Romney and Obama: dueling policy wonks

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Editor’s note: Fewer fireworks flew during Wednesday night’s presidential Debate in Denver than in Tuesday’s debate in Dallas between the two Texans bidding for the open U.S. Senate seat Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Paul Sadler. Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama engaged in some discussion of higher education but focused primarily on health care, the federal deficit, and jobs, primarily. The next debate takes place Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky. The highlights from last night’s are included below:

On the role of government:

Mitt Romney: The president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years ago: that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more, if you will, trickle-down government, will work. That’s not the right answer for America.

On tax policy:

Romney: What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit.

Barack Obama: And the fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you describe, Governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. It’s math, it’s arithmetic.

Romney: When the economy’s growing slow like this, when we’re in a recession, you shouldn’t raise taxes on anyone.

Obama: He’s been asked over a hundred times how he would close those deductions and loopholes, and he hasn’t been able to identify them.

On higher education:

Obama: Gov. Romney, I genuinely believe cares about education, but when he tells a student that, you know, “You should borrow money from your parents to go to college,”  that indicates the degree to which there may not be as much of a focus on the fact that folks like myself, folks like Michelle, kids probably who attend University of Denver, just don’t have that option.

On balancing the budget:

Romney: Obamacare is on my list, I apologize, Mr. President … So I’ll get rid of that. I’m sorry Jim [Lehrer, debate moderator], I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS, I’m gonna stop other things. And I like PBS, I love Big Bird, I actually like you too, but I’m not gonna keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.

On Medicare and Social Security:

Obama: The way for us to deal with Medicare in particular is to lower health care costs. When it comes to Social Security, you don’t need a major structural change to make sure Social Security is there for the future.

Romney: This is an idea that’s been around a long time: saying, “Hey, let’s see if we can’t get competition into the Medicare world so people can get, the choice of different plans at lower costs, better quality—I believe in competition.

Obama: The essence of [Romney’s] plan is that you would turn Medicare into a voucher program … The problem is that because the voucher wouldn’t necessarily keep up with healthcare inflation, it was estimated that this would cost the average senior about $6,000 a year.