Eight out of the 14 hopeful GOP presidential candidates took part in the fourth 2016 main debate on November 10 with Donald Trump and Ben Carson center-stage, Gov. Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee moved to the undercard debate, and George Pataki and Lindsey Graham erased from the roster. The place was a Wisconsin city where residents gave only 19 percent of its vote to the GOP ticket of Mitt Romney and Wisconsinite Paul Ryan.
The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United (2010) allows wealthy people to buy politicians, and over half the $300 million donated to candidates in the first six months of the current presidential campaign came from 358 families and their corporations. An average of over $1 million came from the 158 who totaled $176 million in political spending. Almost all this money went to GOP presidential wannabes. (It might be noted that 78 percent of people in the U.S., including 80 percent of Republicans, want to overturn the court ruling, but the 358 families block the vast majority of U.S. voters.)
The best thing about GOP front-runner Donald Trump is that we know who owns him—Donald Trump. As for the others, the billionaires who pull the strings of the candidates largely stay in the background. A Jeb Bush insider confirmed the mega-donors’ attitude: “I just invested in you. Now I need to have my say; you need to answer to me.'”
Rubio’s new billionaire is hedge funder Paul Singer, the Zionist and Israeli Firster who makes money buying up foreign debt at a discount and then suing impoverished countries for the full amount if they default on it. Singer declined a reduction of payments from Argentina, pushing the country to a financial collapse, and Rubio questioned Argentina as a U.S. ally “because it doesn’t pay its debts” in a Senate hearing and called for an international investigation into the Argentine government. Where Rubio will stand on LGBT rights is yet to be seen. Singer has given over $10 million to marriage equality campaigns, and his son married his male partner in Massachusetts in 2009.
Cruz’ hedge fund magnate is Robert Mercer whose fund has been accused by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of bilking the IRS of $6 billion. Cruz also picked up Darwin Deason, a technology entrepreneur, and his son, Doug, who had given millions of dollars to Rick Perry.
Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, who supports Christie for president, is lining up other wealthy donors for the candidate. Rick Santorum once again has Foster Friess, who suggested that women should put an aspirin between their knees as a form of birth control. Ronald Cameron, an Arkansas poultry baron, is behind Mike Huckabee.
By last August, seven candidates had at least $62 million from just 17 ultra-rich families and business connected to non-renewable energy companies with Cruz and Bush leading the pack. Two of Cruz’ fracking billionaires, Farris and Dan Wilks, also support Christianity in schools and education against LGBT policies. Charles Koch claims not to have picked his horse yet.
The primary focus of the debate was clarified by its Wifi password, “StopHillary.” Here are a few of the elitist positions voiced in the debate—almost all of them unanimous:
- No increase in minimum wage. (In his post-knowledge universe, Ben Carson said, “Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.”)
- Do away with government regulations, especially on Wall Street.
- Freeze spending for safety nets, education, environment, science, and technology while increasing the military budget.
- Do away with “five major agencies …: the IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, uh, the Department of Commerce and HUD,” according to Cruz. (Texans should stop telling exactly how many agencies they want to eliminate because of their inability to count. Four years ago Rick Perry couldn’t get past two of three, and now Cruz ended with four of five. Other comments here are worth reading for the black humor.)
- Have flat tax (10 to 20 percent) and do away with all exemptions except for home mortgages and charitable contributions. (Cruz did admit that his 10-percent tax cuts would cost $3.6 trillion over ten years.)
- Get rid of all 11 million undocumented migrants. (John Kasich and Jeb Bush disagreed. This mass deportation would cost $114 billion and reduce the GDP by 5.7 percent in 20 years, taking $1.6 trillion from the economy.)
- Repeal Obamacare (because it isn’t helping anyone) and Dodd-Frank law governing financial institutions. (Since the ACA went into effect, the percentage of uninsured people has dropped from 15 percent to 9 percent.)
- Create a more aggressive (aka threatening) military presence overseas. (An argument ensued about a no-fly zone in Syria when Paul pointed out that this would end up in declaring war on Russia.)
- Erase the deal with Iran.
- Describe Islamic terrorism as the nation’s top threat. (Among registered U.S. voters, 63 percent are more worried about gun violence as compared to 29 percent who fear terrorist attacks.)
No one could answer at least one question: “How are you going to respond to the claim that Democratic presidents are better at creating jobs than Republicans?” Fiorina launched into a long story about talking to a woman before she said, “Yes, problems have gotten much worse under Democrats.” That answer followed the moderator describing how bad the economy has been with GOP presidents. Rubio insisted that the U.S. is the midst of “an economic downturn”: the “downturn” added 270,000 jobs last month, taking the unemployment rate down to 5 percent (an entire percent lower than the rate that Romney promised by 2017), and the U.S. has the strongest economy of any democracy in the world.
After the moderator said that energy production has boomed, greatly moving toward energy self-sufficiency and climate change reversal, Paul said, “ The first thing I would do as president is repeal the regulations that are hampering our energy that the president has put in place.”
Conservative media loved the gentle debate that didn’t require participants to answer the questions or stay with the timeline. Gary Legum at Salon had a different perspective, describing it as “a blizzard of garbage …,[a] mess of lies and crazy:
“The candidates all did what they do. Donald Trump spouted his usual bluster. Ben Carson, as always, was his normal sonorous self. For all I know, he was taking naps standing up at his podium whenever the moderators were talking to someone else. Jeb! Bush still seems like he’s trying to play catch-up to the craziness that the party once ruled by his family has devolved into. John Kasich was prickly, whiny and ineffective. Ted Cruz is a pompous gasbag who might as well just shout “The Constitution!” as his answer to every question. Carly Fiorina repeated her unhinged foreign policy prescriptions from the second debate, when she basically promised to start World War III with Russia. Rubio’s strongest skill seems to be repeating nonsense as his voice climbs the register, as if saying bullshit LOUDER AND LOUDER will make it come true.”
Jon Chait concluded, “In a debate where chastened moderators avoided interruptions or follow-ups, the candidates were free to inhabit any alternate reality of their choosing, unperturbed by inconvenient facts.” Last Tuesday, GOP candidates and their billionaires got the “dream debate” that they wanted.