Clinton, Sanders Clash In Final Democratic Debate Before Iowa Caucuses

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clashed in the final debate before the Iowa Caucuses in the context of a race that has appeared to become tighter than it was before Christmas.

Clinton Sanders January Debate

With two weeks to go before the Iowa Caucuses, the Democratic candidates for President met in South Carolina for a debate that largely turned into a battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over the future of the Democratic Party and what Clinton contends have been policy shifts by Senator Sanders over the years that belie the image of consistency he has campaigned on:

Hillary Clinton targeted Bernie Sanders’s electoral appeal with some of her strongest language yet in a debate on Sunday night, seizing on Mr. Sanders’s recent policy shifts on universal health care and gun control to try to undercut his image as an anti-political truth teller.

Mrs. Clinton also repeatedly aligned herself with a former political rival, President Obama, as she sought to portray her current one, Mr. Sanders, as a fringe candidate who did not stand with Mr. Obama on major issues like Wall Street regulation. Mr. Sanders, in turn, gave no quarter as he criticized Mrs. Clinton as dishonest in her attacks.

With Mr. Sanders gaining on her before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, Mrs. Clinton cast herself as the defender of Mr. Obama’s record and Mr. Sanders as playing into Republican hands with proposals like replacing the Affordable Care Act with a single-payer plan, which Mr. Sanders describes as “Medicare for all.”

“We’ve accomplished so much already,” she said. “I don’t want to see the Republicans repeal it.”

“That is nonsense,” Mr. Sanders said. “What a ‘Medicare for all’ program does is finally provide health care for every man, woman and child as a right.” He added that 29 million people still lack health insurance.

Mrs. Clinton was pointed in her critiques of Mr. Sanders but relatively restrained in tone and words as she sought to raise doubts about what many liberals see as Mr. Sanders’s greatest virtues: his integrity and consistency on policy issues.

She chose not to accuse him of “flip-flopping” on gun control bills as she had earlier on Sunday, but rather said at the debate that she was “pleased” he had “reversed” himself.

For Mrs. Clinton, it was enough to note Mr. Sanders’s changes in policy: By doing so, she raised doubts about his consistency, but stopped short of eviscerating his positions and potentially alienating a restless liberal base that largely favors Mr. Sanders.

Her tactics left Mr. Sanders appearing frustrated at times, such as when he called her “very disingenuous” on his gun record, or when he sighed audibly and rolled his eyes as she implicitly questioned his principles on health care.

When Mrs. Clinton pushed on his health care plan, which she said would “tear up” the president’s signature achievement, he shot back: “No one is tearing this up. We’re going forward.”

The competition to claim Mr. Obama’s political mantle was the dominant theme of the night, given that the Democratic race has become so close in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Mr. Obama remains widely popular among party members, particularly in the state that Mrs. Clinton now needs to win more than ever: South Carolina, which votes on Feb. 27. Should she lose the first two nominating contests, Mrs. Clinton and her team believe she can regain political momentum in the South Carolina primary, in part because of her strong support among African-Americans there.

Mrs. Clinton repeatedly reiterated her support for Mr. Obama’s agenda, while Mr. Sanders tried to present himself as the bolder choice to build on Mr. Obama’s legacy. But she stymied him at times: When Mr. Sanders criticized Mrs. Clinton for accepting more than “$600,000 in speaking fees” from Goldman Sachs, she used the moment to portray Mr. Sanders as opposed to Mr. Obama on the issue of Wall Street regulation.


Mr. Sanders did not break any new ground as he challenged Mrs. Clinton on policy, but instead tried to deepen his ongoing critique of her as an ally of wealthy and powerful interests: an argument that has resonated with many younger and liberal Americans in the early-voting states. He tried, for instance, to turn the debate over health care and the candidates’ positions on Wall Street into a referendum on big money in politics, an implicit criticism of the “super PAC” and wealthy donors supporting Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

“It is whether we have the guts to stand up to the private insurance companies and all of their money, and the pharmaceutical industry,” he said. “That’s what this debate is about.”

