Oct 3, 2012

Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney 1st Presidential Debate Transcript 2012

Barack Obama Mitt Romney First Debate Transcript
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Read the full text of the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on October 3, 2012. The debate was moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS and took place in Denver, Colorado.

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Jim Lehrer: (00:08)
Good evening from the Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. I’m Jim Lehrer, the PBS NewsHour, and I welcome you to the first of the 2012 presidential debates between President Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee. This debate, and the next three, two Presidential, one Vice Presidential, are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Tonight’s 90 minutes will be about domestic issues and we’ll follow a format designed by the commission. There will be six, roughly 15 minutes segments with two minute answers for the first question, then open discussion for the remainder of each segment.

Jim Lehrer: (00:58)
Thousands of people offered suggestions on segment subjects or questions via the internet and other means, but I made the final selections, and for the record, they were not submitted for approval to the commission or the candidates. The segments, as I announced in advance, will be three on the economy, and one each on healthcare, the role of government, and governing, with an emphasis throughout on differences, specifics and choices. Both candidates will also have two minute closing statements. The audience here in the hall as promised to remain silent, no cheers, applause, boos, hisses among other noisy distracting things, so we may all concentrate on what the candidates have to say. There is a noise exception right now, though, as we welcome President Obama and Governor Romney. Gentlemen, welcome to you both. Let’s start the economy segment one, and let’s begin with jobs. What are the major differences between the two of you about how you would go about creating new jobs? You have two minutes. Each of you have two minutes to start. A coin toss has determined, Mr. President, you go first.

Barack Obama: (02:51)
Well, thank you very much, Jim, for this opportunity. I want to thank Governor Romney and the University of Denver for your hospitality. There are a lot of points I to make tonight, but the most important one is that 20 years ago, I became the luckiest man on earth because Michelle Obama agreed to marry me. And so I just want to wish, sweetie, you happy anniversary and let you know that a year from now, we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people.

Barack Obama: (03:18)
You know, four years ago, we went through the worst financial crisis since the great depression. Millions of jobs were lost. The auto industry was on the brink of collapse. The financial system had frozen up. And because of the resilience and the determination of the American people, we’ve begun to fight our way back. Over the last 30 months, we’ve seen 5 million jobs in the private sector created. The auto industry has come roaring back. And housing has begun to rise. But we all know that we’ve still got a lot of work to do and so the question here tonight is not where we’ve been, but where we’re going. Governor Romney has a perspective that says if we cut taxes, skew towards the wealthy and roll back regulations, that we’ll be better off. I’ve got a different view. I think we’ve got to invest in education and training. I think it’s important for us to develop new sources of energy here in America, that we change our tax code to make sure that we’re helping small businesses and companies that are investing here in the United States, that we take some of the money that we’re saving as we wind down two Wars to rebuild America, and that we reduce our deficit in a balanced way that allows us to make these critical investments.

Barack Obama: (04:38)
Now it ultimately is going to be up to the voters, to you, which path we should take. Are we going to double down on the top down economic policies that helped to get us into this mess? Or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says America does best when the middle class does best? And I’m looking forward to having that debate.

Jim Lehrer: (04:58)
Governor Romney, two minutes.

Mitt Romney: (04:59)
Thank you, Jim. It’s an honor to be here with you and I appreciate the chance to be with the President. I’m pleased to be at the University of Denver. I appreciate their welcome, and also the Presidential Commission on these debates. And congratulations to you, Mr. President, on your anniversary. I’m sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine here with me, so congratulations.

Mitt Romney: (05:20)
This obviously a very tender topic. I’ve had the occasion over the last couple of years of meeting people across the country. I was in Dayton, Ohio, and a woman grabbed my arm and she said, “I’ve been out of work since May. Can you help me?” And yesterday was at a rally in Denver and a woman came up to her with a baby in her arms and said, “Ann, my husband has had four jobs in three years, part-time jobs. He’s lost his most recent job and we’ve now just lost our home. Can you help us?” And the answer is, yes, we can help, but it’s going to take a different path, not the one we’ve been on, not one the President describes as a top-down cut taxes for the rich. That’s not what I’m going to do. My plan has five basic parts.

Mitt Romney: (06:05)
One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about four million jobs. Number two, open up more trade, particularly in Latin America. Crack down on China if and when they cheat. Number three, make sure our people have the skills they need to succeed and the best schools in the world. We’re a far away from that now. Number four, get us to a balanced budget. Number five, champion small business. It’s small business that creates the jobs in America. And over the last four years, small business people who decided that America may not be the place to open a new business, because new business startups are down to a 30 year low. I know what it takes to get small business growing again, to hire people. Now I’m concerned that the path that we’re on has just been unsuccessful. The President has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years ago, that a bigger government, spending more taxi, more regulating more, if you will, trickle down government, would work. That’s not the right answer for America. I’ll restore the vitality that gets America working again. Thank you.

Jim Lehrer: (07:08)
Mr. President, please respond directly to what the Governor just said about trickle down, his trickle down approach, as he’s said yours is.

Barack Obama: (07:18)
Well, let me talk specifically about what I think we need to do. First, we’ve got to improve our education system, and we’ve made enormous progress drawing on ideas both from Democrats and Republicans that are already starting to show gains in some of the toughest to deal with schools. We’ve got a program called Race to the Top that has prompted reforms in 46 states around the country, raising standards, improving how we train teachers. So now I want to hire another hundred thousand new math and science teachers, and create two million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keep tuition low for our young people.

Barack Obama: (08:03)
When it comes to our tax code, yeah, Governor Romney and I both agree that our corporate tax rate is too high. So I want to lower it, particularly for manufacturing, taking it down to 25%. But I also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. I want to provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States. On energy, Governor Romney and I, we both agree that we’ve got to boost American energy production, and oil and natural gas production are higher than they’ve been in in years. But I also believe that we’ve got to look at the energy sources of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels and make those investments.

Barack Obama: (08:45)
So all of this is possible. Now in order for us to do it, we do have to close our deficit. And one of the things I’m sure we’ll be discussing tonight is how do we deal with our tax code and how do we make sure that we are reducing spending in a responsible way, but also how do we have enough revenue to make those investments? And this is where there’s a difference because Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, so that’s another trillion dollars, and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for. That’s eight trillion dollars. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments that we need to make without dumping those costs on the middle class Americans, I think, is one of the central questions of this campaign.

Jim Lehrer: (09:30)
Both of you have spoken about a lot of different things, and we’re going to try to get through them in as specific a way as we possibly can. But first, Governor Romney, do you have a question that you’d like to ask the President directly about something he just said?

Mitt Romney: (09:44)
Well, sure. I’d like to clear up the record and go through piece by piece. First of all, I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of the scale that you’re talking about. My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class, but I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high income people. High income people are doing just fine in this economy. They’ll do fine whether you’re President or I am. The people who are having the hard time right now are middle income Americans. Under the President’s policies, middle income Americans have been buried. They’re just being crushed. Middle income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. This is a tax in and of itself. I’ll call it the economy tax. It’s been crushing.

Mitt Romney: (10:26)
The same time gasoline prices have doubled under the President. Electric rates are up. Food prices are up. Healthcare costs have gone up by $2,500 a family. Middle income families are being crushed. And so the question is how to get them going again, and I’ve described it. It’s energy, and trade, the right kind of training programs, balancing our budget, and helping small business. Those are the cornerstones of my plan.

Mitt Romney: (10:49)
But the President mentioned a couple of other ideas I’ll just note. First, education. I agree. Education is key, particularly the future of our economy, but our training programs right now, we’ve got 47 of them housed in the federal government reporting to eight different agencies. Overhead is overwhelming. We’ve got to get those dollars back to the states and go to the workers so they can create their own pathways to get in the training they need for jobs that would really help them.

Mitt Romney: (11:14)
The second area, taxation. We agree. We got to bring the tax rates down, and I do, both for corporations and for individuals. But in order for us not to lose revenue and have the government run of the money, I also lower deductions and credits and exemptions so that we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth.

Mitt Romney: (11:31)
The third area, energy. Energy is critical and the President pointed out correctly that production of oil and gas in the U.S. is up, but not due to his policies, in spite of his policies. Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half. If I’m President, I’ll double them, and also get the oil from offshore and Alaska, and I’ll bring that pipeline in from Canada. And by the way, I like coal. I’m going to make sure we can continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it’s getting crushed by your policies. I want to get America and North America energy independent so we can create those jobs.

Mitt Romney: (12:18)
And finally, with regards to that tax cut. Look, I’m not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce the revenues going to the government. My number one principle is there’ll be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that. No tax cut that adds to the deficit. But I do want to reduce the burden being paid by middle income Americans. And to do that, that also means I cannot reduce the burden paid by high income Americans, so any language to the contrary is simply not accurate.

Jim Lehrer: (12:48)
Mr. President.

