Reaction to the Sept 7th Republican Presidential debate

We heard lots of information and opinions get thrown out on stage at the Republican Presidential debate last night. Here are my opinions, corrections and commentary on what the aspiring Presidents said.

Job Creation

All three of the former governors (Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney) claim that their record shows  they would be the best job creator as President. They have also found ways to trash the job records of  their opponents. How can all of these guys have simultaneously been both one of the best and one of the worst job creators as governor?

Its because these “job creation rankings” are just junk. Depending on how you measure, anyone could be the best job creator in the nation! There are so many different ways to measure “jobs created” that doing so is meaningless. Do you measure net jobs or total jobs created? Do you measure over the entirety of a governor’s tenure or only certain portions? Should you compare a governor to his predecessor or take into account the national picture? You can judge the numbers in any way to make yourself look good. Romney actually made a good point in the debate when he noted that economies states are very different and governors really have little control over how well the economy does under their tenure.

Ben Bernanke

Both Newt Gingrich and Romney took shots at the Chairman of the Fed, Ben Bernanke, saying that he should be fired because (in Gingrich’s words) “I think he’s been the most inflationary, dangerous, and power-centered chairman of the Fed in the history of the Fed,”  and in Romney’s words “I think Ben Bernanke has overinflated the amount of currency he’s created.” (video here) So here’s the question: has inflation even been that bad under Bernanke?

I certainly don’t think so. Sure the price of gas is up, but the Fed doesn’t have much to do with that and most other prices seem to be stable. But let’s look at what the experts have to say. According to the consumer price index (CPI) numbers from the OECD, the US has had less inflation over the past four years than the average industrialized country and less inflation than Europe as an average. We can also compare inflation over the six years of Bernanke’s term to the previous six years under his predecessor, Alan Greenspan. Using data from the St. Louis Fed, (Bernanke started in early 2006), we can see that inflation has been roughly the same over six years of Bernanke as it was over the previous six years of Greenspan.

Then after you think back to the inflation of the 1970s, it is clear that these criticisms of Bernanke are completely false and misleading.

Rick Perry

Perry seemed to be the big story of the night, considering he is now the front-runner for the nomination and this is his first time on the debate stage. Perry got plenty of questions and made many juicy comments. Among them, he again called  Social Security a Ponzi scheme. I really don’t know how that’s a good way for a politician to describe one of the most beloved and useful programs in US history, but there it is.

Perry also stumbled when he said that the science wasn’t settled on global warming, going as far as to say that global warming deniers are like Galileo. I would say that people who deny scientific evidence because it conflicts with their economic views are more like the people who denied Galileo’s scientific evidence because it conflicted with their religious views, than they are like Galileo. That seems to have been a terrible analogy.

Perry probably won a lot of conservative backers with his defense of his state’s use of the death penalty. Texas executes more people than any place this side of Iran, so the moderator, Brian Williams, asked Perry if he was ever kept awake at night wondering if he had sent an innocent man to the execution room. Perry responded he has absolute faith in the system. So Perry has absolute faith in a government bureaucracy to be right 100% of the time when it comes to life and death, but distrusts the government at all other times? The only thing the government can do perfectly is kill people? Talk about a contradiction. O, and here’s an innocent man put to death in Texas in 2004.

Finally, Perry was assaulted by Rep. Ron Paul, former Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Michele Bachmann over trying to mandate that young girls in Texas receive the HPV vaccine (there was an opt-out for opposed parents). Laying aside for a second the fact that Perry received a few thousand dollars in campaign contributions from the maker of the vaccine, this was a good idea of Perry’s. The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to get an HPV vaccine and I believe this was a good public health decision by Perry.

Michele Bachmann

And I saved the most laughable for last. Michele Bachmann repeated her assertion that as President she would get gas below $2.00 a gallon. Oil is a freely traded, global commodity and no amount of drilling in the United States is going to significantly lower the price of gasoline, certainly not in the short term. Huntsman called Bachmann out on this at the debate because there is no way a President can seriously make a promise like this.

All in all, it was an entertaining debate. If I had to pick, I’d say that Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman both looked Presidential on the stage and acquitted themselves the best. They would be formidable opponents for Obama.

Advertisements
    • David
    • September 9th, 2011

    The fear of any of the more sane candidates like Romney or Huntsman winnin the nomination keeps me awake at night. Because Obama could easily handle the crazy ones, but I’m not so sure about Romney.

  1. I feel the same way. But then sometimes I have those nightmares where, against all odds, the Republicans nominate Rick Perry. Then something terrible happens, the campaign goes off the wires and he gets elected President. Then lots of terrible things start happening.

      • K
      • September 11th, 2011

      That’s funny! I have nightmares that Obama will somehow get re-elected and terrible things will continue to happen for another four years. Can’t you see our country crumbling under the current president?

      • I’m confused. Are you referring to our crumbling infrastructure (which Republicans refuse to fix), our crumbling economy (which Republicans refuse to do anything about) or our crumbling stock market value (which started slipping when Republicans brought the country to the brink of default)?

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: