Nov. 14th DEMOCRATIC DEBATE: Middle Class, College Tuition, RX Costs, Wall Street, Redistribution Of Wealth, Minimum Wage, Gun Safety…

By Russ Phillips At the Democratic Debate on November 14, 2015 there was discussion about Wall Street and financial institutions as well as redistribution of wealth and other topics. Some have been included in the partial transcript below. Some may … Continue reading

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  • Fiorina: “Well, first Obamacare has to be repealed because it’s failing… [applause]…it’s failing the very people it was intended to help, but, also, it is croney-capitalism at its worst.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]”

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: … Continue reading

“Shadow Banking” At Last Night’s Democratic Debate: Are We Paying Attention?

By Russ Phillips During last night’s Democratic debate reference was made to the Glass-Steagall Banking Act. This resonated with me due to the fact that recently I visited the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and there was a display regarding … Continue reading

The GOP debate: 5 things to watch

Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have a chance Wednesday to prove they’re for real. By Alex Isenstadt 9/16/15 LOS ANGELES — It’s only the second of 12 scheduled GOP debates. But Wednesday’s primetime showdown at the Reagan Library in … Continue reading

Here Are 21 Policy Highlights From the First 2016 Republican Debate

The Daily Signal By Melissa Quinn and Natalie Johnson, News Reporters 8/7/15 The 2016 primaries are in full momentum following months of build-up, officially kicking off on Thursday night in prime-time as the ten leading Republican candidates squared off for … Continue reading

What do they stand for? Good luck finding out

(You will also find links to the candidates’ websites and snippets of info on this website here. – Admin.)

A review of the GOP candidates’ policy websites discovers big gaps at the top.
By Darren Samuelsohn


Nolan D. McCaskill | Politico

Presidential campaigns once saw their websites as useful tools to tell voters where they stood on the big policy issues of the day. Sure, the information may have been a bit wonky, even riddled with bullet points. But Americans genuinely interested in the candidates’ ideas could get some details straight from each one on what they’d do if elected president on everything from Social Security to NATO.

That’s so 2008.

A POLITICO Agenda analysis of the 17 GOP campaigns’ websites found that nearly half lacked a specific “issue” page at all. The absence of a clear, one-stop spigot of policy information was especially notable at the top of the field. Front-runners Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker don’t have policy tabs of any kind. For the rest of the pack, the policy pages of their websites are largely afterthoughts, light on significant detail. There are some exceptions: Rand Paul, the libertarian idea maven, gets deep into the issues and pushes the bounds of where a Republican might go; Chris Christie offers multi-pronged plans on education, the economy and entitlement reform. But overall, what the Republican field has posted online on the policy front is far more a jumble of talking points, previously-published op-eds and random topics — Marco Rubio has a page simply titled “America” — than the kinds of details once considered essential to a serious presidential candidacy.

Campaign veterans say there are several reasons for the shift. For starters, websites are now used more as tools to raise money, sell swag and collect email addresses and other vital information from potential voters, donors and volunteers. As for all that nerdy policy? It can wait.

In part, that’s because many of the candidates aren’t well-funded enough to have staff to develop detailed positions on foreign and domestic issues. (Hence the crucial fundraising role of the website.) But cash is hardly a problem for GOP heavy hitters like Trump and Bush. For them, it’s probably more a matter of being “risk averse” where they “don’t want a lot of policy questions at this stage,” said Doug Holtz-Eakin, a top economic policy adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. More than a year before the general election, when the big issues haven’t all coalesced yet, it can be far more damaging to be associated with the wrong position than helpful to back an easy one. 

In time for the Republican field’s first debate face-off Thursday in Cleveland, here’s POLITICO’s breakdown of the candidates’ policy websites: both what they stand for, and how much they’re putting out there for voters to consider.

Jeb Bush
Issue page? No
What’s online: The former Florida governor has a reputation as a policy wonk. His website? Not so much. Visitors will find a lengthy bio page to “Meet Jeb,” as well as a feature spotlighting the candidate’s latest tweets. He’s also got blog posts recapping recent events where policy has been discussed, like last weekend’s speech in South Florida to the National Urban League and topical essays like his “6 steps” on border enforcement and immigration. But there’s no clearly marked spot where voters can learn details about what Bush would do if elected.

Ben Carson
Issue page? Yes — ‘Ben on the Issues’
What’s online: This is more like a list of 10 topics of interest to conservatives — “Stand by Israel, Our Bulwark Middle East Ally” and “Keep Gitmo Open” — than an actual full-bore policy platform. The retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon keeps his explanations simple too. His education section is among the most detailed, coming in at five paragraphs and a call that “Common Core must be overturned.” On health care, Carson says he’d drop the Affordable Care Act; as a replacement he offers health savings accounts, “which empower families to make their own decisions about their medical treatment.” Each tab conveniently offers visitors a chance to “stand with Ben” by leaving their first and last name, email address and zip code.

Chris Christie
Issue page? Yes — ‘Taking on the Tough Issues’
What’s online: The New Jersey governor wins his party’s policy primary by posting the most detailed ideas of any GOP presidential candidate. Amid town-hall videos of Christie paying tribute to Ronald Reagan and trashing the current leadership in Washington are sections on entitlement reform, including a 12-point plan
 that calls for phasing out Social Security benefits for future retirees and raising the retirement age to 69; a 15-point plan on education suggesting using his work in New Jersey as a “model for reform to the nation”; a five-point plan on the economy that includes corporate tax cuts and lifting the ban on crude oil exports; and a foreign policy plan
 that sticks to typically GOP safe ground like ending sequestration for the military and passing tougher anti-terrorism and surveillance laws.
Ted Cruz
Issue page? No
What’s online: The Texas senator’s site does tout his “proven record” on several core conservative topics, like “The Constitution” and “Life, Marriage & Family.” But rather than spell out what Cruz would do as president, his site lists highlights from his political career in the Senate, as a Bush administration official and as Texas solicitor general. There’s also a little bit of field research, asking visitors to rank nine issues in order of importance —a doubly useful poll for the campaign, since it also collects names, email addresses and zip codes.

Carly Fiorina
Issue page: No
What’s online: Visitors to the former Hewlett-Packard executive learn plenty about who “Carly” is. What they don’t get is much in the way of insight into her policies. There is, however, a petition requesting email address and zip code as a way to register disgust with “career politicians” and to let it be known that “it’s time to put a citizen leader in the White House.”

Jim Gilmore
Issue page? Yes—‘Jim’s Growth Code’
What’s online: A pretty straightforward page from the race’s true long shot. The former Virginia governor offers up five steps that are “simply, squarely and precisely focused on the tax code and restoring America to a sustainable economic growth trajectory.” Among his ideas: setting up a 15 percent tax rate for all business income, and three tax rates for individual income. 

Lindsey Graham
Issue page? Yes – ‘Prepared to be Commander in Chief on Day One’
What’s online: The South Carolina senator’s policy site is presented like a set of Russian nesting dolls. It starts with three very broad topics —”Securing Our Nation”, “Securing our Future” and “Securing our Values” — that each come with general overviews into why Graham is best equipped to be president. From there, visitors can keep clicking for more layers of information about Graham’s foreign/military, economic and social policies. A couple examples: he’d put 10,000 U.S. troops in the Middle East to “defeat forces of radical Islam” and seek legislation that bans abortions after 20 weeks unless the woman’s life is in danger or she’s the victim of rape or incest.

Mike Huckabee
Issue page? Yes—‘Where I Stand on Today’s Issues’
What’s online: There’s a little bit of everything here. Some of the former Arkansas governor’s webpages are pretty simple. Under “Tax Reform” are two short paragraphs explaining why he’d abolish the IRS and enact a “FairTax.” Under “Spending & Debt” are promises to get rid of Obamacare, “secure the border & end illegal immigration” and a general call to “reject the failed Obama-Clinton politics that punish working families and encourage government dependency.” A tab in the issue section for the “Undecided Voter” leads to a page requesting vital info like name and email address —promising an email per week sharing insights on “where Gov. Huckabee stands on the issues.”

