On Halloween, I’m sitting warm and dry inside while the rain and wind sweeps across the central Oregon Coast. Tonight television will finish the weeks of badly-done films meant to scare people. Not nearly as good as these wonderful creepy creatures such as this tube-nosed bat. And certainly not as scary as the scary masked creatures behind the podium at the GOP debates last Wednesday. Not satisfied with spending four hours in two different debates manipulating those watching through lies and evasions, several candidates have decided to make their mark by changing the entire debate process as the put-upon candidates try to rig future performances by using radical extremists to give them a pass on all their wacky, destructive ideas.
Those who watched the debates probably noticed all the missing economic topics—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, effects of the Great Recession, China’s economic slowdown, the country’s physical infrastructure, etc. Asked about their position on the recently passed budget bill, candidates chose to have temper tantrums to avoid answering questions.
The lying started at the little kids’ table (the first debate) with Bobby Jindal claiming that the Democrats “forced Obamacare and socialism down our throats.” The Affordable Care Act comes from Mitt Romney’s plan proposed by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation—and uses private insurance companies. People in the United States are far happier with the socialist Medicare plan. Jindal also repeated the myth that the U.S. has the world’s highest corporate tax rate. In theory, it is only the third highest, and in practice, corporate taxes in the U.S. are among the lowest of developed countries.
Lindsey Graham said that Boeing was in South Carolina because of the state’s taxes. That might be partly true because the state gave hundreds of millions of dollars of gifts that most citizens and firms never receive. Also the falsely-named “right-to-work” laws in South Carolina give Boeing the opportunity to pay slave wages to its employees. Graham also maintained that Russians wouldn’t be in Ukraine if Ronald Reagan were president. They were in Ukraine all during Reagan’s two terms.
None of the candidates in the first debate worried about a possible merger between Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors that would control 73 percent of the U.S. market. Rick Santorum said he drinks a lot of Coors beer and there wouldn’t be a problem because he sees a lot of breweries in his travels. Graham said that he’s the “best bet” for good beer policy because “my dad owned a bar.” He uses that experience a great deal on any issue in his campaign.
Candidates touted several ways to improve life in the United States. Mike Huckabee would end disease, Ted Cruz would abolish the Federal Reserve and return the county to the gold standard, and Carly Fiorina would reduce the 70,000 pages of tax code to just three pages.
Because the debate’s focus was the economy, candidates talked a great deal about tax rates—in very general terms. Both Donald Trump and Ben Carson want all taxes to be at 15 percent, and Rand Paul offers a zero option for payroll taxes. John Kasich explained how the other candidates’ plan would leave the country “trillions and trillions of dollars in debt,” but his opponents couldn’t come out of their alternative reality to answer. They just got upset that their plans would be questioned. Here is the exchange between Becky Quick and Carson regarding questions which about Carson’s vague plan that candidates found “unfair.” Earlier Carson claimed that he would not ever raise the debt ceiling if he were elected president and showed he didn’t understand the difference between the process that agrees to pay debts and the budget, which incurs future obligation.
Candidates complained about “gotcha” questions, but their responses, either lies or evasions, were to substantive questions. For example, Becky Quick asked:
“Senator Rubio, you yourself have said that you’ve had issues. You have a lack of bookkeeping skills. You accidentally intermingled campaign money with your personal money. You faced foreclosure on a second home that you bought. And just last year you liquidated a sixty-eight-thousand-dollar retirement fund. That’s something that cost you thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties. In terms of all of that, it raises the question whether you have the maturity and wisdom to lead this seventeen-trillion-dollar economy. What do you say?”
Rubio dodged the question and said, “You just listed a litany of discredited attacks from Democrats and my political opponents. I’m not gonna waste sixty seconds detailing them all.” Then he wasted his 60 seconds by repeating the story about his immigrant parents. Politifact, more kindly to conservatives, pointed out that Rubio had paid his wife and relatives thousands of dollars, double-billed expenses, lost thousands of dollars in fees and penalties by liquidating a retirement fund, “forgot” about a home equity loan, and charged personal items such as grocery bills and car repair to the Republican party. Rubio may have “won” the debate, but only because he appeared sincere and a little wounded while he lies about facing foreclosure on a second house he co-owned with another scandal-plagued politician.
Another question came from moderator Carl Quintanilla about Carson’s connection with “a company called Mannatech, a maker of nutritional supplements, with which you had a 10-year relationship. They offered claims that they could cure autism, cancer, they paid $7 million to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas, and yet your involvement continued. Why?” Even conservative National Review described Carson’s denial of involvement as “bald-faced lies.” Videos show Carson talking about how Mannatech’s product helped him fight cancer, even after the cash settlement. His belief in the curative powers of larch-tree bark and aloe vera extract for his prostate cancer gives concern about the doctor’s knowledge of medicine. Carson declared Quintanilla’s question “very unfair.”
Quintanilla’s question about the budget was the one that set Cruz over the edge:
“Congressional Republicans, Democrats and the White House are about to strike a compromise that would raise the debt limit, prevent a government shutdown and calm financial markets that fear another Washington-created crisis is on the way. Does your opposition to it show that you’re not the kind of problem solver American voters want?”
As a master debater, Cruz ignored the question by claiming that the media was focused on style and not substance. He then complained about the “easy” questions addressed at the Democratic debate. By the way, the first question of the Democratic debate, for Hillary Clinton, was “Will you say anything to get elected?”
Fiorina switched her former lying about Planned Parenthood to the claim that “92 percent of the jobs lost during Barack Obama’s first term belonged to women.” The Washington Post factchecker reported that this statement came from falsehoods of the Mitt Romney campaign. Fiorina said that the Washington Post has no credibility and that the poverty rate among women is the highest ever recorded. Asked for supporting data, Fiorina blamed the media for asking questions. CNN reported figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
“In January 2009, there were 66.5 million American women working in non-farm jobs, compared to January 2013 when there were 66.9 million. That’s an increase of over 400,000 working females in Obama’s first term.”
Both Fiorina and Cruz used the figure of 3 million women falling into poverty during Barack Obama’s presidency. According to the Census Bureau, 1.85 million women fell into poverty between 2009 and 2014 1.85 million women fell into poverty. During the same time period, 1.23 million men fell into poverty. The sharply reduced benefits from welfare contribute to part of that fall, which followed a decline starting under George W. Bush. Women lost 1.13 million jobs between January of 2008 and 2009. At this time, unemployment rates for men and women are almost identical—4.7 and 4.7 percent.
The debate was about the economy, and facts—not opinions—show that the economy consistently does better with Democratic presidents than with the GOP. Marketwatch proved that by examining the past seven decades of economic statistics, going back to World War II. Economic growth, adjusted for inflation, averaged 2.54 percent per year under GOP presidents, compared to the 4.35 percent per year under Democratic ones. Better job creation and stock market performance coincide more with Democratic presidents.
The better economy holds true for the current administration despite the growing inequality. In the past five years, the U.S. unemployment rate has been cut in half, and about twelve million new jobs have been created. GDP has grown at a steady, if unspectacular, rate for more than six years. House prices and stock prices rebounded strongly from the Great Recession.
The GOP candidates suffered from their own inadequacies during the debate and solved their problems by claiming that all mainstream media, primarily conservative at this time, was far too liberal to be “fair.” The worst part is that they appear to be controlling the journalistic process. In the last debate, they successfully promoted their lies. Future debates may be total propaganda from the far right. The losers of last week’s debate are 90 percent of the people in the United States if the GOP presidential candidates get their way.