Monday, December 12, 2011

The choice is coming into focus

The Republicans have a ways to go before they chose a nominee in the 2012 Presidential race. But over the last week, American votes have started to see glimpses of what their eventual choice will be next November. First of all, you have President Obama's speech in Osawatomie, KS. That was followed by a Republican debate in Iowa and then the 60 Minute interview with the President.

When it comes to the number one issue Americans care and the economy, here's what the top two Republican contenders said about that at the debate.

Gingrich: I would start with zero capital gains, hundreds of billions of dollars would pour into the country, I'd go to 12.5% corporate tax rate, that would bring in at least $700 billion in repatriated money back from overseas. I would then go to 100% expensing for all new equipment-- abolish the (UNINTEL) news-- write it off in one year, and I'd abolish the death tax penalty. Those steps would begin to dramatically create jobs.

Romney: One, make sure that our employer tax rates are competitive with other nations... Number two, get regulators and regulations to recognize their job is not to burden the-- the private enterprise system, but to encourage it. Number three, to have trade policies that make sense for America, not just for the people with whom we trade...

Number four, we have to have energy policies that take advantage of our extraordinary energy resources. Number five, the rule of law, and the Boeing-- effort on the part of the N.L.R.B. violated that. Number six, grade institutions to create human capital, and number seven, finally a government that doesn't spend more money than it takes in.

And here's President Obama in Osawatomie.

It starts by making education a national mission -- a national mission. Government and businesses, parents and citizens. In this economy, a higher education is the surest route to the middle class...

In today’s innovation economy, we also need a world-class commitment to science and research, the next generation of high-tech manufacturing. Our factories and our workers shouldn’t be idle. We should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries...

Today, manufacturers and other companies are setting up shop in the places with the best infrastructure to ship their products, move their workers, communicate with the rest of the world. And that’s why the over 1 million construction workers who lost their jobs when the housing market collapsed, they shouldn’t be sitting at home with nothing to do. They should be rebuilding our roads and our bridges, laying down faster railroads and broadband, modernizing our schools -- all the things other countries are already doing to attract good jobs and businesses to their shores...

Of course, those productive investments cost money. They’re not free. And so we’ve also paid for these investments by asking everybody to do their fair share.

Pretty stark contrast, isn't it? President Obama summed it up well at the end of the 60 minute interview.

Steve, it doesn't really matter who the nominee is gonna be. The core philosophy that they're expressing is the same. And the contrast in visions between where I want to take the country and what-- where they say they want to take the country is gonna be stark. And the American people are gonna have a good choice and it's gonna be a good debate.

Of course, all of that focuses on policies over politics and personalities. The later is a whole other story and just as important to the American voter. Today, p m carpenter summed that up beautifully.

Barack Obama's "60 Minutes" interview was a study in smooth. The more I see of this president's calm resolve within the GOP's maelstrom of prepubescent fits and infantile dramatics, the more impressive his emotional maturity becomes...

And to compare the responsible equanimity of President Obama to the puerile antics of Newt Gingrich or the kids-show hosting of Mitt Romney is to make no real comparison at all.

There's a reason why the country rallied around President Obama in the last election after the intellectually vacuous chest-thumping of George Bush. Over the years of actual governing, many abandoned that and suggested the smooth intellectual approach was about being distant and professorial (yeah, I'm looking at you Maureen Dowd). But now I'd suggest that many people are beginning to see again why we liked it so much in the first place. The alternative promises to be another Republican train wreck.

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