Scoring Obama-McCain, round by round.
11:50 PM, Sep 26, 2008 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Round 1: Where do you stand on the Paulson bailout plan?
McCain opens by saying that he wishes Ted Kennedy all the best, signaling that he believes Sarah Palin has brought the GOP base onboard for good. He then points to the bipartisan nature of the modified Paulson package. And says that this is only the end of the beginning of the financial crisis. Neither guy answered the question, prompting Lehrer to re-ask.
On redirect, Obama says he can't say whether he's for it or not because he hasn't seen the details. But that it's important to remember that he warned of the crisis two years ago. Which kind of leaves one wondering why, if he knew that the "worst economic crisis since the Great Depression" was coming down the pike, all he did was write a letter to Paulson instead of acting to head it off.
McCain says that he is going to vote for the bailout and then talks about how important it is to hold people accountable for their actions. This is a close one since neither guy conveys any deep understanding of the situation or insight into the solution.
Round 2: Are there fundamental difference between your two approaches to the crisis?
Obama says that earmarks are bad--though not as bad as "the special interests"! But Obama maintains that McCain's tax cuts for
The two then go back and forth on McCain's business tax cuts, culminating in McCain pointing that the U.S. business tax is 35 percent, Ireland's is 11 percent, and that lowering business taxes is one of the ways you keep businesses in America and create jobs. When Obama challenges this, he says that all of the "loopholes" actually make business taxes too low--suggesting that he'd like to make the U.S. less hospitable to businesses. Then McCain hits Obama for talking and not doing. Obama looks peevish.
Round 3: As president, what will you give up to pay for the $700 billion bailout?
McCain says that we have to get spending under control and that he'd examine every agency of the government. Then, just throw an elbow at Iowa voters, he says that the first thing he'd do is cut the ethanol subsidy. Also, in an attempt to drive Michael Goldfarb from his staff, he singles out the DDX program in a long list of government waste that he'd go after.
When asked again what he would give up, Obama ducks the question, saying, again, that he will invest in ending our dependence on foreign oil. Not to pick nits but technically, that's new spending. Lehrer seems perturbed.
McCain then goes on the offensive saying we ought to consider a spending freeze (minus defense, entitlements, and veterans affairs). Thinking he has an opening, Obama pounces, saying that he wouldn't endorse a spending freeze because there are lots of under-funded programs that need more money from the federal government. It's not clear how this is helping reassure people that he won't raise their taxes.
Round 4: What are the lessons of Iraq?