Mitt Romney's main advantage in his first debate with President Obama on Wednesday may be that the president will be speaking without a teleprompter. Romney's second advantage is the president's record, and how he has failed to fulfill so many of his promises.
The president will probably recycle his class warfare themes. Romney should instead focus on the president's domestic failures and on Republican initiatives that have worked in the past. We Americans didn't just crawl out of a cave. There is history.
He might start with what has happened since the 2010 election, which elected 17 Republican governors. According to a survey by Examiner.com, "the job market in states with new Republican governors is improving a full 50 percent faster than the job market nationally." Impressive, right? This is what can be accomplished when you either cut spending, lower taxes or both.
Romney might also remind the estimated 50 million who will watch the presidential debate that the point of cutting taxes is to leave more capital in the hands of individuals and businesses, the real job creators. More money in private hands means more private jobs. That formula has not only worked for Republican governors -- it also worked at the federal level when John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan tried it. Romney must emphasize that reduced government spending is the key to a revived economy. He should promise to accept the best ideas of Obama's Simpson-Bowles commission (except tax hikes) and submit the recommendations to Congress for a vote with no amendments allowed. Public pressure would help pass it.
Romney should alert voters to the fact that higher taxes are coming -- something Democrats, with the exception of Walter Mondale, won't do. In addition to the huge tax increases, thanks to Obamacare, that will occur if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, five major tax increases are scheduled to take effect in January.
As John Kartch of Americans for Tax Reform has written for Fox News Online, these tax increases, strategically timed to kick in after the election, include 1) a 2.3 percent tax on medical device makers, which "will raise the price of ... every pacemaker, prosthetic limb, stent, and operating table"; 2) an increase in the threshold of income at which medical bills become tax-free -- essentially a tax increase on medical bills; 3) pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts will be capped at $2,500; 4) a surtax on investment income that "will take a minimum of $123 billion out of taxpayer pockets over the next 10 years;" 5) a Medicare payroll tax increase, which, according to Kartch, "soaks employers to the tune of $86 billion over the next 10 years."
Romney should ask: Do you really think Washington can do a better job of caring for people and making their health decisions than individuals and their doctors? Romney might also pledge to work to find cures for the most expensive diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's. Cures will cost far less in the long run than treatments.
Romney should appeal to America's greatest strength -- its people. Vice President Biden recently suggested it is "patriotic" to pay more in taxes. True patriotism flows from liberty, not government dependency. We the People are America. Government isn't America.
With a $16 trillion debt and more coming if Obama is re-elected, there is no wealth left to "spread around." Borrowing from China isn't the answer. Relying on the economic engine that has always sustained this country is the answer. It's called capitalism. Distributing the wealth is socialism, and Romney should call it that.
How important are these debates? The country's survival rides on them.
Examiner Columnist Cal Thomas is nationally syndicated by Tribune Media.