I suffered through some of what people call a debate. It is only somewhat of a debate because a lot of the lines are rehearsed. In addition, it is hard for two people to debate when their positions are so similar. It seemed like they were struggling half the time just to distinguish themselves from each other.
Of course, the one issue that Obama is most vulnerable on is Obamacare. Yet, Romney can say "repeal and replace" all he wants, but he has no credibility on the issue. There are two people in the history of America to have signed legislation into law mandating that individuals buy health insurance or else face a strong penalty. It just so happens that those two individuals are the two main candidates for president this year.
I was happy to see Obama embrace the term Obamacare. My leftist friends hate it when I and others refer to it as Obamacare. But now I feel fully justified in using the term, since Obama himself is willing to accept it.
While Romney may have come out as a winner to the pundits and the so-called swing voters, it was no win for libertarians. He assured people that he was not going to cut taxes without also eliminating deductions (raising taxes). He assured people that he would not cut taxes for the rich. He assured people that he did not have a tax cut plan for $5 trillion. (I'm guessing that $5 trillion that Obama kept talking about was over a 10 year period.)
When Romney was asked about tackling the deficit problem, Romney said, "I will eliminate all programs by this test, if they don't pass it: Is the program so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I'll get rid of it. Obamacare's on my list."
So Romney's test is if the program is so critical that it's worth borrowing money from China. There is absolutely no mention of the Constitution here. So it's not whether it is actually constitutional, it is just whether it is worth borrowing money from China.
So with that question, Romney could only come up with two specifics: Obamacare and PBS. The rest of his suggestions were all generalities that could have been said by anyone. Every presidential election, we hear the candidates talk about making government more efficient, blah, blah, blah.
By the way, PBS does receive some government funding and he is right to say that it should be eliminated. But in the big picture, it is like taking a drop from a swimming pool. It is a tiny fraction of a percent of the total federal budget. Notice he didn't talk about getting rid of the Department of Education or any other departments. Obamacare is all he can come up with and even that he wants to replace it with something else, perhaps Romneycare.
One of the noteworthy things about this debate to libertarians is the things that weren't said. The word "Constitution" was said only once in the entire debate (including the moderator). Romney mentioned it once. I guess they don't even try to pay lip service to it anymore.
Doing a search of the transcript, there was no mention of the Federal Reserve by anyone. It is amazing what happens when Ron Paul is missing from a debate. This is one of the most significant topics and the entity that has a much greater control over the economy than the president does. Yet it wasn't mentioned once.
For all of the rambling of Obama and the Democrats about how they want to help the poor and "invest" in things like education (yada, yada, yada), you would think they could mention the Fed at least once. When the Fed creates money out of thin air and prices go up at the gas pump and the grocery store, who do you think that hurts the most? The Fed is there to help the big banks and to fund the government's deficits. Meanwhile, it disproportionately hurts the lower and middle classes.
Perhaps this debate could shift things enough to make things interesting on the day of the election. But no matter who wins, it probably won't matter much. Both candidates are central planners and want to continue to run the lives of other people. They both want to rule. There is no real choice between these two candidates.