Bobby Jindal
Issue page? No
What’s online: The Louisiana governor is well-known in GOP circles for being something of a policy wonk. His website doesn’t reflect that. While there is a 730-word bio offering visitors a chance to “Meet Bobby,” as well as a list of Jindal’s “top achievements” in the statehouse, there’s nowhere to go to find out what he’d do as president. That said, his campaign does have a number of petitions (requesting name, email, zip code) to signal displeasure with everything from Obamacare to Planned Parenthood.
John Kasich
Issue page? No
What’s online: A late entry to the 2016 GOP sweepstakes, the Ohio governor has a website that still looks like a work in progress. It has plenty of biographical information about his record in Columbus and in Congress as the chairman of the House Budget Committee. But the most a visitor would find here about Kasich’s presidential plans is a brief note that he would “make balancing the federal budget a top priority and continue to fight for a Constitutional amendment to force Congress to do its job and balance the budget.”

George Pataki 
Issue page? No
What’s online: For starters, there’s a chance to “Meet George” and “Meet Libby.” Beyond that? No one-stop shop for the former New York governor’s stance on the big issues of the day. For visitors willing to sift through video links, however, there are plenty of Pataki media hits, in which he explains everything from why Congress should nix the Iran deal to why he’s not a big fan of the Common Core education standards.
Rand Paul
Issue page? Yes—‘Rand Paul on the Issues’
What’s online: The Kentucky senator gives Rubio some competition when it comes to the sheer breadth of areas he tries to cover online. At last count, Paul had 18 different subtopics, including a couple that break from the GOP norm, like “criminal justice reform” and “civil liberties.” Each click leads to a brief explanation into why Paul thinks the item is important; several include YouTube videos of the candidate himself. As for solutions, the website mostly touts bills Paul has introduced, like the RESET Act, which would loosen some drug laws, and a proposal to impose term limits on all members of Congress. 
Rick Perry
Issue page? Yes—‘Expanding Opportunity for All’
What’s online: The former Texas governor whose ‘oops’ moment defined his ill-fated 2012 White House bid is going for the studious look this cycle, thanks to a series of policy briefings in Austin (and some snappy new eyeglasses). But when it comes to his website, it’s all about brevity. Four big picture topics are listed as his platform: “Lower Taxes,” “Retire the Debt,” “National Security” and “Stop Special Interests & Big Government.” But only the “national security” section is longer than one sentence. It’s two.

Marco Rubio 
Issue page? Yes—‘See what Marco thinks about the issues’
What’s online: The Florida senator earns extra credit for being the most creative with his policy tabs. A page titled “America” opens by asking: “What kind of country will we be?” Several other pages are specific to geographic locations, like Cuba, Europe and Iran. The latter actually gets two pages, “Part 2” being a cut-and-paste excerpt from a FoxNews op-ed Rubio wrote in late April as the Obama-led negotiations heated up. Like Paul, Rubio is trying to be seen as a candidate of ideas. But also like Paul, his website’s policy tabs seems to be expressed in breadth more than specifics. 

Rick Santorum
Issue page? Yes—‘Rick on the Issues’ 
What’s online: A short series of explainers that mostly recap where the former Pennsylvania senator has stood on some bedrock GOP issues like immigration and “the sanctity of life.” His economic plan is one paragraph long, though it promises “in a few short weeks” to go into more details into on how he would “end the IRS as we know it.” It also asks for the visitor’s email address to “be the first to hear about Rick’s Economic Plan.”

Donald Trump
Issue page? No
What’s online: Fancy fonts, video highlights from the current GOP front-runner’s recent TV appearances and the latest tweets from @realDonaldTrump. Trump actually has talked about policy on and off over the years, though his actual positions have been hard to pin down—a pattern that continues in this campaign, and on his website, which is void of specific plans.

Scott Walker
Issue page? No
What’s online: There’s a chance to “Meet Scott” via a bio page subtitled: “Humble Beginnings. Bold Ideas.” On his news page are links to campaign statements slamming President Obama’s climate change regulations and Hillary Clinton’s Cuba policy. Visitors can also pick up a $299 personalized autographed copy of Walker’s latest book. But what they can’t find is anything definitive or substantive about what the Wisconsin governor would do in the White House.

My Question for the Republican Presidential Debate

The New York Times By Thomas L. Friedman, Op-Ed Columnist 8/5/15 If I got to ask one question of the presidential aspirants at Thursday’s Fox Republican debate, it would be this: “As part of a 1982 transportation bill, President Ronald Reagan … Continue reading



Associated Press
By Kathleen Ronayne

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A trio of newspapers in the early presidential nominating states is pushing back against the plan by Fox News to allow only 10 Republican candidates on stage in its Aug. 6 debate, the first of the 2016 campaign.

