Posts tagged ‘Jobs’

11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Economic Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) DEFICITS AND DEBT: Which party has shown an ability to end deficit spending and produce surpluses? Reagan made drastic tax cuts for the rich in 1981 and 1986, and tripled the debt. Bill Clinton’s budget in 1993 was passed by Democrats, without a single Republican vote, and it led to surpluses. Little Bush cut tax rates again, started an optional war in Iraq, and failed to request taxes for it. He just handed a great recession to Obama. While right-wing Republicans control the House, and promise to spend more on the military, they stubbornly refuse to tax for it. There’s no reason to believe they are capable of managing the debt.

(D) TAXES IN GENERAL: Which party is more likely to implement fair tax policies that may correct the deficit and debt. Romney said he would not raise taxes. (1-8-12). He stated a desire to lower them even further. (1-16-12). He said we only need taxes for the military, nothing else. (1-7-12) With these extreme positions, he would never get close to correcting deficits and debt.

(D) TAXES: CAPITAL GAINS, DIVIDENDS AND INTEREST: Which party has the better position on taxes as to capital gains, corporate dividends, and interest income? Romney repeatedly said during the Republican debates he wanted to completely eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest (9-7-11) (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (12-10-11) (1-16-12) He later said he would limit his plan to incomes of less than $200,000. (1-23-12) In either event, it’s unfair to people who pay taxes on earned income. His policies would either raise taxes on the Middle Class, or make the deficit and debt worse. He never explained how he would make up for the lost revenues.

(D) TAXES: PAYROLL: Which party is more likely to promote tax cuts for regular workers? Romney was dismissive of Obama’s ongoing payroll tax cuts, as he called them a band-aid (12-10-11)

(D) TAXES: CORPORATE: Romney advocated lowering the highest corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. (11-9-11). This new loss of revenue would have to be made up by the Middle Class.

(D) TAXES: RETIREES & THOSE WITH SMALL INCOMES: Although everyone pays sales taxes, gas taxes, real estate taxes (as a part of rent), as well as other excise taxes, Romney said everyone (poor, elderly, etc.) should pay income taxes. (9-7-11).

(D) TAX RETURNS AND HIDDEN WEALTH: Why didn’t Romney disclose more personal income tax returns? Romney promised to release “multiple years.” (1-19-12). In the end, however, he only showed us two years. We don’t know if he is hiding something, or telling the truth. Gingrich said Romney lives in a world of Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts (1-26-12)

(D) BUDGET, NATIONAL DEBT, MILITARY SPENDING: Romney said we need to stop spending like we have for the past 40 years. (1-8-12). He was critical about leaving debt to the next generation. (11-9-11). He claimed he would cut spending, but he didn’t explain how (11-9-11), except by saying he would ban earmarks. (2-22-12). Romney promises not to cut wasteful military spending, of any kind. (10-11-11). He wants 350 million for the F-22, more aircraft carriers, more Navy cruisers, more Air Force bombers, and more troops. (11-22-11). He would increase Navy shipbuilding each year from 9 to 15, and would add 100,000 troops. (12-15-11) (1-23-12) (2-22-12). He makes the case for the other side, saying Obama is shrinking the military (1-7-12) Romney thinks our Navy is smaller than it was in 1917, and our air force is smaller than it was in 1947. (1-16-12) (1-23-12).

(D) JOBS: Which party would be better for promoting jobs? Obama inherited a recession where unemployment reached over 10% in 2009. It is now down to 7.9% and the trend has been in the right direction the past three years. Romney incorrectly argued no jobs were created from the job stimulus bill (10-11-11) He said Obama’s polices worsened the job situation, which is obviously a false claim (1-7-12). Romney argues the government doesn’t create jobs (12-15-11), the private sector does (12-10-11), but then inconsistently blames Obama for not creating jobs.

(D) LABOR: Which party is more likely to protect the rights of working people? The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) insures fairness between organized labor and management. Romney said he would curtail the NLRB (12-10-11), and would promote anti-union “right to work” laws throughout the U.S. (1-8-12) He repeatedly showed hostility towards the NLRB, by saying it was filled with “labor stooges” (1-8-12) (1-19-12).

(D) MINIMUM WAGE: Do you think Romney would ever promote an increase in the minimum wage? In one word: no.

(D) MANUFACTURING: Which party appears to be more interested in saving American manufacturing? The Republicans clearly opposed loans help GM and Chrysler get through the Great Recession. Over fierce opposition, Obama helped them. Had they gone through bankruptcy, the nation would now be reeling from the economic ripple effects. Obama took a gamble and succeeded.  Romney said funds should not have been used to bail out GM and Chrysler (10-11-11) Romney again said the auto bailout was wrong; they should have gone bankrupt. (11-9-11).

(D) AGRICULTURE: Romney would end farm subsidies as he said to let the markets work. (1-23-12). What he is actually promoting is a localized depression in Midwestern small towns.

(D) TRANSPORTATION/MASS TRANSIT: In one debate, Romney advocated improving the infrastructure, by rebuilding bridges, roads, rail beds and air transport systems. We can’t criticize him for that, but we should not forget his party harbors the likes of Gov. Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. Scott of Florida, who blocked mass transit proposals. So on transit, it appears the Republican Party will not help America enter the 21st Century.

(D) ENERGY: Who has the better energy policy? Romney wants energy security and independence by using our own resources (10-18-11 (1-7-12) (1-19-12) That’s a nice idea, but energy resources are fungible and are sold on world markets, so no nation controls them. Romney put emphasis on developing coal, oil, gas, and nuclear (9-7-11)(1-16-12) He’d give more permits for natural gas and oil drills. (12-15-11). He does not discuss solar or wind, but why not? Since Obama includes all energy resources, his policy is better.

(N) ANTITRUST: Has either candidate advocated antitrust lawsuits to break up companies too big to fail? No. Antitrust was a Republican idea in 1890, and prosecutions are now needed to break up the concentrations of power in the hands of a few.

(D) FEDERAL RESERVE: Romney claims Federal Reserve chair Bernanke pumped too much money into the economy (9-7-11), and he would discharge him. (10-11-11). He said Congress should have Fed oversight, but no control over the currency. (9-12-11). Since Romney is opposed to priming the pump through Monetary Policy, how would he have stimulated it?

(D) BANK BAILOUTS: At one point, Romney said he didn’t want to save the Wall Street banks, as Bush did (2-22-12). It appears he would have just let the system collapse, but if that had happened, we’d be in a deep depression right now.

(D) WALL STREET: Romney correctly pointed out the derivatives market was not regulated (1-23-12), but he failed to promote a regulation of it. He instead criticized those occupying Wall Street, by saying they were engaged in dangerous class warfare (10-18-11).

(D) HOUSING: Romney supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) (10-11-11) (10-18-11) He accused Fannie and Freddie of offering mortgages to people who can’t afford them (1-26-12). He opposed the Dodd-Frank law, claiming it makes it harder for banks to make loans (1-7-12)(1-8-12).  He said the government should not stop the banks from foreclosing (10-18-11). He claimed Obama was holding off the foreclosure process, and argued we must let the market work (11-9-11) His non-solution solution is to block-grant housing vouchers (2-22-12).

(D) VULTURE CAPITALIST: If Romney wins, he’ll be the first President with a vulture capitalist background. He claims to have successfully operated businesses (12-15-11), but he was really a Bain investor, who just made money for himself and his partners. Gingrich accused him of profiting by stripping American businesses of assets,  bankrupting companies, and laying off workers (1-7-12) Romney said they had to be downsized (1-7-12) Gingrich said Romney’s Bain looted companies and left people unemployed (1-8-12). Gingrich said he was engaged in vulture capitalism. (1-16-12). In an interesting contradiction, while discussing tax returns, Romney said his income came from a blind trust. He said the money I earn: “is not made by me.” (1-26-12).

05/30/2012

Jobs: Republicans Deserve No Credit

It always amusing when Republicans like Wisconsin Gov. Walker take credit for job increases, as if they personally interviewed the unemployed, one by one, and told them they were hired. While Democrats have historically helped those out of work by creating public sector jobs, Republicans don’t even budget enough money to meet the current government payroll, and they certainly are not entitled to take credit for any new government employment.

