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Monday, September 12, 2011

"Tea Party Debate" Live Blog

Sept 12th, 2011

Final thoughts. Wolf Blitzer's moderation may have been the most weak-kneed and off point I have ever seen at such an affair. There was almost no follow up.

The only mentions of banking at any time during this evening's debate were calls for further deregulation and the elimination of Dodd-Frank.

The subject of immigration was vacant, save for Rick Perry's being piled-on for his relatively humane policies in Texas.

Health Care costs were the government's fault. Eliminating Obamcare was the only real proposal other than tort reform.

Of all the debates so far, the least was learned. The audience was at times actually bloodthirsty, with one member loudly cheering the thought of an American being allowed to die for lack of medical coverage.

Taxes should be zero for corporations... except GE. Entitlements are bad and must be radically overhauled... unless, of course, your are already receiving Social Security... in which case, you've got yours so screw the rest and vote GOP!

Executive orders are bad! Except when they are issued in favor of conservative talking points (repealing Obamacare).


I'll have more on the whole train wreck tomorrow.

8:55 pm cst - Blitzer asks what each candidate would bring to the White House and frames the question by referencing various POTUS building additions like bowling lanes and vegetable gardens. I am not making this up.

Santorum says he'd add a bedroom because he has seven kids. Gingrich says he would kick out "the Czars" the first day. Ron Paul says he would bring a course in Austrian economics. Perry says he'd bring his hot wife. Seriously. Romney says he'd put back the bust of Churchill. Bachmann says she'd bring copies of the Constitution, Declaration and the Bill of Rights... because, like, there can't possibly already be copies of those in there somewhere. Cain says he'd bring a "sense of humor to the White House because America is too uptight." Huntsman says he'd bring his Harley. And Blitzer is out of there.

8:48 pm cst - Huntsman flat out says we need to leave Afghanistan and that the nation building we need to do is domestic. A breath of fresh air. Perry dodges a question about the costs of war.

8:44 pm cst - Energy. Cain says "remove barriers" like the EPA. He proposes a regulatory reduction commission  Apparently he thinks we will solve certain problems by redefining them as not problems. Gingrich argues against defense reductions. Which is a result of Blitzer's total failure as a moderator on every possible level. Ron Paul attempts, as usual, to differentiate between "defense" and offense. Santorum brings up yesterdays Ron Paul blog post and says it was "parroting Osama Bin Laden." Wow. Santorum is selling big piles of "existential threat."

8:37 pm cst - Perry is very much on the defensive. He is in between the rock of anti-immigrant sentiment in the current GOP base and the hard place of not being able to speak openly about the absurdity of unilateral policy. Huntsman asks when we are going to have an "honest conversation" about the Department of Homeland Security without offering and fixes.

8:35 pm cst - Immigration. Santorum says "more fence" on the "unsecured border." It's good to know he doesn't want "stormtroopers." WTF? Perry calls the federal government a failure for not militarizing effectively. What about those already here? No plan. What about the Hispanic vote? Santorum argues for "official English" laws. WTF? Perry gets booed for defending in-state tuition for Texas' undocumented immigrants. Perry calls the Texas system a "state's right's" issue. Huntsman calls Perry's statement that the border can never be totally, militarily secured "treasonous." Ouch.

8:27 pm cst - This is truly ugly. The audience really got behind Ron Paul arguing that society has no responsibility to its weaker members. These views are so far removed from the founding principles these folks purport to believe. It's all about some delusion notion of the individual. This party has spent thirty years diminishing both the power of the individual and the individual's right to redress. But it's "pick yer self up by yer bootstraps time."

8:21 pm cst - Bachmann actually attacks Perry's link to Merck and the HPV vaccine order. Perry says he "is offended." Bachmann says she "is offended as a mother of three girls." Whoa. This getting good. Santorum manages to defend the general principle of vaccine requirements based on disease communicability. Far out. Against Perry but not public health. Perry seems a little off kilter so he says he is the "most pro-life."

The first mention of health care cost increases! Cain attacks Obamacare first and foremost. He is an ass. More "nine nine nine." Tort reform is the problem in his view. I doubt he is aware of how many Americans are crippled and killed by doctor error every year. Romney actually endorses "cost savings accounts." It's unclear if he is saying people should pay more. Is this some new version of "skin in the game?" He'll grant an all-state waiver from Obamacare.

Romney, scared of his own Mass healthcare policies tells two whoppers in a row. Obamacare raised taxes 500 billion (implying immediately) and cut $500 Billion from Medicare (implying immediately).

Someone in the audience just cheered the thought of letting someone die who has no insurance.

8:10 pm cst - Gingrich throws red meat about GE paying "no taxes" as an a way to deflect the issue of subsidies. More domestic drilling will somehow equal more domestic manufacturing. Or something. He gets a cheer simply for spouting the phrase "Obama depression." Do any of them support the "Fair Tax?" Romney tries to wriggle around it by not speaking ill of it while not endorsing it. He gets boos for pointing out that it would disproportionately impact the lower income. Then he "recovers" by endorsing zero taxes for capital gains and interest. Ron Paul, surprisingly, hedges on the issue of executive orders. Perry says his controversial HPV executive order was a mistake. "I made a mistake." But say he will use executive orders to get rid of "Obamacare" right after saying that the problem with the HPV order was bypassing his state legislature. Get it? Bachmann takes a shot at the recent family planning directive from Obama by saying it was free morning after pills for everyone! Wow.

