Larry Elder

McCain loses -- the first debate, that is.

Blown opportunities? Let us count the ways:

Obama says, without rebuttal, that his plan lowers taxes on "95 percent of working families." This is flatly impossible because 32 percent of income tax returns filed (some 43 million Americans) pay absolutely nothing in federal income taxes. Obama makes his claim by offering a $500 "Making Work Pay" tax credit to everybody ($1,000 per family), by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and creating other credits. If your tax credit is more than your tax liability, you receive a check from the Treasury and you pay no taxes. That is not a "tax cut." McCain, too, offers a tax credit -- a $5,000 tax credit for health care. Yet neither the media nor McCain calls it a "tax cut."

Obama says, without rebuttal, that his tax hikes only affect those earning more than $250,000. Yet when you consider his spending plans, and the amount of money he expects to raise by "closing corporate loopholes" and taxing the rich, it simply does not add up. Moreover, he calls raising taxes a) good economic policy, and b) a matter of fairness. Obama, pointing to the sluggishness of the economy, recently said he might "defer" the tax hikes. Hold it, McCain should have said. If raising taxes on the so-called rich makes good economic policy, why "defer" it? Doesn't the economic sluggishness create even greater urgency in order to, as Obama claims, "jump-start" the economy?

Obama recently said, without a debate response from McCain, that because of the faltering economy, he may cut back on some of his proposed spending. Again, didn't Obama call the spending an "investment" in education and health care, job training and "volunteering"? If "investing" means a more productive and dynamic economy, doesn't an economic slowdown cry out for more spending?

Obama claims, without rebuttal, that he "pays for" the increased spending. If "closing corporate loopholes" and increasing taxes on the rich pay for more social spending, why put those off simply because of an economic downturn? Obama's latest backtracks on taxes and spending say one thing, loudly and clearly -- they hurt the economy. And by his own admission!

Missed opportunities on foreign policy:

Obama calls, without rebuttal, the Iraq war a blunder. Is it? By an almost even margin, 39 percent of Americans call Iraq a failure, while 41 percent say that history will judge it as a success. The numbers considering it a future success increased from 29 percent last August, while the it-will-be-deemed-a-failure crowd fell from 57 percent.

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit