EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 5, 2012

Column: Romney wins debate with substance, style

Yes, Mitt Romney trounced President Barack Obama stylistically in their first debate — it was the difference between soaring and sitting — but he won on substance, too, a feat made easier because he had a basic truth on his side, namely four years of failed policy. Liberals are already hiding from that, as if hope and change materialized and Obama could have made the case.

The defenses, in fact, are meager, and the president preferred to talk more about new, soon-to-be-forgotten promises than what’s been. He also went on the attack, happily mischaracterizing his opponent’s tax policy as gifts to the rich, burdens for the middle class and defeat for deficit reduction.

This story was first put forth by an outfit called the Tax Policy Center that added its own provisions to the Romney plan, added them up, found something horrendous and then passed the package off as a legit calculation of what Romney would do.

Even if you huff, puff, brandish graduate degrees and daily inhale the self-importance permeating Washington, you can’t get away with that, and soon enough others showed what buncombe this study was, failing however to convince Obama. Citing it, he said in the debate there was no way Romney could reduce tax rates and sufficiently lower deductions to keep tax revenue neutral without middle-class punishment. He made it sound as if his own policies would take from the rich and give to everyone else while debt went away.

Romney explained it to him. He said there are three ways to deal with deficits — tax hikes, spending reductions and economic growth. He favors the last two. If you cut taxes the right way, you get growth, and that means higher revenue. You do not rely on “trickle-down” government but can rely on private enterprise that does indeed need regulation, but not bad regulation, not regulations that make it overly difficult for people to buy homes, for instance. He said private enterprise would produce the jobs that he wants to give back to the nation, relieving us from a situation in which millions are either unemployed or underemployed and middle-class incomes have dropped by thousands of dollars.

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