Two big-government guys debate

Watching the second Obama-Romney debate Tuesday night was like taking a trip back in political time.

Obama calling for more government jobs and cheaper education loans to lift us out of the recession.

Romney threatening to use tariffs against the Chinese if they don’t jack up their currency’s value so America can regain the manufacturing prowess we really haven’t lost.

Was I back in the recession of ’49 or ’53? What’s a “tariff” anyway?

And haven’t we heard that tough talk from Republicans about smaller government, fiscal responsibility, lower and simpler taxes and less regulations before? Like for the last five decades? Like $16 trillion ago?

Foreign policy sounded just as familiar.

The two men out-neo-conned each other on our interventionist Middle East policy, which has been a tragic and bloody bipartisan failure for 60 years.

Instead of questioning our aggressive presence in that backward region, they wasted their time arguing over whose fault it was our Libyan ambassador didn’t have the protection he needed, or who said the stupidest thing in the wake of that fiasco.

Their boasting and strutting and interrupting about who was going to do more to assure America’s energy independence sounded familiar too, only this time I think I heard one of them call it “energy security.”

Total energy independence for America – like bringing peace and civilized behavior to the Middle East — is an impossible and stupid promise that only the politicians who say it every four years think is not impossible and stupid.

In a global marketplace, worrying about energy independence is about as silly as saying we’ve got to achieve steel independence or chocolate independence. If the federal government got out of the business of limiting oil and gas production on the land it owns (which it shouldn’t own anyway), we’d have all the energy we need.

The longer the “debate” went on, the weirder it got. Obamney and Romma were dancing around on the stage so much I lost track of who was the Big Government guy and who was the Bigger Government guy.

Both swore allegiance to the Second Amendment. But neither said a peep about actually shrinking the welfare/warfare beast in Washington. They just tried to come up with more clever ways to tax people they don’t like so they can keep spending more on their pet expenditures — college loans and more union teachers for Obama, more aircraft carriers for Romney.

There was no talk from either man about slashing federal spending. No talk about making income taxes flatter or fairer or nonexistent. No talk about getting the federal government totally out of education, health care, energy and 99 percent of all the other things it does to make our lives less free, more expensive and more annoying.

And how about those questions Candy Crowley chose from our fellow citizens, whose participation in the democratic process is so vital to our choosing the president who’s going to mess up the next four years? One word comes to mind — pathetic.

Of course they’re undecided voters. Not one had a clue about what’s wrong or right about the country or what role government should or should not play in the lives of an allegedly free people.

Didn’t one Long Islander wonder what Romney or Obama thinks about the horrible damage done to America by the bipartisan drug war? Or domestic drones? Or the TSA? Their questions could have come from a bunch of third graders — or the White House press pool.

After enduring Wednesday night’s duet in big-government bipartisanship, the average Ron Paul libertarian was, as usual, left somewhere between depressed and suicidal.

There was no choice, not even a lesser evil. Obama’s been a disaster with his warmed up New Deal ideas. Romney sounds like Nelson Rockefeller with better family values. Either way, it’s four more years.

People wonder why libertarians say they can’t tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats. It’s because there really isn’t any.

Bill Steigerwald is a former libertarian op-ed columnist and associate editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Distributed by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

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