Tips from the Pros

5 Oct

Romney – Obama / Round I

Exchanges from the first presidential debate that can help open you up to the idea of riffing on a question, to take it in a direction you need to go.

21:08:40: JIM LEHRER: Mr. President, please respond directly to what the governor just said about trickle-down — his trick-down approach, as he said yours is.

21:08:50: PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me talk specifically about what I think we need to do.    First, we’ve got to improve our education system and we’ve made progress drawing on ideas both from Democrats and Republicans that are already starting to show gains in some of the toughest to deal with schools.

And so on . . .  the president goes on to list tax code, energy and finally the deficit:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And this is where there’s a difference, because Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut — on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts — that’s another trillion dollars — and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for. That’s $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments that we need to make, without dumping those costs onto middle-class Americans, I think is one of the central questions of this campaign.

Nothing about trickle down anything.

Another moment:

21:47:21: LEHRER: We’ll talk about — specifically about health care in a moment. But what — do you support the voucher system, Governor?

21:47:27: ROMNEY: What I support is no change for current retirees and near-retirees to Medicare. And the president supports taking $716 billion out of that program.

21:47:32: LEHRER: And what about the vouchers?

(CROSSTALK)

21:47:36: ROMNEY: So that’s — that’s number one.

Number two is for people coming along that are young, what I do to make sure that we can keep Medicare in place for them is to allow them either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan. Their choice.

They get to choose — and they’ll have at least two plans that will be entirely at no cost to them. So they don’t have to pay additional money, no additional $6,000. That’s not going to happen. They’ll have at least two plans.

And by the way, if the government can be as efficient as the private sector and offer premiums that are as low as the private sector, people will be happy to get traditional Medicare or they’ll be able to get a private plan.

I know my own view is I’d rather have a private plan. I’d just assume not have the government telling me what kind of health care I get. I’d rather be able to have an insurance company. If I don’t like them, I can get rid of them and find a different insurance company. But people make their own choice.

The other thing we have to do to save Medicare? We have to have the benefits high for those that are low income, but for higher income people, we’re going to have to lower some of the benefits. We have to make sure this program is there for the long term. That’s the plan that I’ve put forward.

And, by the way the idea came not even from Paul Ryan or — or Senator Wyden, who’s the co-author of the bill with — with Paul Ryan in the Senate, but also it came from Bill — Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. This is an idea that’s been around a long time, which is saying, hey, let’s see if we can’t get competition into the Medicare world so that people can get the choice of different plans at lower cost, better quality. I believe in competition.

Vouchers?  No mention.

Photos from Commission on Presidential Debates, courtesy Mark Abraham

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