Monday, September 29, 2008

Debate Blech

I lost about 45 minutes of my life watching the awful debate Friday night and I wish I could have it back. From what I saw- and everything I've heard afterward- it was just a lot more of the same old garbage. McCain was exactly what I expected him to be- feisty, yet prepped enough to hammer home all the major talking points, and without a doubt convinced that being the next President is a bit too similar to being the next Batman. Obama wasn't much better. In terms of actual policy, he may well be worse than McCain, but it was hard to tell as neither candidate let policy get in the way of their sound bites.

From what I saw (which was mostly the economic portion of the debate), two things stand out. The first was McCain's continued insistence in turning all of politics into the war on terrorism. As McCain explained it, pork barrel spending and earmarks aren't just wasteful, they are literally a gateway drug toward political corruption. Not once, not twice, but three times did McCain mention those bad, corrupt members of Congress he had helped put into jail. The message was clear- everyone else better watch out for President McCain.

The other part of the debate that stuck in my mind was the failure of either candidate to acknowledge that spending would have to be cut to pay for the massive financial bailout. McCain did promise to cut government waste, but he seemed to be describing using a scalpel where quite clearly an ax would be needed. Trimming a few million here and there would certainly be worthwhile, but it didn't answer the questions. Nor was it particularly helpful that McCain mentioned the many wasteful departments we have in general without actually identifying which ones in particular trouble him. Of course, Obama was far, far worse on this particular question. Rather than answering what he would cut, Obama responded with what he wouldn't cut, laying out a whole smörgåsbord of new initiatives and spending.

I won't discuss the foreign policy questions that much, mainly because the politically partisan seem to think that their candidate performed remarkably well. The libertarians I've read weren't all that happy with either candidate, with some extremely disappointed in Obama. With the war in Iraq winding down successfully, Afghanistan is going to be the next big foreign policy question, and from what I understand, there seems to be little difference as far as what's being offered in terms of policy there.

(Side note- I'm a bit troubled by the idea of pouring more troops into Afghanistan, simply because I'[m not sure stabilizing that nation is really possible. For all the Iraq is Vietnam analogies, Afghanistan, the Democrats favorite place where our troops should be, is the most likely to become the next Vietnam. The problem is, the country is completely lacking in any sort of infrastructure, and without infrastructure, how do you really leave a stable government in charge? Iraq was about rebuilding the existing infrastructure, but there wasn't one to begin with in Afghanistan.)

All in all, if I had been swaying Obama over the last few weeks, the debate may have swung me back to the neutral position. McCain still worries me, but Obama needs to work on being more Bill Clinton and less John Kerry. Truthfully, I'm not all that sure what Obama is about and at this point, I'm not sure who's scarier.


Anonymous rose said...

McCain was awful in that debate. How much ammo did he leave on the table? Why didn't he once say, "us republicans want to help the middle class too, but we don't think socialism helps anybody", or as fred thompson put it "you'll be fine under obama's spending plan...unless you happen to work for a business or buy products from a business". He was flat out awful on the economy. Anyone with out a real economic knowledge base couldn't help but favor Obama. I could go on and on, but mcCain is on the right side of the economic argument and he could've have butchered it any worse.

"McCain did promise to cut government waste, but he seemed to be describing using a scalpel where quite clearly an ax would be needed." LL

mccain actually did suggest the possibility of an all out spending freeze, LL. And Obama criticized, saying something along the lines of "john is talking about using a hatchet when what we need is a scalpel." then obama outlined what he would continue to spend on, trying to show that mccain's "hatchet" approach would be bad for the middle class.

2:37 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

You're right, I had forgot about the spending freeze. The problem with a spending freeze is that it doesn't really address the issue of cutting government, it's just stopping growth. And a spending freeze isn't all that effective in the end because any President, of any political party would end that spending freeze the minute a new emergency popped up, be it the next 9-11 or the next major hurricane.

My point was though, that McCain, like Obama, avoided the tough question of what do you cut. My ax-scalpel analogy was in regards to McCain's pinpointing of specific military projects he thought were a waste of money. Or in other words, my analogy was better than Obama's.

3:11 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

And I left out all the talk on taxes, where I thought, politically speaking, Obama was brilliant. This was one case where Obama was Clinton-like, pointing out that under his plan, 90% of Americans will pay less in taxes.

McCain missed a golden opportunity to point out that someone making 125,000 or 250,000 a year isn't exactly rich, but really, it is sort of a big flaw for him that he can't promise tax cuts for as many people as Obama can. For the vast middle class, the truth is, Obama is offering a tax cut and McCain is not offering the same. If McCain had a little more libertarian in him, he could offer tax cuts for everyone top to bottom and find some ways to cut spending. But again, that's not McCain.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

Just under half of all americans don't even pay income taxes anyway and Obama is giving them a sizable tax rebate. McCain actually is cutting taxes for more tax payers, but Obama can throw out his 90-95% stats based on a rebated for non-payers.

Combined with a hike to 39.6% for wealthy Americans, there's a term for this, wealth redistribution.

8:15 AM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

Not that your asking, but my proposal would be to scarp the current tax code and replace it with a two-tier flat tax. Set them at 10% and 25% and eliminate every single deduction that makes the tax code so complex.

Also, either pay for social security out of the general income tax, or failing that, eliminate the income ceiling.

The big problem with income tax statistics is that they don't take into account the pyramid scheme known as social security and medicare which has far more impact on the poor and middle class. Even those who pay nothing or little in income taxes, still pay literally over 15% in social security and medicare taxes- half is deducted from your paycheck and the other half is paid by employers.

9:28 AM  

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