Debate 3: Transcript

This is my amusingly (or maybe not-so-amusingly) biased transcript. Most of the things in quotes are direct quotes, but I have a very bad audio memory and was sometimes behind, so there are occasional inaccuracies. It's exactly 4,000 words, by the way.

“New material”? We’ll find out.

Your bailout plans

McCain: Americans are hurting, angry, “new direction” for the country. Short term & long term fixes. Catalyst for housing crisis: subprime lending à collapse of housing market. Reverse continued decline in home ownership w/350 billion dollars to buy mortgages so that people can afford mortgage

Obama: shorter opening. Financial rescue plan is a “first step.” Prevent CEO enrichment… “take some time to work itself out”, whoa. Four specific things: jobs—end tax breaks for jobs being shipped overseas & credit for job creation in America. Help families right away w/middle class tax cut. Access IRA account without penalty if needed. Renegotiate mortgages—but avoid giveaway to banks (criticism of McCain plan). Long-term challenges: energy policy, healthcare, education. (How is that relevant?)

McCain: Obama was out in Ohio & met a plumber named Joe. Based on Obama’s tax plan, “Joe” would end up with increased taxes & damage small business. Realizing the American Dream (can you see the stars?). McCain will keep taxes low and provide “available and affordable healthcare.” Ok, he just got a bit confusing—50% of small businesses are…what?

Obama: “He’s been watching some ads of Senator McCain.” Sen. McCain’s tax breaks are helping oil companies, etc. Tax cut for 95% of working Americans…again, the quarter million dollar thing. TAX CUT. Independent studies: Obama provides 3 times the tax relief. With Joe the plumber: 5 years ago, you needed a tax cut…now: a tax break for all the people looking to buy business. 98% of small businesses make less than $250k and will be getting additional cuts.

McCain: Joe, again. “We need to spread the wealth around” interpreted as “Joe the plumber’s money will go to Senator Obama who will spread the wealth around…I want Joe to spread the wealth around.” Accusation of tax warfare. Directly talking to Obama. Joe the plumber, again.

Obama: Again, tax cuts for 95%. People like Warren Buffet can pay more—McCain cuts in, “We’re talking about Joe the plumber”—Obama: we should give Joe tax cuts before he was making a quarter million. Again, Exxon-Mobil. “Nobody likes taxes.” “We’ve got to pay for the core investments that make this economy strong.”

McCain: “Businesses in America pay the second-highest tax rate in the world.” Cut the business tax rate; cut people’s taxes. Strongly anti-tax.

A trillion-dollar deficit. Proposals will add $200 billion to deficit, both sides. Cutbacks?

Obama: the rescue package, if structured properly, will return money to taxpayers. “We’ve been living beyond our means and we will have to make some adjustments.” ---AAARGH DELAY--- Different ideas on what we should invest in—Obama’s priority: healthcare to save on Medicare & Medicaid in the future; energy policy to prevent dependence; education w/college driving the economy more. We have to deal with our ‘profligate’ ways

McCain: during the Depression, mortgages were bought up & value went up, money was made. Proposal made by Sen. Clinton. (Asked to answer the question.) Nuclear power, etc. including offshore drilling to cut oil. Millions of jobs created. Across-the-board spending freeze—“some people say that’s a hatchet, that’s a hatchet and then I would get out a scalpel.” “We have presided over the largest increase in government spending since the Great Society” (does he mean Depression?) No specifics about what spending opposed until asked. Anti-ethanol subsidies, “saved the taxpayers 6 billion dollars by fighting a ‘sweetheart’ deal.” “Veto every earmarked pork-barrel bill.” Obama’s spending requests including a 3 billion projector for (Adler?) planetarium

Obama: “ Some programs don’t work at all, some programs are underfunded.” That’s why we need a scalpel, not a hatchet. “Earmarks account for 0.5% of the government budget.” Problems not solved by cutting them. A little bit of history: We had a budget surplus and $5 trillion debt in 2000, now: deficit of over half a trillion & double the debt. Policies of past eight years cannot be followed. Sen McCain voted for 4/5 of Bush’s budgets.

McCain: “Senator Obama, I am not President Bush…. I’m going to give a new direction to this economy and this country.” “We can take a hatchet and a scalpel to this budget.” Example: Mayor Bloomberg. Says that he can balance the budget—but how? He talks about eliminating spending. No mention of what it was on. “Let’s look at our records”—claims that Obama approved more special interests—oil in particular. To Obama: “When did you stand up to the leaders of your party?”

