"It's the economy, stupid," was the famous distillation of the 1992 presidential campaign by political strategist James Carville.
That focus helped Bill Clinton move George H.W. Bush out of the White House and it's pretty much been used as a campaign template since then.
So it's no surprise that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney strayed from strict foreign policy discussions in last night's third and final 2012 presidential debate to talk domestic finances.
In case you were watching the NFL's Bears beat the Lions or the Giants take game seven of Major League Baseball's National League Championship Series from the Cardinals, you can watch the debate video at your leisure or, if you prefer, peruse the transcript.
If, however, you're just interested in the budget, economy and tax talk that the president and his Republican challenger managed to sneak past moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News, check out Michael Cohn's debate report for Accounting Today.
Both men, says Cohn, took foreign policy detours down more familiar routes: military expenditures (you did at least hear about horses and bayonets, right?); balancing domestic budgets; the loss of U.S. jobs to overseas facilities (all together now, China); corporate tax rates; and the federal bailout of American automakers.
MarketWatch, however, says that even if you watched all the debates, Obama and Romney ignored three key money topics. According to the website, the neglected financial areas are:
Real estate: The housing crisis, which is improving but at a slow and scattered pace, is the principal cause of the economic downturn. So you would think it would be one of the central topics of any debate. Think again. To a large extent, the candidates sidestepped real estate.
Investor protections: Investors fled the market during the financial crisis and have yet to fully return. In fact, says MarketWatch, even as stocks rocket ahead, folks are still yanking money out of stock mutual funds -- nearly $60 billion so far this year -- indicating that Main Street investors' have little confidence in Wall Street. Both candidates have expressed support for financial regulation, although more so on Obama's part, as evidenced by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Retirement savings: While the candidates briefly sparred in the second debate about their respective pensions, they ignored 401(k)s, the most common retirement savings vehicle of most salaried workers. These plans, funded primarily by worker pre-tax contributions, are falling short of what most people admit they'll need to retire. Employee Benefit Research Institute data show that 60 percent of workers report having less than $25,000 in savings and investments for retirement.
Have you heard enough from Obama and Romney about financial and tax matters, as well as other issues, to make a decision on Nov. 6?You also might find these items of interest: