Blogging the last presidential debate was a lot of fun. There's a lot of buildup to this one, with McCain threatening to "whip his you-know-what." Is McCain going to try to change the Obama momentum by a bold statement or will it be more of the same? We'll see. It starts in 7 seconds.
I like Bob Schieffer. He looks like someone's grandfather, (well, if your grandfather isn't Amish.)
They walk out. McCain doesn't take a punch.
First Question: Both proposed new economic plans. Ask both of you, "Why is your plan better than his?"
McCain: Americans are hurting and angry. Innocent victims of Wall Street and Washington, D.C. Won't repeat elements of plan. Need short term and long term fixes. The catalyst for housing crisis was Fannie and Freddie Mae (actually it was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.) But home mortgages so people can stay in their homes.
Obama: Everybody understands we are facing the worst financial crisis since Great Depression. McCain and I supported the rescue plan. Haven't yet seen a rescue package for the middle class. Have proposed four things: 1. Focus on jobs; 2. Help families right away by providing them with a tax cut and let them access IRA's without penalties. Have to help home owners. Disagree with Sen. McCain about how to do it. Could be a give away to banks. (McCain is smirking.)
McCain: Obama in Ohio had an encounter with a guy who is a plumber, Joe. He wanted to buy the business, but your tax plan would put him in a higher tax plan. Joe wants to reach the American dream. Joe, I want to help you buy your business. I will not have a tax increase on small business income. What you want to do to Joe the Plumber is having a tax increase.
Obama: Joe has been watching some ads of Senator McCain. I don't want to raise his taxes. McCain wants to give tax breaks to big business; Mobil Oil and Exxon. I have said if you make less than $250,000 a year, your taxes will not go up one dime. What I said to Joe the Plumber is that five years ago when you wanted to buy your business, you needed a tax cut then. I want to give a tax cut now. Ninety percent of small businesses make less than $250,000 a year.
McCain: Sen. Obama said to Joe the Plumber that "I want to spread the wealth around." In other words to take the money from Joe the Plumber, give it to Senator Obama and let him spread the wealth around. Why do you want to increase taxes on anyone?
Obama: I want to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. It is true that my friend, Warren Buffet, could afford to pay a little more so that we can give more of a tax break to Joe the Plumber. Look, nobody likes taxes. I would prefer if no one had to pay taxe.
McCain: Let's not raise anyone's taxes. Businesses in American are paying the second highest tax rate of any place in the world. In Ireland, businesses are paying 11 percent; here it's 35 percent.
First Question winner: Obama
Second Question: Nonpartisan committee says each of your proposals will add $200 billion to the deficit. Won't some of your programs have to be trimmed, postponed or eliminated.
Obama: First, the $700 billion rescue package, if it is structured properly will mean that taxpayers will get their money back (McCain smirking again.) Every dollar of spending I propose, I have proposed an additional cut. I want to go through the federal budget line by line and cut programs that don't work. We need to invest in America. If invest in health care now, will save money in the future. If invest in energy program, will save money in the future. Can't go back to our profligate ways. All of us have to embrace a culture of responsibility.
McCain: During depression, had a corporation that bought up home mortgages and eventually made money. This was originally Senator Clinton's proposal. Need to become energy independent. Would have an across the board spending freeze. We have presided over largest increase in spending since the Great Society. I know how to eliminate programs. One would be Marketing Assistance program, subsidies for ethanol. I know how to save billions. Would fight for a line item veto. Obama has asked for $3 billion in earmarks.
Obama: Disagree about across the board spending freeze. Sounds good; been proposed before and hasn't happened. It is a hatchet. We need a scalpel. Earmarks account for one half of one percent of federal budget. No doubt there are a lot of screwy things we need to eliminate, but that's not going to solve the whole program. Bush has doubled the deficit. Pursuing the same kinds of policies is not going to bring down the budget. McCain voted for four out of five of Bush's policies.
McCain: Sen. Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against Pres. Bush, you should have run four years ago. Mayor Bloomberg in NYC proposed spending freeze. We can do that. I have fought against spending, special interests.
Obama: The first major bill I voted for was tort reform, voted for charter schools, performance pay for, clean coal technology. On core economic issues, you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush. You have shown independence on things like torture and I give you credit for that. But on fundamental economic issues, you have supported Bush administration.
Second Question: McCain
Third Question: Both pledged to take the high road. Yet, it has turned nasty. Are each of you willing to sit at this table and willing to say to each other's face what your campaigns have said about each other.
McCain: If Obama had responded to my request to have 10 town hall meetings, we could have gotten this done. Regret many of the negative tones of this campaign. One of them was when John Lewis said that Sarah Palin and I were associated with George Wallace, church bombings. Obama didn't repudiate those remarks. Very unfair and hurtful. Obama has spent more money on negative ads than we have. Obama didn't keep his word to take public financing.
