long way, while too little reality (as in the debates to come) is a surefire recipe for American decline.

So here’s a brief guide to what you won’t hear this Wednesday or in the other presidential and vice-presidential debates later in the month. Think of these as five hard truths that will determine the future of this country.

1. Immediate deficit reduction will wipe out any hope of economic recovery: These days, it’s fashionable for any candidate to talk about how quickly he’ll reduce the federal budget deficit, which will total around $1.2 trillion in fiscal 2012. And you’re going to hear talk about the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan and more like it on Wednesday. But the hard truth of the matter is that deep deficit reduction anytime soon will be a genuine disaster. Think of it this way: If you woke up tomorrow and learned that Washington had solved the deficit crisis and you’d lost your job, would you celebrate? Of course not. And yet, any move to immediately reduce the deficit does increase the likelihood that you will lose your job.

When the government cuts spending, it lays off workers and cancels orders for all sorts of goods and services that would generate income for companies in the private sector. Those companies, in turn, lay off workers, and the negative effects ripple through the economy. This isn’t atomic science. It’s pretty basic stuff, even if it’s evidently not suitable material for a presidential debate. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service predicted in a September report, for example, that any significant spending cuts in the near-term would contribute to an economic contraction. In other words, slashing deficits right now will send us ever deeper into the Great Recession from which, at best, we’ve scarcely emerged.

Champions of immediate deficit reduction are likely to point out that unsustainable deficits aren’t good for the economy. And that’s true—in the long run. Washington must indeed plan for smaller deficits in the future. That will, however, be a lot easier to accomplish when the economy is healthier, since government spending declines when fewer people qualify for assistance, and tax revenues expand when the jobless go back to work. So it makes sense to fix the economy first. The necessity for near-term recovery spending paired with long-term deficit reduction gets drowned out when candidates pack punchy slogans into flashes of primetime TV.

2. Taxes are at their lowest point in more than half a century, preventing investment in and the maintenance of America’s most basic resources: Hard to believe? It’s nonetheless a fact.By now, it’s a tradition for candidates to compete on just how much further they’d lower taxes and whether they’ll lower them for everyone or just everyone but the richest of the rich. That’s a super debate to listen to, if you’re into fairy tales. It’s not as thrilling if you consider that Americans now enjoy the lightest tax burden in more than five decades, and it happens to come with a hefty price tag on an item labeled “the future.” There is no way the US can maintain a world-class infrastructure—we’re talking levees, highways, bridges, you name it—and a public education system that used to be the envy of the world, plus many other key domestic priorities, on the taxes we’re now paying.

Anti-tax advocates insist that we should cut taxes even more to boost a flagging economy—an argument that hits the news cycle nearly every hour and that will shape the coming TV “debate.” As the New York Times recently noted, however, tax cuts might have been effective in giving the economy a lift decades ago when tax rates were above 70%. (And no, that’s not a typo, that’s what your parents and grandparents paid without much grumbling.) With effective tax rates around 14% for Mitt Romney and many others, further cuts won’t hasten job creation, just the hollowing out of public investment in everything from infrastructure to education. Right now, the negative effects of tax increases on the most well-off would be small—read: not a disaster for “job creators”—and those higher rates would bring in desperately needed revenue. Tax increases for middle-class Americans should arrive when the economy is stronger.

Right now, the situation is clear: we’re simply not paying enough to fund the basic ingredients of prosperity from highways and higher education to medical research and food safety. Without those funds, this country’s future won’t be pretty.

3. Neither the status quo nor a voucher system will protect Medicare (or any other kind of health care) in the long run: When it comes to Medicare,Mitt Romney has proposed a premium-support program that would allow seniors the option of buying private insurance. President Obama wants to keep Medicare more or less as it is for retirees. Meanwhile, the ceaseless rise in health-care costs is eating up the wages of regular Americans and the federal budget. Health care now accounts for a staggering 24% of all federal spending, up from 7% less than 40 years ago. Governor Romney’s plan would shift more of those costs onto retirees, according to David Cutler, a health economist at Harvard, while President Obama says the federal government will continue to pick up the tab. Neither of them addresses the underlying problem.

