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For the two candidates and the millions of viewers who tuned in to the first 2012 presidential debate, the health of the United States’ economy was a key issue; both Republican candidate Mitt Romney and incumbent President Obama talked jobs, spending cuts, and the oil industry in the 90 plus minutes of discussion.
Once the last point was delivered, speculation as to which candidate debated best drew the attention of the both campaigns, viewers, and political commentators. In the end, publications from the Washington Post to Fox News, determined the Romney came out ahead of President Obama, leaving further speculation as to what a Romney victory could mean for the stock market.
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According Jim Cramer, a Romney victory would give coal-related stocks, including American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP), Southern Company (NYSE:SO), and CSX Corporation (NYSE:CSX), a boost, while any alternative-energy related companies, like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), would likely become short candidates.
The difference came down to tax cuts. In Wednesday night’s debate, the candidates argued in depth over the Obama administration’s energy policy, with Romney scoring point by accusing the president of giving the green energy industry $90 billion in tax breaks. “Now, I like green energy as well,” said Romney, “but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives.” While his numbers were not entirely accurate, the Recovery Act funded clean coal as well as green energy, his point highlighted a key difference between the candidates: energy policy.
The Republican presidential nominee announced in August that he did not support Obama’s Fuel Efficiency Standards, which will save 3 million barrels of oil per day. In contrast, during Obama’s term energy from wind power has doubled and solar energy has increased by more than 600 percent.
While the stock market has done well during Obama’s presidential term — the S&P 500 Index is up 16 percent this year to date — Cramer argues that if the president had been more diligent in his pursuit of industry regulation, the stock market would have suffered as a result.
“The stock market has done fabulously under Obama, and you can’t say that it’s despite him,” said Cramer, “because he could have really crushed the markets if he had kept up with the bashing the banker gangsters, the private jet hooligans and the brigands in the oil patch.”
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