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Barney Willis,

Editor (North America)

 

COLORADO – As the November 6th election date draws closer, Obama and Romney have had their first, face-to-face, election debate. Covering topics from deficit reduction to job creation, healthcare and education, the two prospective leaders of the free world took swipes at each other’s plans for the coming years. The significance of these debates should not be underestimated given how very close the election is looking.

Romney began his argument with what he described as a plan with “5 basic parts”. Firstly, he argued the need for the USA to become energy independent. Through investment into clean coal technologies among others, Romney hopes to create 4 million jobs for the American people. He went on to stress the need for more trade links with an emphasis on Latin America with an assurance that he will “crack down on China if and when they cheat”. He followed with plans to create “the best schools in the world”, balance the budget and support small businesses. These arguments will no doubt strike a chord with the American right wing, who have long felt uncomfortable with the USA’s need for foreign energy imports and the increasing economic threat of China.

Obama’s response to these plans focused on America’s capacity to pay for these ambitious plans. He rejected accusations that he subscribed to “trickle down” economics and accused Romney of planning an impossible “5 trillion dollar tax cut” while also promising not to raise taxes on middle class America. Romney described these claims as “inaccurate” stating that he would only cut taxes as long is it did not increase the deficit. He also made assurances that he would not reduce the amount paid by high-income earners.

Also discussed were the healthcare plans developed under Obama. Known as “Obamacare” to its critics, the system was criticised by Romney as being a less efficient alternative to private marketplace. Romney argued that the “government is not effective in the bringing down of costs of almost anything” and promised to keep competition in American healthcare. Obama responded by pointing out that Romney’s plans do nothing for those with pre-existing conditions and these vulnerable people greatly suffer when the healthcare provider is attempting to earn money. Discussion on healthcare ended with Romney stating that “Obamacare” violates the 10th amendment of the Constitution. Clearly, the two candidates have very different perceptions of what America’s future is, concerning healthcare.

Despite trailing Obama in the race so far, Mitt Romney came out of the debate with a 46-67% margin compared to Obama’s 22-25%. The President was criticised for appearing hesitant and subdued compared to the aggressive and confidant stance of the Republican nominee. How this will impact the political standing of the swing states has yet to be seen. However if the Democrat performance in future debates does not improve, Obama may lose his overall 3% lead. Regardless, opinion polls suggest that this will be an exceptionally close run debate, with the result having significance for the entire world.

Of particular importance to the international community is Romney’s pledge to increase the funding of the USA’s military forces. Providing Romney wins and keeps his promise to pump an extra $2 trillion into his armed forces, we could be looking at an even more heavily armed superpower than it stands today. How this will be used and how it will affect the International political scene is hard to predict.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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