For a policy wonk like me, tonight’s presidential debate is the Super Bowl, and my team is playing because a whole segment is on health policy. Finally, an opportunity to see both candidates unfiltered. Expect tough questions for both candidates on this issue, and I would like to see the obvious contrasts laid out to the American public so they can make an informed decision on November 6th. This is a seminal election, and as an issue impacting all of us, knowledge on the Affordable Care Act and its impact on you is paramount.
Two questions I would like both candidates to answer.
President Obama: have you read the legislation that will serve as your domestic policy legacy and bears your name? If you have, you cannot deny some things need to be changed, so what is one thing that you would amend immediately should you win re-election.
Governor Romney: you have said multiple times you will Repeal Obamacare. How will you do it, what specifically will you replace it with and when/how will you do it?
Will former Governor Mitt Romney appear “presidential” and avoid any perceived gaffes? A difficult task indeed, and the challenger needs to score a knockdown early on, but he has the capability. Just ask Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum all of whom were taken down by Romney during the many Republican primary debates.
The champion, Barack Obama is good in this situation, but not great. If Romney can get him on the defensive early on, it could be a long night for the President who has shown weaknesses when away from the teleprompter and pressed aggressively. If President Obama performs like he did in the first debate against the previous Republican nominee, John McCain, the election could in the bag for the president.
Here is why. The first debate represents the first chance for many to join the dialogue as they have absent from the conversation. Many are too busy keeping up with the latest garbage on reality television as opposed to researching the issues. The audience numbers dwindle each subsequent debate, and eventually all of the negative ads cause folks to tune out. Let’s hope that whichever side your cheering for your person presents accurate information so the public can make the right decision. Always remember, the biggest threat to a democracy is an uninformed electorate.
The issue of healthcare, particularly rising costs needs to be taken very seriously. We are facing a fiscal cliff, and it is the number driver to our national debt, so I hope moderator Jim Lehrer gives this issue the appropriate amount of attention it deserves. Medicare and Medicaid will also need to be addressed sooner rather than later, but those are subjects for another debate.
Check out HealthReformExplained.com for the latest on all things related to health policy. A recap and fact check will be posted tomorrow, but if you want to get a head start you can check out the latest podcast of America’s Healthcare Challenge which discusses, in the second segment, the biggest myth likely to be brought up tonight about how the Massachusetts plan and ACA are similar.