The fourth Republican debate circus

I watched the debate last night. I thought it was a bit of a mess with the moderators not really doing their job. The entire debate was to have been focused on economic issues. Surely the moderators should have looked closely at each candidate’s taxing and spending policies and had the numbers at the ready to challenge them when they made absurd claims?

Instead we had the usual display of magical thinking. We heard all the Republican candidates claim that cutting taxes especially on the wealthy while increasing spending on defense will somehow result in eliminating the deficit, without specifying where the increased revenue will come from. The moderators allowed the candidates to simply make their claims and move on.

The only interesting exchange I thought was when Rand Paul challenged Marco Rubio about his plan to increase spending on defense without explaining where the money would come from. He said that bankrupting the US by this kind of profligate spending was a greater danger. Paul also said that the warmongering rhetoric by the others about what to do in the Middle East, such as creating no-fly zones in Iraq and Syria, would result in a direct confrontation with Russia, and that not talking with Russian president Putin was absurd when the US had always talked to the leaders of the Soviet Union even during the Cold War.

So on substance, I give the debate to Paul. But what he was saying is likely to not be a big winner with Republican voters. What they want to hear is tough talk, candidates bombastically calling Putin a ‘gangster’ (Rubio), saying that you should not even talk to him, and that what we need to do is spend even more money on the military so that we can show the world who’s the boss.

These guys are nuts.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    Surely the moderators should have looked closely at each candidate’s taxing and spending policies and had the numbers at the ready to challenge them when they made absurd claims?

    Ha ha ha ha! Oh wait, you were serious? After the RNC paddled the CNBC moderators for “gotcha” questions?

  2. atheistblog says

    Looks like democratic sheep gonna vote for wolf hillary to rule them and owned by the pigs of plutocracy. I will vote for Jill Stein if Bernie is not on the Nov ballot.
    I am not scared of scare tactics. Republicans say if you vote democrat terrorist win. That’s their scare tactics to win. Democrats say if you vote republicans life will be worse. That’s democrats scare tactics to win. Past 35 years with two democrat president, life is same, trickle down never worked. Actually bill clinton is the very worst to remove glass-stegal.
    I am not scared of neither republican or democrat scare tactics. Neither any supreme court appointee would change my life or millions of millennials student debts, exorbitant housing mortgages or it inevitable coming failure in near future.
    If you want me to care for few in the case of supreme court appointee, then why don’t you support bernie instead of clinton ? So basically you don’t care for most of us, but we have to keep quiet and care for you, and vote clinton for the sake of supreme court nominee ? If you genuinely believe progressive values should prevail nominate bernie, otherwise I am ready to see clinton loose, so democrat establishment and the party worshipers would learn a lesson. If clinton wins presidency it won’t just be continuation of obama, but george bush as well, it will be just wars, wars, wars, more wars.
    I refuse to accept the scare tactics of democrats.

  3. lorn says

    Please, Bernie is, simply, not all that. Bernie has never had full-court press of well funded and media savvy dissembling ideologues, people willing to say or do anything at all, come after him 24/7/365. He hasn’t faced the same sort of GOP wave that the Clintons have.

    The Clintons have ridden out so many GOP storms and slanders that even a inattentive populous has taken notice of their resiliency and toughness. After a decade of lies and accusations the Clintons have developed what amounts to partial immunity from smears.

    Bernie is pretty much going to have to start from scratch and live investigations from his first day in office on. And before you think Bernie won’t make similar compromises as Hillary has you need to consider Bernie’s gun stance.

    It also has to be noted that Hillary has a detailed and well thought through plan to reform banking and finance, Bernie has said he will do the job but, so far, no actual plan. The Clinton plan took years to research and assemble. Bernie’s will be, assuming he comes up with one, something cobbled together during a campaign.

    Clinton is the tried and true product. She isn’t quite as fashionable and shiny as Bernie but she has taken a pounding that would take the shine off a saint. Bernie may have the right stuff but it remains to be seen if he could withstand two decades of coordinated and systematic abuse.

    If that means you vote for Jill Stein … I’ll leave that between you, and your conscience.

  4. Holms says

    ^ You appear to be unaware that Bernie has been in politics for about forty years, and has proudly declared himself ‘socialist’ -- with all the slings and arrows such a term engenders in US politics -- for that entire time.

  5. tkreacher says

    ^ And further that he has one of the, if not the, most consistent voting records of anyone. Picking one stance, on which he hasn’t even waffled much upon, and holding it up as evidence that he will make “similar compromises” to anyone else is absurd.

  6. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Bankrupting the USA by military spending is impossible because the USA operates its own currency. So no, Rand Paul doesn’t win the debate by bringing up the national bankruptcy bogeyman. People have been whining about this all my life. So when is this bankruptcy supposed to happen? Any day now?

    Of course mathematically you can’t lower the deficit by cutting taxes and increasing spending, but who says you have to eliminate the deficit?

  7. Mano Singham says


    Yes, you are right. But when the right talks of ‘bankruptcy’, they mean that large continuing deficit spending will mean interest on the debt will consume an increasing share of revenues and also lead to inflation. But as far as I can tell, this is a false fear, that the debt ratio is not unusually large.

    The focus on eliminating the deficit is just a ruse to cut government, especially regulatory agencies that inhibit unbridled profiting and spending on programs that benefit the less well off.

  8. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I agree completely that the focus on cutting the deficit is about cutting government, i.e. sticking it to the poor and middle class.

    But the debt ratio is a meaningless number. Economists have no data that shows when the debt ratio becomes a problem. Sometimes you will hear it said that 90% is the tipping point after which a country becomes ‘bankrupt’, but again there is no data in support of this number or any other number as a tipping point. Indeed, Japan’s debt ratio is over 200% and Japan is not bankrupt. The idea that a currency-issuing nation can go bankrupt is simply nonsense.

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