After last night's debate performance, did any substantive policy solutions get through? Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network students didn't hear a lot to go on.
Lydia Austin, Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Economic Development and Chapter Head at the University of Michigan:
It's unfortunate that political debates are primarily judged on the candidate's personalities, and not their policies. Much of the consensus regarding "who won" is based on who was perceived to be in charge, who didn't get rattled, and who made it through the night without a bemused look upon his face. President Obama won the personality debate, but what about the actual policy proposals? Some of the most outstanding moments from the policy debate came from Mitt Romney: he championed flexibility for working women in a way that indicated how much he truly valued their presence in the workplace, and he put forth an interesting capital gains tax proposal. As part of Governor Romney's tax proposal, he would eliminate capital gains taxes for individuals making under $200,000 a year. The implications of this proposal are interesting: while it would encourage people to invest in savings, it would also benefit those individuals who already earn much of their income from investments (up to a certain point). Democratization of capital holdings is essential for a thriving middle class, and while both candidates implicitly addressed this in the debate, Romney's tax plan was what caught my attention.
Jessie Molloy, Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network member at DePaul University:
The selected voters had some interesting and insightful questions, but neither Governor Romney nor President Obama seemed particularly inclined to answer them. Instead, both candidates fell back into familiar side-step routines and parroted over and over again the same answers and points they have given a dozen times before at the conventions, at rallies, and at the first debate.
One particularly good example of this indirect approach to answers was on the issue of inequality in women’s pay. Obama talked about his mother “hitting the glass ceiling” and then spun the question into a tangent about education and creating opportunities for America’s youth. Romney discussed his experience as governor when he reportedly saw too many male cabinet candidates and sent out his staff to find “binders of women.” In the eight minutes or so the topic was on the table, neither candidate actually acknowledged how he would ensure women would be paid the same as their male counterparts.