Yesterday’s GOP debate: Minimum Wage, Balanced Budget, Economy, Taxes, Immigration, ACA, Military, Trade

A transcript of yesterday’s main GOP Debate in Milwaukee, WI will be found here. I mention this at the outset so those who desire can read the candidates’ comments unfiltered by media reports.

Following are several snippets from the debate:

  • Carson: “Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.”
  • Rubio: “If you raise the minimum wage, you’re going to make people more expensive than a machine. And that means all this automation that’s replacing jobs and people right now is only going to be accelerated.”
  • Bush: “Hillary Clinton has said that Barack Obama’s policies get an A. Really? One in 10 people right now aren’t working or have given up altogether, as you said. That’s not an A. One in seven people are living in poverty. That’s not an A. One in five children are on food stamps. That is not an A. It may be the best that Hillary Clinton can do, but it’s not the best America can do.”
  • Fiorina: “Well, first Obamacare has to be repealed because it’s failing… [applause]…it’s failing the very people it was intended to help, but, also, it is croney-capitalism at its worst. Who helped write this bill? Drug companies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, every single one of those kinds of companies are bulking up to deal with big government. See, that’s what happens. As government gets bigger, and bigger — and it has been for 50 years under republicans and democrats alike — and business have to bulk up to deal with big government.”
  • Paul: “No. I don’t think we’re any safer — I do not think we are any safer from bankruptcy court. As we go further, and further into debt, we become less, and less safe. This is the most important thing we’re going to talk about tonight. Can you be a conservative, and be liberal on military spending? Can you be for unlimited military spending, and say, Oh, I’m going to make the country safe? No, we need a safe country, but, you know, we spend more on our military than the next ten countries combined?”
  • Cruz: “You know, I mention that the 25 programs that I put today, that I would eliminate them. Among them are corporate welfare, like sugar subsidies. Let’s take that as an example. Sugar subsidies. Sugar farmers farm under… [bell ringing] …under roughly 0.2% of the farmland in America, and yet they give 40% of the lobbying money. That sort of corporate welfare is why we’re bankrupting our kids, and grandkids. I would end those subsidies to pay for defending this nation…”
  • Trump: “The TPP is horrible deal. It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble. It’s a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone. It’s 5,600 pages long. So complex that nobodies read it. It’s like Obamacare; nobody ever read it. They passed it; nobody read it. And look at mess we have right now. And it will be repealed. But this is one of the worst trade deals. And I would, yes, rather not have it. With all of these countries, and all of the bad ones getting advantage and taking advantage of what the good ones would normally get, I’d rather make individual deals with individual countries. We will do much better. We lose a fortune on trade. The United States loses with everybody. We’re losing now over $500 billion in terms of imbalance with China, $75 billion a year imbalance with Japan. By the way, Mexico, $50 billion a year imbalance.”
  • Kasich: “Well, look, in 1986 Ronald Reagan basically said the people who were here, if they were law-abiding, could stay. But, what didn’t happen is we didn’t build the walls effectively and we didn’t control the border. We need to. We need to control our border just like people have to control who goes in and out of their house. But if people think that we are going to ship 11 million people who are law-abiding, who are in this country, and somehow pick them up at their house and ship them out of Mexico — to Mexico, think about the families. Think about the children. So, you know what the answer really is? If they have been law- abiding, they pay a penalty. They get to stay. We protect the wall. Anybody else comes over, they go back. But for the 11 million people, come on, folks. We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them across, back across the border. It’s a silly argument. It is not an adult argument. It makes no sense. [applause]”

Ben Carson: “…get rid of all government subsidies…”

By Russ Phillips During the 10/28/15 GOP Debate Carson said, “Well, first of all, I was wrong about taking the oil subsidy. I have studied that issue in great detail. And what I have concluded is that the best policy is to get rid of all government subsidies, and get the government out of our lives, and let people rise and fall based on how good they are. And — you know, all of this too big to fail stuff and picking and choosing winners and losers — this is a … Continue reading

Yesterday’s GOP debate: Medicare, Social Security, Corruption, Debt, Taxes and Families

A transcript of yesterday’s main GOP Debate in Boulder, CO will be found here. I mention this at the outset so those who desire can read the candidates’ comments unfiltered by media reports. Following are several snippets from the debate: Huckabee – “…yes, we’ve stolen. Yes, we’ve lied to the American people about Social Security, and Medicare.” Paul: “The main problem with Medicare right now is that the average person pays in taxes over their whole lifetime about $100,000. But the average person takes out about $350,000.” “Medicare” appears 30 … Continue reading

How Trump Exposed the Tea Party

The proof is in: the GOP base isn’t small-government libertarian; it’s old-fashioned populist.

Trump has said:
“Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that.” “As far as single payer [health care], it works in Canada, it works incredibly well in Scotland. … You can’t let the people in this country, the people without the money and resources, to go without healthcare.” “People as they make more and more money can pay a higher percentage” of taxes.

Politico.com
By Michael Lind
9/3/15

Here are some of the things that have been said by the guy who has galvanized the GOP’s Tea Party base and taken the lead in the Republican presidential race:

“Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that.”

“As far as single payer [health care], it works in Canada, it works incredibly well in Scotland. … You can’t let the people in this country, the people without the money and resources, to go without healthcare.”

“People as they make more and more money can pay a higher percentage” of taxes.
Only one of two conclusions can be drawn here. Either the Tea Party base—which the media would have us think mainly consists of angry libertarians inveighing against taxes and runaway big government—hasn’t really been listening to Donald Trump, who made all the above statements, or, alternatively, most of the media have read the Tea Party and its true aims and ambitions entirely wrong.

I suggest the latter is the correct answer. The success of Trump’s campaign has, if nothing else, exposed the Tea Party for what it really is; Trump’s popularity is, in effect, final proof of what some of us have been arguing for years: that the Tea Party is less a libertarian movement than a right-wing version of populism. Think William Jennings Bryan or Huey Long, not Ayn Rand. Tea Partiers are less upset about the size of government overall than they are that so much of it is going to other people, especially immigrants and nonwhites. They are for government for them and against government for Not-Them.

This is what explains a lot of what’s going on now. After all, according to the commentariat, the Summer of Trump was supposed to have been the Summer of Rand Paul. It seems like only yesterday that the media were interpreting the rise of the Tea Party as a triumph of anti-statism and predicting that Paul, with his libertarian views on national security and data privacy, represented the future of the American right.

But Paul has all but disappeared from view, polling in the low single digits, while Trump has soared into the lead, and nothing he says, no matter how outrageous, seems to sour the right-wing base on him. Trump is no libertarian; quite the opposite. He is a classic populist of the right who peddles suspicion of foreigners—it’s no accident that he was the country’s leading “birther” raising questions about Barack Obama’s citizenship—combined with a kind of “producerism.” In populist ideology, society is divided not among rich and poor but among producers and parasites.

Populists are suspicious of unearned wealth, including the interest charged by bankers who manipulate “other people’s money” (to use the phrase of Louis Brandeis). And populists the world over are hostile to the idle or undeserving poor who allegedly live on welfare at the expense of productive workers and capitalists. Populists tend to attribute the existence of large numbers of the idle rich and the idle poor to government corruption. In the words of the 1892 People’s Party platform: “From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes—tramps and millionaires.”

To anyone paying attention, it should have been clear from the 2010 elections onward that Tea Party voters were at odds with the libertarians in the Republican donor class and Beltway think tanks. Further confirmation came when David Brat, an obscure college professor, defeated Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 Republican primary in a shocking upset. Cantor was punished for supporting more legal immigration and amnesty for illegal immigrants, something favored by Republican elites but opposed by conservative voters. Of immigration, Brat told Fox News: “It’s the most symbolic issue that captures the differences between me and Eric Cantor.”

