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Banbury Cross

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Post details: Legally Bland

Legally Bland

Rejoice! The United States of America are united again.

We may have had our differences about the nature of wealth redistribution in the past. We may have quarreled about the implementation of health care. We may have exchanged a few barbs here and there. But the first presidential debate blew the walls that separated us to smithereens and we all see eye to eye again. A conservative standing next to a liberal - America is one in its assessment: Barack Obama's performance was disastrous. Legally bland at best. A declawed tiger dozing off after having one too many water buffalos.

And it's not like Romney beat him to a pulp. In fact Obama could have easily derail many of his opponent's poorly worded diatribes, but for some reason he didn't. I don't know what his advisers were thinking, but I sure hope that his prep team will point out to him some obvious fault lines in Romney's offence. I could spot at least three.

1. (on economy) After several decades of unsustainable credit expansion, our economy has reached the turning point and the subsequent de-leveraging will take more than just a few years, so Romney's comments about the slow pace of recovery were uninformed at best. This was not your usual recession. Just look at the central bank's balance sheet (which massively increased since 2008, while during previous recessions it barely registered a blip). Obama should actually show that chart to the American public during the debates. That is what it took to avert systemic collapse. Even when viewed from afar, it is an eye opener.

2. (on national debt) Our path to unsustainable debt started with Romney's ideological predecessor, one George W Bush, who went to two wars while simultaneously cutting taxes (mostly for the wealthy). Surely Republicans must understand that if you want certain services (such as a bloated military adventure), you have to pay for them. And Obama should also mention that we are still bailing out our banks through the zero interest rate policy. That component of our deficit stems directly from the misguided attempts to create an "ownership society" - whatever that was supposed to mean.

3. (on employment) New jobs are produced when there is increased demand for goods, which can come only from a strong middle class. If there is no organic demand, then no matter how much you cut taxes for the CEOs, there simply won't be any need to expand production and create new jobs.

The President should make these three points clearly, without drowning them in technicalities, and forcefully, preferably looking at something else than his shoes. If he can't convey their gist to the undecided part of the electorate, I am afraid he'll be toast come early November.

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