As to the private sector, governments can only indirectly stimulate economic activity through Fiscal Policies, which increase government spending. Since Republicans again routinely vote against job stimulus bills, they cannot legitimately take credit for any employment the government may trigger in the private sector.

When politicians like Republican Gov. Perry claim they added 1 million new jobs in Texas, they try to take credit for something they did not do, since they added no public sector jobs, and stimulated no private employment, through state budgeting.

While Gov. Romney argued jobs are established in the private sector, and not in Washington, he repeatedly failed to explain his theory that only those who understand “how the economy works” can create employment. The truth is merely understanding “how the economy works” is not a formula for job creation. Slogans like: “to create jobs, you have to have had one,” sound great, but insult our intelligence, since they explain nothing.

What is funny is when politicians like Romney, Perry, Huntsman, Bachmann, Ron Paul, Gingrich, and all the others, repeat the standard Republican talking points that jobs can be created by eliminating regulation, lowering taxes, and repealing Health Care.

Just how would the elimination of regulations create jobs? Have you ever thought about it? The right wing repeatedly makes this argument, but nobody pauses to think about what they are saying? If we repealed food safety rules made by the Food and Drug Administration, our health would be endangered for sure, but how would that create jobs, except perhaps in emergency rooms? If we eliminated air safety rules promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration, we may have more plane crashes, but explain the job creation theory, because the connection is not at all obvious.

Lowering taxes to create jobs is another interesting theory. President George W. Bush tried it in a big way, as he dramatically cut taxes for the wealthy, and what happened? 4 million lost their jobs in 2008, in the six months before President Obama took office. Bush’s cuts sounded good to the wealthy, but if the policy had worked for all of us, the rich would have used their new wealth to invest in job creation, but they obviously did not do that.

How would the repeal of the new Health Care law increase jobs? If the nation will be adding health coverage for 40 million people, one need not be a rocket scientist to understand that a countless number of jobs will necessarily be created to take care of them. The right wing theory that repealing the law would somehow add jobs is totally baseless and illogical.

While Republicans pay lip service to unemployment, saying it is a tragedy that affects millions, they avoid direct solutions like public works hiring projects, and oppose government stimulus plans. Reducing taxes for the rich, eliminating unspecific regulations, and making other reforms not even remotely related to jobs, is no answer. The very least the right wingers and Republicans could do is avoid taking credit for jobs, since they certainly have no right to claim credit for them.

02/08/2012

Jobs: Romney-Types Don’t Create Many

If Gov. Romney becomes the Republican presidential nominee, the media should not ask him how many jobs he “created,” for that question will only evoke his typically vague and fundamentally dishonest response. Instead, he should be asked: Were you ever employed by a company where you actually participated in hiring or firing, and if so, name the business. If he names Staples, for example, the follow-ups should be: What years did you actually work at Staples? How many workers did you personally hire or fire, while you claimed to have worked there? If he answers honestly, he would admit he never really punched in at Staples, or anywhere else, except Bain Capital, and never actually hired or fired anyone. Like most vulture capitalists, he simply invested from afar, and operated behind the scenes. He simply moved money around, as real world business managers actually made the tough business decisions as to hiring and firing.

The issue should not be: How many jobs did you “create,” because this term is used by politicians, like Gov. Perry of Texas, who often have no real world experience. The question instead should be: How many workers did you “employ,” as this gets to the point of whether or not they actually managed a real business.

But you may ask, if Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, don’t really create jobs, then who does? The answer is the vast majority of jobs in America are created by consumers, like you. While the government is able to stimulate the economy, and create some, they are largely public payroll positions. Likewise, while some businesses legitimately claim to be job creators, their number is relatively few in comparison to those generated by consumers.

Let’s consider the extent of job creation triggered by consumers. If you decide to build a new house, for example, you become a job creator. As you borrow to purchase land, real estate agents, bankers, appraisers, and title companies are employed. Through your decision to build, many others gain work, such as, architects, general contractors, excavators, cement truck drivers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, carpet layers, and heating and air-conditioning subs. Hardware and appliance stores also pick up sales. If it is not already clear, the construction industry affects more jobs than any other sector, and the key to stimulating it is you, the job creator.

You also create jobs when you buy a car, not only at the auto plant in Detroit, but also at hundreds of component part factories throughout the U.S. Since Romney would have denied short-term loans for GM and Chrysler, and would have let them go bankrupt, he would have added no jobs in the auto industry.

As a consumer you also create jobs when you seek entertainment and just have fun. If you take a cruise, you employ deck hands. If you rent a movie, or go see one, you engage in job creation. If you buy cloths, or tennis shoes to work out, you create jobs. If you play golf, someone cuts the grass. If you go fishing and buy a boat, the economy grows. Whenever you spend, you create jobs.

But what about politicians and entrepreneurs, aren’t they the ones who say they create jobs? Yes, in this election cycle, the President will say his policies created jobs, and if Romney is the nominee, he will argue he created them. Each will have some truth, but their contributions to the big picture are relatively small.

Politicians often claim credit for creating millions of jobs, but the real count should be confined to: 1) direct increases in government employment, like hiring more teachers, and 2) jobs indirectly created by government, like those gained when private contractors are paid to repair public highways or buildings.

Entrepreneurs, who invented new products, like the laptop, may rightly claim job creation, since consumers were unable to buy their goods before they were designed. While those who actually start businesses from scratch, like Henry Ford, and personally cause them to grow, may argue job creation, vulture capitalists, like Romney at Bain Capital, who did nothing more than purchase existing firms, which already had thousands of employees, cannot claim the title of job creator.

Only when consumers have discretionary funds in their pockets with which to buy new things, can the demand for goods and services increase, causing employers to produce greater supplies and hire more workers. This is really how jobs are created, Mr. Romney. We need to get more money in the hands of ordinary people. Perhaps you should stop saying President Obama does not have a clue, and is in over his head, and you should instead take a look in the mirror, and repeat those words.

01/29/2012

Republican Debate: Florida (1-26-12)

ROMNEY’S TAXES: Gingrich said Romney owns shares of Goldman Sachs and lives in a world of Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts. He said he did not “know of any American president who had had a Swiss bank account.” Romney, who all along has said he is a great money manager, said “my investments are not made by me.” They have “for the last 10 years have been in a blind trust, managed by a trustee.” His trustee invests in mutual funds and bonds, he said, and not in stocks. When Gingrich said Romney made a million dollars off of stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Romney denied it. He said his trustee loaned money to Freddie and Fannie and received interest, like from U.S. savings bonds. His trustee diversified investments and reported the money held in Swiss accounts to the U.S. and he paid U.S. taxes on it. Romney repeated he did not inherit money and claimed to have earned it. He said his taxes and charitable contributions took about 40% of his income.

ROMNEY’S PARTY: Gingrich claims Romney voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas in 1992, and when he ran against Kennedy in 1994, he said he was an “independent” who did not want to go back to the Reagan-Bush era. Romney said he never voted for a Democrat when there was a Republican on the ballot.

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul rejects a foreign policy that says we must be the policeman of the world. He opposes nation-building.

PUERTO RICO: Santorum was asked whether Puerto Rico should become a state. He said he believes in “self-determinism” and Puerto Ricans should decide for themselves.

CUBA: Paul said the sanctions against Cuba backfired and caused the Cuban people to rally behind Castro. The Cold War is over, and they are not going to invade us, he said. Romney said he will help the people of Cuba enjoy freedom when Fidel Castro is dead. He thinks Obama has ignored Cuba and Venezuela, and wants more trade with Colombia and Panama. Santorum opposes liberalizing trade or travel with Cuba.

LATIN AMERICA: Paul opposes dictating to Latin Americans what governments they should have. He said Santorum’s definition of standing up for Latin America means supporting dictators and undermining governments through the use of money. Santorum thinks Iran and the jihadists want to set up training camps in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. He opposes Latin American leaders Chavez, Noreiga, and Morales. He accused Obama of hanging our friends out to dry for 3 years in Colombia, and of standing with Chavez and Castro, instead of the people of Honduras. He denied wanting to use force in Latin America.

