Tonight’s debate on the economy and domestic policy dived deep into the weeds of many topics, but several big issues facing the country have so far received little to no discussion.
1) Housing: The nation’s housing market has started to show the beginnings of a recovery, but it is still deeply stressed. More than 10 million people owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Many first-home owners can’t qualify for loans because they don’t have absolutely perfect credit. Obama isn’t likely to discuss the issue at length because his response to the housing crisis has fallen far short of the expectations he set. Romney isn’t likely to bring it up because he basically has suggested the government play little to no role in fixing the problem.
2) The weak economy: The economy is growing extremely slowly, and this year may turn out to be worse than last. The unemployment rate has been stuck above 8 percent, with the fraction of the population working at a third-year low. Many economists would say that, as a result, the economy needs more spending or middle class tax cuts to speed up growth. But while Obama proposed such a bill last year, he has not discussed it much this year, and isn’t advocating for the extension of a payroll tax cut that has provided an important boost to the economy. Romney opposes the idea of economic stimulus.
3) Why there wasn’t a grand bargain over the debt deal: Obama and Romney have spoken at length tonight about their differing strategies for tackling the nation’s debt. But last summer Obama and congressional Republicans came close to a plan to reining in the debt. The negotiations failed, however, and as a result the nation’s credit rating was downgraded. Obama says the talks failed because Republicans refused to accept any new tax revenues. Republicans say Obama kept on demanding more tax revenues and didn’t keep his word.