Obama: First major bill supported: tort reform. Charter schools, teacher reform, clean coal. “Doesn’t make me popular with trial lawyers, teachers, environmentalists.” Used the phrase “reaching across the aisle.” “Even Fox News disputes McCain’s claim of 42 billion saved, and Fox News never…” “You have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush. You have shown independence—a commendable independence—for key issues like torture, but your economic policy is the same.”

McCain: (overriding moderator) “I’ve got the scars to prove it”—long long list of what he’s fought for. “I have a long record of reform and fighting”—“Senator Obama your argument isn’t very convincing”

Leadership. Taking the high road against mudslinging hasn’t happened. (Obama: one of ‘those looks’ of K, McCain not shown). Take responsibility

McCain: “It’s been a very tough campaign”—if Sen. Obama had responded to town hall meetings, we could have had “at least ten”, went back on the pledge “any place, any time”. “The tone of this campaign has gotten very tough.” Many unacceptable turns—Congressman John Lewis “an American hero,” accusation very negative, “so hurtful”. Why didn’t Obama repudiate this remark, McCain “has consistently repudiated”. Talks about running a truthful campaign. “Obama has spent more money on negative ads than any other campaign in history—and I can prove it.” Obama’s abandonment of public spending how is that a bad thing considering the taxpayer dollars being funneled into McCain ads? Watergate….

Obama: If you look at the record—2/3 American think that Sen McCain’s campaign is more negative. “A hundred percent of your ads have been negative—it absolutely is true.” “I think the American people are less interested in our hurt feelings than policy, etc.” “That’s the stuff that campaigns should be made of.” Lack of town-hall style does not justify negative ads (527s mentioned—MoveOn?) “I don’t mind being attacked for the next three weeks. What the American people can’t afford, though, is another four years of failed economic policies.” (AGAIN: McCain will only serve for four years!) “We need to change the subject, and I would love to see the next three weeks devoted to [main topics]” Economy, healthcare, education. “Politics as usual is not solving the big problems in America.”

McCain: first, Arizona defeated Dallas…baseball…okkkay. “You’re running ads that misportray completely my position on immigration” also stem cells. “Unprecedented” amounts spent on negative ads “on me”. Of course I’ve talked about the economy, to people like Joe the Plumber” (seriously, is this guy like Mickey Mouse?).

Obama: Congressman Lewis’ statement was unprompted—“he was troubled by your running mate’s rallies”—things like ‘terrorist’ and ‘kill him’ being shouted without Palin saying anything. “We’ve gotta be careful how we deal with our supporters.” Lewis’ comparison was inappropriate, and a statement was immediately put out; Lewis’ statement probably agreed. “The American people have become cynical about our politics because all they see is a tit for tat. All they want is the ability to focus on some really big challenges.” We have a difference on healthcare—we’re not talking about issues when I’m accused of hanging around with terrorists.

McCain: is “proud of the people who come to our rallies.” Military veterans and wives—should not be called anything but the “most dedicated, patriotic.” “There’s a lotta things that have been yelled at your rallies” (yeah, terrorism is really on the same level as…what? McCain names no specific phrases)

Obama: “What I think is most important” to solve all the key problems—war, economy—Democrats, Independents, and Republicans “have to be able to work together”. We need to “disagree without being disagreeable…. Tough, vigorous debates…cannot characterize each other as bad people…”

McCain: “We need to know the full extent of that relationship” with Obama’s shadier friends—“all of these things need to be examined”

Obama: Response to two specific allegations: “Mr Ayers has become the centerpiece of Sen. McCain’s campaign.” Ayers—40 years ago, when Obama was eight, was involved in things that Obama “roundly condemned”—10 years ago, served together on a school board involving significant Republicans. “Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign…and he will not advise me in the White House.” Acorn: paying people to go out, register votes—“some of the people who were out there didn’t really register”—“the only involvement I’ve had…is representing them to help implement a motor voter law” ---AAAAARGH my FUCKING INTERNET---

McCain: “I’m not going to raise taxes like Obama’s going to raise taxes, and this is what my campaign’s really about”

Your running mates

Obama: Biden “one of the finest public service”, “best foreign policy” acknowledged by Democrats and Republicans. “Never forgot where he came from.” Scranton mentioned. “Consistent pattern” to “fight for the little guy”—economic policies for working families, passing 1994 crime bill, Violence Against Women Act. Shared core values & “sense of where the country needs to go.” “After 8 years of failed policies, what we’re going to have to do is reprioritize.” Tax cuts to small businesses & struggling individuals, not wealthy corporations. “Finally get serious about energy independence…languishing in Washington for 30 years.”

