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Who Won?

First of all, as it has been demonstrated again and again, you could take all of the income of everyone who was truly rich — tax ’em at 100% — and you’d manage to scrap together enough dough to run the government for no more than a few months. There just aren’t enough rich folks out there.

The president knows that. So why does he keep saying that if only we raised taxes on the rich we could bring some sanity to the mess that is the U.S. budget (not that we actually have a budget these days)? One thing, which he does not dilate on, is that “rich” is an elastic term. It might mean folks like Warren Buffet. But it might also mean people who make $250,000 a year, or even, as Joe Biden suggested during the last campaign, $150,000 a year. Even so, there would not be enough money to go around, but it would accomplish one of the president’s biggest if seldom-stated goals: the redistribution of wealth. That’s what he is really after, that’s what, at the end of the day, his economic policy is chiefly about: not growth, not the creation of wealth, but the redistribution of wealth. This is what he calls “fairness.” Others might call it legalized theft.

Romney could have honed in more sharply, or at least in a more protracted fashion, on these themes — the president’s dismal economic record, his lack of an alternative, his tour around the world apologizing for America. He did it, he did it sharply, but he then backed off and did not follow up. Perhaps it was a sense of compassion that kept him from hammering the points home. Still, I think most viewers got the point. Romney summed up the take-away from last night’s debate a couple of months ago when he responded to the president’s refrain that he had inherited a terrible economic mess. Yes, Romney acknowledged, you did. Then you promptly made it worse. That’s the fundamental reality that was on view last night, and that’s why I am more confident than ever that Romney will win and win big.

More: Romney Comes Out of Final Debate with New Poll Lead and an Arsenal of New Ads