What was curious about the debates to the author wasn't the arguments, as they need to argue about something pretty much, but the stipulated agreements.
That's good news actually, as to the American power elite having a clue, if, they have almost talked themselves into certain boxes that would be catastrophic in character for pretty much everyone, save for the survivors, and even then, there's no guarantees.
As to the implicit agreements, two stand out.
First, they both agree that there are three facets to dealing with what is a problem, the budget deficit, if of course what weights they would use are different; taxes, spending, and faster growth, possibly stimulated by a simpler tax code, which is why Simpson-Bowles never went away, if ego may require it be called something else
As to the second implicit agreement, that was in the field of Social Security in two senses, first that there is a problem, and second, that the correction has to be phased in, hence both the President and Governor Romney agreeing as to age 45-55 needing to pay more attention to this issue.
Those implicit agreements are important as to still having common ground, necessary to prevent what Madison warned about as to faction ending the Republic in a time of relative economic hardship, if it's not 1932 either.
Thus, the American Empire still has a functioning power elite capable of putting up candidates who do disagree in important ways, but also live in enough of a topologically connected ideological space to induce choices that if not optimal compared to that ever desired because non-existent infinitely lived, all-knowing benevolent dictator.
People overseas will notice that, which is good news in the end as to treading warily around the Eagle's interests.