Round 2 goes to Obama; slams Romney's outsourcing plans

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Mitt Romney and Barack Obama
Hempstead (New York), Oct 17: A combative Barack Obama today hit back at Mitt Romney, retrieving lost ground in the second of the three high-stake presidential debates, saying his Republican rival's plans on outsourcing will only result in more jobs in China and India.

Obama, who drew flak from his own party for a lacklustre performance in round one two weeks ago, this time often dictated the terms of the debate questioning Romney's approaches towards China, immigration, taxes, unemployment, gun laws and other domestic and foreign issues.

During the 90-minute face-off at the Hofstra University here for a town hall style debate, Romney retorted claiming US has been losing manufacturing jobs to China as enterprises feel it is "more attractive" to go offshore than to stay here.

A snap CNN/ORC International poll showed 46 per cent of respondents thought 51-year-old Obama won, compared to 39 per cent for 65-year-old Romney.

The result was within the survey's margin of error. Both Obama and Romney fielded questions also on topics like gas prices and Libya from members of the audience, a group of 82 undecided voters from New York's Nassau County.

The question on outsourcing of American jobs overseas came at the fag end of the debate, which saw an aggressive and assertive Obama take on Romney as he tried to improve on his performance at the first debate in Denver where the Republican leader came out as the surprise winner.

"One of his (Romney's) big ideas when it comes to corporate tax reform would be to say, if you invest overseas, you make profits overseas, you don't have to pay US taxes."

"But, of course, if you're a small business or a mom-and-pop business or a big business starting up here, you've got to pay even the reduced rate that Governor Romney's talking about. And it's estimated that that will create 800,000 new jobs. The problem is they'll be in China. Or India. Or Germany," Obama said.

"That's not the way we're going to create jobs here. The way we're going to create jobs here is not just to change our tax code, but also to double our exports," the president said.

Responding to the question on what plans they each had to keep jobs in the US, Obama said while Romney and he agreed that the corporate tax rate should be lowered, there is a difference on the way they both would approach the issue.

"I want to close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China; that allow them to profit offshore and not have to get taxed, so they have tax advantages offshore. All those changes in our tax code would make a difference," Obama said, slamming Romney for wanting to expand the tax breaks.

Romney shot back that "if you elect President Obama, you know what you're going to get -- you're going to get a repeat of the last four years."

Responding to the question, Romney blamed Obama for not labelling China as a currency manipulator, promising to put the label on Beijing on day one of his presidency.

"We are going to have to make sure that as we trade with other nations that they play by the rules. And China hasn't. One of the reasons -- or one of the ways they don't play by the rules is artificially holding down the value of their currency. Because if they put their currency down low, that means their prices on their goods are low. And that makes them advantageous in the marketplace."

"We lose sales. And manufacturers here in the US making the same products can't compete. China has been a currency manipulator for years and years and years. And the president has a regular opportunity to label them as a currency manipulator, but refuses to do so," Romney said.

Romney repeatedly took on Obama, blaming his rival's policies for rising federal deficits and debts, leaving more than 20 million people jobless.

"We don't have to settle for what we're going through," Romney said at one point. "We don't have to settle for unemployment at a chronically high level. We don't have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don't have to settle for 50 per cent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don't have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job."

PTI

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