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In the aftermath of the first Presidential debate last week, I wrote that it was an unmitigated success for Republican challenger Mitt Romney. While it was clear that it was a thorough tactical defeat that has vaulted Romney in the polls and placed Obama permanently on defense for the remainder of the campaign, there was a notable lack of focus on debt reduction. In fact, Romney doubled down on his dedication to entitlement programs, and failed to specify how tax cuts alone will fix our long term debt nightmare.
Phil Klein writes about this in today’s Washington Examiner:
The other debate losers: Americans who want to tackle the debt
President Obama wasn't the only loser in last week's presidential debate. The others were Americans who want to get the nation's unsustainable debt under control.
For decades, as the nation's debt has exploded, America's fiscal debate has been fought between Democrats who won't admit that their welfare state vision requires massive, across-the-board tax increases and Republicans who have fought to keep tax rates low but are unwilling to seriously rein in the welfare state.
As president, Obama has consistently promised to break this historical cycle by making "tough choices," but in practice, he has consistently avoided them.
…. During last week's debate, Obama boasted, "I've put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan." But the so-called plan doesn't hold up to much scrutiny.
Klein later writes,
In picking Ryan as his running mate, many conservatives hoped it was a signal that Romney wanted to campaign on a bold reformist agenda. But his politically successful debate performance should disabuse everyone of that notion.
Romney portrayed himself as a guardian of Medicare and Social Security. He was indignant that Obama had cut $716 billion from Medicare for his Obamacare program. Whenever Obama charged that his opponent wanted to cut popular programs, Romney backed off -- saying, for instance, he wouldn't want to cut funding for education and that he would find a way to restore more prescription drug funding for seniors when he repeals Obamacare.
This is the Mitt Romney that makes many Conservatives and Tea Party members nervous. This is the guy who will need to be reined in with a Conservative majority in the House and Senate. In fact, this is exactly the plan that’s been laid out by FreedomWorks as the path towards fiscal sanity and the repeal of Obamacare.
Dean Clancy has published FreedomWorks’ Five Point Plan to repeal Obamacare. On the Federal level, he notes that it is imperative that we take the White House and Senate and build on the Conservative majority in the House. Kristina Ribali, Director of New Media at FreedomWorks, has repeatedly spoken of the need to “wall in” a moderate Republican President with Conservative majorities in both houses of Congress and to keep his feet to the fire with constant grassroots pressure, constantly applied.
I eagerly await tonight's Vice Presidential debate, because I have a feeling that Paul Ryan will be able to flesh out a plan. In fact, as Klein points out, that was the reason he was chosen as Romney's running mate, the choice that gave hope to Conservative grassroots activists that Romney was serious about budget reform. (Click here for Dean Clancy's summary of the Ryan Roadmap.)
Make no mistake: Step One in any effort to end the welfare state and reestablish a more Constitutionally grounded government is to fire Barack Obama. The only real chance that exists to accomplish this first, fundamental goal is to elect Mitt Romney, which seems increasingly likely as the debate performances force the scales to drop from the eyes of the American voters. But once that’s accomplished, Step Two MUST be to ensure that President Romney, along with his Republican controlled House and Senate, don’t lose sight of what’s really important. The deficit isn’t going to cut itself. We need leadership that will take the bold steps necessary to reduce and eventually end the American Welfare State that is an abomination of what our Founders intended with our Constitutional Republic.