Women Are the Key to the Presidential Debate and Election
Well before the vice-presidential debate began, even the president had agreed that he had failed to expose Mitt Romney’s lies and had allowed his opponent to present himself as a supporter of universal health insurance, Social Security and Medicare, none of which is true.
Equally important, in my view, is that Obama failed to mention some of his major accomplishments, many of which affected women. Obama began the first debate with an 18% lead among women voters. As Joe Biden steps into the ring, Obama has lost most of that advantage. The greatest shift occurred in the Pew’s national poll which now shows Romney and Obama polling equally among women. According to this respectable poll, Romney had moved from an 8-point deficit among all respondents to a 4-point lead.
Is this the result of forgetting to even mention women in the first debate?
In this second debate, Joe Biden needed to attack Romney and Ryan’s lies by forcefully demonstrating, in his avuncular jovial manner, how Medicare vouchers, cuts in Medicaid, and privatizing Social Security would hurt America's women and their children. He needed to hold up Paul Ryan’s infamous budget and look directly into the camera and speak to the women Obama lost last week. Point by point, he needed to remind American women that Obama-- not Romney--created Obamacare, supported the right of women to make their own reproductive choices, promoted and signed legislation that provides equality between men and women at the work place, supported the children of immigrants, and sought fairer loans to college students. Biden did a terrific job of pointing out how Romney’s policies would harm people, but not women and children.
Holding up Paul Ryan’s budget, Biden needed to say it loud and clear—that the Romney team will cuts benefits for the poor, even as they provide corporate welfare and cut the taxes of the wealthy. This he did, again and again.
This was the moment to call every misleading statement what it really is: a lie. Biden called it “malarkey” and made it clear that the Romney/Ryan campaign had rarely told the truth.
Ironically Congressman Paul Ryan had been dragging down the Republican candidacy precisely because he was viewed as too conservative. Presidential candidates usually choose someone who will, by virtue of geography, ethnicity, or popularity, ensure the campaign’s success. In 2008 and 2012, however, the Republican candidates, worried that the hard right-wing of the Tea Party and their followers would refuse to vote for a moderate Republican. So, they gave them Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan.
Big mistake. Sarah Palin appeared ridiculous and inexperienced. Paul Ryan, for his part, wrote a budget proposal to compete with the President’s budget plan. He therefore had a paper record of wanting to privatize Medicare and Social Security, both of which are vital to the elderly. He also had a written plan to turn both the food stamp program and Medicaid-- medical insurance for the poor-- into block state grant programs, which would create even deeper spending cuts over 10 years.
Ryan is also on record of wanting to cut taxes for the wealthy or, as he calls them, “the job creators.” He would reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent and release offshore profits from U.S. taxes. To make up the difference, he would reduce taxes on the wealthy and cut the above social programs. Since Mitt Romney “earns” millions of dollars from his investments, pays less taxes than most blue-collar workers and enjoys the pleasures of multiple homes, he, too, has seemed out of touch with most of the population that is plagued by fears of bankruptcy, layoffs, and educating their children.