The hostility of the Republican right to illegal immigration is usually attributed by establishment pundits to pure racism, no doubt correctly in many cases. After all, according to traditional free-market libertarianism, open borders are good (“There shall be open borders,” was the mantra of the late Robert Bartley of the Wall Street Journal, summarizing the credo of the free-market right). But in the moral universe of populists, illegal immigrants of any race are classic “parasites” preying on hard-working producers. To begin with, they are all cheaters by definition, violating U.S. immigration laws, unlike legal immigrants who obey the law and wait in line for limited quotas. In addition, according to recent data, 51 percent of immigrant households receive some kind of welfare, compared with 30 percent for native-led households. Reflecting differences in education and income, welfare use is much higher for immigrants from Latin America than from South Asia, East Asia and Europe. Inasmuch as the populist right in the U.K. is galvanized in part by opposition to “Polish plumbers,” it is a mistake to attribute the opposition of populists solely to racism. Populist fears that the country is becoming a welfare magnet for the foreign-born poor also play a part.

Trump has catered to these fears while alienating the Republican establishment by delivering xenophobic putdowns of Mexicans and saying he wants to build a wall along the Mexican border: “I want it to be so beautiful because some day they’re going to call it the Trump wall.” When it comes to trade, Trump is an economic nationalist who has called for tariffs on imports from China and Mexico.

In domestic policy, Trump’s rejection of orthodox conservatism is just as dramatic. The establishment right supports cuts in Social Security and the voucherization of Medicare; Trump does not. No apostasy on Trump’s part is more unforgiveable to the conservative elite than his heresy on taxes. Conservative orthodoxy holds that the rich—no matter how they make their money—are by definition “wealth creators” and “job creators” and that the best way to grow the economy is to lower their taxes further. Trump, however, favors progressive taxation and despises “paper-pushers” on Wall Street: “The hedge fund guys didn’t build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky…. But a lot of them—they are paper-pushers. They make a fortune. They pay no tax. It’s ridiculous, ok?”

A Marist poll of April 18, 2011, proves that Trumpist populism was a fully fledged worldview among Tea Party voters years before Donald Trump announced his run for the Republican presidential nomination. In the survey, 81 percent of self-identified Tea Party supporters opposed raising the federal debt ceiling. But majorities of Tea Party supporters also favored reducing the federal debt by raising taxes on those with incomes over $250,000 (53 percent) and opposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid (70 percent).

***

It was the Great Recession that catalyzed the contemporary Tea Party movement. Like Occupy Wall Street activists, but from the right, Tea Party conservatives objected to the federal government’s bailouts of what they perceived as the rich parasites of the financial sector.

The famous on-air rant on February 19, 2009, by Rick Santelli of CNBC that helped to inspire the movement targeted a second group of parasites or moochers or takers—the potential beneficiaries of a proposal to bail out some homeowners threatened with losing their homes because of their inability to pay their mortgages. In classic producerist fashion, Santelli denounced the unfairness of bailing out “losers” while other hard-working Americans had to struggle to make their mortgage payments:

Government is promoting bad behavior. … Do we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages? This is America? How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage? President Obama, are you listening? How about we all stop paying our mortgages? It’s moral hazard.

A further clue to the values of the Tea Party right was provided by Representative Rob Inglis (R-S.C.), who was reportedly told by a constituent, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” This was widely interpreted by snobbish progressives to indicate that Tea Partiers are too stupid to understand that Medicare is a government benefit. But in fact Tea Party populists are being consistent, if selfish, in favoring universal, earned benefits that benefit people like them, while opposing means-tested welfare, which they suspect is encouraging laziness among the “idle poor.”

Trump’s establishment rivals, like Jeb Bush, accuse him of not being a true conservative. That is true, if conservatism is defined by the beliefs of the Republican Party’s elite donors and the think tank experts whom they subsidize. But if conservatism is defined by what the voters who make up the conservative base actually believe, then it is the deviations of the GOP establishment from right-wing populist orthodoxy that must be explained.

For years the Republican elite has gotten away with promoting policies about trade and entitlements that are the exact opposites of the policies favored by much of their electoral base. Populist conservatives who want to end illegal immigration, tax the rich, protect Social Security and Medicare, and fight fewer foreign wars have been there all along. It’s just that mainstream pundits and journalists, searching for a libertarian right more to their liking (and comprehension), refused to see them before the Summer of Trump.