For Mrs. Clinton, the debate was often as much about the past — the Obama years and, at times, her ties to her husband, former President Bill Clinton — as about her ideas for improving the lives of Americans. While Mr. Sanders repeated one or more of his liberal policy views at almost every turn, Mrs. Clinton tended to present herself as an inheritor of the Democratic Party’s traditional agenda on the economy, social safety nets and foreign policy. Asked what role Mr. Clinton would play in her administration, and whether his advice would be official or take place at the kitchen table, Mrs. Clinton did not make much effort to present herself as the fresh-thinking independent figure that Mr. Sanders claims to be.


The two candidates, both under exceptional pressure in their final debate before the Iowa caucuses, were a study in contrasts. Mrs. Clinton seemed careful to be impassioned but not overly aggressive, while Mr. Sanders was his typically emphatic self, waving his hands frequently as his unmodulated voice rose at times to a near-holler. He smiled a few times, but it felt awkward. Mrs. Clinton laughed a few times, but it felt forced.

With the debate unfolding just blocks from the shooting last year at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church here, which left nine people dead, the topic of gun control arrived early and evoked emotional responses from all three candidates onstage. Mr. Sanders sought to defend his commitment to the issue, saying, “I have a D-minus voting rating from the N.R.A.”

Pressed on his shifting position on a provision of Senate legislation that would have held gun manufacturers and sellers accountable for crimes committed with firearms, Mr. Sanders said that while he supported parts of the bill, “a small mom-and-pop gun shop who sells a gun legally to somebody should not be held liable if someone does something terrible with that gun.”

Mrs. Clinton criticized Mr. Sanders for his votes on several gun control measures, including the so-called Charleston loophole that allowed Dylann Roof, the gunman in the church attack, to purchase his weapon. “Let’s not forget what this is about,” she said, her voice growing more impassioned. “Ninety people a day die from gun violence in this country.” She continued, “One of the most horrific examples, not a block from here, where we had nine people murdered.”

She also sought to damn Mr. Sanders with faint praise by saying she was “pleased” that he had reversed himself on supporting legal immunity for gun manufacturers and dealers. As she listed Mr. Sanders’s past votes and jabbed at him over the immunity issues, Mrs. Clinton implied that her main opponent had not thought through his bank-busting domestic agenda.

The Washington Post’s coverage also emphasized the sharpness of the tone between Clinton and Sanders:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton aggressively prosecuted Sen. Bernie Sanders on issues from gun control to health care and fealty to President Obama at a presidential debate Sunday as she sought to puncture Sanders’s insurgent appeal and regain her footing after a difficult stretch.

Clinton put Sanders on the defensive through much of the two-hour debate, but a hoarse-voiced Sanders got in numerous digs. He accused Clinton of being too cozy with Wall Street and beholden to the financial industry. He noted that Clinton has accepted millions in campaign donations and hundreds of thousands in speaking fees from the financial sector.

With raised voices, interruptions and wonky examinations of one another’s voting records and policies, Sanders and Clinton battled over who had the more progressive or more workable solutions. Their exchanges were the most combative and personal of the campaign so far, reflecting the newly potent threat Sanders poses to Clinton in her second White House run.

The debate revealed a stark contrast between a status quo vision of pragmatism represented by Clinton and the lofty aspirations of the most leftward wing of the party represented by Sanders.

While Clinton pledged to work with both parties in Washington, Sanders insisted that progressive change will come only with a dramatic shake-up in the political system. “Nothing real will happen unless we have a political revolution,” he said.


Throughout the debate, Clinton found ways to cast herself as the rightful heir and protector of the Obama legacy. On health care, she said she was the one to preserve the Affordable Care Act. On financial reform, she commended him for the Dodd-Frank bill regulating Wall Street. And on foreign policy, she recalled her days as secretary of state advising the president in the White House Situation Room.

The debate came 15 days before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, a key test of both candidates’ strength and momentum. It was the last debate and probably the final face-to-face meeting for Clinton and Sanders before the Iowa contest, which has suddenly become a dogfight after several sleepy months during which the raucous Republican campaign drowned out the Democrats.

Long-shot candidate and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley joined Clinton and Sanders for the debate sponsored by NBC News, YouTube, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and the South Carolina Democratic Party.

The leading candidates also sparred over financial regulations. Sanders said Clinton was too friendly with Wall Street over two decades in national politics to be trusted to effectively crack down on the industry.

