U.S. President Barack Obama says America does best when the middle class does best.
Obama opened the 2012 presidential campaign’s first debate with Republican rival Mitt Romney by saying the battered U.S. economy that he inherited four years ago is fighting its way back. But he said there is a lot more work to do. Obama said investing in education and training and then providing tax cuts is the best path to take.
Wednesday night’s debate at the University of Denver, in the western U.S. state of Colorado, was the first of three scheduled before Election Day. Their face-off focused on the economy, health care and the role of the U.S. government in the daily lives of Americans.
Asked about jobs creation, former Massachusetts governor Romney said the nation must take a different path from the past. He said his plans include increasing energy production, opening up more international trade, creating more job training, balancing the budget and supporting small business development.
President Obama said he wants to lower the corporate tax rate and close loopholes that give incentives to move jobs overseas. He said future energy production must include technology such as wind, solar and biofuels – but that those investments must be made without dumping the cost on middle class Americans.
Romney said middle-income Americans have been “buried” or “crushed” under high taxes. He said tax rates need to come down, both for corporations and individuals.
The president said the “first role” of the federal government is to “keep the people safe.” But he said it also should create frameworks in which people can succeed. As examples, he noted that the government in the past has helped create railroads, research institutions and educational institutions.
Romney said the role of government is to promote and protect the principles of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He said that means maintaining military strength, a commitment to religious tolerance, care for the elderly and disabled, and maintaining the freedom for individuals to pursue their dreams.
The president said in closing that he wants to build on the strengths of his first four years in the White House. He said he will fight just as hard in his second term as he did in the first.
Romney concluded by saying that four more years of Barack Obama would mean more hardship for the middle class. He promised to create millions of new jobs, replace the president’s health care reform program known as Obamacare, and he vowed no cuts in military spending.
The two candidates are to meet again October 16 for a town hall-style debate during which they will take questions from the audience.