PALESTINE: All of the Republicans pandered to the Jewish vote in Florida. There is no peace between Israel and Palestine, Romney said, because he believes all Hamas wants to do is eliminate Israel and teach people to kill Jews. He incorrectly believes Palestinians do not want a two-state solution. He found fault with Obama for rightfully castigating Israel for illegally building settlements in Palestine in violation of international law. He showed ignorance on this subject by faulting Obama for suggesting a return to the 1967 borders. In an incredible statement, he said thought it was Obama who “disrespected” Netanyahu, when in fact it was Netanyahu who ungratefully and inappropriately lectured our U.S. President. Gingrich continued to defend his prior ignorant statement that Palestinians are an “invented people,” as he stated a belief that they are Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian or Jordanian, but not Palestinian. He thinks Obama undermined Israel. He would provoke greater tensions by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.

MILITARY: Gingrich promised to make Jacksonville, Florida the home of a nuclear aircraft carrier battle group.

SPACE: Gingrich wants six or seven space launches a day. He reminded us when Kennedy said in May 1961: “We will go to the moon in this decade,” no American had even orbited the earth, and the technology didn’t even exist. He wants to give out prizes like the $25,000 Lindbergh received for flying to Paris. He asked: Does the Washington NASA office just sit around and think about space? 90% of those employed under his space plan would come from the private sector. He would get NASA out of the rocket business. Santorum wants young people involved in math and science, but said promising new space programs, when we are borrowing 40 cents on the dollar, is not responsible. Romney accused Gingrich of pandering, by telling NASA workers what they want to hear. He believes in a vibrant and strong space program, but described Gingrich’s plan to put a permanent colony on the moon, as an “enormous expense.” He would fire someone who wanted to spend a few billion dollars on it. He wants a space program related to commercial products. Paul would vote for only that part of the space program that supports national defense. The only things he would send to the moon are “some politicians.”

TRADE: Paul supports free trade in Latin America, including Cuba. Gingrich said the Jacksonville seaport has to be expanded, because the Panama Canal is being widened.

IMMIGRATION: Santorum wants to enforce the immigration laws we have. We need legal immigration he said, to keep our population growing. The first act of responsible immigrants is to obey our laws, and then continue respecting them. He would use the employer E-verify system to enforce immigration. He speculated illegals steal Social Security numbers (who says they are not paid cash under the table, and use no SS number at all). Gingrich pledged to control the border by Jan. 1, 2014. He would fix the visa system to make it easier to come and go. He wants to make deportation easier. He doubts grandmothers would self-deport and would not enter church sanctuaries to deport those who sought shelter. He said Miami has 94 languages, and wants English as the official one, adding everyone should learn it to get jobs. He denied calling Spanish a ghetto language. Romney said the problem with illegals is they take jobs legal residents would like, put their kids in school districts that can’t afford them, and get free health care, because emergency rooms must provide it. He favors work permits and identification cards, an E-verify system, and severe sanctions against employers who hire illegals, so those unable to find work will self-deport. He would not round up people or deport the 11 million illegally in this country. He said his father was born in Mexico. (Since the Constitution limits the Presidency to “natural born” citizens, how was his father able to run for President in 1967?) Romney wants English as the official language and schools to provide English immersion classes. Paul said resentment towards illegals goes up when the economy is down. Businesses are now looking for workers, but can’t find them. We worry about the Afghan and Pakistan borders too much, Paul said, and not enough about our own.

JOBS: Romney said there is 9.9% unemployment in Florida, but it is really 18%. Lowering corporate taxes would get people back to work, he said.

FINANCE: Paul said the Middle Class is losing their jobs and houses, but Wall Street got bailouts. He wants to bring back the gold standard, since it is mentioned in the Constitution.

HOUSING: Paul said, after the crash, the bad paper should have been auctioned off and sold, and it would have been cleansed by now. The problem was caused by excessive credit and interest rates that were too low for too long. The Community Reinvestment Act is affirmative action, he said, which tells banks to make risky loans. The line of credit from the Fed to Freddie and Fannie should have been cut. Romney said Fannie and Freddie are a big part of the housing crisis. They caused a housing bubble that collapsed, and are still offering mortgages to people who can’t afford them. Santorum wrote a letter in 2006 with 24 Senators warning of a meltdown as they requested reforms of Freddie and Fannie. He said we need to decrease the amount of mortgage that can be financed by Freddie. Gingrich said he told Republicans in July 2008 to deny money to Freddie and Fannie.

ENVIRONMENT: Gingrich said the Everglades Restoration Project must be completed.

HEALTH CARE: Santorum said medical savings accounts would get consumers involved in the cost of health care. He reminded voters that Romney and Gingrich supported the individual mandate, and if they are nominated, the issue will be forfeited to Obama. He claims people in Mass are now opting to be fined, because the cost of health insurance is too high. Paul said health care is a greater priority than going to the moon. Health insurance should be affordable for individuals, he said, so employed or not, they can have it. He claims the cost of medicine went up, because the government distorted that sector of the economy, and pumped money into it. He repeated his unfounded belief that before Medicare and Medicaid, nobody was on the streets without health care. Gingrich said the system that existed in the early 1960s was fundamentally less expensive. Romney said it doesn’t make sense to lose your health insurance if you lose your job. He insisted on personal responsibility in Mass to end free riders. He distinguished his plan from Obama’s, saying the President’s cuts Medicare 500 billion, and raises taxes 500 billion.

BUDGET: After Gingrich repeated his claim he balanced budgets four times in the 1990s, Paul pointed out the National Debt actually went up by a trillion dollars in those years, because money was taken from the Social Security Trust Fund. He said neither Reagan nor Gingrich had balanced budgets, as the National Debt went up. Santorum said we must get our financial house in order.

TAXES: Santorum opposes a 0% capital gains tax, saying guys like Romney wouldn’t pay much at all. He theorized when tax rates increase, the rate of return decreases, leading to investments in non-taxable instruments. He said a 28% top bracket was good enough for Reagan, and is good enough for him. His lower bracket would be 10%. Gingrich was asked why under his tax plan he would let someone like Romney pay nothing, and Gingrich said he wants everyone to pay 15%. Paul favors getting rid of the 16th Amendment, which allows income taxes, and said we also would have to get rid of the warfare and welfare systems.

RELIGION: Romney thinks our nation is based on Judeo-Christian ethics. He would seek the guidance of providence in making critical decisions. When the Founders drafted the Declaration of Independence, he said, they referred to being endowed with certain inalienable rights. Gingrich would seek guidance from God. He thinks there is an aggressive war being fought by secular elites in the news media and in the judiciary, against the Christian religion. Santorum actually believes the Constitution exists “to do one thing: protect God-given rights” and said our rights are “god-given rights and not government-given rights”

01/27/2012

Republican Debate: Florida (1-23-12)

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul said Gingrich would have to change his foreign policy to gain his support. He believes it is not the role of the federal government to be the policeman of the world.

AFGHAN: Romney thinks the War in Afghanistan can be ended, not by talking to the Taliban, but by beating them.

CUBA: Paul opposes a military overthrow of Cuba. We propped up Castro for 40 years, Paul said, by imposing sanctions, which gave him the ability to blame everything on the U.S. He reminded everyone he was drafted in 1962 at the height of the Cold War, but it’s not 1962 anymore and the Cold War is over. We now talk to Russia, China, and Vietnam and have trade with them, so why not Cuba? Romney thinks it is dangerous to open travel with Cuba now, but if Castro died, he would work with a new Cuban leader to move them in an open direction. Gingrich favors aggressively overthrowing the Cuban regime. He accused Obama of being infatuated with the Arab Spring, but ignoring a Cuban Spring. Santorum tried to distinguish Cuba from China, by saying the Cuban island is only 90 miles away. He would continue sanctions against Cuba. He would wait until the Castro brothers died. He believes jihadists and Iranians are excited to establish a platform 90 miles off our coast in Cuba, Venezuela, or Nicaragua.

