From an editorial in Sunday’s Washington Post:
Analysts have wondered at the Obama campaign’s flat-footed response to the candidate’s poor first-debate performance. It’s one thing to have an off night. It’s another to spend the next week whining about your opponent’s “lies” and wallowing in Big Bird trivia. How to explain an impressive political team performing so feebly?
Alas, the answer lies at the heart of President Obama’s reelection bid: the absence of a second-term agenda. Mr. Obama has yet to say how he would solve the immense problems awaiting the next president immediately after election. Until and unless he does, the only rationale he can offer voters is the urgency of stopping the other guys.
We agree that Mitt Romney’s agenda, to the extent it’s been minimally sketched out, would send the nation in the wrong direction. The Republican says he wants to close tax loopholes. But instead of using the savings to reduce the nation’s debt, as the Simpson-Bowles commission said is essential, he would pay for further reductions in tax rates.
Moreover, he refuses to say which loopholes he would close and on which taxpayers. The likely outcome is not just that Mr. Romney would fail to reduce the debt but that he would widen it alarmingly.
What would Mr. Obama do?
A solution to the deficit can come only from restraining spending, especially growth in Medicare and Medicaid, and raising revenue, and not just from the rich. Yet Mr. Obama has put forward no plan to curtail entitlement costs, while Mr. Romney at least is willing to say that benefits for wealthy Medicare recipients will have to be cut back.
“Show me a policy,” Vice President Biden challenged Rep. Paul Ryan during their Thursday debate. “Show me a policy where you take responsibility.”
It’s not too late for Mr. Obama to listen to that advice.