Barack Obama: (12:49)
Well, I think let’s talk about taxes because I think it’s instructive. Now four years ago, when I stood on this stage, I said that I would cut taxes for middle class families. And that’s exactly what I did. We cut taxes for middle class families by about $3,600. And the reason is because I believe that we do best when the middle class is doing well. And by giving them those tax cuts, they had a little more money in their pocket, and so maybe they can buy a new car. They are certainly in a better position to weather the extraordinary recession that we went through. They can buy a computer for their kid who’s going off to college, which means they’re spending more money, businesses have more customers, businesses make more profits, and then hire more workers.

Barack Obama: (13:38)
Now, Governor Romney’s proposal that he has been promoting for 18 months calls for a $5 trillion tax cut on top of $2 trillion of additional spending for our military. And he is saying that he is going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions. The problem is that he’s been asked over a hundred times how you would close those deductions and loopholes, and he hasn’t been able to identify them. But I’m going to make an important point here, Jim. When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper income individuals are currently taking advantage of you, take those all away. You don’t come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts in $2 trillion in additional military spending.

Barack Obama: (14:22)
And that’s why independent studies looking at this said the only way to meet Governor Romney’s pledge of not reducing the deficit, or not adding to the deficit, is by burdening middle class families. The average middle class family with children would pay about $2,000 more. Now that’s not my analysis. That’s the analysis of economists who have looked at this. And that kind of top down economics where folks at the top are doing well, so the average person making three million bucks is getting a $250,000 tax break, while middle class families are burdened further, that’s not what I believe is a recipe for economic growth.

Jim Lehrer: (15:02)
All right. What is the difference? Let’s just stay on taxes. [crosstalk 00:15:08] Let’s just stay on taxes for a moment. What is the difference?

Mitt Romney: (15:10)
Virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate. So if the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I’d say absolutely not. I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That’s part one. So there’s no economist can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds 5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan. Number two, I will not reduce the share paid by high income individuals. I know that you and your running mate keeps saying that, and I know it’s a popular thing to say with a lot of people, but it’s just not the case. Look, I got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it. But that is not the case. All right? I will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans.

Mitt Romney: (15:59)
And number three, I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle income families. I will lower taxes on middle income families. Now you cite a study. There’s six other studies that looked at the study you describe and say it’s completely wrong. I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle income families. There are all these studies out there. But let’s get to the bottom line. And that is I want to bring down rates. I want to bring the rates down. At the same time, a lower deductions and exemptions and credits and so forth, so we keep getting the revenue we need. And you think, well then why lower the rates? And the reason is because small business pays that individual rate. 54% of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed not at the corporate tax rate, but at the individual tax rate. And if we lower that rate, they will be able to hire more people. For me, this is about jobs.

Jim Lehrer: (16:54)
That’s where we started.

Mitt Romney: (16:55)
This is about getting jobs for the American people.

Jim Lehrer: (16:57)
Yeah. Do you challenge what the governor just said about his own plan?

Barack Obama: (17:01)
Well, for 18 months, he’s been running on this tax plan, and now five weeks before the election, he’s saying that his big bold idea is nevermind. And the fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you described, 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. Now, Governor Romney and I do share a deep interest in encouraging small business growth. So at the same time that my tax plan has already lowered taxes for 98% of families, I also lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times. And what I want to do is continue the tax rates, the tax cuts that we put into place, for small businesses and families.

Barack Obama: (18:02)
But I have said that for incomes over $250,000 a year, that we should go back to the rates that we had when Bill Clinton was president when we created 23 million new jobs, went from deficit to surplus, and created a whole lot of millionaires to boot. And the reason this is important is because by doing that, we can not only reduce the deficit, we can not only encourage job growth through small businesses, but we’re also able to make the investments that are necessary in education or in energy.

Barack Obama: (18:32)
And we do have a difference though when it comes to definitions of small business. Under my plan, 97% of small businesses would not see their income taxes go up. Governor Romney says, well, those top 3%, they’re the job creators they’d be burdened. But under Governor Romney’s definition, there are a whole bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are small businesses. Donald Trump is a small business, and I know Donald Trump doesn’t like to think of himself as small anything, but that’s how you define small businesses if you’re getting business income. And that kind of approach, I believe, will not grow our economy because the only way to pay for it without either burning the middle class or blowing up our deficit, is to make drastic cuts in things like education, making sure that we are continuing to invest in basic science and research, all the things that are helping America grow. And I think that would be a mistake.

Jim Lehrer: (19:32)
All right.

Mitt Romney: (19:33)
Jim, let me just come back on that point.

Jim Lehrer: (19:35)
Just for the record [crosstalk 00:19:36], excuse me, just so everybody understands. We’re way over our first 15 minutes.

Mitt Romney: (19:42)
It’s fun, isn’t it?

Jim Lehrer: (19:43)
It’s okay. It’s great. No problem at all. As long as you don’t have a problem, I don’t have a problem because we’re still on the economy. But we’re going to come back to taxes and want to move on to the deficit and a lot of other things too. Okay. But go ahead, sir.

Mitt Romney: (19:55)
You bet. Well, Mr. President, you’re absolutely right which is that with regards to 97% of the businesses are not taxed at the 35% tax rate, they’re taxed at a lower rate. But those businesses that are in the last 3% of businesses happen to employ half, half of all the people who work in small business. Those are the businesses that employ one quarter of all the workers in America. And your plan is to take their tax rate from 35% to 40%.

Mitt Romney: (20:23)
Now, I talked to a guy who has a very small business. He’s in the electronics business St. Louis. He has four employees. He said he and his son calculated how much they pay in taxes, federal income tax, federal payroll tax, state income tax, state sales tax, state property tax, gasoline tax. It ended up to well over 50% of what they earned. And your plan is to take the tax rate on successful small businesses from 35% to 40%. the National Federation of Independent Businesses has said that will cost 700,000 jobs. I don’t want to cost jobs. My priority is jobs. And so what I do is I bring down the tax rates, lower deductions and exemptions, the same idea behind Bowles Simpson, by the way. Get the rates down, lower deductions and exemptions to create more jobs, because there’s nothing better for getting us to a balanced budget than having more people working, earning more money, paying more taxes. That’s by far the most effective and efficient way to get this budget balanced.

Barack Obama: (21:25)
Jim, you may want to move on to another topic, but I would just say this to the American people. If you believe that we can cut taxes by $5 trillion and add $2 trillion in additional spending that the military is not asking for, $7 trillion, just to give you a sense over 10 years, that’s more than our entire defense budget, and you think that by closing loopholes and deductions for the well to do, somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Governor Romney’s plan may work for you. But I think math, common sense, and our history shows us that’s not a recipe for job growth.

Barack Obama: (22:08)
Look, we’ve tried this. We’ve tried both approaches. The approach that Governor Romney is talking about is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003. And we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years. We ended up moving from surplus to deficits, and it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Bill Clinton took the approach that I’m talking about. We created 23 million new jobs, we went from deficit to surplus, and businesses did very well. So in some ways we’ve got some data on which approach is more likely to create jobs and opportunity for Americans. And I believe that the economy works best when middle class families are getting tax breaks so that they’ve got some money in their pockets, and those of us who have done extraordinarily well because of this mag-

Barack Obama: (23:03)
And those of us who have done extraordinarily well because of this magnificent country that we live in, that we can afford to do a little bit more to make sure we’re not blowing up the deficit.

Mitt Romney: (23:09)
Jim, the President began this segment so I think I get the last word so I’m going to take it.

Jim Lehrer: (23:14)
You’re going to get the first word in the next segment.

Mitt Romney: (23:15)
Well, but he gets the first word of that segment, I get the last word of that segment I hope. Let me just make this comment. First of all, let me repeat what I said. I’m not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut that’s not my plan. My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit that’s point one. So you may keep referring to it as a $5 trillion tax cut but that’s not my plan.

Mitt Romney: (23:37)
Number two let’s look at history, my plan is not like anything that’s been tried before. My plan is to bring down rates but also bring down deductions and exemptions and credits at the same time so the revenue stays in but that we bring down rates to get more people working. My priority is putting people back to work in America. They’re suffering in this country and we talk about evidence look at the evidence of the last four years it’s absolutely extraordinary. We’ve got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country. When the President took office 32 million people on food stamps, 47 million on food stamps today, economic growth this year slower than last year and last year slower than the year before. Going forward with the status quo is not going to cut it for the American people who are struggling today.

Jim Lehrer: (24:28)
All right, let’s talk so we’re still on the economy. This is theoretically now a second segment still on the economy and specifically on what to do about the federal deficit, the federal debt. And the question, you each have two minutes on this and Governor Romney you go first because President went first on segment one. And the question is this, what are the differences between the two of you as to how you would go about tackling the deficit problem in this country?

Mitt Romney: (24:59)
Oh good, I’m glad you raised that and it’s a critical issue. I think it’s not just an economic issue, I think it’s a moral issue. I think it’s frankly not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in knowing those burdens are going to be passed onto the next generation and they’re going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives. And the amount of debt we’re adding at a trillion a year is simply not moral.

