November 21, 2019

Democratic Debate

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On Wednesday evening, the Democrats held their fifth presidential primary debate. NBC News

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From the Left

The left doesn’t see any clear winners, but applauds the substantive policy discussions that took place.

“During the debate, each of these candidates answered questions playing to their strengths; Warren landed a punch with an exchange on her wealth tax, Biden talked about foreign policy and the lack of civility in America, Sanders touched on his signature issue of Medicare-for-all, and Buttigieg took time to pitch himself a moderate alternative to the left wing of the Democratic Party…The night gave all four frontrunners some wins, and a few losses. Still, not much happened to dramatically reshape the state of the race.”
Ella Nilsen, Vox

“During the Democratic debate in Atlanta on Wednesday night, the moderators asked Buttigieg specifically what he would do differently from former President Barack Obama, who also used rhetoric about unity but faced eight years of entrenched Republican opposition. Buttigieg didn’t really have an answer.”
Amanda Terkel, Huffington Post

Nonetheless, “This was the debate that sent a signal that Democrats differ far more with Trump and the Republicans than they do with each other. The question that came to mind after some of the harsh and more narrowly focused brawls earlier in the year was: How could this party possibly unite? The question that dominated on Wednesday was: Do these contenders really disagree all that much? Of course, they do disagree, as Warren and Sanders especially wanted to make clear by way of contrast with their more moderate adversaries. But it was a salutary break from an all-Trump, all-the-time Washington to hear discourses on how to build houses, how to make college affordable and how to help families care for their kids.”
E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post

“A few minutes on one night might not be the dream scenario for affordable housing advocates, but there’s some value just in asking. Studies have shown that simply being discussed at a presidential debate is a form of validation that elevates the significance of an issue in the eyes of voters. Hopefully viewers won’t have to wait so long to hear more.”
Tim Murphy, Mother Jones

“In a marked contrast from several past debates, gender equity took center stage at Wednesday’s Democratic debate, which featured wide-ranging discussion about paid family leave, abortion rights, and the higher standards that women candidates must meet… Yang’s comment highlighted a startling reality: Among developed countries, the US is the only one that does not have a paid leave program, a policy that’s been shown to increase women’s workforce participation, reduce family’s reliance on public assistance, and improve children’s health outcomes.”
Li Zhou, Vox

Many note that “Biden’s opposition to [marijuana] legalization… puts him at odds with the great majority of Democrats, 75-plus percent of whom back legalization. Biden’s opposition even puts him at odds with the median Republican, with polls showing that even a majority of Republicans support legalization. Politically, then, legalization should be low-hanging fruit… Yet Biden is not quite there… It’s an especially bad look for Biden. He has a long record of pushing for punitive criminal justice and drug policies — not just supporting but actually writing many of the laws in the 1980s and ’90s that helped shape America’s modern war on drugs. For Biden to hang on to marijuana prohibition, then, just reinforces one of the major concerns that criminal justice reformers like Booker have about him.”
German Lopez, Vox

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right sees Buttigieg and Biden as the winners of the debate, and criticizes the answers on housing and foreign policy.

From the Right

The right sees Buttigieg and Biden as the winners of the debate, and criticizes the answers on housing and foreign policy.

“Tonight’s debate — perhaps overshadowed by the impeachment hearings — was an oddly flat showcase for the candidates, where almost every candidate seemed content to tread water and play it safe

“Right now, Pete Buttigieg is leading in Iowa, Elizabeth Warren is leading in New Hampshire, and Joe Biden is leading in Nevada, in South Carolina, and nationally. Time is on the side of those leading candidates. Everybody else should have been making an argument against one of them, but attacks on any of them were few and far between. Judging from the anodyne tone and relatively few direct confrontations between candidates, everyone must be pretty happy with where they are right now. Congratulations, Biden, Warren and Buttigieg. You walked onto that stage in good shape, and you’re walking off in good shape.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

Mayor Pete was the big winner of the debate, even on defense. Nobody managed to ding him… Throughout the campaign so far, every time a candidate has started gaining on Joe Biden, they’ve [faced] a barrage of attacks meant to stop their momentum. The question of the night was whether lovable Mayor Pete could survive a knife fight with seasoned political warriors. He did…

“The socialists, Warren and Sanders, were an afterthought. Harris was impassioned but ineffective. Look for this to be a continuing theme. They lost this debate badly because their messages don’t appeal beyond Park Slope and the Bay Area… This debate pointed to a Biden-vs.-Buttigieg primary. The more extreme candidates are falling back. The Democrats who want to be the adults in the room are winning. And that is good news for the Democratic Party.”
David Marcus, New York Post

“Elizabeth Warren is exactly right that the nation has a housing deficiency. Too bad she absurdly asserted it's because the government wasn't doing enough. From the suburbs of San Francisco and Los Angeles to the heart of Manhattan, Democratic city and state regulations have hindered housing development to disastrous proportions. Zoning initiatives on the West Coast for single-family homes have exacerbated commute times and homelessness, and rent control pushes have failed to ameliorate rising housing costs in the East…

“There's no question that redlining laws within our grandparent's lifetimes discriminated against people of color in abhorrent ways… But the housing crises faced by recent immigrants from the southern border and fleeing suburbanites in blue metropolitan areas across the country haven't come from the laws of decades past. They're products of economic hogwash enforced to this very day, illustrated by a 29% increase in regulatory costs from 2011 to 2016 and reflected in a halting rate of housing development. The problem runs so deep that the Council of Economic Advisors found [relaxing] California zoning laws would collapse rent prices by more than half in the Bay and nearly as much in Los Angeles.”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

Finally, “There are good arguments against President Trump's foreign policy. North Korea, for example, retains its nuclear weapons program and is moving towards a resumption of long-range missile tests. China continues to consolidate its control over the Pacific Rim. Iran is readying a nuclear breakout. Vladimir Putin is heartened by the partisan impeachment battles over Ukraine. These are issues that the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls should jump on to offer serious alternatives. But they didn't…

“Instead, Democrats on Wednesday offered a mix of platitudes and weakness. Take the responses to a question from Andrea Mitchell as to whether they would ostracize Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over his murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Joe Biden said little, Amy Kloubachar paused and said, ‘We need a new foreign policy,’ and Cory Booker said, ‘The values of freedom and democracy are what we are going to lead with.’ Wow, thanks, Cory — that profound line will really scare our enemies… None of this is a recipe for American leadership or security.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

It’s worth noting that “conservative ideas were much more popular when not associated with the Republican party. In Washington State, voters narrowly rejected bringing affirmative action back to state contracting and university admissions…

“In Seattle, the self-proclaimed socialist city-council member appears to have lost her seat to a pro-business challenger. In Colorado, voters gave fiscal conservatives a big win by rejecting letting the state keep any tax revenues above the state spending cap, money that the state Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights currently guarantees as refunds to taxpayers. In Sussex County, N.J., voters approved, by a 2-to-1 margin, a referendum directing the local freeholder board to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Washington, Colorado, New Jersey — notice these are places where Republican candidates have had no luck lately.)”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

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