IRAN: Paul does not think Iran will close the Straits of Hormuz, because they need them open as much as we do. He said it is our blockade that would make Iran close the Straits. A blockade is the act of war, he said, and closing the Straits would be retaliation. Americans certainly do not want a hot war in Iran right now. He asked, what would we do if someone blockaded the Gulf of Mexico? Romney said we need opens seas and if Iran shut down the Straits of Hormuz, it would be an act of war. Gingrich said America has no appetite for war, but we didn’t have one when Pearl Harbor was bombed or the World Trade Center was destroyed either. He accused Obama of cancelling a military exercise with Israel, so as not to be provocative. Santorum said Obama does not see the threat Iran poses, not just to Israel, but the entire world. He argued they held hostages, attacked our ships and embassies, and made improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to harm our troops.

MILITARY: Romney believes we are shrinking our Navy. He again repeated the ridiculous assertion that it is now smaller than at any time since 1917. He wants to increase shipbuilding from 9 ships a year to 15. He wants a carrier in the Gulf. We need to be so strong, he said, so they could never defeat us.

SPACE: Romney thinks space exploration should be a priority for science and military development. Gingrich wants a series of space stations built. He wants to offer prizes for going into orbit.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE: Gingrich was asked: Why is it alright to court votes using Spanish TV ads, but not ok for government to serve people using it? Gingrich said there are 86 languages in Miami-Dade County, and 200 in Chicago. We need a central language to unify the country. Romney said Mass allowed teachers to teach in their native languages, and students ended up not speaking English very well. He pushed English language emersion. People must learn English, he said, to be successful in the U.S. Paul said for national business, we need one language, but states should be allowed to accommodate local needs.

IMMIGRATION: Gingrich favors allowing aliens to earn citizenship through military service. Romney favors self-deportation, which is what he thinks they will do if they do not have proper employment documents. Santorum said people are returning home now, because there are no jobs. He speculates they steal Social Security numbers to get work. Someone who came here illegally, he said, is continually breaking our laws. If you want to come to America, respect our laws, Santorum said.

JOBS: Romney again claimed to help create thousands of jobs at Staples, Bright Horizons, the Sports Authority, and Steel Dynamics. Gingrich was asked why the Bush tax cuts have not created jobs. He speculated things would have been worse.

OLYMPICS: Someone please tell Romney to stop mentioning his work on the Olympics, as if it was some great achievement. Who cares if he was in charge of the Olympics? It’s not important.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Santorum said there is constructive capitalism and destructive capitalism.

FINANCE: Santorum asked Romney and Gingrich why they supported the Wall Street bailout if they believe in capitalism. Why not let destructive capitalism work, he asked? He said financial institutions should have been allowed to go bankrupt. Why prop them up through government? Romney said the derivatives market was not being regulated. Gingrich said Dodd-Frank allowed the biggest banks to get even bigger. He said regulators are walking into banks and telling them not to lend money.

FED: To placate Ron Paul, Gingrich discussed the formation of a commission to bring back the gold standard.

AGRICULTURAL SUBSIDIES: Gingrich was asked if he would do away with subsidies for the sugar industry, and get rid of import quotas that protect them. He said the industry was real good at protecting themselves. Romney would eliminate subsidies and let the markets work properly.

ENERGY: Santorum was asked if off-shore oil drilling was worth it. He believes it is essential to build the Keystone Pipeline and gain oil from domestic sources. Pipelines are safer than off-shore.

ENVIRONMENT: Paul would continue federal financing to protect the Everglades. Santorum said Romney believed in global warming enough to sign a cap on CO2 emissions in Mass.

HOUSING: Paul said interest rates were kept too low for too long. He said he introduced legislation 10 years before the bubble burst to end the line of credit to Freddie and Fannie. The Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to make even more risky loans. Our policy has been to try to keep home prices up, but they should be allowed to fall. We have to liquidate the debt, Paul said. They should have gone bankrupt, and the bad debt would have been wiped off the books. As long as we keep the debt on the books, we are not going to grow. Gingrich told Republicans in July 2008 to deny Freddie Mac any money, because they needed reform. Romney accused Gingrich of failing to speak out against what Freddie Mac was doing. Santorum was asked about the 40% of homeowners in Florida whose homes are underwater and the 53% whose homes are worth less today than before the crisis. He was asked if it was too easy to own a home. He said the Democrats fought a reform of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. He said we have to let capitalism work and allow banks to realize their losses. He would allow homeowners a tax deduction for their losses. Romney thinks Dodd-Frank makes it harder for banks to renegotiate mortgages and is killing the residential home market.

LOBBYING: Romney said Gingrich was paid 1.6 million by the chief lobbyist of Freddie Mac to influence Congress. He received $25,000 per month, or $300,000 a year, for services for Freddie Mac. Gingrich said he was paid for consulting, not lobbying. Romney reminded Gingrich he first said he was paid to be a historian. Gingrich said his share for three offices was $35,000. Romney said Gingrich spent 15 years on K Street influence peddling. Romney reminded viewers 84 ethics charges were filed against Gingrich and 88% of the Republicans in the House voted to reprimand him, causing him to resign in disgrace in 1998.

HEALTH CARE: Gingrich said he always favored a stronger Medicare program and favored Medicare Part D. The government would not pay for insulin, but they would cover kidney dialysis. They would not pay for Lipitor, but would cover open heart surgery. It was a terrible way to run Medicare, he said. Santorum said Romney’s health care plan in Mass was the basis for Obamacare, and Gingrich supported the individual mandate for 20 years. Romney said his health care plan, chosen by the people in Mass, is the one the Constitution allows us to have. He then said he opposes a federal mandate.

BUDGET: Gingrich thinks he balanced four federal budgets in the 1990s. He apparently forgot that they came about because Bill Clinton was President, and a democratically controlled Senate voted, without any Republican support, to make it happen.

TAXES: Romney said he paid a lot of taxes and not a penny more than required. He wants to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for those earning less than $200,000. He wants the highest corporate income tax lowered to 25%.  Gingrich called his 15% flat tax proposal a “Romney Tax.” He wants everyone to pay the level paid by Romney. In an inconsistent way, he said he would lower capital gains taxes to zero. Romney responded saying his tax liability would have been zero in that case. Romney refused to follow his father’s example of releasing 12 years of tax returns.

LIFE SUPPORT/DEATH: Santorum was asked if government should get involved in disputes like the 2005 case between the spouse of Terri Shaivo and her parents over removing feeding tubes. Non-lawyer Santorum admitted he asked a “federal” judge to get involved, when such situations are almost always ruled upon in state courts. Non-lawyer Gingrich also argued in favor of federal court intervention, where it clearly does not belong.  Paul correctly said the decision should be made at the state level.

01/25/2012

Obama: 2012 State of Union Speech

IRAQ: For the first time in 9 years, President Obama said, no Americans are fighting in Iraq. He welcomed home the last troops in Dec. 2011, but made the highly questionable comment they made the U.S. safer and more respected around the world.

BIN LADEN: Obama noted Osama bin Laden is dead, and no longer a threat to the U.S. He said most al Qaeda’s top lieutenants are defeated, and those who remain are scrambling.

QADDAFI: Obama reminded us that Libya’s Col. Qaddafi, a long-time dictator, who had U.S. blood on his hands, is also dead.

AFGHANISTAN: Obama said the Taliban’s momentum has been broken. We are winding down the War in Afghanistan, as 10,000 troops already came home, and 23,000 will return this summer.

IRAN: Obama said a world that was once divided on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program is now united as one, through diplomacy. Iran now faces crippling sanctions and the pressure will not relent. We are determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. He said he took “no options off the table to achieve that goal.” A peaceful solution is still possible, he noted.

ISRAEL: Obama said we have an ironclad commitment to Israel’s security–the closest military cooperation in our history.

VETERANS: Obama said he increased annual VA spending every year as President.

TRADE: Obama said it is now getting more expensive to do business in China. Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is now running at full capacity and they brought jobs home. He signed trade agreements that gave U.S. firms new customers in Panama, Colombia and South Korea. He filed twice as many trade lawsuits against China, as Bush did. He said it is unfair when subsidies are given to foreign manufacturers, and created a Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate unfair trade by China.

IMMIGRATION: Obama said we have more boots on the ground than ever before and fewer illegal crossings. We should take on illegal immigration, he said, but believes we need comprehensive immigration reform. We should not expel young illegal aliens, he said, who staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. We should give them a chance to earn citizenship.

JOBS: Obama reminded us 4 million lost their jobs in 2008, in the six months before he took office, and another 4 million were laid off before his policies took effect. Businesses have created more than 3 million jobs in the last 22 months and 600,000 will come from the natural gas industry, by the end of the decade.

MANUFACTURING: Obama wants a new generation of high-tech manufacturing. Long before this recession, he said, jobs started leaving our shores. Manufacturing is now creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Our blueprint for jobs includes manufacturing and we should not return to outsourcing.

AUTO: The auto industry, Obama inherited, was on the verge of bankruptcy, but he refused to let it die. Now, GM is once again the world’s number one automaker, Chrysler has grown, and Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants. The industry has now added 160,000 jobs, and we will soon be selling U.S. cars in Korea.

TRANSPORTATION: Obama noted we have crumbling roads and bridges. He noted we built the Golden Gate Bridge during the Great Depression and the Interstate highway system after WWII.

ENERGY: Obama wants us to control our own energy, so we need not depend on the world. During the past 3 years, he said, millions of new acres, including 75% of offshore oil and gas reserves, have opened for oil and gas exploration. Obama noted the development of natural gas from shale rock. Our oil production, he said, is now at its highest production level in 8 years, and we now rely less on foreign oil than at any time in the past 16 years. He said we cannot cede wind, solar, or battery industries to China or Germany. We are poised to become a leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Our century-long subsidization and taxpayer giveaway to oil should be ended. He instead wants clean energy tax credits. We should also help manufacturers eliminate energy waste by upgrading buildings.

FINANCE: Obama said he imposed new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, and will not return to the days when they governed themselves. He announced financial institutions are not going to be bailed out ever again. He told mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and credit card companies, the days of deceptive practices are over, and he asked Congress for greater penalties for fraud.

HOUSING: Obama reminded us the housing market collapsed in 2008, because regulators looked the other way, as mortgages were sold to people who could not afford them, by lenders who knew it. This is why we need regulations to prevent financial fraud. We should not wait for the housing market to bottom out before providing relief, but homeowners should be allowed to save on their mortgages now, through refinancing at lower rates.

HEALTH: Obama will not return to the days when health insurance companies could deny coverage or cancel policies. He reminded Republicans that his new health care law relies on the private insurance market, not a government program.

EDUCATION: Obama wants to lead the world in education. Although states have already raised standards for teaching and learning, he asked them to require students remain in high school until they graduate, or turn 18. We should reward the best teachers and should stop teaching to a test. To help 2 million Americans who need new job skills, businesses should work with community colleges to design courses. He said every family should be able to afford college, and universities have to keep their costs under control. He warned them: “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.” Obama wants to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. He would extend tuition tax credits, and double the number of work-study jobs. He asked Congress not to gut federally financed university labs, researching cancer and computer chips.

DEFICIT: Obama said together we cut 2 trillion from the deficit.

TAXES: Obama wants everyone to pay their fair share of taxes. The tax code must be changed so wealthy persons like Congressional members pay their fair share in taxes. 98% of all Americans make under $250,000 per year. 25% of all millionaires pay taxes at a lower rate than millions of middle class households. Warren Buffett pays a lower rate than his secretary. If a person makes more than 1 million a year, you should pay no less than 30%. Folks at the top, he said, have seen their incomes rise like never before, but for most workers, paychecks have not been growing, and their debts are piling up. He asked Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for working Americans.

CORPORATE TAXES: Every multinational corporation should pay a basic minimum tax. Companies should not get tax breaks for moving jobs overseas or be allowed a “moving expense” for outsourcing. We need to change a tax law that hits U.S. corporations with one of the highest tax rates in the world. Manufacturers in America should receive a tax cut. He noted we now provide tax credits to companies that hire veterans, and suggested tax relief for small businesses that raise wages and create good jobs. We need incentives so they relocate in communities that have been hit hard by factories that left town.

WOMEN: Although there is already a federal law that requires equal pay for equal work, Obama said “women should earn equal pay for equal work.”

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Obama would do something about the corrosive influence of money in politics and called for an end to perpetual campaigns of mutual destruction.

APPOINTMENTS: Obama wants up or down votes on judicial and public service nominations held within 90 days.

AGENCIES: Obama ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that make no sense.

01/20/2012

Republican Debate: S Carolina (1-19-12)

MILITARY: Paul, who served along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the 1960s when he was in the Air Force, would cut overseas military spending. He asked why we have troops in Korea, 59 years after the Korean War ended; or in Japan and Germany, 67 years since WWII. We subsidize those countries, he said. Why are we in Afghanistan now for 10 years, and fighting so many undeclared wars?  He argued it is making us bankrupt. Romney thinks we have an aging Navy and Air Force, and it is wrong to balance the budget on the back of the military. He wants a military so strong no one would even think of testing it.

VETERANS: Paul receives twice as much support from veterans than all the others combined, he said. Santorum would continue the multitude of veteran’s preferences.

SOVIET UNION: Gingrich harbors the delusional belief he and Reagan were somehow responsible for Gorbachev’s unilateral decision to dissolve the Soviet Union.

TRADE: Romney wants to crack down on China, since he thinks they cheat with unfair trade. Santorum was asked about Apple Computers, an American company with 40,000 employed here, and 500,000 in China. He would cut to zero corporate income taxes for companies who manufacture in the U.S. Paul tried to explain the consumer benefits from cheaper products made in China. He said a $100 computer instead of one $1,000 is a benefit, but the audience reaction fell flat. He mentioned foreign auto companies still make money assembling cars in America.

IMMIGRATION: Gingrich would control the border and if needed, move half of the 23,000 who work for Homeland Security to Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. He would: 1) enforce English as an official language; 2) modernize visas; 3) make it easier to deport; 4) allow guest worker programs; 5) impose enormous sanctions against businesses that hire illegals; 6) have local boards review residency permit applications for those here 25 years; and 7) drop federal lawsuits against South Carolina, Alabama and Arizona. Romney said immigration is a simple matter of forcing employers to check a data base. Those illegally here need to go home, and apply for citizenship, like everyone else. No one should gain an advantage by coming here illegally. Santorum said if you want to become an American, the first thing you have to do is respect our laws. Someone who has been here 25 years, he said, has been breaking the law 25 years, and probably stole someone’s Social Security number. Paul does not believe those who hire should be forced to become policemen, as border guards and the federal government have that job. There should be no federal mandate that forces states to provide medical or educational needs, Paul said. Instead of protecting borders in Afghanistan, Paul said, we should use those resources at home.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Santorum wants capitalism that works for everybody, including working men and women. Gingrich argued Romney’s Bain Capital leveraged a company in South Carolina and left it with debt. Romney claimed he created 120,000 jobs at four places, and only 10,000 lost their jobs. He said a lot of people benefitted, as profits went to pension funds, charities, and a wide variety of institutions.

JOBS: Santorum wants a Republican Party that talks about putting back to work the men and women who built this country. Paul said the solution is for the government to get out of the way, by reducing regulations, and dropping taxes to zero. The country has to liquidate their debt, Paul said. Regarding jobs, Gingrich would repeal Dodd-Frank, as he thinks it is killing small banks. He would develop natural gas and overhaul the Corps of Engineers.

LABOR: Romney thinks Obama is stacking the NLRB with labor stooges. Santorum pledged to sign a national right-to-work law.

MANUFACTURING: Romney claimed GM was given to the UAW. Santorum noted manufacturing dropped from 21% to 9%, because it costs our companies, excluding labor, 20% more than our top nine trading partners, to do business in America.

ENERGY: Romney wants to use our resources to become energy secure. He complained the 500 million dollar solar energy loan to Solyndra was a waste, as Obama’s rejected the Keystone Pipeline.