Mitt Romney: (25:24)
So how do we deal with it? Well mathematically, there are three ways that you can cut a deficit. One of course is to raise taxes, number two is to cut spending and number three is to grow the economy. Because if more people work in a growing economy they’re paying taxes and you can get the job done that way. The President would prefer raising taxes, I understand. The problem with raising taxes is it slows down the rate of growth and you can never quite get the job done. I want to lower spending and encourage economic growth at the same time. What things would I cut from spending? Well first of all, I will eliminate all programs by this test if they don’t pass. It is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I’ll get rid of it. Obamacare is on my list. I apologize Mr. President. I use that term with all respect by the way.

Barack Obama: (26:11)
I like it.

Mitt Romney: (26:11)
Okay, good. So, I’ll get rid of that. I’m sorry Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird, I actually like you too but I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it so that’s number one. Number two, I’ll take programs that are currently good programs but I think it’d be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to the state. Number three, I’ll make government more efficient. It’ll cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments. My cutbacks will be done through attrition by the way. This is the approach we have to take to get America to a balanced budget. The President said he’d cut the deficit in half, unfortunately he doubled it. Trillion dollar deficits for the last four years. The President’s put it in place as much public debt, almost as much debt held by the public as all prior Presidents combined.

Jim Lehrer: (27:03)
Mr. President, two minutes.

Barack Obama: (27:04)
When I walked into the oval office I had more than a trillion dollar deficit greeting me and we know where it came from, two wars that were paid for on a credit card, two tax cuts that were not paid for and a whole bunch of programs that were not paid for and then a massive economic crisis. And despite that, what we’ve said is, “Yes, we had to take some initial emergency measures to make sure we didn’t slip into a great depression.” But what we’ve also said is, “Let’s make sure that we are cutting out those things that are not helping us grow.”

Barack Obama: (27:41)
So 77 government programs, everything from aircraft’s that the air force had ordered but weren’t working very well, 18 government programs for education that were well-intentioned but weren’t helping kids learn. We went after medical fraud in Medicare and Medicaid very aggressively, more aggressively than ever before and have saved tens of billions of dollars, $50 billion of waste taken out of the system. And I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars out of our discretionary domestic budget. That’s the largest cut in the discretionary domestic budget since Dwight Eisenhower.

Barack Obama: (28:20)
Now, we all know that we’ve got to do more and so I put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit reduction plan. It’s on a website, you can look at all the numbers, what cuts we make and what revenue we raise. And the way we do it is $2.50 for every cut we ask for a dollar of additional revenue paid for as I indicated earlier by asking those of us who have done very well in this country to contribute a little bit more to reduce the deficit.

Barack Obama: (28:50)
Governor Romney earlier mentioned the Bowles-Simpson Commission. Well, that’s how the commission bipartisan commission that talked about how we should move forward suggested we have to do it in a balanced way with some revenue and some spending cuts. And this is a major difference that Governor Romney and I have. Let me just finish this point because you’re looking for contrast. When governor Romney stood on a stage with other Republican candidates for the nomination and he was asked, “Would you take $10 of spending cuts for just $1 of revenue?” And he said, “No.” Now if you take such an unbalanced approach then that means you are going to be gutting our investments in schools and education, it means that Governor Romney talked about Medicaid and how we could to send it back to the states. But effectively, this means a 30% cut in the primary program we help for seniors who are in nursing homes, for kids who are with disabilities. And that is not a right strategy for us to move forward.

Jim Lehrer: (29:56)
Way over the two minutes.

Barack Obama: (29:57)

Jim Lehrer: (29:58)
Governor, what about Simpson-Bowles. Will you support Simpson-Bowles?

Mitt Romney: (30:02)
Simpson Bowles, the President should have grabbed that.

Jim Lehrer: (30:04)
I mean, do you get to support Simpson-Bowles?

Mitt Romney: (30:06)
I have my own plan. It’s not the same as Simpson-Bowles but in my view the President should have grabbed it. If he wanted to make some adjustments to it, take it, go to Congress, fight for it.

Barack Obama: (30:15)
That’s what we’ve done, made some adjustments to it and we’re putting it forward before Congress right now, a $4 trillion plan.

Mitt Romney: (30:20)
But you’ve been President four years. You’ve been President four years. You said you’d cut the deficit in half, it’s now four years later. We still have trillion dollar deficits. The CBO says we’ll have a trillion dollar deficit each of the next four years. If you’re reelected we’ll get to a trillion dollar debt. You have said before you’d cut the deficit in half. And I love this idea of four trillion in cuts. You found four trillion dollars of ways to reduce or to get closer to a balanced budget except we still show trillion dollar deficits every year. That doesn’t get the job done.

Mitt Romney: (30:48)
Let me come back and say, why is it that I don’t want to raise taxes? Why don’t I want to raise taxes on people? And actually, you said it back in 2010. You said, “Look, I’m going to extend the tax policies that we have. Now I’m not going to raise taxes on anyone because when the economy is growing slow like this, when we’re in recession, you shouldn’t raise taxes on anyone.” Well, the economy is still growing slow. As a matter of fact, it’s growing much more slowly now than when you made that statement. And so, if you believe the same thing you just don’t want to raise taxes on people. And the reality is it’s not just wealthy people. You mentioned Donald Trump, it’s not just Donald Trump you’re taxing. It’s all those businesses that employ one quarter of the workers in America, these small businesses that are taxed as individuals. You raise taxes and you kill jobs. That’s why the National Federation of Independent Businesses said your plan will kill 700,000 jobs. I don’t want to kill jobs in this environment. Let me make one more point.

Jim Lehrer: (31:44)
[crosstalk 00:31:44] taxes thing for a moment.

Mitt Romney: (31:45)

Jim Lehrer: (31:47)
Mr. President.

Barack Obama: (31:48)
Well, we’ve had this discussion before.

Jim Lehrer: (31:51)
The idea that in order to reduce the deficit there has to be revenue in addition to cuts.

Barack Obama: (31:57)
There has to be revenue in addition to cuts. Now, Governor Romney has ruled out revenue. He’s ruled our revenue.

Mitt Romney: (32:02)
Absolutely. Look, the revenue I get is by more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes. That’s how we get growth and how we balance the budget. But the idea of taxing people more, putting more people out of work, you’ll never get there. You never balance the budget by raising taxes. Spain, Spain spends 42% of their total economy on government. We are now spending 42% of our economy on government. I don’t want to go down the path to Spain. I want to go down the path of growth that puts Americans to work with more money coming in because they’re working.

Jim Lehrer: (32:38)
But Mr. President you’re saying in order to get the job done it’s got to be balanced?

Barack Obama: (32:43)
If we’re serious we’ve got to take a balanced, responsible approach. And by the way, this is not just when it comes to individual taxes. Let’s talk about corporate taxes. Now, I’ve identified areas where we can right away make a change that I believe would actually help the economy. The oil industry gets four billion dollars a year in corporate welfare. Basically they get deductions that those small businesses that Governor Romney refers to they don’t get. Now, does anybody think that ExxonMobil needs some extra money when they’re making money every time you go to the pump? Why wouldn’t we want to eliminate that? Why wouldn’t we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets? My attitude is if you’ve got a corporate jet you can probably afford to pay full freight and not get a special break for it.

Barack Obama: (33:37)
When it comes to corporate taxes, Governor Romney has said he wants to in a revenue neutral way close loopholes, deductions. He has identified which ones they are but that thereby bring down the corporate rate. Well, I want to do the same thing but I’ve actually identified how we can do that and part of the way to do it is to not give tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. Right now you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas. I think most Americans would say that doesn’t make sense. And all that raises revenue.

Barack Obama: (34:12)
And so, if we take a balanced approach what that then allows us to do is also to help young people, the way we already have during my administration, make sure that they can afford to go to college. It means that the teacher that I met in Las Vegas, a wonderful young lady who describes to me she’s got 42 kids in her class. The first two weeks she’s got them, some of them sitting on the floor until finally they get reassigned. They’re using textbooks that are 10 years old. That is not a recipe for growth, that’s not how America was built.

Barack Obama: (34:47)
And so, budgets reflect choices. Ultimately we’re going to have to make some decisions. And if asking for no revenue then that means that we’ve got to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff and the magnitude of the tax cuts that you’re talking about governor would end up resulting in severe hardship for people but more importantly would not help us grow. As I indicated before, when you talk about shifting Medicaid to states we’re talking about potentially a 30% cut in Medicaid over time. Now that may not seem like a big deal when it just is numbers on a sheet of paper but if we’re talking about a family who’s got an autistic kid and is depending on that Medicaid that’s a big problem. And governors are creative, there’s no doubt about it, but they’re not creative enough to make up for 30% of revenue on something like Medicaid. What ends up happening is some people end up not getting help.

Mitt Romney: (35:46)
Jim we got on a lot of topics there and so it’s going to take a minute to go from Medicaid to schools to oil to tax breaks and companies going overseas so let’s go through them one by one. First of all, the Department of Energy has said the tax break for oil companies is $2.8 billion a year and it’s actually an accounting treatment as you know that’s been in place for 100 years.

Barack Obama: (36:07)
It’s time to end it.

