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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
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First Presidential Debate Shows Policy Differences

President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney faced off in the first of a series of debates.

Overall, the first debate focused on domestic issues and primarily focused on both candidates’ views on the economy, but also covered healthcare, social security, education, the role of the federal government and gridlock.

In terms of policy both candidates had greatly differing opinions, which comes as no surprise to those following the campaign trail.

Romney said he would slash taxes across the board to stimulate the economy, pledging to create 12 million new jobs if elected.

With regards to taxes, Obama cited evidence from Clinton’s term that his plan to raise taxes for the wealthy and simultaneously give tax breaks to the middle class would lead to a boost to the economy.

"Math, common sense and history shows this plan is not good for job growth,” Obama said. 

Obama added corporate taxes need to be changed as well. He argued against giving tax breaks to companies who send jobs overseas and giving tax breaks to people who own private jets.

He said without revenue, tax cuts would not help us grow.

“I’ve been in business for 25 years and I have no clue what you’re talking about,” Romney said in response to Obama’s arguments.

The former governor of Massachusetts pointed out Obama’s record over the past four years, saying the president has led the country down a dangerous path of overspending and lack of job growth. 

According to Romney, Obama invested $90 billion in green companies, which he says could have instead hired 2 million new teachers.

Though mostly reserved throughout the night, the president did question Romney particularly on his proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” saying the alternate plan fails to include concrete details.

Another point of attack for Obama was Romney’s proposed tax cuts, which he said would cost nearly $5 trillion in the long-term.

Romney fought back, claiming he never said he would make a $5 trillion cut.

Obama attacked Romney and Ryan’s plan to cut education funding by 20 percent without any detailed plan. Romney countered this by saying the state of Massachusetts’ school system is ranked first in the nation.

Obama and Romney both agreed collaboration is important moving forward, but Obama added that a leader must occasionally say no to both their own party and the opposing party-- something which he said Romney has failed to do.

The next debate for the upcoming election will be the vice presidential debate, which will take place Thursday, Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, KY.

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