Associated Press

(Associated Press)

GOP Candidates: Keep America Competitive

Spurring economic growth to keep America competitive emerged as a central theme in the main event Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee sponsored by the FOX Business Network and the Wall Street Journal. 

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The debate is focusing on economic themes.

Each of the top eight GOP candidates as determined by a series of national polls called for tax reforms that would lower the corporate tax rate for U.S. companies, currently the highest in the industrialized world.

In addition, the candidates all agreed that too much regulation, in their view, is strangling U.S. businesses, especially small businesses that can’t afford to adhere to all of the new rules imposed by sweeping legislation such as Obamacare, the president’s signature health care reform bill, and the Dodd-Frank banking reform legislation.  

Texas Senator Ted Cruz said the hyper-regulatory environment under the Democratic administration has “descended like locusts on small businesses.” He also called for a “bold and simple flat tax” that will create “a booming” U.S. economy.

“The Obama economy is a disaster,” Cruz said.

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called for tax reform that allows U.S. companies to better compete with China, for instance. He also called for repealing an array of Obama-era regulations, many of them tied to the environment, whose “economic costs far exceed the benefits.”

Both Donald Trump and Ben Carson, two non-career politicians who have traded places for months alternating as the GOP front-runner, said they would not raise the minimum wage to $15, as many have called for. Both candidates said raising costs for employers by forcing them to pay employees higher wages would make the businesses less competitive against overseas competitors.

“How do we allow people to ascend the ladder of opportunity?” Carson asked, summing up his philosophy of keeping America competitive.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio called for an array of reforms all designed to increase U.S. competitiveness, including lowering taxes, cutting regulations and improving the American higher education system to better prepare Americans for the high-tech jobs that have replaced low-skilled jobs that have moved overseas. “Our higher education system is completely outdated,” Rubio asserted.

Rubio also opposes raising the minimum wage: “If you raise the minimum wage, you’re going to make people more expensive than a machine.” 

Ohio Gov. John Kasich also called for improvements to higher education, lower taxes and cutting government spending.

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina said the ever-expanding federal government and costs associated with that growth are “crushing the engine of economic growth.” She has called for a three-page tax code to simplify the tax burden on businesses and American citizens.

“Obamacare is crushing small businesses,” Fiorina added. “The secret sauce of America is innovation and entrepreneurship.  It’s crushed by the crushing load of a 73 page tax code.  Crushed by bureaucrats who don’t do their job well.” 

Tennessee Sen. Rand Paul said the “easy money” policies of the Federal Reserve are contributing to increasing income disparities in the U.S.

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