Mitt Romney: (36:07)
Now, and in one year you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world. Now I like green energy as well but that’s about 50 years worth of what oil and gas receives and you say Exxon and Mobil, actually this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies, to drilling operators and so forth. But if we get that tax rate from 35% down to 25% why that $2.8 billion is on the table. Of course, it’s on the table. That’s probably not going to survive if you get that rate down to 25%. But don’t forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years worth of breaks into solar and wind to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and [inaudible 00:36:52] I had a friend who said, “You don’t just pick the winners and losers you pick the losers.” All right. So, this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy secure.

Mitt Romney: (37:02)
The second topic which is you said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas. Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant. But the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case. What we do have right now is a setting where I’d like to bring money from overseas back to this country.

Mitt Romney: (37:22)
And finally Medicaid to states, I’m not quite sure where that came in except this which is I would like to take the Medicaid dollars that go to states and say to a state, “You’re going to get what you got last year plus inflation, plus 1%. And then you’re going to manage your care for your poor in the way you think best.” And I remember as a governor when this idea was floated by Tommy Thompson the governors Republican and Democrats said, “Please let us do that. We can care for our own poor in so much better and more effective a way than having the federal government tell us how to care for our poor.”

Mitt Romney: (37:59)
One of the magnificent things about this country is the whole idea that states are the laboratories of democracy. Don’t have the federal government tell everybody what kind of training programs they have to have and what kind of Medicaid they have to have, let states do this. And by the way if a state gets in trouble we could step in and see if we can find a way to help them. But the right approach is one which relies on the brilliance of our people and states not the federal government

Jim Lehrer: (38:23)
Two seconds and we’re going on still on the economy on another part of it. All right. All right. This is segment three the economy, entitlements. First answer goes to you. You have two minutes Mr. President. Do you see a major difference between the two of you on Social Security?

Barack Obama: (38:43)
I suspect that on social security we’ve got a somewhat similar position. Social Security is structurally sound, it’s going to have to be tweaked the way it was by Ronald Reagan and democratic speaker Tip O’Neill but the basic structure is sound. But I want to talk about the values behind Social Security and Medicare and then talk about Medicare because that’s the big driver of our deficits right now. My grandmother, some of you know, helped to raise me, my grandparents did. My grandfather died a while back. My grandmother died three days before I was elected president and she was fiercely independent. She worked her way up, only had a high school education, started as a secretary, ended up being the vice- president of a local bank. And she ended up living alone by choice and the reason she could be independent was because of Social Security and Medicare.

Barack Obama: (39:40)
She had worked all her life, put in this money and understood that there was a basic guarantee, a floor under which she could not go. And that’s the perspective I bring when I think about what’s called entitlements. The name itself implies some sense of dependency on the part of these folks. These are folks who’ve worked hard like my grandmother and there are millions of people out there who are counting on this. So, my approach is to say, “How do we strengthen the system over the longterm?” And in Medicare what we did was we said, “We are going to have to bring down the costs if we’re going to deal with our long-term deficits.”

Barack Obama: (40:18)
But to do that, let’s look where some of the money is going. $716 billion we were able to save from the Medicare program by no longer overpaying insurance companies, by making sure that we weren’t overpaying providers and using that money we were actually able to lower prescription drug costs for seniors by an average of $600 and we were also able to make a significant dent in providing them the kind of preventive care that will ultimately save money throughout the system. So, the way for us to deal with Medicare in particular is to lower healthcare costs. When it comes to Social Security as I said you don’t need a major structural change in order to make sure that Social security is there for the future.

Jim Lehrer: (41:02)
We’ll follow up on this. First, Governor Romney you have two minutes on Social Security and entitlements.

Mitt Romney: (41:09)
Well Jim, our seniors depend on these programs and I know any time we talk about entitlements people become concerned that something’s going to happen that’s going to change their life for the worst and the answer is neither the President nor I are proposing any changes for any current retirees or near retirees either to Social Security or Medicare. So if you’re 60 or around 60 or older you don’t need to listen to any further. But for younger people, we need to talk about what changes are going to be occurring. I just thought about one and that is in fact I was wrong when I said the President isn’t proposing any changes for current retirees in fact he is on Medicare, on Social Security he is not.

Mitt Romney: (41:46)
But on Medicare for current retirees he’s cutting $716 billion from the program. Now he says by not overpaying hospitals and providers. Actually just going to them and saying, “We’re going to reduce the rates you get paid. Across the board everybody’s going to get a lower rate.” That’s not just going after places where there’s abuse, that’s saying we’re cutting the rates. Some 15% of hospitals and nursing homes say they won’t take any more Medicare patients under that scenario. We also have 50% of doctors who say they won’t take more Medicare patients. We have four million people on Medicare Advantage that will lose Medicare Advantage because of those $716 billion in cuts. I can’t understand how you can cut Medicare $ 716 billion for current recipients on Medicare. Now you point out, “Well we’re putting some back, we’re going to give a better prescription program.” That’s one dollar for every 15 you’ve cut. They’re smart enough to know that’s not a good trade.

Mitt Romney: (42:45)
I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare. By the way, we can include a prescription program if we need to improve it but the idea of cutting $716 billion from Medicare to be able to balance the additional cost of Obamacare is in my opinion a mistake. And with regards to young people coming along, I’ve got proposals to make sure Medicare and Social Security are there for them without any question.

Jim Lehrer: (43:09)
Mr. President.

Barack Obama: (43:11)
First of all, I think it’s important for Governor Romney to present this plan that he says will only affect folks in the future. And the essence of the plan is that he would turn Medicare into a voucher program. It’s called premium support but it’s understood to be a voucher program. His running mate…

Jim Lehrer: (43:31)
And you don’t support that?

Barack Obama: (43:32)
I don’t and let me explain why.

Mitt Romney: (43:34)
Again, that’s for future people not for current retirees.

Barack Obama: (43:38)
So if you’re 54 or 55 you might want to listen because this will affect you. The idea which was originally presented by Congressman Ryan, your running mate, is that we would give a voucher to seniors and they could go out in the private marketplace and buy their own health insurance. 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. Now in fairness, what Governor Romney has now said is he’ll maintain traditional Medicare alongside it. But there’s still a problem because what happens is those insurance companies are pretty clever at figuring out who are the younger and healthier seniors. They recruit them leaving the older sicker seniors in Medicare. And every healthcare economist who looks at it says, “Over time what’ll happen is the traditional Medicare system will collapse.”

Barack Obama: (44:40)
And then what you’ve got is folks like my grandmother at the mercy of the private insurance system precisely at the time when they are most in need of decent healthcare. So, I don’t think vouchers are the right way to go and this is not only my opinion. AARP thinks that the savings that we obtained from Medicare bolstered the system, lengthened the Medicare trust fund by eight years. Benefits were not affected at all. And ironically, if you repeal Obamacare, and I have become fond of this term Obamacare, if you repeal it what happens is those seniors right away are going to be paying $600 more in prescription care. They’re now going to have to be paying copays for basic checkups that can keep them healthier. And the primary beneficiary of that repeal are insurance companies that are estimated to gain billions of dollars back when they aren’t making seniors any healthier. And I don’t think that’s the right approach when it comes to making sure that Medicare is stronger over the longterm.

Jim Lehrer: (45:49)
We’ll talk specifically about healthcare in a moment but do you support the voucher system Governor?

Mitt Romney: (45:55)
What I support is no change for current retirees and near retirees to Medicare and the President supports taking 760…

Mitt Romney: (46:03)
… to Medicare, and the president supports taking $716 billion out of that program.

Jim Lehrer: (46:05)
What about the vouchers?

Mitt Romney: (46:07)
So that’s number one. Number two is for people coming along that are young. What I do to make sure that we can keep Medicare in place for them is to allow them to either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan, their choice. And they’ll have at least two plans that will be entirely at no cost to them. So they don’t have to pay additional money, no additional $6,000. That’s not going to happen. They’ll have at least two plans. And by the way, if the government can be as efficient as the private sector and offer premiums that are as low as a private sector, people will be happy to get traditional Medicare, or they’ll be able to get a private plan. I know my own view is I’d rather have a private plan.

Mitt Romney: (46:44)
I’d just as soon not have the government telling me what kind of healthcare I get. I’d rather be able to have an insurance company. If I don’t like them, I can get rid of them and find a different insurance company, but people make their own choice. The other thing we have to do to save Medicare, we have to have the benefits high for those that are low income. But for higher income people, we’re going to have to lower some of the benefits. We have to make sure this program is there for the long-term. That’s the plan that I put forward, and by the way, the idea came not even from Paul Ryan or Senator Wyden who’s a co-author of the bill with Paul Ryan in the Senate, but also it came from Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. This is an idea that’s been around a long time, which is saying, “Hey, let’s see if we can’t get competition into the Medicare world so that people can get the choice of different plans at lower costs, better quality.” I believe in competition.

Barack Obama: (47:32)
Jim, if I can just respond very quickly. First of all, every study has shown that Medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurance does, which is why seniors are generally pretty happy with it. And private insurers have to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that, that’s what they do. And so you’ve got higher administrative costs plus profit on top of that. And if you are going to save any money through what Governor Romney is proposing, what has to happen is that the money has to come from somewhere. And when you move to a voucher system, you are putting seniors at the mercy of those insurance companies. And over time, if traditional Medicare has decayed or fallen apart, then they’re stuck. And this is the reason why AARP has said that your plan would weaken Medicare substantially, and that’s why they were supportive of the approach that we took. One last point I want to make. We do have to lower the cost of healthcare, not just in Medicare-

Jim Lehrer: (48:38)
Talk about that in a minute.