ENTITLEMENTS: Santorum believes all Obama wants to do is give people food stamps and Medicaid. He heard Iowa was being fined, because they didn’t sign up enough people for Medicaid. Romney thinks Obama wants to create a European style social welfare state.

HEALTH CARE: Santorum claimed he consistently favored health savings accounts. He accused Romney of promoting a Mass plan, which was not based on the free market. Over half the new people buying health insurance in Mass, he said, were fully subsidized by the state. He also accused Gingrich of supporting an individual mandate for over 10 years, from the 1990s through 2008. As to Gingrich’s idea to make everyone post a $150,000 bond, if they did not buy insurance, Santorum asked how many in the audience could post $150,000. Romney said he would go for a complete repeal of Obamacare. People should be able to take their own insurance with them as they go from job to job, he said. He denied setting up a government-run health care system, since they bought insurance from private companies. He accused Obama of creating a 2,700 page, tax-increasing, Medicare-cutting, monster. He would return health care to the states, and get the government out of Medicaid. Gingrich said to repeal it, a Republican House and Senate must be elected. He claimed to have led the charge against Hillarycare and help write the Health Savings Accounts law. He admitted he was wrong for supporting a mandate. Paul, who apparently did not practice medicine in poor areas, thinks health care “worked rather well” before the government got involved in the 1960s with Medicare and Medicaid. He remembers a fictional world, where “there was nobody on the streets suffering with no medical care.” He accused Santorum of expanding government with the unfunded Prescription Drug law.

BUDGET: Gingrich erroneously took total credit for the 4 years when President Clinton and a Democratic majority in the Senate balanced the federal budget.

TAXES: Santorum would cut the corporate income tax rate to zero. Gingrich opposed President Bush Sr. when he raised taxes, despite a pledge not to do so.

TAX RETURNS: Gingrich put his 2011 tax returns online, showing he paid 31% of 3 million in income taxes. Romney said, over jeers, he would disclose his tax return for this year, when it is due in April, and probably for other years too. He thinks disclose would only serve the purpose of allowing people to attack his financial success. He lied as he added: “I didn’t inherit money from my parents.” He claimed he pays a lot in taxes. When he was asked if he would follow his father’s lead in 1967 and release 12 years of tax returns, because only one year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show., Mitt said just “maybe” and “I don’t know how many years I’ll release.” As the audience jeered him, he then said he would release “multiple” years. Santorum, whose tax rate is higher than Romney’s 15%, said he keeps his records on his laptop, and would release them when he gets home. Paul said he would be embarrassed to disclose his tax returns, because they show so little, but added Congressional financial statements show everything a person might need to know, and he has no conflicts of interest, since he doesn’t even talk to lobbyists.

FREE SPEECH: A question arose regarding the Stop Online Piracy Act, which pits anti-censorship groups against those who say movies and other property are being pirated. Gingrich said the degree of pre-emptive censorship in the law is unacceptable. He though people could use Copyright and Patent protections to sue infringers. Romney argued we should more narrowly go after offshore pirates. Paul said Republicans have been on the wrong side of this issue, as he joined Democrats to oppose it. Santorum opposed the law, but added the Internet is not a zone where people can trample on the rights of others, as property must be respected.

MARRIAGE: The hypocrite Gingrich, who went after President Clinton with a vengeance when he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, was appalled, as he denounced the media for having the audacity to ask him questions about his affair, while married to his second wife. He described it as a vicious attack of the sort that makes it hard to find descent people to run for public office, and harder still to govern. He then distracted everyone by coming up with the preposterous diversion that he was tired of the media protecting Obama by attacking Republicans.

ABORTION: Romney said he was pro-life, and it was the Mass Supreme Court that made abortion available under his health care law. Planned Parenthood was not mentioned in his law, he said. Gingrich claimed a pro-life voting record of 98.6%. Dr. Paul was taught pregnant women are two patients. Santorum said Paul’s right to life record was only 50%. Paul said abortion should be handled by states, where murder and violent crimes are dealt with.

01/19/2012

Republican Debate: S. Carolina (1-16-12)

DEFENSE SPENDING: When Ron Paul was asked if his policies would eliminate military jobs in South Carolina, he said he wants to cut spending overseas. Spending 1 billion on an embassy in Iraq, he said, is not defense, it is waste. He would follow Eisenhower’s admonition about the military-industrial complex, as he said, we don’t need 900 bases in 130 countries. Romney wants a military so strong no one would test it. He apparently believes our navy is now smaller than it was in 1917, and our air force is smaller than it was in 1947. (Does he really think this?)

FOREIGN POLICY: We should declare war before getting into one, Paul lectured. We no longer declare war. We now use the doctrine of “pre-emptive war” to start them. We don’ t even have enemies. We bomb countries and then wonder why they get upset with us. Paul was booed as he said we wouldn’t like it if other countries did to us, what we do to them. Paul was also booed when he said we should follow the Golden Rule in foreign policy.

AFGHAN: Paul wants to bring our troops home. His support is from military personnel, sick and tired of war. We are not leaving Afghanistan, even though 80% of America wants out. When Paul was in the Air Force (1962-68), he served in the Afghan-Pakistan region, and remembers the Taliban were our allies, when we opposed the Russian intervention. He warned us not to mix the Taliban, who oppose foreign intervention, with al Qaeda, who seek to kill us. Romney would not negotiate with the Taliban, because he thinks they declared war on us. He said Obama’s announcement of a withdrawal, weakened our ability to negotiate.

IRAQ: Paul said we are still in Iraq. Romney believes incorrectly we “had to” go to war “in the case of Iraq.”

IRAN: Paul said regarding Iran, they are building up for another war we don’t need.

PAKISTAN: Paul believes we have a flawed Pakistan policy.

SYRIA: Santorum said Syria is a threat to Israel. He wants to bring about the removal of Assad, but opposes U.S. intervention.

TURKEY: Perry, who lived in Turkey while in the Air Force in the 1970s, made the ridiculous and stupid argument they have been taken over by Islamic terrorists. He said their membership in NATO should be re-evaluated, and their foreign aid should go to zero. He lumped Turkey in the same category with Iran and Syria, even though these countries are vastly different.

RULE OF LAW: Paul denied he opposed the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. He in fact voted for the authority to go after him, following 911. He asked: What is so bad about capturing people? We captured Saddam Hussein, tried him, and hung him. Adolf Eichmann was also captured, given a trial, and executed. Why didn’t we try to get information from bin Laden? Gingrich said we need to just kill America’s enemies, not capture them. Romney also said the right thing for Osama bin Laden was a bullet in the head. He said we have a right to detain al Qaeda in prison, as enemy combatants, and deny them due process of law. Paul said the Patriot Act eliminated the 4th Amendment. The Defense Appropriation Act allows us to take citizens under suspicion, and hold them indefinitely, without a lawyer, or the right of habeas corpus. 260 al Qaeda have been tried and convicted Paul said, and we don’t need to give up on the judicial system. Perry said terrorists who cut off heads and hang contractors from bridges, commit despicable acts, not the Marines who urinated on corpses.

IMMIGRATION: Romney opposes favoritism or special routes to citizenship. We have to stop the flood of illegal immigration, he said. Perry would secure the borders.

JOBS: Gingrich claims he and Reagan created 16 million jobs and he and Bill Clinton added another 11 million. He wants to find ways to help the poor learn how to get a job and someday own it.

UNEMPLOYMENT: Santorum thinks it’s wrong for the federal government to uproot state unemployment programs by extending benefits. Gingrich would connect UC to job training.

LABOR: Santorum admitted voting against a right-to-work law, saying he is from a non-right-to-work state. Perry claimed the NLRB is telling South Carolina, a right to work state, what to do.