8:02 pm cst - Should we audit the FED? Santorum says yes and argues that we change its charter to limit it to central monetary policy and give it no employment role. Says the corporate tax rate should be ZERO. Seriously. Cain says yes and, surprise, should have narrower focus. Bachmann gets the "Bernanke treason question" ala Perry and before she even answers... the audience starts cheering the idea of a trial. These people are nuts. Avoids the question. Perry squirms on it but still doubles down by implying that the FED is being used for "politics." This continues to shine a light on the fact that this Republican field seems to hold no private financial forms accountable for the recession and collapse.

7:54 pm cst - Perry boasts about his having created an army of burger flippers by touting "tort reform." This is just surreal. Ron Paul disputes ever having to offset tax cuts. Newt Gingrich touts the job creation of the 90s and says he doesn't take credit, but... it happened on his watch. Not one candidate has addressed the fact that the crisis is still rooted in the housing bubble. Not one mention of derivatives or MBS. Cain has the gall to call himself "pro worker." Huntsman actually says government has a responsibility to create an environment for business. This really shows how far from the rest of the field's rhetoric he is. Everyone else has spent the evening essentially arguing there is no role for government.

7:45 pm cst - Huntsman is the first to address unemployment. He says tax reform is about ending "corporate welfare." Great. But then launches into an accusation that "Obamacare" is stifling hiring. He calls America's addiction oil "Heroin-like." Perry actually says that the first stimulus resulted in "zero jobs." Outright lie. Amazing. No one calls him on it. Bachmann celebrates her opposition to the debt ceiling increase and... outright lies that the raise was for future spending and not for paying bills coming due. Cain goes back to his lunatic chant of "nine nine nine." Oh, and also scrap the tax code altogether. Blitzer actually says with a straight face that Perry "created more jobs than any other state." Romney attacks the NLRB Boeing decision and the crowd eats it up. I think you can be sure that these folks aren't regularly too familiar with CNN.

7:36 pm cst - Just before the break, Bachmann played the first real class war card. "Ownership society" and "personal responsibility." How we can have a broad base of the first and reliance on the second with a fundamental collapse in job creation stretching back a full decade is anyone's guess. Thus far, there has been an extreme lack specific policy pronouncements other than the most radical. The only programs any candidate has outright called for eliminating are still Dodd-Frank and "Obamacare." Not one question or signifigant statement about the nearly tens years of war within which we are still entrenched.

7:30 pm cst - Next question. How do we balance the budget without compromising seniors? Gingrich calls the question a response to "Washington mythology." All qwe have to do is "modernize." Whatever the hell that means. He goes after Medicare "fraud" and "crooks." Of course, nothing about military waste. Would anyone repeal the "prescription drug benefit?" Santorum hedges and essentially endorses Ryan style privatization. Perry is touting the combining of services in Texas... the state which does have the worst level of care and coverage in the United States.

7:25 pm cst - Paul says soc sec is "broke." He endorses privatization. Cain says "I don't care what you call it" and endorses optional "personal retirement accounts." Oh dear. Romney throws in "the Ryan Plan." Gingrich throws in the first direct jab at Obama implying no one on the dais scares the elderly more than Obama. War-whoops from the crowd. He reminds the audience that Obama "threatened not to send" the social security checks twice without mentioning it was due to the debt limit hostage situation.

7:19 pm cst - The first question is from a "tea party" citizen. How do you keep the senior vote and "change social security." Bachmann pulls the usual seniors are fine, you'll get yours, it's the younger folks who will have to accept reform. She calls the Medicare reforms in Obamacare "theft."

Perry does the same damn thing. You'll get yours. It's just future generations who will be cut out. Calls it a "broken system." He sidesteps his previous "ponzi schemes" accusations.

Romney calls Perry on, yup, his book. Romney is drawing a very smart line between himself and the radical rhetoric. Perry shoots back by attacking the New Deal as a whole. Romney doubles down on whether Perry still believes in total dismantlement, "like you did six months ago." Wow. The crowd belongs to Perry.

7:13 pm cst - They get to introduce themselves instead of taking questions. Bachmann actually talks policy: repeal Dodd-Frank and Obamacare. Perry reiterates making Washington "inconsequential." Paul is the only one who mentions the Constitution.

7:08 pm cst - Okay... it's National Anthem time. Still no actual debate, type stuff. Lots of crane work over the hopefuls.

7:05 pm cst - I am trying to remember ever having seen a "debate" before where there were no questions five minutes in.

7:00 pm cst - Good Lord. The opening promo video is like a trailer for a bad soap. The music reminds me of an old episode of "Wiseguy."

6:50 pm cst Pre debate - Well, it's the same rogues gallery, this time brought to us courtesy of CNN. However, tonight's GOP debate is sponsored specifically by the Tea Party, the least popular group in America and yet still the most powerful and dominant influence within the Republican base. This could be something.

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