Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Debate: The Day After

As most of you know, I am a Rubio supporter (and fundraiser--see your great opportunity to donate off the right side of this page).  I think he clearly won each of the previous debates, and the contests were not close.

I'd say he either tied Cruz last night or was nipped in the end by Cruz opportunistically jumping onto the "experience" question Rubio was asked. Either way, he clearly remains the class of the field.

The surprise of the evening was Rand Paul--who jumped on Marco like a hobo with a ham sandwich--and he did so by rediscovering his (Paul's) libertarian roots.  Rubio is out with a broad-based plan to increase defense spending, and if you add it all up and multiply it across ten years, some analysts think it would cost $1T.  I won't quibble with that estimate, but I will only remind you that in that 10 years, the Federal Gov't will spend over $35T, and so an additional $1T to shore up our increasingly unprepared defenses seems reasonable to me.  Oh, and don't forget that in that 10 years, our economy will be worth over $200T.

Rand was the guy I always figured would be standing at the end to face the eventual nominee.  The problem he's had though, is that he's been running less as a libertarian and more as a Republican, and as a Republican, he's pretty bad.  Reverting to his libertarian roots last night was a smart move, and while I utterly disagree with him on his isolationism and his craven attack on Rubio's defense plan, as a tactical move, it was smart.  As was his attack on Rubio's enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) plan, but this will ultimately be an unsatisfying line of attack, as Rubio continues to point out that even if those receiving it have no income tax liability, they continue to pay payroll taxes--and so they are in fact, receiving their own money back -- which remains--even in this weird environment-- a bedrock conservative position.

Cruz was good--very good.  But I am not a fan.

!Jeb did not move the needle, and we are at the beginning of the end of his candidacy I believe.

Kasich as a royal pain in the ass, and he played himself right out of the VP stakes with his holier than though bullshit.

Carson was believable, reasonable, and straightforward.  I am growing to like him more and more.

Fiorina was less effective than in the past-- this "lets take our government back" cry is a little annoying.

Finally, he who shall not be named continued to beclown himself with his detail free platitudnal mumblings.

As for the debate itself--my goodness, what an improvement.  With the exception of Kasich's annoying interruptions, this was a high minded, substantial debate with really good questions and really good back and forths (especially Rubio and Paul).

I would dearly like to see a foreign and defense policy debate conducted on the same terms.


"The Hammer" said...

Unfortunately I was unable to catch the debate as Sgt Major insisted on watching the season finale of Real Housewives of Gasden on the Alabama Channel. It wasn't bad, Lucille finally got her Z28 out of impound.
Anyway the word is Bush and Kasich pretty much did themselves in last night. Not a chance in this environment will an open borders candidate win. But as I've stated previously, Bush has a lot of cash. He can still do a lot of damage if he chose and it appears he's got a big boner for Rubio. As in this little upstart betrayed me kinda thing. We'll see but if I were Rubio I wouldn't open my own mail for a while.

ColoComment said...

Any one of them on that stage would be better than Hillary, and even if not particularly effective (or even likable), would likely do far less damage than she to the republic.

As we used to say when I was showing dogs, Rubio "shows well." He's attractive (meaning he's still got all his hair, few facial wrinkles, and no jowls); speaks fluently in mostly complete sentences with a minimum of uhs and ums; and his principles seem [mostly] conservative. I like him giving priority to national defense, and his unabashed declarations of patriotism and love of country. He should make the point, however, that we can spend more on defense, which after all, is government's top job, if we reduce what we spend on stupid, ineffective, corruptly-managed, duplicative welfare programs.
I DO object to his enhanced EITC (or whatever he calls it.) I am 100% against refundable tax credits. If you're going take money from producers to give to other people beyond any income tax they might owe, then you should at least have the courage of your convictions to call it a welfare transfer, which is what it is. (And we've GOT to quit tinkering with the tax code in this way.)

You want to call it an offset against payroll taxes: giving their own money back to them. However, every worker and employer pays payroll taxes that, ostensibly (yeah, we all know it's a lie, but work with me here) go toward paying the cost of the major social benefit programs: SS (FICA) & Medicare. If you reduce the payroll tax funds going toward those programs, an equal amount of money will have to be found elsewhere to pay those benefits. You're not cutting those benefits, are you? So, you're digging us deeper into debt, because we can't pay for what we're spending now. That enhanced EITC beneficiary will get BOTH a refundable tax credit AND his SS/Medicare benefits when he retires - that he has NOT contributed to.
Presto: you've just created a new redistribution program, and you're essentially stealing from one [payroll tax] fund and sending the loot under a different name to someone else.
I just don't see that as being conservative.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Good comment, Colo. You definitely raise an important point. So let me try and respond, and I warn you up front the effort may not be satisfying.