FINANCE: Perry advocates repealing the Dodd-Frank financial regulations. Romney vowed if Europe has a financial crisis, he won’t give a blank check or go over there to save their banks.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Gingrich asked Romney to respond to questions about taking money out of companies, walking off with profits, and letting them go bankrupt. Bain invested in over 100 companies, Romney said. Four created 120,000 jobs, while others lost jobs. He said Staples, Bright Horizons, the Sports Authority and a steel company in Indiana added 120,000 jobs. He was asked about American Pad and Paper, which after being purchased for 5 million, borrowed money, took 100 million in profit, and then went bankrupt. Romney said people who lost jobs were offered new ones in other plants. Perry accused Romney of picking a company apart in Georgetown, SC and causing people to lose jobs. Romney said the SC steel mill closed down, because of dumping from abroad.

ENERGY: Romney would take advantage of our natural resources and would use oil, coal, gas, and nuclear.

HOUSING: Perry thinks the federal government via Freddie and Fannie should get out of the housing market.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Romney would make no changes for those 55 or older, but he would add a year or two to the retirement age. Gingrich said Chile has a system that yields 2 to 3 times the government payment. He would make all Americans investors.

HEALTH: Romney wants a premium support program for Medicare. He would send Medicaid back to the states. He would repeal Obamacare.

BUDGET: Romney claimed to have balanced the Mass. budget every year. Perry wants a Balanced Budget Amendment.

TAXES: Romney claimed to have reduced taxes 19 times in Mass. He said tax rates are too high. He would reduce the top rate from 35% to 25% and eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. When asked if he would release his tax returns, he said he had not planned on it, but maybe in April, if he becomes the nominee. Perry said the highest federal income tax rate should be 7%. He would have a flat tax of 20%, but would allow home mortgage, local taxes, and charitable deductions. He would get rid of capital gains taxes. Santorum wants just a 10% and a 28% rate. He would cut corporate taxes from 35% to 17.5%. Manufacturing would be treated differently, because they are in competition with the rest of the world. Gingrich wants a flat tax rate of 15%. Paul would reduce income taxes to zero.

DISCRIMINATION IN LEGAL SYSTEM: Paul said blacks are imprisoned at a rate four times greater than whites for victimless drug-related offenses.

VOTING RIGHTS: Santorum asked Romney if X-felons who have done their time should be allowed to vote. When Romney said he didn’t think former felons should be allowed to vote, Santorum reminded him that Mass allowed even those who still on probation or parole to vote, and asked Romeny why he did not try to change that law. Perry said South Carolina is at war with the federal government over their voter ID law.

CAMPAIGN ADS: Romney hoped super-PACs would run accurate ads. He favors getting rid of campaign finance laws. He wants campaigns to run their own ads, and take responsibility for them. He said he could not talk to Super-PACs running his ads.

EDUCATION: Gingrich said No Child Left Behind is a failure, as teachers teach to the test. He would eliminate Dept. of Education

ENTITLEMENTS: Romney thinks Obama is making the U.S. an entitlement society, another European social welfare state.

POVERTY/FOOD STAMPS: Santorum believes three things are need to avoid poverty: a job, high school diploma, and marriage before having children. He claims Obama no longer promotes marriage as a way of avoiding poverty. Gingrich claims 185 different federal bureaucracies deal with low income Americans. He thinks Obama wants to maximize dependency. He called him “the best food stamp president in American history.” When he was asked if it was insulting to suggest black kids should work as school janitors, and blacks should demand jobs, not food stamps, he said no, to wild applause from a white audience of prejudiced South Carolina Republicans. He believes NY pays their janitors an absurd amount of money. The crowd booed Juan Williams as he asked Gingrich if he was belittling racial minorities about a lack of a work ethic, and by saying Obama was a food stamp president. Gingrich said more people than ever went on food stamps during the past three years of the Obama administration.

RELIGION: Perry thinks Obama is at war against organized religion. He claimed the Catholic Church cannot receive federal funds, because of their position on abortion.

GAYS: Romney said he supports equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, but he has always opposed gay marriage.

GUNS: Gingrich accused Romney of signing a ban on assault weapons and of increasing fees on gun owners by 400%.  Romney said the Mass law was supported by both sides. Santorum said his support for trigger locks and background checks was backed by the NRA. He banned lawsuits against gun manufacturers, where injuries were sustained despite proper use of a firearm. Paul said we should not have national tort law, since these issues should be dealt with by the states. Santorum said lawsuits would have gone forward in liberal states, if there was not a national ban.

ABORTION: Gingrich opposes abortion and China’s one-child policy.

01/16/2012

Republican Debate: New Hamp (1-7-12)

QUALIFICATIONS: Huntsman repeated he lived overseas four times and managed two American embassies, one in China. Santorum mentioned his eight years on the Armed Services Committee, as qualification for Commander-in-Chief.

TERROR: Santorum said Obama is trying to make the war on terror politically correct by removing the words “radical Islam” from every defense document.

DEFENSE: Santorum argued government has a role to play in defense. Romney accused Obama of wanting to shrink the military, and Perry said he is cutting 1 billion in defense spending.

MILITARY SERVICE: Paul, who was drafted and served when he was young, noted 40,000 were seriously injured in our recent wars, while 8,500 died, and those who received 3, 4 or 5 deferments and did not serve, have no right to send our kids off to war. Gingrich said during the Vietnam War, he was married and never requested a deferment. He claimed he was somehow ineligible for the draft. Paul said when he was drafted, he went despite being married with two children. Romney, who received several deferments during Vietnam, finds it extraordinary that only a few families are paying the price for freedom.

AFGHAN: Huntsman said we drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, ran al Qaeda out into sanctuaries, held free elections, and eliminated bin Laden. It is time to come home and stop nation-building. He thinks a civil war is around the corner. He would leave behind only Special Forces and 10,000 troops for intelligence gathering. Romney would listen to the generals on the ground, and without reason, said he would wait until 2014 to withdraw. Huntsman said we deferred to the generals in 1967 and did not get good results.

IRAN: Paul said he does not want Iran to get a nuclear weapon, but putting sanctions against Iran will only lead to the unintended consequence of pushing them into the hands of China. Romney accused Obama of not imposing crippling sanctions against Iran. Santorum wants to help the revolutionaries in Iran as he called the situation the most pressing issue of the day. Gingrich worries more about the closing of the Straits of Hormuz, since one of six barrels of oil flows through it every day.

IRAQ: Perry wants to send troops back into Iraq now. He worries Iran will enter Iraq. Romney would not now send troops to Iraq.

TRADE: Romney said China and European states opened 44 different trade relationships with various nations around the world. We have to do the same for American goods, claiming Obama not. He also said China manipulates their currency and if you artificially hold down its value, you make your products lower-priced and kill American jobs. Huntsman said its nonsense to think you can slap a tariff on China your first day in office as Romney would do. He said Romney would take us into a trade war where we would get tariffs in return that will hurt our exports. Romney said China does not want a trade war, because they sell more to us than we sell to them. He would hold China to free and fair trade rules. Gingrich said we cannot compete with China with an inferior infrastructure.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Gingrich accused Romney of making spectacular profits by stripping American businesses of assets, selling everything to the highest bidder, and killing jobs for big financial rewards. He opposed leveraged buyouts, where money is taken out and workers are left behind. He said Bain bankrupted companies and laid off employees. Romney said companies must downsize before turning around and making a success. Bain invested in over 100 businesses, he said, and on balance claimed 100,000 jobs were added. Steel Dynamics in Indiana added thousands, Bright Horizons 15,000, Sports Authority 15,000, and Staples 90,000. Romney said sometimes they were not successful.

MANUFACTURING: Huntsman thinks we can win back investment and have a manufacturing renaissance.

FINANCE: Paul thinks we are in a 40-year financial bubble which is bursting and we must liquidate the debt. Romney opposed the Dodd-Frank bill.

CLASS WAR: Santorum said there are no classes in America; there are middle income people

JOBS: Romney hopes the economy is turning around, because there are 25 million unemployed or who stopped looking. Obama’s policies have made the recession deeper, he argues. Perry wants New Hampshire to pass a right-to-work law, and Paul said Santorum voted against right-to-work laws.

REGULATIONS: Perry thinks Americans want less regulation.

ENERGY: Romney said our policies keep us from using our own energy. Perry wants to open up federal lands and waters to more domestic energy drilling, so we are not hostage to countries hostile to us. Gingrich wants an energy plan free of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela. Santorum served on a coal company board.

