I watched the first 40 minutes of the Republican presidential debate last night from Las Vegas and shut it off. I think Michele Bachmann came out strong, although I found her outfit distracting.
The debate was mostly an embarrassment, yet it did bring out some valid points.
First, every one of these debaters should do two things – include regular criticisms of Obama throughout the debate. Michele Bachmann did so boldly, talking about Obama’s destruction of the economy and then tossing this grenade:
“I think the person who really has a problem with illegal immigration in the country is President Obama. It's his uncle and his aunt who are illegal aliens who've been allowed to stay in this country, despite the fact that they're illegal."
Good for her… Because Obama is the real target. And a juicy one too.
But the hollering and bickering between candidates was terrible. The Republicans appeared to be forming their usual circular firing squad.
Newt said rightly, "Let me just point out for a second that maximizing bickering is probably not the road to the White House.”
Then we got Rick Perry attacking Mitt Romney about hiring a company to mow his lawn that had an illegal alien working for it.
This was ridiculous, a minor point that Romney has explained over and over. And that Romney and Perry almost got in a shouting match over this and other points was telling.
Meanwhile the bad blood between Romney and Perry came out when Romney needled Perry that "This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you're going to get testy."
Rick Santorum looked more like a heckler than a debater as he badgered Romney over health care. It was very unprofessional.
But Santorum did bring out another valid point about Cain’s plan for a national sales tax proposal. He explained that under the current tax code, you get to take deductions for each of your children (Santorum has seven kids). But under a federal sales tax, the more you buy for a bigger family, the more you pay in taxes.
Good point… So a national sales tax could further discourage people from having children.
Another point made is that Cain’s 9-9-9 plan eliminates the current tax code - which is a good thing - but replaces it with two separate taxes that the average citizen will pay: A 9% flat income tax and a 9% national sales tax. And one or the other indeed is a completely new tax that can be pushed up and up and up by future legislation.
So that indeed is a weakness of Cain’s plan. He should stand for either a sales tax or a flat tax, but not both.
Romney looked somewhat besieged by all the criticisms of RomneyCare. This made him look small. This should stop. None of these candidates should be made to look small. They should debate, not bicker.
Herman Cain debated pretty well but Michele Bachmann made another good point about 9-9-9 that most Americans probably did not follow – that 9-9-9 indeed is a value-added tax.
Cain denied it, and it technically it is not a VAT. But Bachmann is a tax lawyer and so she understands the ramifications and was correct.
Because if the baker pays 9% tax on his flour and 9% on his yeast, it is a cumulative tax that pushes up the cost of bread, or any item at the various stages of production which is what a VAT does.
The fix for this would be to set the National Sales Tax at a very low rate to account for the fact that it is cumulative. Or use a flat tax only.
Michele Bachmann made another excellent point. She said that “everyone needs to pay something” in federal taxes.
This addresses the reality that tens of millions of people are collecting money from the government and are not paying any federal taxes.
The fact is that all people should pay something in taxes, even poor people. That would change the current dynamic under which millions always vote a certain way – for more federal spending – because they are paying zero in.
Herman Cain was good about “apples and oranges” but it may have confused the audience. It seems like presidential candidates like Rick Perry should understand the distinction between a federal sales tax and a state sales tax, that the federal sales tax would simply be a new way to collect federal taxes and in no way would affect your state sales tax. Perry was misleading in his statement that a state like New Hampshire, which has no sales tax, now would get a sales tax under Cain’s plan.
Anderson Cooper wasn’t too bad and not too biased except for his ‘Get Texas’ question for Perry, about one million uninsured children in the state.
Perry was equivocal, and should have been bold and explained that he has millions of poor illegal immigrants in his state who are using the health-care system and burdening it. But that would have exposed the problem – that Perry’s in-state tuition plan for illegals is a “magnet” for poor people to come in from Mexico.
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