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Debate Rebate: Do the Differences Matter?

Liberty: Last night in Ohio, the sparring over health care revealed a genuine policy difference as well as a genuine difference of debate style. Hillary's plan is more pure. A mandate would cover many more people. Barack's plan is a little more convoluted. He must explain — if mandates are so bad, why does he have them for children?

But, I felt that Hillary's point got lost in her delivery and her frustration was palpable. Hillary attempted to highlight the merits of her plan:

We have enough money in our plan. A comparison of the plans . . . found that actually I would cover nearly everybody at a much lower cost than Senator Obama's plan because we would not only provide these health care tax credits, but I would limit the amount of money that anyone ever has to pay for a premium to a low percentage of your income. So it will be affordable.

Wow. Those are strong, but complicated, arguments. And, Barack continued to dodge a square punch. To see how


Obama said:

I have consistently said that Senator Clinton's got a good health care plan. I think I have a good health care plan. I think mine is better, but I have said that 95 percent of our health care plan is similar.

By raising the debate to a more abstract level, Barack diffused the idea that their differences matter.

I have a feeling that Hillary's fervor for healthcare pleases her supporters, but I wonder if it translates well to undecided voters. A regular citizen, not well versed in policy jargon, may be appeased by Obama's assurances that he will make health care affordable. Hillary's criticisms, backed up with detailed support, may go over viewers' heads.

Are you convinced that differences matter?

And don't forget to check out Citizen's thoughts on the "first lady" question also raised last night.

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