McCain: Palin is a “role model to women and reformers everywhere” (gee, thanks.) Saw corruption, resigned. Gave money back to taxpayers & cut size of government, negotiated with oil companies to relieve “what they call the lower 48” “Breath of fresh air” to “sweep out” cronyism, etc. “that I’ve fought for 40 years”. “She understands special needs families…as they raise these very special needs children” (Yeah, just the way she ‘understands’ parents of pregnant teens.

Obama: on Palin—“That’s going to be up to the American people—she’s a capabable…has excited the Republican party…commendable for special needs—I just want to point out that autism or other special needs will require additional funding if we’re going to get serious in terms of research and if we have an across-the-board spending freeze” that won’t happen

McCain: on Biden—bad policies in Middle East, especially concerning wars… “had this cockamania (??) idea to split Iraq into three countries” (which would eliminate certain problems). “Why do we always need to spend more? Why can’t we have transparency…Obama sought & proposed $80 billion of new spending.” I love how fast he finished dissing on Biden.

Energy & climate change (corrected by McCain). Every president since Nixon has been anti-foreign dependence, but it’s gone from 17% to more than 60%…specificsplz?

McCain: eliminate dependence on Venezuelan and Middle Eastern oil, Canadian is fine. Obama claimed he would ‘unilaterally’ renegotiate NATO, threat from Canada to sell to China instead. Association of Obama with “extreme environmentalists”. Every kind of alternate energy listed, but nuclear first—“I think we can easily, with 7, 8, 10 years, if we put our minds to it, we can eliminate our dependence from the places that threaten our national security”

Obama: in 10 years, reduce dependence to avoid Venezuela & Middle East oil. “Nothing’s more important than us no longer borrowing…from China and sending it to Saudi Arabia. It’s mortaging our children’s future.” Expand domestic production—oil companies have to use their 68 million unused leased areas…offshore drilling: we only have 3-4% oil, “we can’t drill our way out of the problem.” “Solar, biodiesel, geothermal”—technologies that don’t depend solely on the weather named. “We invented the auto industry, the fact that we have fallen so far behind….” “I believe in free trade. But I also believe that, for far too long…[McCain & Bush coupled]…any trade agreement [has been] a good trade agreement.” Stop allowing China to manipulate so that imports are cheaper & exports are more expensive. South Korea: we only give 4-5k cars, important tens of thousands. “That’s not free trade.” “I don’t apologize.”

McCain: Obama’s use of words—“we will look at offshore drilling” (by the way, that sounds like a relief) “I am a free trader.” A free trade agreement opposed by Obama: the goods we send to Colombia (largest source of agriculture) we have to pay for, Colombia doesn’t have to pay. “Senator Obama, who has never traveled south of our country…” “The country that just freed three Americans. The country that will be a market [help create jobs in America]” “Free trade with Colombia is a no-brainer, but maybe you oughta travel down there”

Obama: “I understand it pretty well.” The labor situation in Colombia (seriously. Amnesty be unhappy about them.) “We have to stand for human rights and we have to make sure that violence isn’t being perpetrated against laborers just trying to organize for their rights”—supported the Peruvian free trade agreement. Last point about the automakers: “they are having a tough time because of gas prices…financial crisis…car loans.” Loan guarantees to the automakers, but “we have to hold them responsible as well” for “producing the…efficient cars of the future.” Detroit has been “dragging its feet.” Create 5 million jobs, including “in the heartland”. Wind turbines, solar panels—clean technology.

McCain: “Senator Obama doesn’t want a free trade with our best ally in the region, he wants” to “sit down without precondition” with Chavez. “I just recited to you the benefits” of the Colombian—actually he didn’t, but now he’s mentioning a billion dollars returned, allegedly for jobs. Comparison to Herbert Hoover.


Obama: we have to control healthcare costs & expand coverage. “This is the issue that will break your heart over and over again.” Shaking hands—two women, in their 50s, just laid off had no healthcare—“they were desperate”. “If you have health insurance, then you don’t have to do anything.” “The only thing we’re going to try to do is lower costs so that those cost savings are passed on to you.” Average family’s premium cut by $25 (??) a year. Option to buy into federal pool “which both Sen. McCain and I enjoy as federal employees”. Prevent discrimination b/c of preexisting conditions, work with drug companies to lower costs, IT, manage chronic illnesses that are preventable like diabetes, heart disease. “Over the long term, this is the only way…to save the federal budget.”

McCain: ‘Terribly painful’ situation, 47 mil Americans w/o healthcare & rising cost. “I am convinced we need to do a whole lot of things”—online info like with the VA, community, etc. Physical fitness programs and nutrition programs in schools b/c of rising obesity (has he been to a school lately…?). Get the “healthcare that you wish.” To Joe the plumber: w/the capital gains increase that Obama wants (sorta muttered), you ‘will be fined’ for not adopting Obama’s plan. “I don’t think that Joe [and his children] wants a fine when he’s seeing such difficult times in the economy.”

Obama: “I just described what my plan is.” To Joe “if you’re out there”: “Here’s your fine: ZERO.” (with hands) “I exempt small businesses” but not large businesses that can afford it—“either they provide it to their employees or someone else has to.” “The average family is paying an additional $900 in premiums a year because of the uninsured.” 50% credit for “Joe”. Sen McCain’s plan: $5000 tax credit “sounds pretty good”, but for about 20 million people, “you may no longer find yourself with health insurance”—the young & the healthy will take it; you older folks: “your employers won’t be able to afford it”. Sen McCain will be taxing healthcare benefits “for the first time in history.” By the way, the average plan “costs around $12k”. The main restrictions on insurers is currently state law; under McCain, you’d see much more “cherry-picking” and exclusion.

McCain: “Hey, Joe, you’re rich, congratulations.” Joe wanted to buy the business he’s been working for ’10, 12 hrs a day”. Repeat of first phrase—“you will fall into the category where you will have to pay a fine” to use the kind that “Sen Obama mandates”. 95% of the people in America will “receive more money under my plan”—um, what. People will be taxed, but somehow $5000 will solve it…. “The average cost of the American plan is fifty eight hundred dollars, I will give you five thousand [‼‼‼!]”…”Sen Government—oops, Obama—wants government to do the job.” Keeps talking about too much government, too much spending—people should be self-determined. “We can’t afford that in the next eight years.”

Obama: “Y’all just heard my plan.” If you have healthcare, you keep it…McCain’s plan: “having your employer no longer provide your healthcare”; U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that “this plan could lead to the unraveling” of the current employer system.

Roe v. Wade; could you nominate someone who disagrees?

McCain: No “litmus tests”…”I thought it was a bad decision” “the decision should rest in the hands of the States” “I’m a Federalist” (uh, has he read the papers…? It’s the exact opposite.) Obama chose not to join a panel of 14, half Dems half Republicans, because he was “afraid” of nominating a conservative judge. Obama voted against Prior & Roberts for ideological reasons. “A history of strict adherence to the Constitution” “I would consider anyone and their qualifications; I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade would not be part of those qualifications” (? I think I know what he means, though)

Obama: “Fairness and justice” for the American people; no litmus test. “I am somebody who believes that Roe v Wade was rightly decided; I think that abortion is a very difficult issue, that it is a moral issue” and that both sides can disagree. Women should have the right to decide—the Constitution has a “right to privacy” in it, no subjection to state referendum. (interesting: a focus on abortion). “I will look for those judges who have an outstanding record…and who hopefully understand what real-world folks are going through.” A woman named – and pay discrimination: when she brought a suit, “the judges said, well, it’s taken you too long…even though she didn’t know about it until fairly recently.” Obama supported her; McCain opposed. Obama: direct appeal to women: “if being treated unfairly, the court has to support her if no one else will.”

McCain: “that was a trial lawyer’s dream.” “We have to change the face of America, those of us who are pro-life probably understand that. :OOOOOOO ! Obama voted against medical attention for a child born as a result of a failed abortion (not cool. I think partial-birth should be banned…disgusting) Obama voted for partial birth—“disgusting, terrible,” etc. “and he’ll say something about Roe v. Wade, the Illinois senate…”

Obama: “if it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant: that’s because it’s not true.” The bill in the Illinois senate: there’s already a law requiring it. “Pro-choice Republicans and Democrats are against it…the doctors in Illinois voted against it…Hippocratic oath.” Late term abortions should be banned w/exception for mother’s life. (okay, I can deal with that.) “This is an issue that—look—it divides us…. But surely there is some common ground.” Come together & say, we should prevent unintended pregnancies—sex education. Prevent “cavalier” sex. “Options for adoption and helping single mothers.”

