The dust is clearing from the first 2012 presidential debate, which saw Romney playdough himself into a new champion for the poor.  In the meantime, President Obama was clearly still reeling from this season’s finale of Breaking Bad.

That is the only explanation for the missed opportunities on the President’s part.  Beginning on the first question regarding jobs, POTUS did not begin discussing the specifics of his plan until nearly 1:30 into his two-minute time limit.

Romney jumped into the topic head first, in one of the night’s greatest magic tricks, the former governor recounted first-hand meetings with people struggling due to the current economic state, seemingly relating to middle America more than the President himself (which is normally one of his strengths).

Romney’s answer session ended with moderator Jim Lehrer asking Obama to respond directly to Romney’s “trickle down approach.”  This should have been one of the slamdunks of the night.  Nope.  The President decided NOW was the time to discuss job creation, energy and tax codes, not hitting trickle down government until the final ten seconds of his allotted time.

How Obama could squander this time and not mention the fact we have been under the failed policy of trickle down economics for over ten years, gave me my own Scanners moment.

Clearly, these debates are not for the Democrats or the Republicans.  These are for the independent and undecided voters.  The President did mention Romney’s planned extension of the Bush tax cuts, but it would have carried far more weight to remind voters that this policy has contributed greatly to our debt since it has been in effect.

At no point did President Obama outline the differences between himself and his opponent on the issues of the 47%, same-sex marriage, women’s healthcare or support for fair pay legislation (an issue Mittens has remained silent on).

However, if last night’s Romney supporters were to turn over in bed this morning they may find themselves in a coyote ugly situation.

Throughout the night, Romney claimed his tax plan, containing a $5 trillion dollar tax cut, would be revenue neutral.  The non-partisan Tax Policy Center and multiple fact organizations, including The Washington Post’s Fact Checker and Factcheck.org, disagree.

The Tax Policy Center’s study concluded: “the features Governor Romney has proposed would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle and/or lower-income taxpayers.”

In Romney’s plan, he claims to offset the $5 trillion dollar breaks by ending certain loopholes and deductions.  The only problem, nobody has any idea what those specific loopholes and deductions are.  There are simply not enough tax breaks for the wealthy to cover the $5 trillion dollars resulting from the breaks in the Romney plan (meaning the burden would fall on the shoulders of middle-income earners, as the TPC found).

Romney told President Obama last night “There are six other studies that looked at the study (the Tax Policy Center) you describe and say it’s completely wrong.”

The sixth study remains as illusive as the details of Romney’s plan itself, but Factcheck.org uncovered the sources of the other five.

  • Two members of Romney’s economic policy team co-authored this one.
  • This gem comes from Romney advisor Martin Feldstein.
  • A response blog written by Feldstein defending the plan (what is interesting about this piece, is that Feldstein offers the idea of taxing those who make over $100,000… which contradicts Romney’s vision).
  • Matt Jensen of the America Enterprise Institute (a conservative think tank), wrote this piece.
  • Former chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors, Harvey Rosen’s study.

This is what I’m talking about.  Three of the five studies listed are from members within Romney’s own campaign.  Why did President Obama not call Governor Romney out on the sources of these studies as soon as Romney mentioned them?  How could the campaign have not prepared for this?

If an independent voter heard former President George W. Bush’s chairman of economic advisers defended Romney’s tax plan in a study, I guarantee it would give voters pause before buying a ticket for the Romney/Ryan train.

The issue of health care also made an appearance.  Again, Romney described the $716 billion dollars under reform as a “cut.”  At this point, it must be expected the GOP understands this is anything but a cut and they are simply playing down to the low information voters with their continued spread of misinformation.

Without the REDUCTIONS in Medicare under Obama’s plan, the Medicare A fund would be depleted by 2016.  With the savings, it is extended until 2024.  You don’t have to take my word for it.  Bill Clinton perfectly explained it just last month.

Romney said he would repeal Obamacare and when asked by Jim Lehrer what he would replace it with, said:

“Well, actually it’s-it’s-it’s a lengthy description.  But, number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.  Number two, young people are able to stay on their family plan.  That’s already offered in the private marketplace.”

I happened to catch Romney’s appearance on The Tonight Show, last March.  Romney said you had to have had a previous insurance history to be covered for pre-existing conditions under his plan.  That is simply not the same as Obamacare.

Somebody should also remind Romney that the reason young people can remain on the family plan until they are 26 years old is BECAUSE of Obamacare.  The plan he wants to repeal and replace with…well, we still don’t know.

The President finally responded to the majority of Romney’s rhetoric with a bit of fire we should have seen right out the gate:

“And at some point I think the American people have to ask themselves: Is the reason that Gov. Romney is keeping all these plans to replace secret, because they are too good?”

It’s the President’s most memorable line of the night.  As great as it was, it arrived far too late.

How bad was the debate?  A man who threatened Big Bird is considered the winner by both parties.  The word “ridiculous” can barely describe this.

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