It was certainly refreshing to hear GOP presidential hopefuls talk business and economy on Tuesday’s Fox Business and WSJ debate. Who knew that all it took were some tough questions on controversial issues to find out where these candidates stand on issues that matter most to America’s working class? Imagine that.
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And yes, there were some real revelations:
Donald Trump is actually capable of acting somewhat deferential and diplomatic, if not downright presidential. On the other hand, he railed against the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, claiming China would use currency manipulation to take advantage of the trade deal … until Rand Paul pointed out that “China is not part of the deal.” Oops.
An apparently frustrated John Kasich – a typically likeable guy – somehow managed to come across as petulant and annoying. His frequent interruptions did not serve him well, especially a surprisingly incoherent attempt to counter a Ted Cruz statement on bank bailouts. Which is sort of ironic, considering that Kasich worked at Lehman Brothers when the famed investment bank declared bankruptcy, not to mention that he helped balance the federal budget during the Bill Clinton administration.
After decades of proposing flat taxes, fair taxes and everything in between by everyone from former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Steve Forbes to California Governor Jerry Brown (yup, a democrat) and Mr. Flat Tax himself, the late great Jack Kemp, we finally have a full staple of Republican candidates armed to the teeth with plans to overhaul America’s nightmarish tax system. Some even called for abolishing the IRS entirely. You’ve got to love that.
Tired of being treated unfairly by a media interviewing people he went to high school with and scrutinizing just about everything he’s ever said, mild mannered Dr. Ben Carson came out swinging at Hilary Clinton, who he claims has not gotten the same treatment. Regarding Clinton telling America that the Benghazi attack was over a video instead of a terrorist attack, he said, “Where I came from they call that a lie.”
While many had written off Rand Paul as irrelevant – myself included – I thought he actually came across as a surprisingly reasonable conservative voice. After embarrassing Trump by pointing out that China is not part of the TPP deal, the Senator from Kentucky landed some solid punches on Marco Rubio, asking how the Florida Senator can be conservative while proposing a $1 trillion increase in military spending and another $1 trillion child tax credit. Good question.
And while Bobby Jindal took a scorched earth approach that went after anyone and everyone in the earlier JV debate, Chris Christie took the high road, “If you think that Mike Huckabee won’t be the kind of president who will cut back spending – or Chris Christie or John Kasich – wait ‘til you see what Hillary Clinton will do to this country and how she will drown us in debt. She is the real adversary tonight and we’d better stay focused as Republicans on her.” Mic drop.
Meanwhile, the only entity Republicans seem to despise more than the IRS is the Fed. Several candidates expressed the belief that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has kept interest rates down for political reasons – keeping money cheap and the market up to maintain the illusion of a robust economy until after the 2016 election. That’s certainly not the first time the Fed’s power has been challenged.
Lastly, as a former senior executive myself, I wanted to stand up and applaud former HP CEO Carly Fiorina’s straight talk about how big government breeds crony capitalism, including a plan to take an axe to Washington’s wildly bloated spending by instituting zero-based budgeting to justify every program, a three-page tax code and a review of every regulation.
And, as a small business owner who is finally losing his company’s healthcare plan and dealing with the ironically misnamed Affordable Care Act this month, Fiorina’s plan to replace Obamacare with free market competition and ensure that every health care provider “publishes its costs, its prices, its outcomes, because as patients, we don’t know what we’re buying,” couldn’t have been more timely.
As if the very notion of real budgeting, tax reform, and free-market competition wasn’t enough “crazy talk” for one political debate, Fiorina said, “The secret sauce of America is innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s why we must cut our government down to size and hold it accountable,” she said. Indeed, big government is crushing innovation and entrepreneurship.