Barack Obama: (48:39)
… but overall.

Jim Lehrer: (48:40)

Mitt Romney: (48:42)
That’s a big topic. Can we stay on Medicare, to be fair?

Barack Obama: (48:44)
Is that a separate topic? I’m sorry.

Jim Lehrer: (48:46)
Yeah. I want to get to it, but all I want to do is-

Mitt Romney: (48:49)
Let’s get back to Medicare.

Jim Lehrer: (48:50)
… very quickly, before we leave the economy.

Mitt Romney: (48:50)
Let’s get back to Medicare.

Jim Lehrer: (48:51)
No, no.

Mitt Romney: (48:51)
The president said that the government can provide the service at lower cost and without a profit.

Jim Lehrer: (48:55)
All right.

Mitt Romney: (48:56)
If that’s the case, then it will always be the best product that people can purchase. But my experience is the private sector typically is able to provide a better product at a lower cost.

Jim Lehrer: (49:05)
Can the two of you agree that the voters have a choice, a clear choice between the two of you on Medicare?

Mitt Romney: (49:12)

Barack Obama: (49:12)

Jim Lehrer: (49:12)
All right. So to finish quickly, briefly on the economy, what is your view about the level of federal regulation of the economy right now? Is there too much? And in your case, Mr. President, should there be more? Beginning with you. This is not a new two minute segment. Just start, and we’ll go for a few minutes and then we’re going to go to healthcare. Okay?

Mitt Romney: (49:35)
Regulation is essential. You can’t have a free market work if you don’t have regulation. As a business person, I need to know the regulations. I needed them there. You couldn’t have people opening up banks in their garage and making loans. I mean, you have to have regulations so that you can have an economy work. Every free economy has good regulation. At the same time, regulation can become excessive.

Jim Lehrer: (50:01)
Is it excessive now, do you think?

Mitt Romney: (50:01)
In same places yes-

Jim Lehrer: (50:01)
Like where? [crosstalk 00:50:03].

Mitt Romney: (50:01)
… other places, no. It can become out of date. And what’s happened with some of the legislation that’s been passed during the president’s term, you’ve seen regulation become excessive and it’s hurt the economy. Let me give you an example. Dodd-Frank was passed and it includes within it a number of provisions that I think has some unintended consequences that are harmful to the economy. One is it designates a number of banks is too big to fail, and they’re effectively guaranteed by the federal government. This is the biggest kiss that’s been given to the New York banks I’ve ever seen. This is an enormous boon for them. There have been 122 community and small banks have closed since Dodd-Frank.

Mitt Romney: (50:40)
So there’s one example. Here’s another. In Dodd-Frank-

Jim Lehrer: (50:43)
Do you want to repeal Dodd-Frank?

Mitt Romney: (50:45)
I would repeal that and replace it. We’re not going to get rid of all regulation. You have to have regulation, and there’s some parts of Dodd-Frank that make all the sense in the world. You need transparency. You need to have leverage limits for institutions.

Jim Lehrer: (50:58)
Well, there’s a specific. [crosstalk 00:51:00]. Excuse me.

Mitt Romney: (50:58)
Let me mention the other one. Let’s talk the big one.

Jim Lehrer: (51:02)
No. No, let’s not. Let’s let him respond to this specific on Dodd-Frank, and what the governor just said.

Barack Obama: (51:09)
I think this is a great example. The reason we have been in such a enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behavior across the board. Now, it wasn’t just on Wall Street. You had loan officers that were given loans and mortgages that really shouldn’t have been given, because the folks didn’t qualify. You had people who were borrowing money to buy a house that they couldn’t afford. You had credit agencies that were stamping these as A1 great investments when they weren’t. But you also had banks making money hand over fist, churning out products that the bankers themselves didn’t even understand in order to make big profits, but knowing that it made the entire system vulnerable. So what did we do? We stepped in and had the toughest reforms on Wall Street since the 1930s.

Barack Obama: (52:07)
We said, “Banks, you’ve got to raise your capital requirements. You can’t engage in some of this risky behavior that is putting Main Street at risk. We’re going to make sure that you’ve got to have a living will so we can know how you’re going to wind things down if you make a bad bet, so we don’t have other taxpayer bailouts.” In the meantime, by the way, we also made sure that all the help that we provided those banks was paid back, every single dime with interest. Now, Governor Romney has said he wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, and I appreciate and it appears we’ve got some agreement that a marketplace, to work, has to have some regulation. But in the past, Governor Romney has said he just wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, roll it back. And so the question is, does anybody out there think that the big problem we had is that there was too much oversight and regulation of Wall Street? Because if you do, then Governor Romney is your candidate, but that’s not what I believe.

Mitt Romney: (53:09)
Sorry Jim, but that’s just not the facts. Look, we have to have regulation on Wall Street. That’s why I’d have regulation, but I wouldn’t designate five banks as too big to fail and give them a blank check. That’s one of the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank. It wasn’t thought through properly. We need to get rid of that provision, because it’s killing regional and small banks. They’re getting hurt. Let me mention another regulation of Dodd-Frank. You say we were giving mortgages to people who weren’t qualified. That’s exactly right. It’s one of the reasons for the great financial calamity we had. And so Dodd-Frank correctly says we need to have qualified mortgages, and if you give a mortgage that’s not qualified, there are big penalties, except they didn’t ever go on to define what a qualified mortgage was.

Jim Lehrer: (53:52)
All right.

Mitt Romney: (53:52)
It’s been two years. We don’t know what a qualified mortgage is yet. So banks are reluctant to make loans mortgages. Try and get a mortgage these days. It’s hurt the housing market, because Dodd-Frank didn’t anticipate putting in place the kinds of regulations you have to have. It’s not that Dodd-Frank always was wrong with too much regulation. Sometimes they didn’t come out with the clear regulation. I will make sure we don’t hurt the functioning of our marketplace and our businesses, because I want to bring back housing and get good jobs.

Jim Lehrer: (54:23)
All right, I think we have another clear difference between the two of you. Now, let’s move to healthcare where I know there is a clear difference, and that has to do with the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. And it’s a two-minute new segment, and that means two minutes each, and you go first, Governor Romney. You wanted repeal. You want the Affordable Care Act repealed. Why?

Mitt Romney: (54:48)
I sure do. Well, in part it comes again from my experience. I was in New Hampshire. A woman came to me and she said, “Look, I can’t afford insurance for myself or my son.” I met a couple in Appleton Wisconsin, and they said, “We’re thinking of dropping our insurance. We can’t afford it.” And the number of small businesses I’ve gone to that are saying they’re dropping insurance because they can’t afford it… The cost of healthcare is just prohibitive, and we’ve got to deal with cost. And unfortunately, when you look at Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office has said it will cost $2,500 a year more than traditional insurance. So it’s adding to cost. And as a matter of fact, when the president ran for office, he said that by this year, he would have brought down the cost of insurance for each family by $2,500 a family.

Mitt Romney: (55:35)
Instead, it’s gone up by that amount. So it’s expensive. Expensive things hurt families, so that’s one reason I don’t want it. Second reason, it cut $716 billion from Medicare to pay for it. I want to put that money back in Medicare for our seniors. Number three, it puts in place an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don’t like that idea. Fourth, there was a survey done of small businesses across the country. It said, “What’s been the effect of Obamacare on your hiring plans?” And three quarters of them said, “It makes us less likely to hire people.”

Mitt Romney: (56:11)
I just don’t know how the president could have come into office facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis at the kitchen table, and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people. It has killed jobs. And the best course for healthcare is to do what we did in my state, craft a plan at the state level that fits the needs of the state, and then let’s focus on getting the costs down for people rather than raising it with the $2,500 additional premium.

Jim Lehrer: (56:45)
Mr. President, the argument against repeal.

Barack Obama: (56:48)
Well, four years ago when I was running for office, I was traveling around and having those same conversations that Governor Romney talks about. And it wasn’t just that small businesses were seeing costs skyrocket, and they couldn’t get affordable coverage even if they wanted to provide it to their employees. It wasn’t just that this was the biggest driver of our federal deficit, our overall healthcare costs, but it was families who were worried about going bankrupt if they got sick. Millions of families all across the country, they had a preexisting condition. They might not be able to get coverage at all. If they did have coverage, insurance companies might impose an arbitrary limit. And so as a consequence, they’re paying their premiums. Somebody gets really sick, lo and behold, they don’t have enough money to pay the bills because the insurance companies say that they’ve hit the limit.