The New Hampshire Union Leader plans to host a candidate forum Aug. 3 at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, in partnership with The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, and The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The event will be live on C-SPAN as well as TV stations in Iowa and South Carolina and a New Hampshire radio station.

All 15 candidates now in the Republican pack have been invited to participate and about half have committed so far.

The Union Leader initially threatened to host a forum on the same day as the Fox debate after more than 50 prominent New Hampshire Republicans wrote to Fox protesting the network’s debate format.

Fox plans to limit its debate to 10 candidates based on their national polling averages. Most contenders at risk of not making the debate stage have committed to the newspaper event, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has yet to declare his candidacy. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also are coming, according to the Union Leader. No details were released about the format.

The publishers of the three newspapers said it’s important for early-state voters to have a look at each candidate on a level playing field.

“There are a lot more than 10 viable candidates,” they said in a statement. “The early primary process gives all candidates a chance to be heard. If networks and national polls are to decide this now, the early state process is in jeopardy, and only big money and big names will compete.”

The Republican National Committee has authorized nine debates, from August through March. It is up to the organizations holding the debates to decide the entry criteria and format. Party rules say any candidate who participates in an unapproved debate will not be eligible for the approved ones. Allison Moore, speaking for the committee, said participation in the New Hampshire newspaper forum will not exclude candidates from the authorized debates.

The campaigns of other candidates – among them former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul – did not immediately say whether those candidates would join the New Hampshire forum.

The first presidential caucuses are in Iowa. The first primaries are in New Hampshire and South Carolina respectively.

Changing Debate Rules to Include Independents

(*See related resources after letter. – Admin.)

The New York Times
By Christopher Shays | Letter

To the Editor:

Americans are frustrated with their polarized political system and believe that their government just isn’t working, and they are right. A majority of voters are seeking solutions outside the two major parties, and there are now more independents than either registered Democrats or Republicans. But currently, independent candidates have no chance to influence the positions of the two party nominees, let alone be elected president, when they are not allowed to fully participate in the political process.

Why? A group of which I’m a part — comprising four dozen academics, business executives, and current and former military and political leaders — believes that the answer lies in the rules governing the 2016 presidential debates. These rules, which exclude independent and third-party candidates, are set by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The commission portrays itself as nonpartisan, but it is dominated by stalwart Democrats and Republicans who are determined to limit competition. Our group advocates a small change in the debate rules that would give a third candidate (just one) a real chance to be on the stage.

In an Upshot essay criticizing our effort (“No, a Debate Stage Isn’t a Magical Springboard for Minor Parties,”, June 4), Brendan Nyhan says changing debate rules “is unlikely to make a third-party or independent candidacy viable.”

Mr. Nyhan uses Ross Perot to illustrate his first point. Mr. Perot, a business executive, was admitted to the 1992 debates but did not win a single Electoral College vote. Actually, Mr. Perot’s experience supports our position. Shortly before the debates, he was favored by just 8 percent of likely voters. But in the election itself, after the debate had legitimized him as a candidate, Mr. Perot received 19 percent of the vote. Mr. Perot didn’t win, but his ideas about fiscal restraint clearly influenced the policies of President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress, resulting in four years of federal balanced budgets.

Today’s environment calls out for an independent candidate far more than 1992 did. Mr. Perot achieved his one-fifth vote at a time when 37 percent of the electorate called themselves independents. Today, the figure is 43 percent and climbing.

Under the current debate rules, an independent can’t get enough exposure to have a reasonable chance of getting elected. But under rules that would actually allow a third candidate to compete, it stands to reason that many Americans would cast their ballots for the kind of candidate whom they prefer, a candidate the partisan Commission on Presidential Debates is trying mightily to keep off the stage.


St. Michaels, Md.

(The writer, a Republican member of Congress from 1987 to 2009, is part of the Change the Rule campaign.)

Related resources:

Presidential Debate News
Change the Rule
Group Seeks to Break ‘Two-Party Stranglehold’ on Presidential Debates
Commission on Presidential Debates
New Group Calls for Changes In Presidential Debate Rules