Friday, October 03, 2008

VP debate: The aftermath

I am writing this without having read or watched any post-debate analysis. After the first presidential debate the conventional wisdom quickly took hold that while McCain may have won on points, that Obama emerged the winner largely by virtue of being able to hold his own on foreign policy -- a realm considered by many to be McCain's expertise. I think that a similar analysis can be applied to last night. While I think Biden probably came off better, Palin probably exceeded expectations (which were ridiculously low, owing both to her own recent interview performances as well as the low esteem in which many people have held her from the beginning) and thus benefited her ticket more.

I will note that I watched the debate with 4 liberals, which is to say Washingtonians since people here are monolithically Democratic, and they stated after the debate that Palin exceeded their expectations (which were likely abysmally low). However, she did not meet mine. Any ideas that Palin is a Western-style libertarian Republican should now be dispelled as a myth. Palin strikes me as a populist/conservative that seems to lack a defined philosophy, who is equally comfortable slamming alleged Wall Street greed and Big Oil as she is government.

Also, for all the pre-debate hubbub about moderator Gwen Ifill I thought she did an acceptable job.

Let's go to the transcript for some highlights:

Bailout Bill

Biden: I think it's neither the best or worst of Washington, but it's evidence of the fact that the economic policies of the last eight years have been the worst economic policies we've ever had. As a consequence, you've seen what's happened on Wall Street.

If you need any more proof positive of how bad the economic theories have been, this excessive deregulation, the failure to oversee what was going on, letting Wall Street run wild, I don't think you needed any more evidence than what you see now.

Complete nonsense. What deregulation is Biden talking about? He is peddling myths here, and it was no wonder he had no desire to get into specifics since he has nothing to back this up. Biden then goes to on rehash Obama's answer on this question from last week.

Palin: Now, John McCain thankfully has been one representing reform. Two years ago, remember, it was John McCain who pushed so hard with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform measures. He sounded that warning bell.

People in the Senate with him, his colleagues, didn't want to listen to him and wouldn't go towards that reform that was needed then. I think that the alarm has been heard, though, and there will be that greater oversight, again thanks to John McCain's bipartisan efforts that he was so instrumental in bringing folks together over this past week, even suspending his own campaign to make sure he was putting excessive politics aside and putting the country first.

This is true, McCain did push for reform at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, but I think that Palin whiffed here a bit by failing to explain how those two entities contributed to the current crisis. However, Palin also threw in this bit:

The barometer there, I think, is going to be resounding that our economy is hurting and the federal government has not provided the sound oversight that we need and that we deserve, and we need reform to that end.

What does that mean? If she is talking about Freddie and Fannie, fair enough, but otherwise this strikes me as just more talk about the need for unspecified regulation.

Who was at fault for the subprime lending meltdown?

Palin: Darn right it was the predator lenders, who tried to talk Americans into thinking that it was smart to buy a $300,000 house if we could only afford a $100,000 house. There was deception there, and there was greed and there is corruption on Wall Street. And we need to stop that.

...One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let's commit ourselves just every day American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars. We need to make sure that we demand from the federal government strict oversight of those entities in charge of our investments and our savings and we need also to not get ourselves in debt. Let's do what our parents told us before we probably even got that first credit card. Don't live outside of our means. We need to make sure that as individuals we're taking personal responsibility through all of this.

Pathetic. Who needs this kind of drivel when you already have Democrats? You know, yesterday I received a call from my cell phone provider urging me to renew my contract and talking about all o the great stuff they are going to give me. I got the feeling they wanted to take advantage of me and told them I would prefer to do some research first and make my decision about whether to renew in December when my contract expires.

The point is, homebuyers aren't children. No one put a gun to their head and forced them into these ridiculous loans. Adjustable rate mortgages reset after a set period to a new interest rate -- hence the freakin' name, adjustable rate! There is an old saying that you can't cheat an honest man, and I certainly think it applies here. But rather than the American people taking responsiblity for their own foolishness (and really we are just talking about a small minority here that have defaulted) Palin and others want to provide assurances that it wasn't their fault, but rather the big mean companies that forced them into it. While Palin gives a nod towards personal responsibility at the end it comes off as half-hearted given the excoriation of the financial firms she led off with. It struck me as trying to have it both ways.

If this is the kind of stuff that wins elections then we really are an infantile nation.

Biden: Well Gwen, two years ago Barack Obama warned about the sub prime mortgage crisis. John McCain said shortly after that in December he was surprised there was a sub prime mortgage problem. John McCain while Barack Obama was warning about what we had to do was literally giving an interview to The Wall Street Journal saying that I'm always for cutting regulations. We let Wall Street run wild. John McCain and he's a good man, but John McCain thought the answer is that tried and true Republican response, deregulate, deregulate.