I take your point on payroll taxes--but to some extent, this was always the weakness of Mitt Romney's 47 per cent comment. Yes--a lot of people--too many people--pay no income tax. But every worker pays payroll taxes at a rate of over 6 per cent. And while I agree that in virtually every case, they will already "get their money back" through participation in the various entitlement programs that payroll taxes fund, the very nature of the act that earns the credit--having children is a necessary part of keeping the overall system solvent in the future. No kids, no workers. No workers, no system.

Additionally, some economists see the EITC as an inducement to work in the first place, in that someone doing the cost benefit of not working and taking food stamps and other assistance instead is able to engage in productive work rather than remaining part of the entitlement system.

So while I can do the math and I can see why you don't consider this idea particularly conservative, I suggest that there are very conservative goals in mind with this policy (family, solvency, work) that offset its non-conservative aspects.

Additionally, lets be honest. The overwhelming number of medicare and social security recipients already receive vastly more than they put into the system (something on the order of seven years of benefits per person) due to longer life spans, so these are essentially "welfare" or redistribution programs already. Rubio has raised increasing the retirement age and means testing both....both of which would offset the increase of the EITC.

Thanks for the great policy comment.

ColoComment said...

Part The First:
I love good discussion! It's the only way I can clarify my thinking & understand its weak spots & learn where I'm thinking wrongly.
A) I respectfully suggest that people don't decide to have or not have children based on how much the deduction(s) per child will be. They have children (intentionally or not) and then, praise be! It's a miracle!, they see that they can get a tax offset (a “free” money gift, even!) Granted, every extra dollar in one's pocket means a bit less stress overall. However, I've seen no way for anyone to measure or otherwise be confident that this EITC "free" money improves the odds of family survival - in fact, given the evidence of ongoing dissolution of traditional family unit/structure in our society & the growth of single-parent households, there's no evidence that EITC has done anything whatsoever to promote "families," or at least that it can overcome or even mitigate the damage that the present cultural environment has done to the concept of "family."
Also, as you suggest, when the implicit tax for working, even given the EITC refundable credit, is to give up the aggregated & very generous non-working income* of the 70+ programs for non- or low-income population, then I ask, why would a bit more of EITC incline you to work rather than not work? Serious question. (*none of which, I believe, is included in the calculation of federal poverty level)
Why perhaps would not the opposite tack work better to achieve the goal of work-motivation: e.g., rather than INCREASE the money taken from taxpayers to give to the low-income worker, why not DECREASE the generosity of the benefits for not working, so as to encourage the choice TO work, and to strive for ever more remunerative work?

ColoComment said...

Part The Second:
So (to reduce it to its absurd bare bones), it sounds as though your economic goal for expanding EITC is to encourage the breeding of more children in [single parent? Two-parent? Three parent?] households that do not earn enough taxable income to exceed the EITC limits, for the purpose of taking the kiddies' future earnings* to pay to old and/or sick people, for the perpetuation of a system where even now the liabilities far exceed revenues (with no correction to that status anticipated.)
What you want is to breed more dupes to shake down for money for this Ponzi scheme. Have i got that right? :-)
*what makes you think that all these kids from EITC-qualifying homes will have future earnings, anyway?

YOU: Additionally, some economists see the EITC as an inducement to work in the first place, in that someone doing the cost benefit of not working and taking food stamps and other assistance instead is able to engage in productive work rather than remaining part of the entitlement system.

ME: Yes, that's the economic rationale. And it makes sense under behavioral economics theory. But, we see the demonstrated predilection of some (many?) in the no-/low-income population to opt for (and for pols to give them) ever-more-generous gimmes, from freely-dispensed SSI disability status, to Obamaphones and paid cell service, to “free”* university education in "___ studies," rather than for them to seek gainful employment or remunerative education/training. Do you believe the reality you see playing out in the real world, or the behavioral economic theory that, if of any effect at all, may only play out at the farthest margins? *what else are forgivable student loans, but "free" to-the-student education?
Honestly? Yes, everyone knows these programs are government-underwritten Ponzi schemes. As you have said, both of those programs are currently operating with massive deficits, and an ever-increasing portion of current benefits must be paid out of general tax revenues & public borrowings. However, both/either of Rubio’s suggested changes to SS and Medicare would serve ONLY to slowly bring those deficits into a somewhat better balance of tax revenue & program spend. All things remaining as they now trend, it's not like those program changes will EVER bring in a surplus of SS/Medicare payroll tax revenue that could then be diverted to more generous EITC. Increasing EITC is still committing the anti-conservative action of stealing from Peter (or borrowing from China) to pay Paul, however worthy the intent might be. I'm not convinced that the end justifies the means.

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