McCain: accusing Obama of eloquence. Somehow “health” of the mother is an “extreme pro-abortion” stance. “We [Cindy and I] will not cease to protect the rights of the unborn.” Passion, courage—“we’ll help take care of it.”

Education (last question). U.S. spends more per capita and yet way fucking behind.

Obama: This “probably has more to do with our economic future than anything.” Also “primacy as a military power”. Debate between more money and reform—“I think we need both. In some cases, we are going to have to invest. Early childhood education” closes the gap early; close reading gap, reduce delinquency. “An army of new teachers, especially in math and science.” Better pay, etc. in exchange for higher standards and accountability. Paying for college. “It’s very difficult for them to go into some fields, basic science and research for instance, thinking they’re going to have a mortgage before they have a house.” (nice reference…) More credit for helping the community, military, Peace Corps. Parents’ accountability: “They have to turn off the TV”

McCain: civil rights; mention of socioeconomic disparities. Talking about the ability to choose school—“charter schools”—is he pretty much supporting No Child Left Behind? The “choice” “choice” “choice” “Charter schools…are providing the competition that have upgraded both types of schools.” “Throwing money at the problem is not the answer.” Some worst schools get most money…how about examples? Increase programs like Teach for America [which I have heard is awful] and Troops for Teachers (?). Better repayment schedule, in-state tuition, adjust student loan eligibility to inflation.

More federal money?

Obama: tradition of local control—“has served us well”, the Fed needs to “step up”. “They left the money behind for No Child Left Behind”—unfunded mandates; “we did the right thing by saying that we should provide more money to special needs” but didn’t go through with it. “higher salaries in exchange for more support.” Agreement with McCain: Doubled the number of charter schools in Illinois “despite some reservations from teachers”. Holding bad schools accountable. “Where we disagree”: somehow giving out vouchers isn’t enough. Sen McCain’s record of college, his key advisor said: “We can’t give money to every interest group that comes along.” :O “We have to prioritize” “explain in concrete terms”—“if we’re going to lower loan rates like you [McCain] said, somebody’s gonna have to pay for it”

McCain: talking about charter schools, choosing schools…made possible through vouchers. “I’m frankly surprised that you didn’t pay more attention” NCLB: “it had its flaws” but a good plan…. The “HeadStart program is a great program” but it’s not doing what it should do, “let’s reform it and fund it…that was of course out of bounds by the Democrats” Accountability & transparency “and the adequate funding” “Children, precious children who have autism…Sarah Palin knows about that [um, no she doesn’t]”—is he aware that there are other conditions? He named autism twice…. No “throwing money at a problem…vouchers” can be good where they are requested, etc.

Obama: the D.C. system is in terrible shape, a great new superintendent [McCain interjection: she supports vouchers] The voucher program has data showing it doesn’t work. “If we are going to be serious, we have to have a president” who actually deals with the problem.

McCain: something—a criticism of Obama’s anti-voucher stance; “they work”. Laughing…he actually snorted, unless that was the moderator


We need change. “I have a record of reform, taking on my party, the other party, special interests.” Cleaning up; renaming of “long” record—why is nothing new mentioned? Affordable, quality education. “Whether you can trust us or not”—“not only examine my record but my proposals for the future of this country.” “As a long line of McCains [American aristocracy]” who has served, “I’d be honored and humbled” to serve again.

Obama: Thanks. “America’s going through tough times right now.” Past eight years + decades of failure to “tackle”. “The biggest risk we can take right now is to adopt the same failed policies and the same failed politics.” We need “fundamental change”…and now I’m distracted by how damn charismatic he is… “our brighter days are still ahead” “We have to invest” in college, businesses—economy, policies that will “lift wages and grow our middle class”—policies he’s fought for his “entire career” “It’s not gonna be easy, it’s not gonna be quick” Dems, Republicans, and Independents have to come together and renew “the spirit of sacrifice” and something else…work on behalf.

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