Barack Obama: (57:42)
So we did work on this alongside working on jobs, because this is part of making sure that middle-class families are secure in this country. And let me tell you exactly what Obamacare did. Number one, if you’ve got health insurance, it doesn’t mean a government takeover. You keep your own insurance. You keep your own doctor, but it does say insurance companies can’t jerk you around. They can’t impose arbitrary lifetime limits. They have to let you keep your kid on your insurance plan until you’re 26 years old, and it also says that there you’re going to have to get rebates if insurance companies are spending more on administrative costs and profits than they are actual care. Number two, if you don’t have health insurance, we’re essentially setting up a group plan that allows you to benefit from group rates that are typically 18% lower than if you’re out there trying to get insurance on the individual market.

Barack Obama: (58:43)
Now, the last point I’d make before-

Jim Lehrer: (58:47)
Two minutes is up, sir.

Barack Obama: (58:48)
No, I think I had five seconds before you interrupted me. The irony is that we’ve seen this model work really well in Massachusetts, because Governor Romney did a good thing, working with Democrats in the state to set up what is essentially the identical model. And as a consequence, people are covered there. It hasn’t destroyed jobs. And as a consequence, we now have a system in which we have the opportunity to start bringing down costs, as opposed to just leaving millions of people out in the cold.

Jim Lehrer: (59:29)
Your five seconds went away a long time ago.

Barack Obama: (59:31)
[crosstalk 00:13:34].

Jim Lehrer: (59:34)
Governor, tell the president directly why you think what he just said is wrong about Obamacare.

Mitt Romney: (59:39)
Well, I did with my first statement-

Barack Obama: (59:41)
You did.

Mitt Romney: (59:41)
But I’ll go on.

Barack Obama: (59:42)
Please elaborate.

Mitt Romney: (59:42)
I’ll elaborate, exactly right. First of all, I like the way we did it in Massachusetts. I like the fact that in my state, we had Republicans and Democrats come together and work together. What you did instead was to push through a plan without a single Republican vote. As a matter of fact, when Massachusetts did something quite extraordinary, elected a Republican Senator to stop Obamacare, you pushed it through anyway. So entirely on a partisan basis, instead of bringing America together and having a discussion on this important topic, you pushed through something that you and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid thought was the best answer, and drove it through. What we did in a legislature 87% Democrat, we worked together. 200 legislators in my legislature. Only two voted against the plan by the time we were finished. What were some differences? We didn’t raise taxes. You’ve raised them by a trillion dollars under Obamacare.

Mitt Romney: (01:00:32)
We didn’t cut Medicare. Of course, we don’t have Medicare, but we didn’t cut Medicare by $716 billion. We didn’t put in place a board that can tell people ultimately what treatments they’re going to receive. We didn’t also do something that I think a number of people across this country recognize, which has put people in a position where they’re going to lose the insurance they had and they wanted. Right now, the CBO says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year. And likewise, a study by McKinsey & Company of American businesses said 30% of them are anticipating dropping people from coverage.

Mitt Romney: (01:01:08)
So for those reasons, for the tax, for Medicare, for this board, and for people losing their insurance, this is why the American people don’t want Obamacare. It’s why Republicans said, “Do not do this.” And the Republicans had the plan. They put a plan out. They put in a plan, a bipartisan plan. It was swept aside. I think something this big, this important, has to be done on a bipartisan basis, and we have to have a president who can reach across the aisle and fashion important legislation with the input from both parties.

Barack Obama: (01:01:40)
Governor Romney said this has to be done on a bipartisan basis. This was a bipartisan idea. In fact, it was a Republican idea. And Governor Romney, at the beginning of this debate, wrote and said what we did in Massachusetts could be a model for the nation. And I agree that the Democratic legislators in Massachusetts might’ve given some advice to Republicans in Congress about how to cooperate, but the fact of the matter is we use the same advisors and they say it’s the same plan. When Governor Romney talks about this board, for example, unelected board that we’ve created, what this is is a group of healthcare experts, doctors, et cetera, to figure out, how can we reduce the cost of care in the system overall? Because there are two ways of dealing with our healthcare crisis. One is to simply leave a whole bunch of people uninsured and let them fend for themselves, to let businesses figure out how long they can continue to pay premiums until finally they just give up and their workers are no longer getting insured.

Barack Obama: (01:02:46)
And that’s been the trend line. Or alternatively, we can figure out, how do we make the cost of care more effective? And there are ways of doing it. So at Cleveland Clinic, one of the best healthcare systems in the world, they actually provide great care cheaper than average. And the reason they do is because they do some smart things. They say, “If a patient’s coming in, let’s get all the doctors together at once. Do one test instead of having the patient run around with 10 tests. Let’s make sure that we’re providing preventive care, so we’re catching the onset of something like diabetes. Let’s pay providers on the basis of performance, as opposed to on the basis of how many procedures they’ve engaged in.” So what this board does is basically identifies best practices and says, “Let’s use the purchasing power of Medicare and Medicaid to help to institutionalize all these good things that we do.” And the fact of the matter is that when Obamacare is fully implemented, we’re going to be in a position to show that costs are going down. And over the last two years, healthcare premiums have gone up, it’s true, but they’ve gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years. So we’re already beginning to see progress. In the meantime, folks out there with insurance, you’re already getting a rebate. Let me make one last point. Governor Romney says we should replace it. I’m just going to repeal it, but we can replace it with something. But the problem is he hasn’t described what exactly we’d replace it with, other than saying we’re going to leave it to the states. But the fact of the matter is that some of the prescriptions that he’s offered, like letting you buy insurance across state lines, there’s no indication that that somehow is going to help somebody who’s got a preexisting condition be able to finally buy insurance. In fact, it’s estimated that by repealing Obamacare, you’re looking at 50 million people losing health insurance at a time when it’s vitally important.

Jim Lehrer: (01:04:53)
Let’s let the governor explain what you would do if Obamacare is repealed. How would you replace it? What do you have in mind?

Mitt Romney: (01:04:59)
Well, actually it’s a lengthy description, but number one, preexisting 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. You don’t have the government mandate that for that to occur. But let’s come back to something. The president and I agree on, which is the key task we have in healthcare is to get the cost down so it’s more affordable for families. And then he has as a model for doing that a board of people at the government, an unelected board, appointed board, who are going to decide what kind of treatments you ought to have. In my opinion, the government is not effective in bringing down the cost of almost anything. As a matter of fact, free people and free enterprises trying to find ways to do things better are able to be more effective in bringing down the cost than the government will ever be.

Mitt Romney: (01:05:53)
Your example of the Cleveland Clinic is my case in point, along with several others I could describe. This is the private market. These are enterprises competing with each other, learning how to do better and better jobs. I used to consult to hospitals to healthcare providers. I was astonished at the creativity and innovation that exists in the American people. In order to bring the cost of healthcare down, we don’t need to have a board of 15 people telling us what kinds of treatments we should have. We instead need to put insurance plans, providers, hospitals, doctors on target, such that they have an incentive as you say, performance pay, for doing an excellent job for keeping costs down, and that’s happening. Intermountain Healthcare does it superbly well, Mayo Clinic is doing it superbly well, Cleveland Clinic, others. But the right answer is not to have the federal government take over healthcare and start mandating to the providers across America, telling a patient and a doctor what kind of treatment they can have. That’s the wrong way to go. The private market and individual responsibility always work best.

Barack Obama: (01:07:03)
Let me just point out first of all, this board that we’re talking about can’t make decisions about what treatments are given. That’s explicitly prohibited in the law, but let’s go back to what Governor Romney indicated, that under his plan, he would be able to cover people with preexisting conditions. Well, actually Governor, that isn’t what your plan does. What your plan does is to duplicate what’s already the law, which says if you are out of health insurance for three months, then you can end up getting continuous coverage and an insurance company can’t deny you if it’s been under 90 days. But that’s already the law, and that doesn’t help the millions of people out there with preexisting conditions. There’s a reason why Governor Romney set up the plan that he did in Massachusetts. It wasn’t a government takeover of healthcare. It was the largest expansion of private insurance.

Barack Obama: (01:08:04)
But what it does say is that insurers, you’ve got to take everybody. Now, that also means that you’ve got more customers. But when Governor Romney says that he’ll replace it with something but can’t detail how it will be in fact replaced… And the reason he set up the system he did Massachusetts was because there isn’t a better way of dealing with the preexisting conditions problem. It just reminds me of… He says that he’s going to close deductions and loopholes for his tax plan. That’s how it’s going to be paid for, but we don’t know the details. He says that he’s going to replace Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, but we don’t know exactly which ones. He won’t tell us. He now says he’s going to replace Obamacare, and assure that all the good things that are in it are going to be in there, and you don’t have to worry. And at some point, I think the American people have to ask themselves, is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping-

Barack Obama: (01:09:03)
… People have to ask themselves is, is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans to replace secret, because they’re too good? Is it because that somehow middle-class families are going to benefit too much from them? No. The reason is, because when we reform Wall Street, when we tackle the problem of pre-existing conditions, then these are tough problems and we’ve got to make choices, and the choices we’ve made have been ones that ultimately are benefiting middle-class families all across the country.

Jim Lehrer: (01:09:32)
We’re going to move to a [crosstalk 01:09:33].

Mitt Romney: (01:09:32)
No, I have to respond to that, which is, my experience as a governor, is if I come in and lay down a piece of legislation and say, “it’s my way or the highway”, I don’t get a lot done. What I do, is the same way that Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan worked together, some years ago. When Ronald Reagan ran for office, he laid out the principles that he was going to foster. He said he was going lower tax rates. He said he was going to broaden the base.

