President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney have sparred aggressively in their first campaign debate over taxes, deficits and strong steps needed to create jobs in a sputtering national economy.
Obama accused Romney of seeking to "double down" on the same economic policies that created the economic downturn four years ago. Romney responded that "The status quo is not going to cut it."
Romney said he had plans to fix the economy, overhaul the tax code, repeal Obama's health care plan and replace with a better alternative, remake Medicare, pass a substitute for the legislation designed to prevent another financial crash and reduce deficits - but he provided no new specifics despite Obama's prodding.
Both candidates went over time limits with their responses and wrecked the format of the 90-minute event that was moderated by PBS' Jim Lehrer.
The rivals debate twice more this month.
Candidates spar on economy
President Barack Obama says the United States is making progress in repairing the struggling economy he inherited when he took office while his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, says the Democratic incumbent favors a "trickle-down government, if you will."
Obama and Romney opened their first of three presidential debates Wednesday with disagreements on how the government could help add jobs.
Obama pointed to progress made in saving Detroit's auto industry and rebuilding the housing market. Romney, meanwhile, says he would take a different path that gets government out of the way for American businesses.
Obama says Romney's plan would cut taxes for high-income workers. Romney says that is incorrect and that wealthy Americans will do just fine regardless whether he or Obama is in the White House.
Romney looking at different caps on tax breaks
Mitt Romney's idea to impose a $17,000 limit on taxpayer deductions would hit the wealthy the hardest. But that limit by itself wouldn't fully make up for revenue lost in Romney's plan to reduce all income tax rates by 20 percent.
Campaign officials say the ceiling on deductions is part of a three-pronged approach that Romney is considering. The idea is to limit tax breaks in order to pay for lower overall tax rates. Romney says his plan would reduce the top tax rate from 35 percent to 28.
The officials say Romney is also considering limits on the standard exemption that most taxpayers claim and the tax exclusion for employer-backed health insurance.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the plan that Romney hasn't announced.
Candidates tangle over taxes
Republican Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are tangling over taxes in their first presidential debate.
Romney says that Obama has mischaracterized his tax plan by calling it a $5 trillion tax cut. Obama responded that Romney appears to be backing away from his own plan.
Romney says "everything" Obama said about Romney's tax plan is inaccurate. Most importantly, Romney says his plan will not increase taxes for the middle class, as Obama contends.
Romney says his plan is to provide tax relief by lowering them for all Americans, while eliminating deductions and exemptions in the tax code.
Obama retorts that Romney appears to be saying "never mind" about his own tax plan. Obama says he will lower taxes for middle-class families.
Romney, Obama wrangle over differing tax plans
President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are sparring in the first presidential debate over their differing approaches to growing the economy.
Obama says that Romney's tax agenda would not reduce the deficit. He says it would include a massive tax cut for the wealthy and more military spending.
The president is citing former President Bill Clinton, suggesting the nation should return to the Clinton-era tax rates he says would lead to economic growth.
Obama says simple "math" and "common sense" show Romney's approach is not a recipe for job growth.
Romney says virtually everything Obama says about his tax plan is inaccurate. Romney says his plan will cut taxes, reduce spending and grow the economy.
Romney says, quote, "I will lower taxes on middle income families."
Obama: Romney would turn Medicare into vouchers
President Barack Obama says Republican rival Mitt Romney would turn Medicare into a private system and put seniors at the mercy of insurance companies. Romney counters that the incumbent Democrat already has raided the Medicare fund and weakened the system.
Obama and Romney clashed Wednesday during their first presidential debate on the popular - though costly - health program for seniors. Both promised that they would not cut benefits for older Americans but sharply disagreed about options for younger workers.
Obama says he is cutting down on excessive payments in the system so the program survives for future generations.
Romney calls those cuts a slashing from seniors' care to pay for Democrats' health care law.
Romney, however, didn't mention that his running mate, Paul Ryan, proposed similar cuts.
Candidates debate health care law
Republican Mitt Romney is vowing to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law, saying it adds costs to the health system and has led to Medicare cuts.
Romney says in the first presidential debate that Obama spent his energy pushing through a massive health care law rather than trying to fix the struggling economy.
Romney says it's expensive and expensive things hurt families.
Obama says his administration worked on the health care law at the same time he was working to create jobs. He says the law has helped people with pre-existing conditions and those who have children under age 26.
The president counters that he based the law on Romney's own plan when he was governor.
Obama says, quote, "We've seen this model work really well - in Massachusetts."
Wall Street reform
President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are sparring over federal regulations that restrict Wall Street and financial institutions.
Romney is softening his usual anti-regulatory rhetoric, saying government rules are essential in a free economy. But he says the Dodd-Frank law that targeted the financial industry in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis was a mistake.
Romney says the law has "unintended consequences" because it allows banks to grow to the point that they are too big to fail. He says the law's mortgage requirements don't help homeowners.
Obama asks whether anyone thinks the financial crisis occurred because of too much oversight and Wall Street regulation. He says anyone who thinks that was the cause should vote for Romney.
Obama says Romney would cut school funding
President Barack Obama says Republican rival Mitt Romney favors cutting a fifth of the Education Department's budget while Romney is countering that Obama directed $90 billion to so-called "green jobs" - a sum, he says, that would hire 2 million teachers.
The two sparred Wednesday during their first presidential debate on what role government plays in Americans' lives.
Obama says there are challenges that only the federal government can solve. Romney says government should do only what is prescribed in the Constitution and challenges that only have federal solutions, such as national security.
Obama pointed to Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, whose budget proposals make sharp cuts across the board. Romney retorted that Washington invested in new failed energy research.
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