(Michael Lind is a Politico Magazine contributing editor and author of Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics.)

Highway Trust Fund Basics: A Primer on Federal Surface Transportation Spending

(Be sure and read the section “Diversions from Highway Spending.” The entire article with references is here. Highlighting was done by Admin. – Admin.) The Heritage Foundation By Michael Sargent 5/11/15 Abstract The Highway Trust Fund collects and distributes money dedicated to federal highway and transit projects. The trust fund’s current authorization expires at the end of May, two months before the fund is projected to run out of money due to a $13 billion deficit in 2015. The trust fund consistently spends more on highway and transit projects than it … Continue reading

Graham urges action on climate change

Politico.com
By Jonathan Topaz
6/7/15

Sen. Lindsey Graham is urging action on climate change and endorsing a budget plan that includes tax increases — another example of how the South Carolina Republican breaks with many other conservatives seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

In a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Graham also called out two of his Republican rivals by name and challenged his party for not having an environmental policy.

“Here’s a question you need to ask everybody running as a Republican: What is the environmental policy of the Republican policy? When I ask that question, I get a blank stare,” he said in the interview taped Saturday in Boone, Iowa, where a number of GOP presidential hopefuls attended Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s “Roast and Ride.”

“If I’m president of the United States, we’re going to address climate change, CO2 emissions in a business-friendly way,” the South Carolina senator said. “I do believe that climate change is real.”

”When 90 percent of the doctors tell you you’ve got a problem, do you listen to the one?” Graham added, in a nod to the vast majority of scientists who say climate change is real and caused by human activity.

The senator also urged Congress to pass the Simpson-Bowles budget plan — a deficit-reduction package proposed a couple years ago by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson that includes several tax increases.

Graham, who announced his presidential bid last Monday in his hometown of Central, South Carolina, is a long shot for the GOP nomination in part because he’s alienated some conservatives with his stances on several domestic issues, including support for comprehensive immigration reform. The vast majority of Republican hopefuls have ruled out tax increases and haven’t pushed for legislative action on climate change.

The senator also criticized two fellow GOP presidential contenders — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, whom Graham said wasn’t serious about entitlement reform, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who recently said in New Hampshire that he doesn’t support open-ended military conflicts.

“Most people over there are not buying what these guys are selling,” Graham said.

One of the most outspoken national security hawks in Congress, Graham reiterated in his CNN interview his call for U.S. ground combat troops in the Middle East to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“If you think we can protect America without some troops having to go back overseas and fight for a very long time — most likely, then I’m not your guy,” he said.

Wheel tax vote ahead

Council chooses highest rate; says it wont amount to much The Rochester Sentinel By Wesley Dehne, Staff Writer 5/21/15 Fulton County Council hopes to start collecting on Jan. 1 a wheel tax and excise surtax to help cover road repair and maintenance expenses. That would generate as much as $738,351 a year, which is very little compared to what the county needs, council members said. The council received little opposition from the public Tuesday as it discussed the taxes. It chose to implement the highest taxes it can. They will … Continue reading

Indiana must find a way to deal with big issues

State must find a way to deal with big issues The Indianapolis Star By John Ketzenberger 5/10/15 It already seems like an eon has passed since the Indiana General Assembly called it quits on a tumultuous session just 10 days ago. Is it too soon to start looking ahead? The simple answer is no, there are a lot of important issues that should get more time and attention from lawmakers, including transportation funding, rationalizing the tax structure between local and state government, and ensuring the state’s tax revenue streams are … Continue reading

(Fulton County) Wheel tax considered

The Rochester Sentinel By Wesley Dehne, Staff Writer 4/23/15 The Fulton County Council may implement a wheel tax, or county vehicle registration fee, to help cover the expense of road repair and maintenance. Finance experts say the tax could generate as much as $738,351 for the county and municipal roadwork. The council plans a public hearing about the proposed tax May 19. Todd Samuelson and Heidi Amspaugh of H.J. Umbaugh & Associates, hired to prepare a county excise surtax and wheel tax analysis, presented their report to the council Tuesday. … Continue reading