With three weeks until Election Day and less than a week from their third and final debate, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney went heads up on the financial system and other domestic issues on Tuesday night.
The Town Hall-style debate was held at Hofstra University in New York City with Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent, as the moderator. Over 80 undecided voters were selected to ask the nominees different questions. Jobs, education, tax policy and a host of other issues were among the questions they covered.
The debate started off with the first question from a 20-year-old college student concerned if he would be able to get a job after college.
“I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant and loan program growing,” said Romney. “But the key thing is to make sure you can get a job when you get out of school.”
An Associated Press analysis of government data in April found that 53.6 percent of bachelor’s degree-holders (1.5 million) are jobless or underemployed.
Obama said that in the last four years he has created a number of jobs for students and the unemployed, and he wants to continue to grow more jobs if re-elected.
“And what I want to do is build on the 5 million jobs that we’ve created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone,” Obama said. “And there are a bunch of things we can do to make sure your future is bright.”
Timothy C. Hernandez, a senior political science major at Grambling state University, feels that Obama’s plan will grant Americans an education and a fair chance to get a job after college.
“I believe that the president understands the value of education, but more importantly, he wants to provide everyone with an equal opportunity,” Hernandez said.
Romney stated that his economic plan would create 12 million jobs in four years and would get jobs for the unemployed.
“We have not made the progress we need to make to put people back to work,” he said. “That’s why I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years and rising take-home pay.”
“Governor Romney says he’s got a five-point plan; he doesn’t have a five-point plan,” the president fired back. “He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”
GSU sociology major and registered Republican Quantreus Hayes questioned the president’s tax plan and efforts on spending. “Obama says he wants to raise taxes on the rich, but what’s the point of raising taxes on the wealthy if you aren’t going to cut spending?” Hayes asked.
“He says he wants to cut spending, but for two years he and the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate and spent trillions of dollars and the economy didn’t recover.”
Obama criticized Romney on the lack of details in his tax plan.
“When he’s asked how he’s going to do it – which deductions, which loopholes – he can’t tell you,” said the president.
Romney did give details on his tax plan, saying he will cut taxes for the middle class by 20 percent and cut rates by eliminating special breaks and deductions.
“I’m going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but I’m going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end,” said Romney.
The two nominees reached an intense point in the debate during the discussion on fossil-fuel production and gasoline prices, both agreeing that there has been a drastic change in the price of gas in the last four years.
They sparred over whether President Obama’s policies have increased domestic-energy production or slowed it down.
Romney pointed out that prices at the pump in Nassau County, where the debate was being held, were $1.86 a gallon when Obama took office.
“Prices are at $4 a gallon right now,” he said. “Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades.
“We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment,” the president countered. “We doubled fuel-efficiency standards on cars, meaning that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you’re going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas.”