Mitt Romney: (01:09:58)
You’ve said the same thing. You’re going to simplify the tax code, broaden the base. Those are my principles. I want to bring down the tax burden on middle income families, and I’m going to work together with Congress to say, “Okay, what are the various ways we could bring down deductions, for instance?” One way, for instance, would be to have a single number. Make up a number. 25,000, $50,000. Anybody can have deductions up to that amount, and then that number disappears for high-income people. That’s one way one could do it. One could follow [Bowles-Simpson 01:10:26] As a model, and take deduction by deduction, and make differences that way. There are alternatives to accomplish the objective I have, which is to bring down rates, broaden the base, simplify the code, and create incentives for growth.

Mitt Romney: (01:10:40)
And with regards to healthcare, you had remarkable details with regards to my preexisting condition plan. You obviously studied up on my plan. In fact, I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions. That’s part of my health care plan. And, what we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation, state by state, and I said that at that time. The federal government, taking over healthcare for the entire nation, and whisking aside the 10th amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is not the course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy.

Jim Lehrer: (01:11:12)
That is a terrific segue to our next segment, and is the role of government. And, let’s see, role of government, and it is … You are first on this, Mr. President, the question is this. Do you believe, both of you, but you have the first two minutes on this, Mr. President. Do you believe there’s a fundamental difference between the two of you, as to how you view the mission of the federal government?

Barack Obama: (01:11:42)
Well, I definitely think there are differences [crosstalk 00:02:44].

Jim Lehrer: (01:11:45)

Barack Obama: (01:11:47)
The first role of the federal government, is to keep the American people safe. That’s its most basic function. And as commander-in-chief, that is something that I have worked on and thought about every single day that I’ve been in the Oval Office. But, I also believe that government has the capacity, the federal government has the capacity to help open up opportunity, and create ladders of opportunity, and to create frameworks where the American people can succeed.

Barack Obama: (01:12:17)
Look, the genius of America is the free enterprise system, and freedom, and the fact that people can go out there and start a business, work on an idea, make their own decisions. But, as Abraham Lincoln understood, there are also some things we do better together. So, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, “Let’s help to finance the Transcontinental Railroad. Let’s start the National Academy of Sciences. Let’s start land grant colleges, because we want to give these gateways of opportunity for all Americans.” Because, if all Americans are getting opportunity, we’re all going to be better off. That doesn’t restrict people’s freedom, that enhances it.

Barack Obama: (01:13:03)
And so, what I’ve tried to do, as president, is to apply those same principles. And when it comes to education, what I’ve said is, we’ve got to reform schools that are not working. We used something called Race to the Top. It wasn’t a top-down approach, governor, what we’ve said is, to states, “We’ll give you more money, if you initiate reforms.” And as a consequence, you had 46 states around the country who have made a real difference. But what I’ve also said is, “Let’s hire another 100,000 math and science teachers to make sure we maintain our technological lead, and our people are skilled, and able to succeed.”

Barack Obama: (01:13:40)
And hard-pressed states right now can’t all do that. In fact, we’ve seen layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers over the last several years, and Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers. I do, because I think that, that is the kind of investment where the federal government can help. It can’t do it all, but it can make a difference, and as a consequence, we’ll have a better trained workforce, and that will create jobs, because companies want to locate in places where we’ve got a skilled workforce.

Jim Lehrer: (01:14:08)
Two minutes, governor, on the role of government, your view.

Barack Obama: (01:14:11)
Well first, I love great schools. Massachusetts, our schools are ranked number one of all 50 states, and the key to great schools, great teachers. So, I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers, or more teachers. Every school district, every state should make that decision on their own. The role of government, look behind us. The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The role of government is to promote and protect the principles of those documents.

Barack Obama: (01:14:38)
First, life and liberty. We have a responsibility to protect the lives and liberties of our people, and that means a military second to none. I do not believe in cutting our military. I believe in maintaining the strength of America’s military. Second, in that line that says, “we are endowed by our creator with our rights”. I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country. That statement also says that we are endowed by our creator with the right to pursue happiness, as we choose.

Barack Obama: (01:15:10)
I interpret that as, one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can’t care for themselves, are cared by one another. We’re a nation that believes that we’re all children of the same God, and we care for those that have difficulties. Those that are elderly, and have problems, and challenges, those that are disabled. We care for them, and we look for discovery and innovation, all these things desired out of the American heart to provide the pursuit of happiness for our citizens.

Barack Obama: (01:15:36)
But we also believe in maintaining, for individuals, the right to pursue their dreams, and not to have the government substitute itself for the rights of free individuals. And what we’re seeing right now is, in my view, a trickle-down government approach, which has government thinking it can do a better job than free people pursuing their dreams, and it’s not working. And the proof of that, is 23 million people out of work. The proof of that, is one out of six people in poverty. The proof of that, is we’ve gone from 32 million on food stamps to 47 million on food stamps. The proof of that, is that 50% of college graduates this year can’t find work. We know that the path we’re taking is not working. It’s time for a new path.

Jim Lehrer: (01:16:17)
All right, let’s go through some specifics, in terms of how each of you views the role of government. Education. Does the federal government have a responsibility to improve the quality of public education in America?

Mitt Romney: (01:16:30)
Well, the primary responsibility for education is, of course, at the state and local level. But the federal government also can play a very important role, and I agree with Secretary Arne Duncan and some ideas he’s put forward, on race to the top. Not all of them, but some of them I agree with, and congratulate him for pursuing that. The federal government can get local and state schools to do a better job.

Mitt Romney: (01:16:50)
My own view, by the way, is I’ve added to that. I happen to believe I want the kids that are getting federal dollars, from IDEA, or Title I. These are disabled kids, or poor kids, or lower income kids, rather. I want them to be able to go to the school of their choice. So all federal funds, instead of going to the state, or to the school district, I’d have go, if you will, follow the child, and let the parent and the child decide where to send their student.

Jim Lehrer: (01:17:17)
How do you see the federal government’s responsibility to, as I said, to improve the quality of public education in this country?

Barack Obama: (01:17:24)
Well as I’ve indicated, I think that it has a significant role to play. Through our Race to the Top Program, we’ve worked with Republican and Democratic governors, to initiate major reforms, and they’re having an impact right now.

Jim Lehrer: (01:17:35)
Do you think you have a difference with your views and those of Governor Romney about education, and [crosstalk 01:17:41]?

Barack Obama: (01:17:41)
This is where budgets matter, because budgets reflect choices. So, when Governor Romney indicates that he wants to cut taxes, and potentially benefit folks like me and him, and to pay for it we’re having to initiate significant cuts in federal support for education, that makes a difference. His running mate, Congressman Ryan, put forward a budget, that reflects many of the principles that Governor Romney has talked about. And, it wasn’t very detailed, this seems to be a trend. But what it did do, is if you extrapolated how much money we’re talking about, you’d look at cutting the education budget by up to 20%.

Barack Obama: (01:18:29)
When it comes to community colleges, we are seeing great work done out there, all over the country, because we have the opportunity to train people for jobs that exist right now. And one of the things I suspect Governor Romney and I probably agree on, is getting businesses to work with community colleges so that they’re setting up their training programs.

Jim Lehrer: (01:18:48)
Do you agree, governor?

Barack Obama: (01:18:49)
Let me just [crosstalk 01:18:50] finish the point.

Mitt Romney: (01:18:51)
Oh yeah, by what [crosstalk 01:18:52] going [crosstalk 01:18:52].

Barack Obama: (01:18:53)
I suspect it will be a smaller [crosstalk 01:18:53].

Mitt Romney: (01:18:53)
My state, by the way, yeah.

Barack Obama: (01:18:56)
Where they’re partnering, so that they’re designing training programs and people who are going through them, know that there’s a job waiting for them if they complete it. That makes a big difference, but that requires some federal support. Let me just say one final example. When it comes to making college affordable, whether it’s two year or four year. One of the things that I did, as president, was we were sending $60 billion to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, even though the loans were guaranteed. So there was no risk for the banks or the lenders, but they were taking billions out of the system. And we said, “Why not cut out the middleman?” And as a consequence, what we’ve been able to do, is to provide millions more students assistance, lower, or make, keep low interest rates on student loans. And this is an example of where our priorities make a difference.

Barack Obama: (01:19:50)
Governor Romney, I genuinely believe cares about education, but when he tells a student that, “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. And for us to be able to make sure that they’ve got that opportunity, and they can walk through that door, that is vitally important, not just to those kids, it’s how we’re going to grow this economy over the longterm.

Jim Lehrer: (01:20:27)
Well, we’re running out of time.

Mitt Romney: (01:20:28)
Jim [crosstalk 00:11:28].

Jim Lehrer: (01:20:29)
Chance to [crosstalk 01:20:30] respond to that. [crosstalk 01:20:31].

