Daily Revolt

December 13, 2007

Iowa Republican Presidential Debate 12-12-07

Essentially uneventful debate Wednesday. Romney seemed to be the most impressive. Huckabee did not hurt himself. First question could've been the most important. Do you agree our country's financial situation creates a security risk, and why are why not? Giuliani went first:
I believe that it's a major problem, and it's one that hasn't been addressed the way it should be over the course of the last seven, eight, maybe really 20 years, and there are three major things we have to do. First, we have to reduce government spending, and we have to be disciplined about that. And we have to do it by imposeing spending caps on spending agencies in government, 5, 10, 15%. Say we're not going to rehire half of the civilian employees coming up for retirement, they should not be rehired. That would give us a $20 billion, $22 billion reduction, the other would even be higher, and then we have to reduce taxes. Right now we should reduce the corporate tax to 25%. It'd be a major boost in revenues for the government. Most importantly, it would be a way of dealing with our fiscal policy in the same way the fed is dealing with our monetary policy to create more liquidity, and there are other taxes we should get rid of. The death tax and a whole group of others.

Ron Paul:
It's absolutely a threat to our national security because we've spend too much, we taxed too much, we borrowed too much and we print too much.

When a country spends way beyond it means, eventually it will destroy the currency.

And we're in the midst of currency crisis. Our dollar is going down rapidly as we speak. It's because we have lived beyond our means. We can't afford the foreign policy that we have. We have to cut back. We have to live within our means.

If we're going to spend money, we ought to spend it at home. And that is why we have to change this foreign policy. We can't afford it, to do what we're doing today, because it will destroy our dollar.

Thompson was quite frank during the debate:
Our country has a $9 trillion debt. A good chunk of that is owned by China. We're bankrupting the next generation, without any question. Every economist in Washington who's looked at will tell you that.

It affects our national security, for one reason is because we're squeezing military spending. We're spending below historic norms under these circumstances for our defense, and we're spending twice as much for entitlements.

That's why I put out a specific Social Security plan that'll save Social Security while saving the government $4 trillion.

It's all in entitlements. We've got to spend more for the military, as a matter of fact. But we've got to look at Social Security and Medicare and do some things now that won't hurt anybody badly, but will save it for the next generation.

Romney did not really give an answer to this question, but mouthed a lot generalities:
This is indeed a time of extraordinary challenges in this country, and the overspending in Washington and the over-promises that we've made are certainly among those challenges.

But this is not a time for us to wring our hands and think that the future is bleak.

In fact, the future is bright. We need leaders up in Washington that will rein in excessive spending. And we also need leadership that will help America grow. The best answer for our economic woes is to make sure we have good jobs for our citizens, good schools for our kids, good health care for everyone, and that we have policies that promote the growth of the nation.

We can have a level playing field around the world; get ourselves off of foreign oil; reduce the excessive spending in Washington; and have a bright future for our kids.

This, again, is based upon the strength of the American people. If you want to see a strong America, you don't look to Washington, you look to ways to strengthen the American people.

It's most certainly a national security threat, because a country can only be free if it can do three things. First, it has to be able to feed itself. It has to be able to put food on the table for its own citizens.

Secondly, it's got to be able to fuel itself. If it looks to somebody else for its energy needs, it's only as free as those are willing for it to be.

And it also has to be able to fight for itself. It's got to be able to manufacture its own weapons of defense -- tanks, airplanes, bullets and bombs.

When we start outsourcing everything and we're in that kind of a trade deficit, then just remember who feeds us, who fuels us, and who helps us to fight; that's to whom we are enslaved.

So if we can't do those three things, our national security is very much at risk.

Of course, any nation that no longer has economic strength sooner or later will lose its military strength. So it's a national security issue.

We have many trillions of dollars of unfunded liability. Obviously, we've been on a spending spree. We cannot increase taxes.

If oil reaches $100 a barrel, which many people think it may, $400 billion of America treasure will go to oil-producing countries. Some of those monies will go to terrorist organizations.

We have go to achieve energy independence, oil independence in this nation. I will make it a Manhattan Project. And we will in five years become oil independent.

Another important question. What sort of sacrifices would that require from people who use those government services? Giuliani first again:
GIULIANI: Well, that would require their trying to figure out other ways to do it. I mean, rather than moving in the direction of more people on government medicine, I'd rather see us reduce the income tax burden, create an exemption for health care so people can buy their own health care.

So that's going to require they take a little bit more time, take a little more ownership of their health care.

But rather than relying on government as the nanny government, let's rely on people to make choices about their health care. Let's rely on, instead of 17 million people buying their own health insurance, 50 million, 60 million, 70 million. You'll see the price come all the way down, and you'll see the quality come up.

That's an American solution. It's a bold one, but it's the kind of thing America's done in the past. We rely on our people, not on our government.

Unorthodox resonse by Paul:
Congressman Paul, what sacrifices would you ask Americans to make for debt reduction?

PAUL: I think it's absolutely unnecessary to sacrifice. We want to give people more freedom, more chance to spend their own money. It's unnecessary.

We can cut by looking at our foreign policy. We maintain an empire which we can't afford. We have 700 bases overseas. We are in 130 countries. We cut there.

And then we have a better defense of this country, and the people get that money, and they get to spend it here at home.

There's no need to sacrifice. We need more liberty, more rights for the people to spend their own money.

PAUL: And, in that situation, there is no sacrifice and no need for it.

Sometimes it's not so much doing things so that people sacrifice; it's doing them differently. Let me give you an example.

A lot of the federal budget goes to health care. We need to do what most American companies are finding works in reducing health care costs. That's moving from the intervention-based health care model to a prevention based.

Our current model is upside-down. We wait until people are catastrophically ill, and then we spend the most expensive ways of trying to cure incurable diseases.

If we would put the focus on prevention, we would find, like American business is finding, that there really is savings if you kill the snake, rather than just treat the snakebites, which is the way our current system is built.

Slightly different question. Are there programs or situations that are so important that you'd be willing to run a deficit to pay for them? ROMNEY answers:
Well, we don't have to run a deficit to pay for the things that are most important, because we can eliminate the things that aren't critical.

On the private sector, where I spent the first 25 years of my life and most of my career, you learn how to focus on the things that are most important and you get rid of the things that aren't.

We have in the federal government 342 different economic development programs, often administered by different departments. We don't need 342. We probably don't need 100 of those. We probably need a lot fewer than that.

We have 40 different programs for workforce training. There are probably five or six that are really working, and a lot that are not working terribly well. We can get rid of some of those.

We have 13 different programs to prevent teenage pregnancy. Well, they're obviously not working real well and we can probably cut it down to one or two that are making a difference.

And so what anyone in the private sector's learned how to do is to focus their resources on those things that have the biggest impact, that are most important.

ROMNEY: Surely, protecting our country and our defense of our military is critical; getting our free market finally able to allow all of our citizens to have insurance -- health insurance, that's something we did in Massachusetts; improving our schools with school choice, better pay for better teachers -- these are a lot of things that we can do, but they don't require us to eliminate the things that are most critical in our society.

Instead, they require us to get rid of those things that are unnecessary. And the sacrifice that we need from the American people, it's this: It's saying let the programs that don't work go.

Read the entire transcript...

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