TRANSPORTATION: Gingrich said we must make investments, because we cannot complete with China with an inferior infrastructure. Romney advocated improving our infrastructure by rebuilding bridges, roads, rail beds, and air transport systems.

HEALTH: Romney opposed Obamacare. Huntsman said he reformed health care in Utah, without an individual mandate. Paul said Santorum voted for the Prescription drug program.

EDUCATION: Paul said Santorum voted to double the Dept of Education.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Santorum said he voted for SS reform.

BUDGET/DEBT: Paul said Santorum is a big government person who voted to raise the debt ceiling five times. For the past 26 years, Paul voted against appropriations bills. Perry wants to get rid of what he called corrupt spending. Santorum said increases in the debt ceiling have happened for 200 years.

TAXES: Huntsman would eliminate 1 billion of loopholes in the tax code. He implemented a flat tax in Utah, and said the Wall St Journal endorsed his tax plan. Santorum would keep only the deductions for health care, housing, pensions, children, and charity.  He would cut corporate income tax in half, down to 17.5%. He claims the 35% rate is the highest in the world. Romney said we must have some taxes to pay for our military, but noted government has grown from 27% in JFK’s day to 37% now. He repeated a pledge to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. Perry thinks Americans want less taxation.  Gingrich would reduce capital gains to zero, corporate income tax to 12.5% and he would abolish the death tax. He would allow 100% expensing for all new equipment.

TERM LIMITS: Huntsman wants Congressional terms limits.

DISCRIMINATION IN LEGAL SYSTEM: Paul said the legal system discriminates, as it arrests and imprisons blacks for drug offenses far more than whites. They get the death penalty more often, he added.

CONTRACEPTION: Santorum believes there is no constitutional right to privacy, and states have a 10th Amendment right to ban contraception. After being directed to Griswold v Conn (1965), in which a state law banning contraception was challenged, Romney doesn’t think any state today wants to ban contraception.

ABORTION: Romney said Roe v Wade (1973) was not decided correctly because he thinks the issue should have been left to the states. He wants the ruling overturned.

PRIVACY: Paul correctly informed everyone the 4th Amendment contains privacy protections. Santorum agreed there is a right to privacy in the 4th Amendment.

GAYS: Huntsman, married 28 years with 7 children, thinks civil unions are fair. Santorum said gay marriage is not a federal issue, but marriage itself is because we need one law on the topic. We cannot have someone married in one state, and not in another. He wants a federal law that bans adoption for gay couples. Romney would amend the constitution as to gay marriage. Gingrich said gays ought to be able to designate friends in their last will or who can make hospital visits, but not through marriage, which should be reserved to one man and one woman. Perry favors a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Gingrich, Santorum, Romney all got it wrong when they said in succession if they were not debating they would be watching the championship college football game. The game was actually not on until a few evenings later.

01/13/2012

Huntsman: Why New Hampshire Surge?

Former Rep. Utah Gov. John Huntsman, who lived overseas four times while serving Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., Bush Jr., and most recently Obama, as U.S. Ambassador to China, finished third in the New Hampshire Republican primary, and is now a serious contender, primarily because of his foreign policy.

FOREIGN POLICY: Huntsman said we need to leave lingering Cold War thinking behind. While some UN members are anti-American, he said, the organization serves a useful peacekeeping and humanitarian purpose. We should not use water-boarding, as he labeled it torture. He said it diminishes our standing in the world as to human rights. We must balance individual liberties and security, and project America’s goodness.

AFGHANISTAN: Huntsman said we need an honest conversation about our sacrifices in Afghanistan the past 10 years. We listened to the generals in 1967, but that didn’t serve our interests. At the end of the day, he said, the President, not the generals, must decide as Commander-in-Chief. He made clear it’s time to leave Afghanistan, as only the Afghans can save their own country. While security is still lacking, it is time to come home, he said, since we achieved our objectives. We drove the Taliban out of Kabul, dismantled al-Qaeda, held elections in 2004, and killed Osama bin Laden. We should not do nation-building with 100,000 troops, as 10,000 to 15,000 troops, with Special Forces and drones can gather the intelligence we need.

IRAN: Huntsman predicted sanctions will not stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, because Russia and China are not going to play ball. In a contradictory way, he said our foreign policy in the Mideast is to insure Iran does not go nuclear.

PAKISTAN: Huntsman said only Pakistan can save Pakistan. His concern is they have 160 million people and 100 nuclear weapons. They have troubles along their border, and risk becoming a failed state, due to the Midrasha Movement. Expanded drones over Pakistan would serve our interests, he said.

ARAB SPRING—SYRIA—BAHRAIN–LIBYA: He said the American interest in Syria is called Israel. He would remind the world what it means to be our ally. He accused President Obama of missing the Persian Spring in Bahrain, saying he failed on that front. On the other hand, he felt we had no interest in Libya.

TRADE: If we apply trade sanctions against China, Huntsman worried, we will get the same in return, because we also manipulate our currency, and a trade war will only hurt our exports. He said we cannot sue China in the WTO over currency issues. He warned Europe is second only to Canada as a U.S. export market, and if they go down, the problem will spread to us.

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

CORPORATE WELFARE: Huntsman said we should not bail out corporations, because we spent trillions with nothing to show for it. He would also phase out corporate welfare and subsidies. As to those protesting against Wall Street, he wants to be the President of the 99%, as well as the 1%, but disagreed with anti-capitalism messages made by some in the crowd.

JOBS: Huntsman thinks we can create jobs for the 15 million who are unemployed through regulatory reform, repealing Obamacare, tax changes, energy independence, and ending corporate welfare.

IMMIGRATION: Huntsman reminded listeners legal immigration is a growth engine. Two of his seven children, from India and China, help him see the issue through their eyes. He said the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. is down due to the economy. While Utah governor, he gave Drivers Licenses to illegal aliens.

AUTO INDUSTRY: Huntsman thinks we can regain our industrial base by lowering taxes and lessening regulations. He did not think the 68 billion dollar auto bailout was a good use of taxpayer money. Americans are sick and tired of bailouts, he said.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT: He wants energy independence, but thinks we can’t use wind or sun right now. He would develop natural gas to get rid of our heroin-like addiction to imported oil. The true cost of oil and gas, he said, includes federal spending to keep the Persian Gulf sea lanes open. He accused the EPA of running a “reign of terror.”

BUDGET/DEBT: Huntsman would never let the U.S. default on our debt, which he labeled a cancer, but we have to have an honest conversation about our sacred cows, as everything has to be on the table, including the 650 billion dollar Defense Budget. If we do not, he warned, we will soon look like Europe. He explained: Greece has a 170% debt to GDP; Italy: 120% to GDP; Japan: 100% to GDP; and ours is 70% debt to GDP, and it is moving up. A 70% debt-to-GDP ratio is a national security problem, which will cause us to stop growing, as it gets too high.

TAXES: Huntsman said this is the worst time to raise taxes. He would lower tax brackets to 8%, 14%, and 22%. He would phase out loopholes and deductions for individuals, as recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission. He would also phase out corporate welfare and subsidies. As Utah governor, he delivered on a flat-tax. He refused to sign a no-tax-hike pledge.

HEALTH: Huntsman said the government’s health care approach is wrong, because it contains a costly individual mandate. He warned the IRS is gearing up with 19,500 employees to administer the mandate. He delivered on health care reform in his state, he said, without a mandate. We need truly affordable insurance by addressing health care cost containment. We have to get costs out of the system. Half of health care spending is nonsense, he said. He wants a health care solution that works in the market. We need affordable health insurance to reduce the number of uninsured. Patients need to be empowered. The Ryan plan puts everything on the table, he said. He would send Medicaid back to the states. He would let the states experiment.

EDUCATION: He thinks early childhood literacy is important, but wants education local, and he would send it back to the states, with no unfunded mandates.

EQUALITY: Huntsman does not bash gays, and accepts civil unions. He asked fellow Republicans to do better on equality.

JUSTICE: Huntsman limited his approval of Supreme Court Justices to just Roberts and Alito.