Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quick reactions to GOP debate

-Herman Cain said in response to the very first question that he would, in his first year as President, pass a balanced budget. Given that military+medicare/medicaid+Social Security+interest on the debt = total tax receipts, I would be very interested how Cain would go about achieving a balanced budget so soon. Republicans always preface their plans to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security by saying current beneficiaries would not be affected. It's impossible to get a balanced budget next year without making cuts to these programs next year.

-Rep. Bachmann repeated the standard Republican claim that the federal government is responsible for all those bad loans. Banks were forced, so the line goes, by the government to give $500,000 loans to janitors. This is, of course, pure bullshit. Looking at how hard it was to pass Dodd-Frank, which is a very weak regulatory structure for banks, it is ridiculous to claim that the poor, oppressed banks were forced to give all those subprime loans.

-Bachmann also repeated the bullshit that increasing the debt limit gave Obama a "blank check". The President can't spend a nickel without Congress's specific say-so. It's not a blank check for Obama; it's a check that Congress had already written and signed.

-Much of the debate centered around Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan. Bachmann chose the line of attack that, by adding a whole new kind of federal tax (a 9% sales tax), Cain would open the door to the sales tax being increased in the future. Cain is prevented from using the best defense to this claim, which is that neither Democrats nor Republicans would ever increase a sales tax. Republicans wouldn't raise a tax, period, and Democrats would never raise a strongly regressive tax. Using this line of defense would highlight the regressive nature of sales taxes, so Cain can't use it.

-Cain continues to demonstrate a lack of understanding about how laws work, as previously discussed here. He wants to include in his 9-9-9 bill a requirement for a 2/3 vote by the Senate to raise taxes. Because one act of Congress cannot bind another, a future Congress could just come along and say "Fuck that 2/3 thing", and vote a tax increase with a simple majority.

-Cain continued the tactic of portraying the participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement as being distinct from "real Americans". He claimed his recent remarks that those who aren't rich only have themselves to blame were only directed at OWS, not at the 14 million who are unemployed through no fault of their own. It is a false distinction aimed at marginalizing the OWS protesters.

-Rep. Paul rightly laid the smackdown on Cain after Cain claimed Alan Greenspan was the best Fed chair of the past 40 years. Greenspan's Fed bear much of the blame for inflating the housing bubble.

-Gov. Perry ignored a question about why the income gap is growing so much, choosing instead to launch a non-specific attack on Obama. It's not surprising that he avoided the question, as there is no answer a supply-sider can give to the question. Ron Paul could have pointed to crony capitalism as a cause, but none of the other candidates has an answer.

-Perry needed to land some punches on Romney to revive his campaign, and he wasn't able to do it. But he also didn't "throw up on himself" as he did in the previous debate.

-Romney had a good night. The format of sitting around a table together made for a more cordial, less-attacking debate, which benefits the guy with the biggest target on his back. I think Romney would be fine with everyone spooning throughout the next debate.

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