What could Obama have done when Mitt announced "I don't want to cut taxes on the rich" and "I'm not going to cut any taxes that would raise the deficit"? Obama should have said "Thank you, Governor, I'm glad you have changed your mind. That you no longer plan to eliminate the inheritance tax, which affects only estates larger than $5 million and creates privileged families who no longer need to work for a living, setting an example of sloth and greed that Americans don't want. Why just today, I was told you said we could lower the tax rates for everyone by eliminating the home mortgage deduction. Every year, millions of middle class families are able to afford their tax bills by claiming their mortgage payments as a deduction. Rich people don't have mortgages on their houses, as you know because you don't hold mortgages on your many homes, so when you cut everybody's taxes while eliminating the deduction, only the middle class would pay more and you would pay less. I am truly thankful you have decided these proposals you have campaigned on for the last year were not good ideas. I look forward to hearing your new proposals in this debate." It should have been shooting fish in a barrel.
When Mitt Romney said, "You shouldn't raise any taxes in a recession," the president should have said, "Mr. Romney says you shouldn't raise taxes in a recession and I agree. The government economists hired by George W. Bush tell me we haven't been in a recession since May, 2009, so now is the time to start paying for this war of convenience Mr. Bush waged in Iraq."
When Mitt Romney said, "The debt is out of control," the president should have said, "Debt is one of our biggest problems. Not public debt. Oh sure, it's a problem, but other prosperous countries like Japan have more. What's urgent is our private debt. And how did we get there? By Wall Street playing with derivatives. Mr. Romney doesn't like our financial regulation bills like Dodd-Frank. You know why? Did you know last year there were a dozen or so hedge fund operators who paid themselves a billion dollars? That's a lot of money. It's so much money that to most people it's just a number. The average monthly food stamp benefit for a poor person is $130. You could feed 7.7 million people for a month with a billion dollars. So that means with the money a dozen Wall Street people made in a year, you could feed 7.7 million Americans for a year. It's not right when a dozen people have so much money they are making decisions about what products get made, what businesses get financed, and where the nation goes economically that should be decided by millions. Every year that wealth becomes more concentrated, new business startups fall and patents decline.
"Where did those hedge fund boys get that money? You don't really hear about them taking risks and going broke. You don't hear about them starting businesses. They got it playing games with derivatives. In the last thirty years, derivatives markets have gone from being a way to smooth commodity prices in the economy, to a giant betting casino.
"And these folks in Wall Street, they've taken out more than $30 trillion in outstanding derivatives betting on their hunches. That's two years' worth of the goods and services produced by every single person in the United States. They've taken out a debt that the whole country would have to work two years to pay off with no food, no pay, no clothing, no transportation, nothing if they are wrong in their bets. Two years of slavery. Actually much longer: they'd have to keep you alive to work, right? They committed you and your children to work for nothing for years at some point in the future to pay off their bets if they go wrong. And Romney doesn't want that market regulated and its risks contained. His business partner Mr. Edward Conard has said he doesn't think these folks make enough money."
I'd like to believe Mr. Obama just had a bad night. Apparently, he was in rip-roaring form this morning in Wisconsin. I'd like to think, oh he's still smoking, and he doesn't realize that when you fly you get less oxygen, and Denver was a high altitude.....but he blew his Charlotte convention speech too, and it was low altitude and he had been in town for a few days. How can he perform so well on the stump and so badly when the whole country is watching? Do you really think the first black president of the Harvard Law Review couldn't think of replies as snappy as this? Do you really think it was a "surprise" to him that Romney lied about positions he's been campaigning on for a year? Romney has done nothing but lie for a year. It is not conceivable the president didn't know that he would, and in a most brazen manner.
It leaves the impression that somebody else is making Obama dance to a script, and whoever that is, does not have the American national interest at heart. I suppose it could be a "deep strategy." If Obama were the clear favorite, maybe emergency funds of $10 or $20 billion would roll into the other side from Bain Capital or its allies. By keeping it close, maybe Obama prevents the big money from taking over and drowning the election in cash. But they have the cash and they can spend it anyway, so it doesn't seem like that strategy would be worthwhile.
Think about Obama's term. He came out swinging in 2009, and got health care reform passed in 2010 and then....nothing. He didn't campaign in 2010 and the Democrats lost control of Congress. He acted listless until the bin Laden killing. It's true that Citizens United happened, so he might have thought they were thinking, "black man too good, let's change the rules." The Supreme Court is so reactionary, they were probably thinking exactly that. The health care reform must have been more conservative than he wished. He ended up accepting a mandate conservatives wanted that poor people be forced to buy health insurance, which the Republicans didn't even vote for, which means it was done to satisfy one demented corrupt conservative Democrat from Montana. Obama had made fun of it before, "Then let's solve homelessness by mandating that poor people buy a house." But he had a political theory to explain it: liberal presidents find it easier to make conservative changes and vice versa.
So why is he acting as though somebody burst his bubble, that change is not really possible? Threats of violence against him skyrocketed after health care reform, Gabby Giffords was shot, and the GOP made it their only mission to prevent him accomplishing anything these last two years. It must be exhausting to be so hated by so many people, and for no real reason other than they think they can get away with it. But I still have my doubts. I hope he decides not to take their money and to share with the public what they have really done that we should know about. Certainly he is not money motivated in that he didn't go into a fancy corporate job after law school. But I wouldn't bet on Obama ever sharing what is bothering him with the public. Barack Obama has always been an outsider, and he will probably keep his doubts to himself.