Jewish World Review March 19 , 2012/ 25 Adar, 5772
Autumn presidential debate topics lining up nicely
By Ann McFeatters
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Finally, the end game is almost in sight. (Not talking about the Final Four.)
The topics the two major presidential candidates will be debating this autumn are lining up nicely, promising an informative and fascinating process.
Consider high gas prices. President Barack Obama now has his talking points in order most of the time. He makes the case that since he became president the country is doing more drilling for oil and gas onshore and offshore. He notes the country is importing less oil and becoming more fuel-efficient.
Occasionally, Obama messes up and says that when 55-mpg vehicles are mandated in a few years, the average family will save $8,000 a year (he means it will save that over the life of the vehicle). He also forgets to mention that such an impressive mpg will cost at least $3,000 more per car.
But overall, Obama makes a compelling argument that drilling alone won't reduce the price of gas (it takes a decade before drilling affects pump prices, if ever) and that there are far more drilling rigs operating in the United States than there were when he took office. His insistence that we have to develop solar, biofuels, wind and other alternatives to fossil fuel makes sense, as is his demand that America be more innovative to be energy independent.
Obama's bottom line is that there is no quick fix because America consumes 20 percent of the world's oil output but has only 2 percent of world oil reserves.
So, what are Mitt Romney's talking points about high gas prices as they soar past $4.28 a gallon? Wisely-- unlike the bombastic Newt Gingrich who blithely and without merit says he could guarantee $2.50-a-gallon gas-- Romney does not promise a specific cap. "No one can guarantee what the price of oil's going to be," Romney concedes.
Nonetheless, despite the reality of tight global oil markets, Romney blames Obama for high gas prices. That is campaign meat thrown to partisan audiences. As for policy, Romney wants to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, continue $4 billion in annual subsidies to the oil industry despite its large profits and immediately approve a pipeline extension from Canada to Texas. The White House insists more research is necessary to ensure such an extension is safe. Romney also would not mandate higher gas mileage standards for vehicles.
This stacks up to be an interesting debate, with strikingly different options.
Consider Afghanistan. In addition to the dreary war for GOP delegates, the United States is involved in a real war in which Americans are being killed and maimed. Obama, who authorized a surge in troops even as he was ending the conflict in Iraq, says the United States will pull out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Romney says Obama is wrong to set timetables for withdrawal. He seeks continuing reevaluation of the war but says we must see it through. Because nobody has ever successfully governed Afghanistan and invading foreign powers have routinely been brought to their knees, it is not clear how America will get out or how we'll know who "won."
The Obama administration put an end to Osama bin Laden, but Romney says Obama's foreign policy displays weakness. Romney wants to threaten all-out war against Iran to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons. Obama prefers diplomacy but does not rule out military action.
Romney insists Obama's policies have stretched the military to the breaking point. The Romney campaign argues that even though Congress signed off on cutting defense, the country needs 100,000 more troops and six more costly ships, possibly at the expense of Social Security benefits.
The soul-wearying GOP nomination process will grind to a halt in a few months with Romney eking out the bare minimum of delegates. Then we'll see the real Romney emerge, and we'll start deciding whose vision will best move the country forward.
Let the final debates begin. Please.
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