Romney & Obama Debate “Obamacare”


Mitt Romney offered a vigorous response to President Obama’s suggestion that his healthcare plan in Massachusetts was the model for Obamacare.

Having defended that charge repeatedly during the Republican primaries, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney often stumbled. However last night, he appeared on point.

He praised the effort in Massachusetts, in which Democrats and Republicans came together to pass the plan, to the passage of Obamacare with only Democratic votes.

He said the Massachusetts plan did not raise taxes, did not cut Medicare, did not create an “unelected board” and did not cause people to lose their insurance.

Last night, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney said “You pushed through a plan without a single Republican vote” to President Obama.

“The right answer is not to have the federal government take over health care and start mandating to the health care institutions across America,” Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney said.

President Obama pushed back against Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s remarks. But the Republican’s preparation was clearly evident in the answer.

President Obama insisted that Mr. Romney’s voucher plan for Medicare would end up leaving seniors at the mercy of private insurance companies, and would force additional costs on them as well.

Eventually, the president said, under Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s plan, “the traditional medicare system will collapse and then you have folks like my grandmother at the mercy of the private health insurance.”

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney countered by saying that President Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare. “I can’t understand how you can cut Medicare $716 billion for current recipients of Medicare.”

Not true, President Obama said. He insisted that his plan cut costs to insurance companies and redirected the $716 billion to other parts of the Medicare system.

“Using that money,” he said, the government could ensure “lower prescription drug costs for seniors” and make a “dent in providing the preventive care that will ultimately save money.”

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney argued that government spending is equivalent to more than 40 percent of economic output. Is that right? It is true if you include state, local and federal spending. But government spending has spiked considerably due to the recession – an important piece of context.

Repealing President Obama’s health care law, which Mr. Romney said he would do, would actually increase the federal deficit.

This summer, after Republicans in the House of Representative passed a bill to repeal the law, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that doing so would increase the federal deficit by $109 billion over the next decade. That is because the parts of the law that would require more spending to expand coverage would be offset by the parts of the law that raise new revenues and curb spending — including provisions calling to curb the growth of Medicare costs and several new taxes and fees. Repealing the law would also mean that 30 million fewer people would have health insurance in 2022, it projected.

During the early part of the Republican primaries, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, got into trouble when he declined to attack Mr. Romney by linking him to “Obamacare,” the president’s health care plan.

The hesitation during one of the debates was seen as timidity, and Mr. Pawlenty’s campaign for the Republican nomination did not last much longer.

But tonight, President Obama embraced the term “Obamacare,” saying he likes it.

“Obamacare… I have become fond of this term.” said President Obama.

What a difference a year or so makes.

After getting down to the guts of health care policy, Jim Lehrer, the moderator, took the candidates to 30,000 feet — asking about their broad views about the role of government in American life.

President Obama said the “genius” of America is that the government can do things to create “ladders of opportunity” for people.

“If all Americans are getting opportunity, were going to bet better off,” President Obama said.

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney countered by saying that the role of government is to “promote and protect” the principles of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

He said that leads to not cutting the military, maintaining a commitment to religious tolerance, and opposing a “trickle-down government approach” that he said is not working.

“The proof of that is 23 million people out of work,” Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney said. He also said “The proof of that is 1 out of 6 people in poverty.”

The debate may have provided more direct back-and-forth between the two candidates than almost any other presidential face-off in modern history.

But — at least on CNN — it was hard to tell what kind of interaction there was. The network just showed a split screen of the two men from the chest up.

The cameras showed each of the two men looking to the side slightly. And when the other one was talking, each man grinned a bit or looked to the side.

But there were very few wide shots that would show the two men actually standing at the podiums and facing each other.

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