Mitt Romney: (01:20:31)
Mr. President, you’re entitled, as a president, your own airplane and your own house, but not to your own facts. All right? I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding, and grants that go to people going to college. I’m planning on continuing to grow. So I’m not planning on making changes there. But you make a very good point, which is, that the place you put your money, it makes a pretty clear indication of where your heart is. You put $90 billion into green jobs. And look, I’m all in favor of green energy. 90 billion. That would have hired 2 million teachers, $90 billion, and these businesses, many of them have gone out of business, I think about half of them, of the ones who’ve been invested in, have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who are contributors to your campaigns.

Mitt Romney: (01:21:18)
Look, the right course for America’s government, we’re talking about the role of government, is not to become the economic player, picking winners and losers, telling people what kind of health treatment they can receive, taking over the healthcare system that has existed in this country for a long, long time, and has produced the best health records in the world. The right answer for government is to say, “How do we make the private sector become more efficient, and more effective? How do we get schools to be more competitive?”

Mitt Romney: (01:21:47)
Let’s grade them. I propose we grade our schools, so parents know which schools are succeeding and failing, so they can take their child to a school that’s being more successful. I don’t want to cut our commitment to education. I wanted to make it more effective, and efficient. And by the way, I’ve had that experience. I don’t just talk about it, I’ve been there. Massachusetts schools are ranked number one in the nation. This is not because I didn’t have commitment to education, it’s because I care about education for all of our kids.

Jim Lehrer: (01:22:16)
All right gentlemen, look [crosstalk 00:13:17], excuse me one sec, excuse me sir. We’ve got barely have three minutes left. I’m not going to grade the two of you and say your answers have been too long, or I’ve done a poor job.

Barack Obama: (01:22:28)
You’ve done a great job, Jim.

Jim Lehrer: (01:22:29)
Oh, well, no. But the fact is, government, the role of government and governing, we’ve lost a pot, in other words. So we only have three minutes left in the debate, before we go to your closing statements. And so, I want to ask finally here, and remember, we’ve got three minutes total time here. And the question is this, many of the legislative functions of the federal government right now, are in a state of paralysis, as a result of partisan gridlock. If elected in your case, if reelected in your case, what would you do about that, governor?

Mitt Romney: (01:23:08)
Jim, I had the great experience, it didn’t seem like it at the time, of being elected in a state where my legislature was 87% Democrat. And that meant, I figured out, from day one, I had to get along, and I had to work across the aisle to get anything done. We drove our schools to be number one in the nation. We cut taxes 19 times [crosstalk 00:01:23:26].

Jim Lehrer: (01:23:26)
What would you do as president?

Mitt Romney: (01:23:27)
As president, I will sit down on day one, actually, the day after I get elected, I’ll sit down with leaders, the Democratic leaders, as well as Republican leaders, and continue, as we did in my state. We met every Monday, for a couple hours. Talked about the issues, and the challenges in our state, in that case. We have to work on a collaborative basis. Not because we’re going to compromise our principal, but because there’s common ground, and the challenges America faces right now.

Mitt Romney: (01:23:52)
Look, the reason I’m in this race, is there are people that are really hurting today in this country, and we face, this deficit, could crush the future generations. What’s happening in the Middle East? There are developments around the world that are of real concern, and Republicans and Democrats both love America, but we need to have leadership, leadership in Washington that will actually bring people together, and get the job done, and could not care less if it’s a Republican or a Democrat. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again.

Jim Lehrer: (01:24:22)
Mr. President?

Mitt Romney: (01:24:23)
Well first of all, I think Governor Romney is going to have a busy first day, because he’s also going to repeal Obamacare, which will not be very popular among Democrats, as you’re sitting down with them. But, look, my philosophy has been, I will take ideas from anybody, Democrat or Republican, as long as they’re advancing the cause of making middle-class families stronger, and giving ladders of opportunity to the middle-class. That’s how we cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses. That’s how we cut a trillion dollars of spending that wasn’t advancing that cost. That’s how we signed three trade deals into law, that are helping us to double our exports, and sell more American products around the world. That’s how we repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That’s how we ended the war in Iraq, as I promised, and that’s how we’re going to wind down the war in Afghanistan. That’s how we went after Al Qaeda and bin Laden.

Mitt Romney: (01:25:13)
So we’ve seen progress, even under Republican control of the House of Representatives. But ultimately, part of being principled, part of being a leader, is A, being able to describe exactly what it is that you intend to do, not just saying, ” I’ll sit down”, but you have to have a plan. Number two, what’s important is, occasionally you’ve got to say no, to folks both in your own party and in the other party. And yes, have we had some fights between me and the Republicans, when they fought back against us reigning in the excesses of Wall Street? Absolutely, because that was a fight that needed to be had.

Mitt Romney: (01:25:52)
When we were fighting about whether or not we were going to make sure that Americans had more security with their health insurance, and they said, “no”, yes, that was a fight that we needed to have. And so, part of leadership and governing is both saying what it is that you are for, but also being willing to say no to some things. And I’ve got to tell you, Governor Romney, when it comes to his own party, during the course of this campaign, has not displayed that willingness to say no to some of the more extreme parts of his party.

Jim Lehrer: (01:26:21)
That brings us to closing statements. There was a coin toss. Governor Romney, you won the toss and you elected to go last. So, you have a closing two minutes, Mr. President.

Barack Obama: (01:26:33)
Well Jim, I want to thank you, and I want to thank Governor Romney, because I think this was a terrific debate, and I very much appreciate it. And I want to thank the University of Denver. Four years ago, we were going through a major crisis, and yet my faith and confidence in the American future is undiminished. And the reason is, because of its people, because of the woman I met in North Carolina, who decided at 55 to go back to school, because she wanted to inspire her daughter, and now has a job from that new training that she’s gotten. Because a company in Minnesota, who was willing to give up salaries and perks for their executives, to make sure that they didn’t lay off workers during a recession. The auto workers that you meet in Toledo or Detroit, take such pride in building the best cars in the world, not just because of a paycheck, but because it gives them that sense of pride, that they’re helping to build America.

Barack Obama: (01:27:32)
And so, the question now is, how do we build on those strengths? And everything that I’ve tried to do, and everything that I’m now proposing for the next four years, in terms of improving our education system or developing American energy, or making sure that we’re closing loopholes for companies that are shipping jobs overseas, and focusing on small businesses, companies that are creating jobs here in the United States, or closing our deficit in a responsible, balanced way that allows us to invest in our future. All those things are designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, their grit, their determination, is channeled, and they have an opportunity to succeed, and everybody’s getting a fair shot, and everybody’s getting a fair share, and everybody’s doing a fair share, and everybody’s playing by the same rules.

Barack Obama: (01:28:20)
Four years ago I said that I’m not a perfect man, and I wouldn’t be a perfect president, and that’s probably a promise that Governor Romney thinks I’ve kept. But I also promised that I’d fight every single day, on behalf of the American people, and the middle-class, and all those who are striving to get in the middle class. I’ve kept that promise, and if you’ll vote for me, then I promise I’ll fight just as hard in a second term.

Jim Lehrer: (01:28:44)
Governor Romney, your two minute close.

Barack Obama: (01:28:45)
Thank you Jim, and Mr. President, thank you for tuning in this evening. This is an important election, and I’m concerned about America. I’m concerned about the direction America has been taking over the last four years. I know this is bigger than an election about the two of us as, as individuals. It’s bigger than our respective parties. It’s an election about the course of America. What kind of America do you want to have for yourself, and for your children? And there really are two very different paths that we began speaking about this evening, and over the course of this month, we’re going to have two more presidential debates and a vice presidential debate. We’ll talk about those two paths, but they lead in very different directions, and it’s not just looking to our words that you have to take an evidence of where they go, you can look at the record.

Barack Obama: (01:29:29)
There’s no question in my mind that if the president were to be reelected, you’ll continue to see a middle-class squeeze, with incomes going down and prices going up. I’ll get incomes up again. You’ll see chronic unemployment. We’ve had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8%. If I’m president, I will help create 12 million new jobs in this country, with rising incomes. If the president’s reelected, Obamacare will be fully installed. In my view, that’s going to mean a whole different way of life for people who counted on the insurance plan they had in the past. Many will lose it. You’re going to see health premiums go up by some $2,500 per family. If I’m elected, we won’t have Obamacare. We’ll put in place the kind of principles that I’ve put in place in my own state, and allow each state to craft their own programs to get people insured, and we’ll focus on getting the cost of healthcare down.

Barack Obama: (01:30:19)
If the president were to be reelected, you’re going to see a $716 billion cut to Medicare. You’ll have four million people who will lose Medicare advantage. You’ll have hospitals and providers that will no longer accept Medicare patients. I’ll restore that $716 billion to Medicare. And finally, military. The president’s reelected, you’ll see dramatic cuts to our military. The secretary of defense has said these would be even devastating. I will not cut our commitment to our military. I will keep America strong, and get America’s middle class working again. Thank you, Jim.

Jim Lehrer: (01:30:51)
Thank you, governor. Thank you, Mr. President. The next debate will be the vice presidential event on Thursday, October 11th at Centre college in Danville, Kentucky. For now, from the University of Denver, I’m Jim Lehrer, thank you and good night.

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