"It's arithmetic," President Barack Obama said Wednesday night in response to Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney in the first of three presidential debates this month.
Maybe the president didn't provide a complete mathematical equation in the back-and-forth, but the candidates weren't lacking in numbers. Both cited figures left and right, many of which affect your pocketbook, in an attempt to woo voters.
Americans will vote for the pocketbooks this November, a survey by Bankrate found in June. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans reported their personal finances will be either the "single most important factor" or "one of several important factors" in their choice of who to vote for.
Let's break down some of the numbers that may affect you.
First up, jobs. Unable to shy away from the sluggish economy, Obama opened with how 5 million private-sector jobs have been created under his administration, including those saved by the auto industry bailout. Later, Romney hammered back, saying 23 million people are out of work or looking for work under the president's watch, and middle-class incomes have fallen by $4,300. The GOP hopeful also estimated that nearly 4 million jobs would be created under his plan to make the country energy-independent. Oddly absent? The 8.1 percent unemployment rate that Obama has yet to tame.
Next? Taxes, the biggest bugaboo of the evening. Obama said Romney's tax cut plan would cost $5 trillion. But Romney vehemently denied it.
"I'm not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. That's not my plan," Romney said. "My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit."
Romney supports extending the Bush-era tax cuts for higher-income Americans, along with repealing the alternative minimum tax and estate tax, which would cost $4.8 trillion over 10 years, according to the Tax Policy Center.
Of course, the tax cuts on higher-income Americans are the same that the president extended during his term. However, Obama wants to roll back these tax cuts for more affluent citizens as part of his plan to bring down the national deficit. Obama says for every $2.50 he cuts in government spending, he's looking for $1 in extra revenue from Americans who make more than $250,000 a year. He reiterated that his tax plan doesn't raise taxes on middle-class Americans, and that, in fact, he has already cut taxes by $3,600 for the typical middle-class family. Obama countered that Romney would have to get rid of tax deductions and credits that help the middle class under his deficit reduction plan. That means, "the average middle-class family with children would pay about $2,000 more," said Obama.
Last up: health care. Romney went after the president for cutting $716 billion from Medicare, noting that current seniors who rely on the program get "$1 for every $15 (Obama cuts) from Medicare." Romney then attacked Obama's health care reform, referred to as "Obamacare" by Republicans ("I like it," Obama said about the act's nickname). Romney said the president's health care plan raised premiums by $2,500 on average.
Obama came back and said that insurance premiums increased at the slowest rate in the last 50 years under his plan. He also said uninsured Americans were offered a group plan with premiums that were 18 percent lower than what they could get on their own.
To conclude, Romney wore a red tie with a bigger American flag pin than the president's. Obama sported a blue tie and wished his wife Michelle a happy anniversary.
Bankrate's experts are busy parsing through the transcript to pin down the details. In the meantime, who do you think won this round?
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