In principle the presidential debates seem like a big waste of energy. In the past they’ve simply been platforms for each side’s buzzwords and catch phrases and nothing like a real moderated debate. But last night seemed to signify something important. It’s pretty clear that Romney won but what did it cost him?
On issues from taxes to Medicare to financial regulations, the former Massachusetts governor steered a more moderate course than he did while wooing conservatives during the Republican primaries this year, even embracing parts of Obama’s record that have been targets for conservative Republicans.
At one point, Romney suggested that he would not change the amount of taxes paid for by high-income Americans. That contrasts with the plan Romney has touted for months - which would cut all Americans’ tax rates by 20 percent - and is more in line with Obama’s plan to give tax cuts only to those with annual incomes of less than $250,000.
Romney also stepped onto more moderate ground after Obama questioned why big, highly profitable oil companies should get massive tax breaks. Romney said he would consider cutting tax subsidies for oil companies.
He cast himself as a defender of Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, by saying he would restore $716 billion in spending to it - a move that analysts say would require dramatic cuts to other federal programs.
Romney - a wealthy former private equity executive who has touted his record in business - also said he liked parts of the Dodd-Frank bill, a 2010 law that increases the government’s oversight of the U.S. financial sector, and which Romney has vowed to repeal.
He is trying to win by shaking off his image as a rich evil plutocrat. Ladies and gentlemen after more than a decade of right-wing dominated politics I believe the Overton Window has finally begun shifting back to the middle.