I watched the Bloomberg News – Republican Presidential Debate and I have the following comments.
Overall: I liked the format of having the candidates sit around a table. I liked the commercials by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. I have followed the Peter G. Peterson Foundation for several years. It is a high quality organization that everyone should familiarize themselves with. The format of the debate was a little different than previous debates. Instead of having the moderator rotate the questions more or less evenly, the candidates were given the chance a better chance to provide rebuttals. This gave the front runners a chance to respond when attacked, but it did sideline the lessor candidates. Also as candidates spent a lot of time attacking Mitt Romney or Herman Cain, it didn’t provide much time for Rick Perry who in my mind is one of the top 2 candidates in the field.
Having the candidates ask each other questions: A clear indication of the popularity of the 9-9-9 proposal is how much the other candidates attacked it.
My wife complained that many of candidates failed to really answer the questions they were asked.
On the various topics in the debate I have the following:
Wall Street Protest: All seemed to point the finger back at the Federal Government. Almost universally they criticized the movement for protesting the wrong groups. Their points were valid, and I agree with them.
Jobs: Santorum talked a lot and said little. Everyone seemed to acknowledge this would be the primary topic of the campaign. There was agreement that economic growth was the key to solving the unemployment problem. This is in sharp contrast to the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats.
Medicare Spending: End of Life spending. Newt responded well. Michelle Bauchmann discussed political appointees making medical decisions. Key points that should not be overlooked.
Economic Advisers: Who would advise you? John Huntsman wants someone with real world policies. Tax and Regulatory reform. Making it easier to serve the government. Asked about 9-9-9. Said he wants something doable. Herman Cain said that Rich Lowery from Cleveland, Texas. Mitt Romney said Milton Freedman, and business leaders.
9-9-9: This is Herman Cain’s plan to replace the current tax code with a 9% Flat Income Tax, 9% Sales Tax, and 9% Value Added Tax (VAT). Michelle Bauchmann attacked for providing a new revenue stream to the government that it would never give up. Rick Santorum brought up very valid points about the fact that the government would eventually start raising tax rates. Asked the audience if they thought the tax rates would remain at 9%, everyone said no.
Bailing Out Wall Street to Protect Shareholders: Constant Question. I don’t like the question. Take a look at the chart of the stock price of any broker/dealer or bank; they are all down sharply, sometimes close to 90% over the last 4 years. The shareholders got killed, they didn’t get bailed out! What the TARP program did was save the system from catastrophic collapse! It wasn’t a bailout, it was the most efficient use of capital that was possible.
Housing: Ron Paul would eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Also touched on Community Reinvestment Act. Almost all would get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Newt said growth was the key to fixing the housing market.
Trade with China: Mitt Romney would call China out as being a trade violator. Said they sell us too many goods in order to enter a trade war with us. Rick Perry, said the focus needs to be on how we get America working again. Would focus on developing our energy industry. Rick Santorum said he would focus on making America more competitive.
Dodd-Frank: All attacked it as a job’s killer. All think it is going to kill community banks and hurt small business owners. Blamed it for the $5 debit card fee. Specifically cited Dick Durbin and the Durbin amendment. Ron Paul said it is estimated to cost a trillion dollars to comply, he also wanted a repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley.
On the individual candidates I have the following:
Rick Perry: On response to the quote by Ronald Reagan, he responded well by referencing Ronald Reagan’s diary. Attacked Washington for refusing to cut spending. Said we need to have a balanced budget amendment to the US. Constitution. Discussed Tort Reform. Handled attacks by the other candidates very well. I was listening to Neil Bortz on the radio this morning, during his show he was discussing the counties in Texas that opted out of the Social Security system and how well it performed for those workers. It performed extremely well. If more counties opted out it would attract more employers and jobs. Also stressed that states were laboratories for innovation. Handled criticism of Texas state venture fund well.
Mitt Romney: Asked about a Wall Street bailout; responded that it was necessary to preserve the system. Said that we need to scale back the size of government. Performed well. Very good with his explanation of why temporary tax credits don’t work. Also did very well in defending his record on building companies. I think Mitt and Herman Cain performed the best.
Herman Cain: Continues to perform extremely well. Knows his economics and does not hide from or avoid the questions. Says that production drives growth, and ………. something I could not write down quick enough, but from what I heard he was right. Said that he will expand the tax base. Continues to perform very well in the debates. Said he had already identified 2 candidates to replace Ben Bernanke, and that he would narrow the Fed’s focus to sound money. Wants to eliminate the Capital Gains Tax.
John Huntsman: Talked about the importance of innovation and maintaining a competitive market place. Did not like his attacks on Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan by saying it was on the back of a pizza box and couldn’t pass. Responded well to the question of declaring China a free trade violator. Overall I did not like his attacks on the other candidates. I thought they were cheap shots, delivered at the wrong time on the wrong topics.
Ron Paul: Performed well when asked about Wall Street protests. Said that Alan Greenspan was part of the problem, ushered in the bubble era.
Newt Gingrich: Asked about Wall Street protests being a by product of Obama’s class warfare. Attacked the deficit spending compromise. Continues to show that he knows what he is talking about. Handed out compliments to the other candidates, very good and made a very good point. I think Newt deserves a higher ranking than he is getting.
Rick Santorum: Scored good points when given a chance to talk about tax rates. Seamed to be largely shut out of the debate with the format.
Michelle Bauchmann: Performed well when asked about the fact that no Wall Street Executives have gone to jail following the financial crisis of 2008. Hit key topics on artificially low interest rates, Fannie and Freddie, and artificially low interest rates. Wants to repeal Dodd-Frank. Performed better than in previous debate. Attacked the Federal Government for spending 40% more than it takes in. Attacked the cost of government regulations for hurting job growth. Called Dodd-Frank the Job Destruction Act. I think she is right. I still do not think she is presidential material.
Our comments on the F0x News – Republican Presidential Debate can be found here.
Our comments on the Republican CNN/Tea Party Debate can be found here.
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PS. I wouldn’t put too much faith in the telephone polls coming out of Iowa. I grew up there, and the people of Iowa prize their privacy and grow tired of the constant bombardment by the pollsters; and they take some quite pleasure in telling the pollsters something new to see if they will believe it. Iowans like to keep their opinions to themselves, and sharing them with pollsters is not their favorite pastime. At the end of the day, they just want the pollsters to leave them alone.