Survey: Obama has better grasp of economic issues

But both he and his GOP challenger flubbed key points during their first debate.

By Jonathan Berr Oct 4, 2012 1:52PM
President Barack Obama has a better overall grasp of economic issues than Republican Mitt Romney, though some experts think the former Massachusetts governor has a better handle on some topics, according to a survey released Thursday by The Economist.

Both candidates, however, botched opportunities during last night's debate to articulate their economic visions for the country.

The survey examined the candidates' views on a variety of issues, including the economic recovery, tax reform and China. Academic economists, who lean Democratic, tended to give better grades to Obama, while business economists, who were divided politically, gave the edge to Romney. Independents rated Obama higher overall but backed Romney's views on tax reform and entitlements by a clear margin.

Overall, economists gave Obama's economic policies a grade of 3.15 (out of a maximum of 5) and Romney's a 2.14. Many supporters of the president, however, thought the he failed to inspire voters during the debate, whose primary focus was, in theory, supposed to be domestic policy. Romney won the debate in part because he effectively painted Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal. The question of tax rates was a case in point.

Obama argued that his tax plan would return rates to the levels they were under President Bill Cllnton, a claim refuted by FactChecl, which pointed out that people making more than $250,000 a year "would actually pay more than they did under Clinton due to new taxes imposed on upper-income people to pay for the health care law."

Perhaps Obama didn't want to emphasize that his signature legislative achievement raises taxes, but he missed a golden opportunity to underscore his commitment to the middle class.

Tax cuts for the wealthy might not stimulate the economy as much as people may think -- because their effective rate has been falling for decades, thanks to declines in levies on investment income. That's the main reason Romney paid an effective tax rate of 14% in 2011, far lower than the 20% paid by his less wealthy running mate Paul Ryan. Warren Buffett has claimed for years that the disparity is unfair to most Americans and that the wealthy should pay more taxes.
However, more misleading were Romney's blunders, such as his claim that Obama "doubled the deficit" when, as FactCheck noted, they have stayed about the same. He also gave inflated figures about the loss of income to the middle class and about the numbers of Americans who will lose their health insurance when health care reform goes into effect next year.

Indeed, given the misstatements of both candidates on economic issues, one wonders whether the economists who participated in the survey would want to change their grades.

Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter@jdberr.
Oct 4, 2012 3:13PM
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!???   By what imaginable standard do you make that headline?
Oct 4, 2012 3:59PM
I always thought that Jonathan Berr was a biased, know nothing blogger, but until now did not realize how detached and deranged he really is.  But of course, he writes for MSN.
Oct 4, 2012 2:14PM
Come on, it is clear that Romney won the debate by a landslide. This shouldn't even be a debate. Former Governor Romney took President Obama to business school on all the issues on the debate yesterday.  
Oct 4, 2012 4:09PM
Jonathan, did you actually watch the debate? Obama looked liked he had already given up.
Oct 4, 2012 3:13PM
Obama is never at his best without a teleprompter.
Oct 4, 2012 4:00PM
You people really are a JOKE - to come up with this headline. It's so obvious Obama is clueless!!
Oct 4, 2012 3:56PM

Almost forgot - check-out the Chris Matthews meltdown after the debate,video on this website from MSNBC. Unbiased reporting? Laughable!

What a hack (supported by MSNBC - YES, MSNBC)!!


Obama better on the economy? Your ready to drink the Kool-Aid.....  

Oct 4, 2012 3:22PM
IF BO has a better grip on economic issues, he would know that his are failing! BO's opening line should have been "where's the chair"?
Oct 4, 2012 5:22PM

Scrape Obama off the stage!   Romney schooled the President ,showed up prepared and with a Mastery of all Topics.  It is refreshing to have a candidate and next President actually proud of who we are as a country & people.   He has a plan, and is a leader.  He is inspiring and brings a new hope to this battle.

 Looks like Obama will have "great flexibility" after the election after all. 

Oct 4, 2012 4:47PM
If OBAMA has the ansewers then why are things not getting better and why do we need QE 3 or is it 4
Oct 4, 2012 7:39PM





Oct 4, 2012 7:03PM
Working, Oblaomo's base of 47%ers don't want any part a job.
Oct 4, 2012 6:49PM
Typical lib living in a fairy tale. I guess you libs are gonna be getting jobs soon after Romney brings the jobs back. that way you can help the rest of us pay down the debt.
Oct 4, 2012 7:08PM
Working, Oblamo's base of 47%ers want no part of a job.
Oct 5, 2012 9:22AM
Your joking right? A man who has never proposed a budget plan in his life whether as a Senator or President, a man who never owned a business....ever, a man who never hired people or met payroll, a man who never worked in the private sector...has a better grasp on the economy. Please tell me the editors and columnists of this syndication are joking. This has to be the greatest biased scheme in American History where the media & government bureaucrats will do anything or everything to shield, protect and support this phony empty suit in the white House. Does Stockholm syndrome come into play with these people. I have never witnessed such an infatuation with a person in all my life. It's like a 14 year old girl having an insane crush on Justin Bieber. Never seen anything like this.....
Oct 4, 2012 8:03PM
Oblamo's commitement is not to the middle class , its to the bottom feeders that suck the country dry.
Oct 4, 2012 7:07PM
Jeep, please start paying your share of taxes or at least thank those of us supporting your azz.
Oct 5, 2012 7:43AM
Just proves Romney is correct. Too many American asses are living with their hand out.
Oct 4, 2012 7:53PM
Jeep, quit lying, a ton of taxes is not $500.
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