Republican Debate: Michigan (11-9-11)


The Republicans debated in Michigan on Nov. 9, 2011:

CHINA TRADE: Romney would sue China in the WTO, because he said they are unfairly cheating, and not playing by the rules, as they engage in predatory manipulations of their currency, and make Chinese goods artificially low-priced. Huntsman warned randomly slapping tariffs on Chinese goods would trigger a trade war, which is not a good idea, since China would do the same to our exports. Santorum called tariffs a tax on “you.”

EURO CRISIS: As to Europe, Romney said they should take care of their own problems. What is happening in Italy and Greece, he said, is where we are headed if we don’t change. When asked about U.S. contributions to the IMF used to help the Euro Zone, he said the U.S. must focus of our own deficits. Huntsman warned if we do not get on top of our debt, we will soon look like Europe. Cain said there was not a lot we could do about Italy, because they were already beyond the point of return.

OCCUPY WALL STREET: Huntsman wants to be the President of the 99% as well as the 1%. He agreed we should not bail out corporations, because we spent trillions with nothing to show for it. He disagreed with the anti-capitalism message some made.

BANKS: Huntsman is concerned about “too big to fail” and wants a proper size for banks. We must address the problem of banks too big to fail, because they are setting us up long-term disaster. He said six institutions have 9.4 trillion or 60 to 65% of our GDP with implied taxpayer guarantees of protection, which is unfair to taxpayers. They need to be “right-sized.” The banks need to pay to take the risk away from taxpayers. Cain wants to get regulators off the backs of the banks.

FEDERAL RESERVE: Gingrich would fire the Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, and would audit the Fed with a complete disclosure so we know who was bailed out and why. Paul said the Fed is engaged in price-fixing by setting interest rates well below market levels. We are cheating the elderly of interest income they could earn on their CDs, as banks get loans at zero percent.

HOUSING: What about the 25% who owe more to the bank than their house is worth? Gingrich said “short sales” need to be easier. He thinks the banks profit more from foreclosing than by doing “short sales.” He thinks unemployment is keeping housing from coming back. Romney said holding off the foreclosure process, like the president has done, won’t work. The government cannot buy up all the homes in America. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac gave loans to people who could not afford to pay them back. We won’t see home prices return, unless we let the market work. Bachmann said at the time of the meltdown, 50% of homes were financed by Freddie and Fannie, and now its 90%, and yet they want another 7 billion. Cain would make Freddie and Fannie private entities. Paul said the housing debt has to be liquidated, as we are just prolonging the housing bubble agony. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac just keep demanding more money, Paul said.

CORPORATIONS: Romney said it is not a choice between job creation and maximizing profits. Profits help expand businesses and cause them to hire people, he said. Profitable enterprises hire people. He accused the Democrats of not liking business. Perry wants the market and private sector to make decisions. He would let consumers choose winners and losers. He said if a company is too big to fail, it is too big.

LABOR: Cain said the NLRB should not be telling Boeing what to do in South Carolina.

REGULATIONS: Perry said regulations are killing America, and we need to pull back on them. If it kills jobs, do away with it, he said. He would eliminate three agencies, Commerce, Education, but he could not remember the third, until someone prompted him to say EPA. But then he recanted, and said not the EPA. He later said he was trying to remember the Energy Dept.

AUTO BAILOUT: Romney said the auto bailout was wrong, adding they should have gone through a managed bankruptcy. He opposed giving GM to the UAW, and Chrysler to Fiat. Huntsman did not think the 68 billion dollar auto bailout was a good use of taxpayer money. He said Americans are sick and tired of bailouts.

ENERGY: Huntsman wants energy independence. Bachmann said we need to legalize American energy. Santorum wants to produce energy in this country. He wants to cut all the subsidies, and let the market work. He does not favor incentives to get energy businesses going.

HEALTH: Huntsman said we need to address health care cost containment with the 50 governors. He would not have a costly mandate. Half of health care spending is nonsense, he said. We have to get cost out of the system. Patients need to be empowered. We need truly affordable insurance. Paul supports medical savings accounts and would allow opt-outs from Obamacare. We need market forces in medicine, he said. Perry said if Medicare were run by the states, it would save a ton of money. Romney would let the states do their own programs, but thinks individuals must have insurance. Health care has to work more like a market, where people have a stake cost. The malpractice system is nuts, he said, and should be taken over by the federal government. He said government is playing too heavy a role, and patients need to have a stake in cost. He was asked about providing subsidies for those who cannot afford health insurance. Gingrich would turn health care over to the states for experimentation. Bachmann said health care is too expensive. She said Obama promised we would save $2,500 per year in premiums. We need to end the insurance monopoly in every state and allow a free market. Santorum wants the government out of the health care business, and replace it with a consumer driven market.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Gingrich said President Johnson put Social Security into the general budget, and politicians now hide behind it. The money is there and available and the country ought to pay the debt it owes to those who put it there. Bachmann opposes an extension of the payroll tax cut, because it is blowing a hole in the Trust Fund. Perry talked about going to some kind of vague blended price and wage program.

EDUCATION: Paul said there is no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to be involved in education. He would get rid of student loans. Gingrich was asked about student loans and the fact they cannot be wiped out in bankruptcy. Perry said we have to control college Boards of Regents.

SPENDING AND DEBT: Romney said we cannot continue to pass massive debts to the next generation. Romney wants to cut spending. Paul said spending is taxing. He would cut 1 trillion from five departments in his first year. Bachmann said Washington receives 2.2 trillion but spends 3.7 trillion.

TAXES: Bachmann believes taxes cause jobs to leave the U.S. We have the 2nd highest corporate tax rate in the world, she said. If state and federal rates are combined, she claimed we have a 40% corporate rate. Capital went to places where rates were falling. We have to lower our rates. Santorum was asked if his proposed zero tax on manufacturing would be flatter, simpler, or fairer. He said he was not picking winners and losers. He said the government made us uncompetitive, and we need to compete on taxes. Perry proposed a 20% flat tax on personal and corporate incomes. Cain would throw out the current tax code. We need something simple, since complexity is costing 430 billion a year. He wants all treated the same, without winners or losers. Romney was asked why he was holding on to the progressive income tax. He said he wanted flatter rates.  He wants special breaks removed. He would reduce the corporate rate from 35% to 25%. Bachman said there is something wrong with the income tax when only 53% pay it, and 47% do not. She wants everyone to pay something. Huntsman wants to phase out loopholes, deductions, corporate welfare, and subsidies. He would lower rates.

HARASSMENT: Cain said he was being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded sexual harassment accusations. Voters don’t care about the character assassination, he said. Romney would not say if a CEO like Cain could be kept.

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