Thursday, November 12, 2015
Eight is Enough
Your Money, Your Vote should have been the moniker for this latest debate as well, as Fox Business Network hosted the fourth debate on the economy. The latest GOP debate was interesting for a handful of reasons, none of which had to do with the overall performance of the candidates, which was bad as usual. This time they were called out not by the moderators, but by their fellow candidates. John Kasich repeatedly took his Republican peers to task on immigration and government spending, inserting himself into exchanges where he was clearly not wanted. Rand Paul chastised Marco Rubio on military spending. Of course, the candidates responded, and Rubio got the better of Paul as far as the conservative crowd was concerned, this being Veteran's Day, but it was refreshing to see some alternative opinions being expressed.
The undercard was interesting largely because who was not there, Lindsey Graham and George Pataki, who were both deemed to be too low in the national polls to warrant a podium. The main event had been reduced to eight candidates with Christie and Huckabee sent to the undercard. Graham offered his color commentary on the debates to Yahoo! saying that wine helped. Chris Christie tried to take over the event, but ended up serving as a big target for the other three candidates hoping to score points. Bobby Jindal is absolutely glowing because he leaped 100 per cent in the polls from one to two per cent, although I found it highly amusing that he is challenging Christie's record in New Jersey, when his is every bit as bad in Louisiana.
Perhaps the biggest non-story is that Jeb Bush failed once again to reboot his campaign, and may find himself on the undercard in the battle of the governors as his poll numbers continue to slip. He is currently hanging in there at number five. Kasich isn't doing any better, but you have to think that so-called moderates in the Republican Party might be leaning toward him at this point as Jeb has been unable to assert himself in any of these debates. If anyone among this rat pack can work across the aisle to break the stalemate in Washington it is without a doubt Kasich, not Yeb.
Unfortunately for John, he finds himself to the left on many key issues. He's been successful in Ohio, largely because he has accepted the ACA, Medicaid expansion, an increase in the minimum wage and increased taxes on fracking. Pretty hard sells to the Republican base, but issues that would stand him in good stead in a general election.
Carson was a no-show once again, out of his realm when it comes to economic issues. There was little or no focus on him, despite the knocks his campaign has been getting lately. However, his woes greatly help Trump, who looks decidedly more presidential than Dr. Ben, standing there stone-faced throughout most of the debate. However, I guess it depends on what news source you take.
Sadly, the Republicans seem determined to go down the road to their own demise by clinging to their talking points whether they make any sense or not. The tax plans of the leading candidates have all been sharply attacked by conservative as well as moderate news sources. Their stances on immigration have isolated them from the ever-growing Hispanic demographic, and their insistence on business as usual has eroded their working class support.
It is pretty hard not to defend an increase in minimum wage, yet here they all were making the corporate argument. Trump actually cried that wages are too high, reducing our competitiveness. Tell that to someone trying to get by on $7.15 an hour, which is why many cities have raised the minimum wage, including New York.
Unfortunately, the moderators mostly pitched soft balls. This debate was supposed to be about the economy, but ended up being pretty much same old, same old. The Fox Business team never really challenged any of the candidates, which I guess is why Kasich felt that need to insert himself. There is absolutely nothing to support these guys' positions on the economy, which continues to grow despite all their dire warnings. This is Fox News, however, so you have to expect the usual claptrap.
At least with Kasich and Paul, polling seventh and eighth respectively, you do get a glimmer of hope that the Republican Party hasn't completely sold itself out to the highest corporate bidder. They have other problems, but on the economy they seem to realize that all these tax breaks and increased defense spending aren't going to "rescue" the economy. The military budget makes up more than half of all discretionary spending. As Kasich noted last time, you aren't going to make a dent in the budget deficit if all you do is keep chipping away at the revenue with so many "entitlements" to pay for. What he actually means is mandatory spending, which makes up an enormous chunk of the budget, and which his fellow candidates conveniently choose to ignore.
After four debates, the Republicans are no closer to a meaningful platform than they were at the end of summer. They continue to promote their same pet issues and try to score points by demeaning their fellow candidates rather than offer anything substantive in the way of policy. This was their chance to shine but instead we saw even more acrimony within the ranks. They succeeded only in making Hillary look good by comparison.