So what you had is you had overwhelming "deregulation." You had actually the belief that Wall Street could self-regulate itself. And while Barack Obama was talking about reinstating those regulations, John on 20 different occasions in the previous year and a half called for more deregulation. As a matter of fact, John recently wrote an article in a major magazine saying that he wants to do for the health care industry deregulate it and let the free market move like he did for the banking industry.

I really don't know what the particulars are of Obama's alleged warning about the subprime crisis so I can't speak to that. What is clear, however, is that Biden has a deep disdain for deregulation and is naturally inclined towards greater government intervention. Perhaps he should crack open some history books and note how his fellow Democrats, Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy, led the fight for the deregulation of the railroad, oil and airline industries -- which we have all benefited enormously from in the form of expanded choice and lower prices. What deregulation has taken place under the watch of the Bush Administration I am not sure, and I suspect neither is Biden and hence his unwillingness to indulge this line of attack with any specifics.

I am encouraged, however, by McCain's talk of health care deregulation according to Biden, which I previously was not aware of.


Biden: Well Gwen, where I come from, it's called fairness, just simple fairness. The middle class is struggling. The middle class under John McCain's tax proposal, 100 million families, middle class families, households to be precise, they got not a single change, they got not a single break in taxes. No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax. And 95 percent of the people in the United States of America making less than $150,000 will get a tax break.

While the temptation of all conservatives should be an endorsement of tax cuts, I think that this proposal sets us down a dangerous road. By cutting taxes further on lower incomes and expanding them at the top we are moving ever closer to a society in which a small minority shoulders the burden of government while the rest of the country pays little and votes themselves ever bigger government-provided benefits. Indeed, let's keep in mind that currently around fully one-third of Americans have no income tax liability.

Palin: Now you said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper. An increased tax formula that Barack Obama is proposing in addition to nearly a trillion dollars in new spending that he's proposing is the backwards way of trying to grow our economy.



Biden: We're not going to support the $300 billion tax cut that they have for corporate America and the very wealthy. We're not going to support another $4 billion tax cut for ExxonMobil.

And what we're not going to also hold up on, Gwen, is we cannot afford to hold up on providing for incentives for new jobs by an energy policy, creating new jobs.

...And, look, I agree with the governor. She imposed a windfall profits tax up there in Alaska. That's what Barack Obama and I want to do.

We want to be able to do for all of you Americans, give you back $1,000 bucks, like she's been able to give back money to her folks back there.

I counted on 4 separate occassions that Biden mentioned a $4 billion tax cut for ExxonMobil. There is, of course, no special tax cut for ExxonMobil being called for by John McCain. Rather, McCain is seeking to reduce the corporate tax rate, currently the second highest in the world, which would benefit all corporations, ExxonMobil among them. Why ExxonMobil has become the liberal bogeyman I am not sure. Indeed, the company already pays $4,000 in tax every second -- I guess that isn't enough for some people.

Then Biden says that he supports taking money from oil companies and transferring it to Americans in the form of $1,000 checks -- from those according to their ability to those according to their need. Absolutely disgusting. He also adds this:

We believe -- Barack Obama believes by investing in clean coal and safe nuclear, we can not only create jobs in wind and solar here in the United States, we can export it.

Biden must have a huge ego if he thinks that him and Obama together can pick the winners in the alternative energy sector better than the marketplace. Why should government be "investing" (read: spending) money here at all? If it makes sense then profit-seeking investors (i.e. greedy people) will support such technology without government help and make some money off of it.

Palin: You know what I had to do in the state of Alaska? I had to take on those oil companies and tell them, "No," you know, any of the greed there that has been kind of instrumental, I guess, in their mode of operation, that wasn't going to happen in my state.

...We're circulating about $700 billion a year into foreign countries, some who do not like America -- they certainly don't have our best interests at heart -- instead of those dollars circulating here, creating tens of thousands of jobs and allowing domestic supplies of energy to be tapped into and start flowing into these very, very hungry markets.

Energy independence is the key to this nation's future, to our economic future, and to our national security. So when we talk about energy plans, it's not just about who got a tax break and who didn't. And we're not giving oil companies tax breaks, but it's about a heck of a lot more than that.

The gratuitious oil company bashing does little to differentiate Palin from Biden, while the talk of energy independence is pure fantasy. We should simply, like all products, buy them where its cheapest. To engage in any other policy is to make ourselves poorer.

Update: Reason: Poor Gordon Gekko.

1 comment:

Josh said...

I resent this:

Washingtonians since people here are monolithically Democratic

I agree with the rest of your analysis. I also think the Governor wasted an opportunity to show-up Biden regarding the "wind-fall" profit tax. What she did in Alaska is not at all like what Obama wants to do.