Round 1 of the debate is finished. By Michael Greaney.
Last night’s presidential debate illustrated once again why America is still, and will always be, the greatest nation of all time. Despite the garbage readily available via television which often serves as a distraction from the real issues, the electorate had the opportunity to come together and see both candidates, on the same stage, in full candor. Whether you liked one candidate or the other, this is true democracy.
The challenger Mitt Romney landed several body blows on the President, at the same time drawing a stark contrast from Mr. Obama on the economy, healthcare and the role of the federal government. I have never seen the former Massachusetts Governor look this good in this situation, but in politics a week is an eternity and it is far from over.
In bout one, President Obama was out-manuvered, and did not demonstrate command of the policies he is supposed to be able to articulate like the Affordable Care Act. While he was strong defending one controversial piece of the statute, he should have focused more on the benefits the ACA does provide for the average voter such as new access to care. Instead, both candidates spent most of the time allocated for healthcare sparring over the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which is spelled out in section 3403 of the health reform law.
The concept was derived from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) which is a group of policy experts regularly offering recommendations to Congress on ways to make the Medicare program more efficient. The only problem is their reports end up in some policy wonk’s desk instead of as part of any substantial public policy. The Affordable Care Act recognized this, and a similar type of board is appointed under the healthcare law, but with added authority, and this has raised concerns due to lack of accountability for said board. The bottom line is if they recommend reductions in benefits, they cannot be voted out like a Member of Congress.
Instead of focusing almost all of his attacks on the IPAB, Romney could have highlighted an even worse part of the law, Section 1313 that could have unintended consequence, and needs to be addressed. This section is interpreted by me as a large grab of power by the feds over state governments. Provisions like this one, along with the future of Medicare and Medicaid will also need to be addressed, and more from the candidates on these issues is desirable because combined entitlement spending is the number one driver of the national debt.
Romney exceeded my expectations, but he still came off too assertive which could hurt him with undecided women voters. Obama looked out of place, uninformed and like he’d rather be at a sporting event or on a talk show where he appears more comfortable defending his policies or lack of policies. The biggest myths in the contest were when President Obama said his plan and the Massachusetts plan were very similar. Similar concepts, yes, but that is simply not the case due to sheer volume of authority spelled out in the ACA. This was almost as bad as when Romney says he will repeal Obamacare to which the response from everyone should be how will you do it, and what will you replace it with?
Tune into America’s Healthcare Challenge for more thoughts on the presidential debate and how it relates to you. This week’s episode will feature reaction and fact checking from the contest and a look ahead to the fiscal cliff. Check out the latest podcast and email any areas of the legislation you would like clarified to firstname.lastname@example.org.