Here’s reality: Medicare could be significantly protected by cutting out waste. Our health system is riddled with unnecessary tests and procedures, as well as poorly coordinated care for complex health problems. This country spent $2.6 trillion on health care in 2010, and some estimates suggest that a staggering 30% of that is wasted. Right now, our health system rewards quantity, not quality, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of paying for each test and procedure, Medicare could pay for performance and give medical professionals a strong incentive to provide more efficient and coordinated care. President Obama’s health law actually pilot tests such an initiative. But that’s another taboo topic this election season, so he scarcely mentions it. Introducing such change into Medicare and the rest of our health system would save the federal government tens of billions of dollars annually. It would truly preserve Medicare for future generations, and it would improve the affordability of health coverage for everyone under 65 as well. Too bad it’s not even up for discussion.

4. The US military is outrageously expensive and yet poorly tailored to the actual threats to US national security: Candidates from both parties pledge to protect the Pentagon from cuts, or even, in the case of the Romney team, to increase the already staggering military budget. But in a country desperate for infrastructure, education, and other funding, funneling endless resources to the Pentagon actually weakens “national security.” Defense spending is already mind-numbingly large: if all US military and security spending were its own country, it would have the 19th largest economy in the world, ahead of Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and Switzerland. Whether you’re counting aircraft carriers, weapons systems, or total destructive power, it’s absurdly overmatched against the armed forces of the rest of the world, individually or in combination. A couple of years ago, then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates gave a speech in which he detailed that overmatch. A highlight: “The US operates 11 large carriers, all nuclear powered. In terms of size and striking power, no other country has even one comparable ship.” China recently acquired one carrier that won’t be fully functional for some time, if ever—while many elected officials in this country would gladly build a twelfth.

But you’ll hear none of this in the presidential debates. Perhaps the candidates will mention that obsolete, ineffective, and wildly expensive weapons systems could be cut, but that’s a no-brainer. The problem is: it wouldn’t put a real dent in national defense spending. Currently almost one-fifth of every dollar spent by the federal government goes to the military. On average, Americans, when polled, say that they would like to see military funding cut by 18%.

Instead, most elected officials vow to pour limitless resources into more weapons systems of questionable efficacy, and of which the US already owns more than the rest of the world combined. Count on one thing: military spending will not go down as long as the US is building up a massive force in the Persian Gulf, sending Marines to Darwin, Australia, and special ops units to Africa and the Middle East, running drones out of the Seychelles Islands, and “pivoting” to Asia. If the US global mission doesn’t downsize, neither will the Pentagon budget—and that’s a hit on America’s future that no debate will take up this month.

5. The education system is what made this country prosperous in the twentieth century—but no longer: Perhaps no issue is more urgent than this, yet for all the talk of teacher’s unions and testing, real education programs, ideas that will matter, are nonexistent this election season. During the last century, the best education system in the world allowed this country to grow briskly and lift standards of living. Now, from kindergarten to college, public education is chronically underfunded. Scarcely 2% of the federal budget goes to education, and dwindling public investment means students pay higher tuitions and fall ever deeper into debt. Total student debt surpassed $1 trillion this year and it’s growing by the month, with the average debt burden for a college graduate over $24,000. That will leave many of those graduates on a treadmill of loan repayment for most or all of their adult lives.

Renewed public investment in education—from pre-kindergarten touniversity—would pay handsome dividends for generations. But you aren’t going to hear either candidate or their vice-presidential running mates proposing the equivalent of a GI Bill for the rest of us or even significant new investment in education. And yet that’s a recipe for and a guarantee of American decline.

Ironically, those in Washington arguing for urgent deficit reduction claim that we’ve got to do it “for the kids,” that we must stop saddling our grandchildren with mountains of federal debt. But if your child turns 18 and finds her government running a balanced budget in an America that’s hollowed out, an America where she has no chance of paying for a college education, will she celebrate? You don’t need an economist to answer that one.

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