“Can you really reform Wall Street when they are spending millions and millions of dollars on campaign contributions and when they are providing speaker fees to individuals?” Sanders asked. “It’s easy to say, ‘I’m going to do this and do that,’ but I have doubts.”

The senator from Vermont said the financial system was “corrupt,” noting that it is “very strange that a major financial institution that pays $5 billion in fines for breaking the law, not one of their executives is prosecuted while kids who smoke marijuana get a jail sentence.”

Clinton said there was “no daylight” between their plans for the banking industry. She said that experts had determined her proposals were effective and strong, to which O’Malley interjected: “It’s just not true.” He said Clinton would not go far enough to punish financial institutions and their top executives.

Clinton used the exchange on financial regulations to drive a wedge between Sanders and Obama. She noted that Sanders in the past has criticized the president for accepting contributions from Wall Street and called the president “weak” and “dis­appointing.”

“I’m going to defend Dodd-Frank and I’m going to defend President Obama for taking on Wall Street, taking on the financial industry and getting results,” Clinton said.

Co-moderator Andrea Mitchell raised the issue of Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs, asking Sanders why he has criticized the former president’s past transgressions.

Frustrated, Sanders said he “cannot walk down the street” without reporters asking him to attack Hillary Clinton.

“His behavior was deplorable,” Sanders said of Bill Clinton. “I’m going to debate Secretary Clinton and Governor O’Malley on the issues facing the American people, not Bill Clinton’s personal behavior.”

At that, Clinton nodded and smiled.

Last night’s debate took place amid the impending beginning of voting in the 2016 primary process and, most importantly, signs that the race between Clinton and Sanders had suddenly become more competitive than it appeared to be as recently as early December when it appeared that Clinton was sailing smoothly toward an early end to the fight for the Democratic nomination. For example, recent polling has shown Senator Sanders continuing to lead Clinton in New Hampshire, and even expanding that lead to levels that he had not seen since the summer when Clinton’s campaign was largely listing thanks to things such as questions about her use of a private email server, donations to the Clinton Foundation, and months of speculation about whether or not Vice-President Biden would enter the race. While Clinton had managed to close the gap in the Granite State, more recent polling has shown Sanders expanding his lead again to the point where RealClearPolitics now shows him with a 6.2 point advantage with just over three weeks left before voters there head to the polls. Similarly, Senator Sanders has shown renewed strength in Iowa, which holds its caucus on February 1st, although Clinton maintains a lead in the RealClearPolitics average in the Hawkeye State of 4.2 points.  The picture is much different on the national level, though. While some polling has shown Clinton’s national lead shrinking into single digits, the most recent poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal gives Clinton a twenty-five point lead and she has a 12.7 point lead in the RealClearPolitics national average. This last point continues to suggest that Sanders appeal in Iowa and New Hampshire may not be something that translates well to other parts of the country, especially the south as evidenced by South Carolina, where Clinton has a forty point lead in the RealClearPolitics poll average.

It’s entirely unclear what impact this debate is actually going to have on the Democratic race in the short term, not the least because in many respects Clinton and Sanders were speaking to two entirely different audiences for most of the night. Clinton, for the most part, was addressing mainline Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire who likely continue to have doubts about a candidate like Sanders, who while he may be pushing ideas that appeal to them on some emotional level clearly does not seem to be a candidate that could succeed in a General Election. She was also speaking to the broad coalition of Democrats who remain fiercely loyal to President Obama. This includes not only voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, but also the significant African-American population of South Carolina that helped President Obama win the primary there eight years ago and who have largely shied away from supporting a candidate like Sanders. To a large degree, the Clinton campaign obviously believes that these voters, and especially the African-American population in the south, will be the firewall that the campaign needs to fend off whatever momentum Sanders may have coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders, on the other hand, was speaking to the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party and to younger voters in the early primary states who have been attracted to his campaign largely because it doesn’t represent the “politics as usual” approach that they see from Clinton. At least in the short term, the question for both candidates is going to be which bloc of voters shows up in greater numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire, and that is going to depend more on how effective their respective ground games are than it is on what was said in a debate on a Sunday night in January. In any case, at least for the moment it’s clear that Senator Sanders is giving Hillary Clinton a much tougher fight than seemed likely just six weeks ago. The question that will be answered over the next three weeks is whether that translates into electoral success for him, or whether his movement fizzles out under the weight of the Clinton juggernaut.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Funny thing about those younger voters – they’re passionate on Facebook but they tend not to vote in numbers large enough to make a difference. Ask Ron Paul for clarification of that phenomenon.

