It’s getting harder every day to watch the Republican primary debates at this point since so much of the discussion has become moot. America is in a horrible rut: the far left is infuriated with the complicity of corporate Democrats who are no longer left but merely centrist. The far right is disgusted with Republicans whom they believe aren’t right wing enough. The middle is disgusted that the two sides can’t agree on anything, but is too busy trying to keep a job to place the blame on Republicans who are at the heart of the majority of Washington’s gridlock. With political drama as the backdrop, we get another Republican debate that offers nothing in the way of actually solving any problems that America faces economically.
Maybe it was Charlie Rose’s responsible and reasonable questions or the inevitability of a Romney candidacy. But, it is sinking in that this was the most tepid and least inspiring of debates amongst the Republican candidates. The press will be predictably filled with highlights from this debate and Huntsman’s zinger on the Cain “9-9-9” plan – which would’ve been funny had everyone, including your toll both operator, not been making the same joke for weeks now. You will read about talking heads saying that Romney looks presidential or solidified his position as the front-runner or that Perry missed an opportunity to regain his position as a first tier candidate. But, the real truth of this debate can be found in the Politico summary of the debate where Maggie Habberman was clearly straining to find 6 “Takeaways” from a debate that really offered nothing new or entertaining.
To be honest, these are pointless highlights made into soft chewable bits of a larger debate that Americans likely will not see until next year when Romney faces off against Obama. Namely, it is clear what the economic principles of the Republican candidates are, the focus of the entire debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. They are all of the delusional and economically indefensible idea that tax cuts are the way to bring jobs back to America.
During the “Not quite ready for Prime Time” post-debate discussion on Bloomberg Television, the entire ‘panel’ looked out of their league and extremely uncomfortable discussing politics – but one clear point did come out. None of the Republican candidates has a plan that will actually improve the economy in the next 6 months. Everything that they suggest will take time and will require heavy lift from American businesses. And while the candidates discussed everything from the Federal Reserve to the Obama healthcare law to the economic crisis in Greece, none of the rhetoric is really any different.
For those keeping score, tax cuts will not create new jobs. Cutting taxes helps those who have jobs already but they do nothing for people who are out of work. Moreover, as an employer, if you give me a $5,000 tax credit for hiring a new employee how does that incentivize me to hire someone new who will cost me $20,000? More specifically, you can blame all the unions and government regulations that you want but if I have to pay an American worker $7 an hour to make a shirt and I only have to pay someone $2 an hour in Mexico, Adios Amigo!
No amount of government regulation and union busting can make up for the fact that it’s cheaper to make some goods in the third world. For a two hour debate on the economy no one had any answers to these fundamental dilemmas that plague our national economy or address what our best options are in a global economy.
If the debate was just another rehearsal dinner for Mitt Romney then it was riveting television. If the debate was supposed to provide a real discussion on the economic issues of the day while providing juicy highlights, it was a huge failure.