Oklahomans say debate discussion too limited
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer & RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Thursday, October 04, 2012
10/04/12 at 8:59 AM
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Oklahomans react to Obama-Romney debate on social media.
Oklahoma experts on a variety of domestic policy issues said Wednesday night's presidential debate offered interesting and useful information, but they lamented that some subjects were not dealt with in more depth - or in some cases at all.
Gerard Clancy, president of the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and a health policy expert, said that while there was a lot of talk about health care, both candidates missed the mark by not discussing ways to drive down costs.
Too much time was spent arguing over insurance policy issues, which left no discussion of how wellness programs, enhanced primary care and chronic disease treatments could slow the rise of medical inflation, Clancy said.
He said he was disappointed with Mitt Romney's references to unelected boards making health-care decisions under the Affordable Care Act.
While the phrase sounded ominous in the debate, the concept is not new or anything to be feared, Clancy said. It is a common practice in contemporary health care and an effective way to control costs, he said.
He faulted President Barack Obama for not acknowledging that changes are needed in the Affordable Care Act. While the law moves the situation forward, Clancy said, it doesn't do enough to ensure the viability of rural hospitals or sufficiently address the way substance-abuse problems are driving up health-care costs.
David Blatt of the Oklahoma Policy Institute said he thought the debate was too "narrow."
"There was no discussion of immigration or social policy," he said. "They kept going back to taxes, Medicare and education - all of which are important."
But "the strangest thing," said Blatt, "is that so much of how we choose a president is based on a skill they don't need after they become president. The one thing you don't do as president is debate. We have a better selection process for deciding who will be Donald Trump's apprentice than we do for president."
Jonathan Small of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs said the debate illustrated that President Obama's "No. 1 driving force and goal is to continue to stoke, encourage and gin up coveting, envy and greed between two groups of people."
Small said Obama's support for a progressive income tax system "is very damaging."
"We don't make the rich pay more for driver's licenses; we don't charge them a higher sales-tax rate; we don't make them pay more for clothes," Small said.
Gov. Mary Fallin said she thinks voters will respond to Romney's "vision for getting this country back to work and back on the right track.
"I am confident that voters will respond positively to Mitt's support of small business, free enterprise and middle-class growth," Fallin said.
On the other hand, Fallin said, Obama failed to make an argument for why he should be re-elected.
"The president's policies have failed, and no amount of rhetorical skill or debate-ready talking points will change that," she said.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, president of Republican Mayors and Local Officials, went to Denver on Tuesday to urge the candidates to use the debate to address local issues, especially infrastructure.
He said he was disappointed that neither candidate spent much time on those issues or on energy.
Roads, bridges and sewers are a "ticking time bomb" waiting to go off in American cities, and the issue desperately needs to be addressed, he said.
"I do think there are two different visions," Blatt said. "A fundamental difference does come down to budget and taxes, where Gov. Romney is claiming he can balance the budget and cut taxes and not cut programs. The president just said if we're going to get the deficit under control we're going to need a combination of spending cuts and taxes and to do otherwise seems fanciful."
Tulsa Metro Chamber President and CEO Mike Neal said he was encouraged by the candidates' interest in and commitment to small business.
"We've seen it time and time again across Tulsa and across the nation: ... Small businesses bolster employment numbers," Neal said. "The candidates' approach to small business success and the nation's economy will have the most immediate impact to communities across the nation, including right here in Tulsa."
Neal said it is urgently important that the next presidency be one of bipartisan cooperation.
"It can no longer be about which party has the most wins in Washington. The focus must be on the future success of our entire nation," he said.
Vice presidential debate, Centre College, Danville, Ky.
Second presidential debate, Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.
Third presidential debate, Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.
Original Print Headline: Oklahomans say discussion too limited
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308 Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365