Posts tagged with: presidential debate

At some point in tonight’s foreign policy debate between the two presidential candidates, Governor Mitt Romney should send his very capable inner wonk on a long coffee break and press a big-picture truth that otherwise will go begging: America’s strength on the international stage requires economic strength, and our economic strength cannot long endure under the weight of a government so swollen in size that it stifles human enterprise.

The connection between economic freedom and economic growth is well-established. The connection between the relative strength of a nation’s economy and its strength on the international stage is also well established.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but it’s maybe easiest to grasp by thinking about technology. Our strength rests partly on our position as a technology leader, which allows our military to do more with less. But we’re unlikely to maintain that position of leadership if our government habitually suffocates our high-tech entrepreneurs under high taxes and hyper-regulation.
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I think somebody needs to admit that the level of pandering to women in this election is over the top. Whether it is Ann Romney awkwardly yelling, “I love you women” at the Republican National Convention, or the ridiculous “War on Women” meme from the left. The examples are just too many to cite and evaluate for one post. So much of it is focus driven and poll tested and here with us to stay, but the issue still needs to be addressed.

A young woman in the audience at the second Obama – Romney debate named Katherine Fenton asked the candidates, “What are they going to do about equal pay for women?” I’m not saying this is not a legitimate question. But there is something deeper that I think we need to recognize on this issue.

As evidence shows now, young women currently are compensated at a higher rate than young men. There are a host of reasons for this being the case. Women are better educated for this economy, which is growing in service sectors and the health fields. Manufacturing continues to collapse, which disproportionately affects men. The coal industry, which is heavily male, is being strangled by regulation. Young women are more apt to go to college now than young men and they dominate college and university settings. Many men who have been on a college campus in the last few decades are well aware of the male-bashing, which is ridiculously excessive. Women are more apt to graduate and more likely to go on and get a graduate degree. Studies consistently show that the biggest benefactors of affirmative action are not racial minorities but women.

Now it’s true, at the highest level of industry there is still pay disparity between men and women, but much of this has to do with some women voluntarily leaving the work force for family reasons and raising children, and not because of evil sexist pay charts cooked up in corporate cigar lounges.

Even many of the economic statistics thrown out by Romney last night had to do with the level of female poverty on the rise in this economy, but poverty is on the rise regardless of gender. I’ve attended religious conferences and events where men have gotten up and apologized for being a white male. I don’t see that as helpful to anything. I know in a high stakes political setting it’s too much to ask for the constant pandering to cease, but I feel that we would be better served by leaders who are committed to promoting the equality under the law above all else.

One line from last night’s debate leapt out at me. It wasn’t a stumble amidst the cut and thrust of open debate. It was during President Obama’s closing statement—400 words that I’m guessing he and his staff crafted with painstaking care.

About half way through his summation, the president gave his vision of government in a nutshell. He said that “everything that I’ve tried to do, and everything that I’m now proposing for the next four years,” was “designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, their grit, their determination, is – is channeled.”

In that one word, channeled, President Obama distilled the problem. It isn’t his job to channel America’s genius, grit and determination anymore than it’s a traffic cop’s job to tell you where to go when you hop in your car. The police officer has an important role. Government has an important role. But it isn’t to channel.

That isn’t how you free a country for greatness; it’s how you suffocate it, by having politicians and bureaucrats endlessly picking winners and losers, inserting themselves into the middle of every market bigger than a lemonade stand. (Oh wait, they got to the lemonade stand, too.)

President Obama quickly went on to explain what he meant by the federal government channeling, but the gloss was cold comfort. The good parts of the gloss—“everybody’s getting a fair shot,” “everybody’s playing by the same rules”—had nothing to do with channeling. And the part that was all about channeling—the government making sure that “everybody’s getting a fair share, everybody’s doing a fair share”—was just same failed, slightly creepy vision of an all-embracing nanny state that has Europe on the brink.

Acton’s director of research Samuel Gregg’s reaction to last night’s GOP presidential debate is up at NRO’s The Corner. Like most people who saw the debate, he didn’t like the childish bickering, of which he says “the trivializing effects upon serious discussion are hard to deny.”

“There were, however, two useful moments,” he says:

One was several candidates’ efforts to put the contemporary disease of identity politics in its appropriate place (i.e., the grave).

The second was a number of candidates’ willingness to make the hard-to-hear but nevertheless accurate observation that the best way to address the slump in housing prices in places likeNevadais to allow the housing market to stabilize under its own volition. No matter how noble the intentions, government mortgage-relief programs have proved economically ineffective, and, in many instances they are deeply unjust. Who knows? If GOP presidential candidates are willing to make this point, maybe some of them will eventually dare to talk seriously about entitlement reform.

Hope springs eternal!

Director of Research Samuel Gregg is among those reacting to last night’s CNN/Tea Party Debate on National Review Online. His first point is that “when CNN hosts a Tea Party–sponsored debate, you know we’re not in 2008 anymore.” Gregg’s take is that the debate was a lot more mainstream than the network wanted us to think, and that the economic questions raised and debated are going to be the central issues of the 2012 election:

Almost all of the candidates demonstrated their ability to raise sharp questions about the present administration’s specific policies but also about the basic philosophy informing those positions. The question running through my mind was how the president was going to provide convincing (let alone coherent) responses to the critiques I heard of policies ranging from Obamacare, to his administration’s not-so-subtle association with some of America’s worst examples of crony capitalism, to the ramping up of deficit spending that has produced so few tangible results in terms of employment and growth.

Gregg doesn’t see the Tea Party’s influence declining anytime soon:

It was also revealing that the economic questions asked at this forum closely mirrored many of the issues raised at the previous debates. This suggests that all the talk about the Tea Party’s running out of steam since 2010 seems less convincing than ever. Whether the Republican party likes it or not, the Tea Party is still galvanizing American conservatives and also, perhaps more importantly, independents. And that spells deep trouble for the Left in 2012.