Debate Breakdown: What We Learned About GOP Economic Proposals

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Seven GOP presidential contenders on the stage before the Republican presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire on June 13, 2011. (AFP/Getty)

Last night was the first New Hampshire debate of the 2012 GOP nomination process. Reihan Salam, columnist for The Daily and blogger at the National Review Online, discusses what we learned about the various candidate's economic proposals.

When Michele Bachmann called the EPA "the job-killing organization of America," she was speaking to Republican primary voters, Salam said.

A lot of Republicans identify very strongly with small business, with small entrepreneurs, and there is a pervasive sense that regulation is a great barrier to creating employment and to allowing for flourishing young businesses in the country.

On the other hand, when Herman Cain said he wanted to phase out Social Security and replace it with a personal retirement account option, he certainly wasn't speaking to the Republican mainstream.

It's actually saying that we'd need to take on a huge amount of debt to transition to this new system, that new system might be a more stable system that is more encouraging of work ethic and economic growth, but the problem is that Republicans have been talking constantly about how debt is the worst thing in the world.

Tim Pawlenty projected an unprecedented, five percent growth rate for ten years if his economic plans are enacted, which Salam said might sound good but is unrealistic.

If we really knew how to fine-tune the economy in that way then we would have done it a very long time ago. The problem is that we really are starved of revenue. We certainly shouldn't bank on a five percent growth rate for a ten year period of time, and that's what Tim Pawlenty seems to be doing. We can aspire to it, but I don't think that's a reasonable goal.

Mitt Romney didn't make broad claims like T-Paw, and Salam said that was a shrewd strategy.

If he preserves options, if he doesn't make explicit commitments to policies he's going to pursue, that means that if he does wind up winning the presidency he will have the ability to pivot as necessary to deal with changing economic circumstances.

Overall, Salam thought that the debate was encouraging relative to the debates four or eight years ago.

I was really struck by the fact that they were really talking about economic policy issues, rather than a lot of the cultural issues they might have been talking about in the past. They seemed to be on message. They weren't accusing the President of being a socialist. They weren't talking about civil liberties in a way that was problematic for someone like me who is a civil libertarian.


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Comments [11]

Reba Kay from East Village

Do tax cuts for the rich create jobs?

Look to Newt Gingrich's $250,000 bill at TIffany's. Rich people are feathering their nests.

We are becoming a two class country--rich and poor. The middle-class is swelling the ranks of the latter.

Jun. 14 2011 10:46 AM

regulation = safety

Jun. 14 2011 10:25 AM
Brian from brooklyn

The guest just agreed with Bachman that the US has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. That was a disingenuous statement. The % is 35, which yes is the highest. However, the EFFECTIVE tax rate once corporations take advantage of all the deductions, credits, and exemptions place the US as one of the lowest effective tax rates in the world.

Jun. 14 2011 10:22 AM

Brian, please ask this guy how he feels about being represented by a line up of circus clowns!

Jun. 14 2011 10:20 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Brian, thanks for having a conservative comment on the debate.
The maturity shows.

Jun. 14 2011 10:20 AM

According to the charts posted last week on HuffPo by the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, the GOP is the great job destruction machine.

See the GOP stole supply-side economics from the Soviet Union command economy. It allows the CEOs & friends to skim off the top by simply not paying workers for doing their jobs. So last night's debaters should be thanking their true ancestors - Lenin, Stalin & their oligarchist successors.

Jun. 14 2011 10:18 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

No precedent for 5% growth?

Over the 40 years from 1968-2008, GDP grew from $900B to $14.5T (16x)
That's a doubling every ten years, which implies a 7.2% rate of growth.
The problem is that most of that growth in the economy DID NOT go in to middle class pockets. Too much went to folks who don't spend domestically.

Raise taxes on the upper bracket earners.
Raise incomes for the middle class.

Jun. 14 2011 10:17 AM
michael from greenpoint

ughh. not to sound crazy, but i would almost rather sarah palin run than bachman. she's not an idiot. palin is. bachman's idea's scare me. palin's ideas make smack my face.

Jun. 14 2011 10:13 AM
The Truth from Becky

I learned absolutely nothing about the GOP economic proposals...not because I wasn't listening but because the only word I heard over and again was OBAMA...thanks for reinforcing the vote for OBAMA in 2012.

Jun. 14 2011 10:12 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Even though I don't agree with much of Reihan Salam's policy proposals/politics, I respect him and his willingness to enter discussion (viz. his regular appearances on Bill Maher). If only other right-wingers were so open and reasonable...

Jun. 14 2011 10:12 AM

Can you guys discuss how, and why Gary Johnson was locked out of last night's debate?

Jun. 14 2011 10:12 AM

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