The presidential debates are over and the winner is ... undetermined. Fox News and CNBC have congratulated their champions and the post-debate spin is ongoing.
We are exhausted by each candidate’s talking points. Barack Obama: “Five trillion dollars in tax revenue lost and two, or three, trillion in military spending (that they didn’t ask for).” And, of course, “Your policies are all over the map,” or “You don’t have a five-point plan. You have a one-point plan.” Mitt Romney: “You promised to cut the deficit in half, and you doubled it,” “Middle-class salaries have dropped by $4,000 a year,” and “You said you would get the unemployment rate to 5.4 percent, and it’s over 8 percent.”
The loser in the debates was America. We have heard about the economy, and the dial might shift to Romney. He has a plan, and the president suggests we will continue as we are. On foreign policy, perhaps it goes to Obama. On energy, it depends on who you believe. There does not appear to be a clear leader.
But the voters lose on what wasn’t said. The day of the town hall debate, A123 Battery Inc. filed for bankruptcy. This was not on the mind of the town hall questioners, but as Obama has cast himself as the green energy leader, we might have an interest in exactly what has happened with one of his top priorities. A123 was given $135 billion in start-up funding from the 2010 stimulus bill to produce lithium ion batteries that would provide expanded storage to power electric cars. This decision was made by the U.S. Department of Energy, despite the lack of technology and research to support the feasibility of the battery. And since there was no market for the battery, the department provided $529 million in funding to Fisker Automotive, Inc. to build a plug-in hybrid vehicle to sell the batteries to. That company failed in 2011. And then, of course, we have forgotten the $535 million federal loan default by Solyndra, Obama’s solar panel darling. These are just three examples of the reckless spending pattern we have seen from Washington the past four years. But, no matter, many accept that Obama has been a failure to rebuild the economy but, of course, it is still George W. Bush’s fault. On energy, Obama is much like Jimmy Carter who gave birth to the U.S. Department of Energy in 1977, at a cost that has ballooned to $26.5 billion in fiscal year 2010 with no change in our dependence on foreign oil.
Much of what we heard in the debates is what we already knew. What we missed was a reasonable discussion of the style of governing. A question such as how the Constitution plays in the office of the president might have been a good start. And a follow-up question on the role of the executive order in government. Obama’s presidential style seems to be one that circumvents a gridlocked Congress. There have been multiple postings on the Internet about Obama’s supposed abuse of the execiutive order, see the Dream Act, and fact checkers have found these charges are not valid. Obama has issued 139 executive orders compared to George W. Bush’s 160 to the same time in office. Nonetheless, the executive order is a rather loose interpretation of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution in the description of executive powers. A more worrisome strategy of the president is the use of unaccountable committees, see Dodd-Frank and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The expansion of government should be the focus of the voter in this close election.
We are into the week of media endorsements, a period Mark Twain must have had in mind when he famously said, “You can’t reason someone out of a position they weren’t reasoned into in the first place.”
The question most voters will be asking themselves in the voting booth is: Who do I trust?
— Dr. Bud Gollier, Ottawa