Obama: Expect presidential campaigns to be tough. Looks at the record and the impressions of the American people. One hundred percent of McCain campaigns have been negative. Two thirds of the American people think McCain has been running a negative campaign versus one third that think we have. American people don't care about hurt feelings. I don't mind being attacked for another four weeks. But American people don't deserve to not have economic problems addressed. McCain campaign said last week that if keep talking about economics, we lose.
McCain: You're running ads right now that say I oppose federal funding for stem cell research. I don't. Didn't hear repudiation of Congressman Lewis.
Obama: Cong. Lewis is an American hero. He said, without any prompting from my campaign that he was troubled at rallies by your running mate in which people were yelling "terrorist" and "kill him," when my name was mentioned. American people have gotten cynical about politics because all they see is tit for tat. (McCain tries to interrupt.)
McCain: I'm proud of people who come to our rallies. I'm not going to stand for anybody saying that people who come to my rallies aren't patriotic. I have repudiated anyone whose been out of line whether they have been in my campaign or not.
Obama: We can debate about the merits of each other's campaign, we won't agree. To solve the key problems we're facing: Solve two wars, economic crisis. Democrats and Republicans are going to have to work together. Have to disagree without being disagreeable. Can't characterize each other as bad people.
McCain: Don't care about some old terrorist. Need to know your full relationship with Ayers; your full relationship with Acorn.
Obama: Ayers has been the centerpiece of McCain campaign. Forty years ago, he engaged in despicable acts, which I condemned. Ten years ago, he served on a board funded by Annenberg, one of Ronald Reagan's friends. Others on the board were various university presidents. He won't advise me in the White House and has no connection with my campaign. Let me tell you who I associate with: Warren Buffet and Paul Volker. On foreign policy, Dick Lugar, a Republican, and Joe Biden.
McCain: While on board of Woods Foundation, you sent money to Acorn. Your political career was launched in Ayers living room.
Third Question winner: Obama
Fourth Question: Why would country be better off if your running mate became president rather than his running mate?
Obama: Biden one of the best public servants in the country. Never forgotten where he came from. His consistent pattern has been to fight for the little guy. (Not true. He helped pass a bankruptcy bill that is devastating to the little guy.) After eight years of failed policies he (Biden) and I both agree we have to reprioritize. Give help to small individuals; get energy independence. On key issues, Biden has always been on the right side.
McCain: Americans have gotten to know Sarah Palin. She's a role model. She's a reformer. Has given money back to the taxpayers. Reduced the size of government. Time we have that breath of fresh air coming in to the nation's capitol. She understands special needs families. Understands that autism is on the rise. Has united our party and people all over America. Can't tell you how proud I am of her.
Obama: Up to the American people whether she's qualified. Commendable the work she has done in special needs. Autism and other special needs will need some additional funding. If have an across the board spending freeze, won't be able to do it.
McCain: Biden is qualified in a lot of respects, but has been wrong in many respects. Wrong on first Iraq war. Had this wacky idea to divide Iraq in three ways. Notice every time Obama says we need to spend more. Why do we need to spend more? He has proposed $860 billion in new spending.
Fourth Question Answer: Obama
Fifth Question: Energy and Climate Change. Every president since Nixon has said we import too much foreign oil. Would each of you give me a number on how much we can reduce foreign oil during your first term?
McCain: Can eliminate dependence on Middle East and Venezuela oil in four years. With nuclear power, etc. within 7 or 8 years, can eliminate our dependence on oil from dangerous places.
Obama: Within 10 years, can eliminate dependence on oil from middle East and Venezuela. Need to expand domestic production. Tell oil companies to use or lose the 68 million acres they currently have leased that they're not using. Can't drill our way out of the problem. Need to put our resources in solar, wind, geothermal. Need to have an efficient car built in the U.S. rather than Japan. Believe in free trade. For far too long, in the Bush Administration, there was the attitude that any free trade agreement is a good agreement. I have said that we should make sure the rules are enforceable. South Korea is sending hundreds of thousands of cars into the U.S. and we can only get four thousand or five thousand cars into South Korea.
McCain: Admire Obama's eloquence, but have to listen to his words. He said, "look at offshore drilling." Look at. We can do offshore drilling right now. Obama opposes the Columbia free trade agreement. Hasn't traveled south of our border. Free trade with Columbia is a no brainer. Maybe you should travel down there.
Obama: Understand it pretty well. Labor leaders in Columbia have been targeted for assassinations. Have to make sure human rights are protected. Have to have a president who understands the benefits of free trade but will stand up for American workers. Auto industry is being hammered right now. Need to get them loan guaranties, but need to hold their feet to the fire to produce energy efficiency cars.
