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Opening Arguments

Debate night

Yeah, I watched the debates last night, both of them, and they weren't as much of a waster of time as I had feared. Certainly it wasn't possible to get an in-depth look at anybody since they all had so little time to speak. But it helps sorting all 17 of them out to just get an overview.

I agree with just about every other critic out there that Carly Fiorina won the Happy Hour debate handily. In fact, she was the most impressive of them all in both debates. If this doesn't propel her to the first tier, something's wrong somewhere. She knows the issues, foreign and domestic, inside out and never gets flustered by a hard question. I also think she stated, more clearly than anybody, what the presidential race is about. Listening to all the other candidates, it seems to be about ordinary people versus the Washington political class or insiders versus outsiders. What it is, said Fiorina, is a contest between conservatism and progressivism. Precisely. Focus!

In the main debate, Donald Trump had a chance to show a mature, responsible side. Instead, he chose to be Donald Trump. Can you imagine having to listen to that puffed-up blowhard for four years as president?

Everybody else at least held their own. The dustup between Chris Christie and Rand Paul over privacy and terrorism was fun. I liked Ben Carson a lot. Jeb Bush looked and sounded so, I don't know, last generation, that it made Marco Rubio's enthusiastic optimism about this country seem even more refreshing than usual. FWIW, I think Rubio did the best job in the main debate.

I also liked the panel of questioners, who some people think were showboating or playing gotcha or something. I think they asked good questions. It looked to me like they were specifically trying, in the first volley, to come up with the one question each candidate would feel most uncomfortable answering. That was a good way to let the candidates -- and viewers -- know the evening was going to be serious.


Fri, 08/07/2015 - 12:28pm

Ah, let the BS begin......

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said that "over 40 percent of small and mid-size banks … have been wiped out" since the Dodd-Frank law was passed. Actually, the total number of commercial banks has gone down only 16 percent, continuing a longtime trend of "too big to fail" banks buying up smaller banks  according to the Federal Reserve.  Dodd-Frank has nothing to do with it. Businessman Donald Trump said his net worth is $10 billion, but outside estimates put the figure much lower. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush twice claimed that he cut taxes in the state by $19 billion. But that includes cuts in Florida estate taxes mandated by federal law that Bush had nothing to do with. Ohio Gov. John Kasich claimed his state’s Medicaid program "is growing at one of the lowest rates in the country."  Ohio ranks 16th in terms of enrollment growth post-Affordable Care Act among the 30 expansion states and Washington, D.C. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker claimed his state "more than made up" for the job losses from the recession. That’s a lie.  The state has gained just 4,000 jobs since the start of the recession according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Rubio said he had never advocated exceptions for rape or incest to abortion bans, but he cosponsored a bill in 2013 that contained just such exceptions. Boasting about his education initiatives while governor, Bush claimed that the graduation rate "improved by 50 percent." But most of the increase happened after Bush left office; the rate increased about 13 percent when he was governor. Bush claimed that the U.S. spends more per student than any other country, wrong, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Norway all spend more for primary and secondary education. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee repeated the old claim that Obamacare "robbed" Medicare of $700 billion. That’s a reduction in the future growth of spending over 10 years.  No money was taken from Medicare

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said the U.S. sends "$300 billion overseas to buy oil from people who hate our guts."  But that’s spending on all oil imports, including from Canada and Mexico. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal claimed a study proved "expanding Medicaid does not improve health care outcomes."  The study he cited measured only three health indicators over a two-year period, and even then found some positive benefits. Former New York Gov. George Pataki said when he left office, "there were over 1 million fewer people on welfare in New York state than when I took office."  True, but that decrease was part of a national trend after President Clinton signed the 1996 welfare overhaul legislation. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum claimed that "almost all"  immigrants in the past 20 years "are unskilled workers." Not so. In 2010, 30 percent of working-age immigrants had a college degree while 28 percent lacked a high school diploma. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry claimed that under his tenure, and since the recession, Texas gained jobs while the rest of the country lost them. According to the job-growth measure used by most economists, the rest of the country gained 1.2 million jobs, while Texas gained the same. Santorum also exaggerated in saying 74 percent of Americans lack a college degree. The number for those age 18 and older is 65 percent. Jindal claimed President Obama said that "we don’t have leverage with China to get a better deal on Iran," because the U.S. borrows money from China. Not exactly. Obama said economically cutting off the world’s largest banks, China and other countries would have economic consequences for the U.S.