McCain: Obama doesn't want free trade agreement with our best ally in the region, but wants to sit down without preconditions with Hugo Chavez. No doubt that Sen. Obama wants to restrict trade and he wants to raise taxes. The last president who did that was Herbert Hoover.
Fifth Question winner: Draw.
Sixth Question: How to control health care costs.
Obama: This is the issue that will break your heart over and over again. My plan lets you not do anything if you have health insurance. Will try to lower costs so those savings are passed on to you. If you don't have health insurance, will provide you the option of buying into the same kind of federal pool that McCain and I are a part of. Will make sure the insurance companies don't discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions; put more money into preventive care. This will cost some money on the front end, but in the long run the only way that can control the costs of health care.
McCain: Need to do a lot of things: Put health care records on line; have physical fitness and nutrition programs; give every American family a $5,000 tax credit. For Joe the Plumber, if you don't adopt the health care plan that Sen. Obama mandates, he's going to fine you. I still want to know how much that fine is going to be.
Obama: I will be happy to talk with you too, Joe, if you're out there. Here's your fine: zero. Exempt small businesses from having to pay into a kitty. For large businesses, they have to provide health care for their employees or someone has to. The average family pays $900 a year because of the uninsured. Joe, if you want to provide health insurance for your employees, we'll give you 50 percent credit. Sen. McCain says he will give you a $5,000 tax credit, that sounds pretty good. Older, less healthy folks won't be able to get health insurance. Sen. McCain will tax health benefits for the first time in history. Sen. McCain will strip away tax regulation of health insurance.
McCain: Joe, you're rich, congratulations. Joe wanted to buy the business he's been working with. You'll have to pay a fine if you don't buy the health plan that Sen. Obama mandates. That's big government at its best. Calls Obama, "Senator Government." Have too much government and too much spending. Grown by 40 percent by last eight years.
Obama: You heard my plan. If you have an employer based health care plan, you'll keep it. Don't take my word for it. U.S. Chamber of Commerce says McCain's plan could lead to loss of employer based health plan.
Question: Roe v. Wade. Would you nominate anyone who disagrees with your position on Roe v. Wade?
McCain: Disagree with Roe v. Wade, but would never impose a litmus test. Obama voted against Justices Breyers and Roberts because they disagreed. Would consider anyone in their qualifications. Don't believe anyone who supported Roe v. Wade is qualified.
Obama: Shouldn't apply a strict litmus test. Most important test in any judge, is their capacity to provide fairness and justice. One of us will be appointing one and maybe more judges. Roe v. Wade is a good decision and a moral decision. Women need to be able to make this decision. Constitution has right of privacy in it that should not be subject to state referendum. Will look for judges who have outstanding judicial record, intellect. McCain and I disagreed recently when Lilly Ledbetter pressed her job for pay discrimination. The Supreme Court said she couldn't bring her claim even though she didn't know about it.
McCain: Obama as a member of the Illinois Senate voted against a bill that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born alive after an abortion. Voted against a ban against partial birth abortion. Voted present 147 times instead of voting.
Obama: Sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold life saving treatment of an infant. That's because it isn't true. There was already a law on the books that required life saving treatment. The Illinois Medical Society opposed it too. Completely support a ban on late term abortion as long as there's an exception for health or life of the mother. Abortion divides us. There surely is some common ground where both those who believe in choice and those who oppose abortion can come together. (McCain smirking again.)
McCain: "Health of mother" been stretched to include almost everything. Cindy and I are adoptive parents. We know what joy that can be.
Question winner: Obama
Last Question: U.S. spends most per capita on education, but by every measure, trail the rest of the world.
Obama: This has more to do with the economic future than anything. Also has to do with security. Typically been a debate between more money and reform. Need to do both. Blah, blah,blah. Parents need to show more responsibility.
McCain: The civil rights issue of the 21st century. Have achieved equal access to schools after long, difficult struggle. Need to have choice. Need to reward good teachers and put bad teachers in another line of work. blah, blah, blah.
Last Question winner: Draw
McCain: These are difficult times and challenges. America needs a new direction. Can't be satisfied with what we've been doing the last eight years. I have a record of reform. Been a careful steward of your tax dollars. Have to stop the spending. All of our committments will be based on whether you can trust us. Spent my entire life putting this country first.
Obama: All know America is going through tough times. In worst economic times since the Great Depression. Biggest mistake would be to adopt same failed policies we've had for the last eight years. Brighter days are still ahead. Will have to invest in policies that will lift wages and grow our middle class. Not going to be easy or quick. Will require all of us to come together.
Conclusion: I thought McCain did well. The split screen showed his facial reactions, and his smirking didn't go over well. He sure didn't whip Obama's you know what. This was not the debate to be a game changer. I think the debate was a draw and McCain couldn't afford a draw. So, Obama wins.