    African-Americans? They vote …

  2. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I wonder how many Bernie supporters are like me–going to vote for him in the primary but resigned to voting for Hillary in the general?

    At least Hillary isn’t loopy, even though I think she triangulates too much.

  3. bill says:

    so they really had a debate on a sunday night after the football playoffs? who are they hoping will watch, woman and effeminate men? oh, never mind…..

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Well the bigot is back…what do you have against women, bill?

  5. CrustyDem says:


    Seriously, if you think young people are going to vote, just ask how that worked out for “President’ Barack Obama…

  6. Ben Wolf says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I recall a muslim communist in the white house because of the young. Funny how conservative Democrats develop selective memory regarding how Obama won in 2008.

  7. edmondo says:


    Funny thing about those younger voters – they’re passionate on Facebook but they tend not to vote in numbers large enough to make a difference.

    Must have been a different group of young people who stood in line with me for 2 1/2 hours to vote in November 2008. College town. Republican Secretary of State. One polling place. Three voting machines. Three block long line. We were determined that they only way we were moving was forward (even though I was old enough to be their grandfather)

  8. Scott says:

    It was an interesting contrast between the Republican debate and the Democrats. The Republican debate was pretty much content free with a lot of sniping at Obama and each other. And never did you get a sense that you knew what any of them would do in office. It seems the Ds pretty much agreed with each other and were fighting over the details. I was surprised that the three of them didn’t lob a few at the Republicans. It would’ve been easy.

  9. Tyrell says:

    Sanders has some good ideas, but where is all the money going to come from ? Does he have a line of credit with China ?
    Gun “control”: you can’t put liability on product manufacturers unless there is a defect. Otherwise, I will be suing Craftsman every time I hit my thumb with their hammer !
    Climate “change”: Sanders said something about a change in “lifestyles”. That’s politician talk for higher taxes and more government regulation. And I am not going to ride a bike or rickshaw to work. Show me an ev that has a 200 mile range and a price of $20,000 or less and I will be interested (and not a golf cart or shoe car !). The technology is there for alternative fuel cars, but $30,000 won’t attract many buyers for a go-to-work and shopping car.
    Sanders made a good point about all this personal information gathering, tracking, and monitoring, if which the government is heavily involved: healthcare, IRS, highways, communications. The rfid implants are next.
    O’Malley got some time, but mainly brings up his days in Baltimore. I would also like to hear his reminences of Saturday morning cartoons.
    With some of the ideas being proposed (free college education, Medicare for all) I thought that I had tuned into “Fantasy Island”.
    “A trillion here, a trillion there – it starts to add up”

  10. Mikey says:

    Pew Research did a research piece titled Young Voters in the 2008 Election. Their conclusion:

    Young people were not, however, crucial to Barack Obama’s victory, according to the exit polls. Obama would have lost Indiana and North Carolina, but carried other key states such as Ohio and Florida, as well as the national vote. But young people provided not only their votes but also many enthusiastic campaign volunteers. Some may have helped persuade parents and older relatives to consider Obama’s candidacy. And far more young people than older voters reported attending a campaign event while nearly one-in-ten donated money to a presidential candidate.

    Turns out Facebook passion is pretty important, too.

  11. Hal_10000 says:

    It was an interesting contrast between the Republican debate and the Democrats.

    Well, it’s easier to have a substantive debate when you have two people debating for two hours versus seven trying to squeeze in their ten minutes. This is a big reason why the GOP needs to trim the field down.

    I almost felt sorry for O’Malley. He seemed to disappear for large parts of the debate. And Sanders got the better of Clinton in the Obamacare exchange. She really sounds silly saying he’s going to end healthcare for millions.

  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    and I recall that the 18 to 24 & 25 to 34 brackets had the lowest turnout in terms of percentages in that election, as well as low absolute turnout overall. For example, the number of 18 to 24 voters was only slightly larger than the number of 65 to 74 voters. The number of 25 to 34 voters was smaller than 35 to 44, 45 to 54 and 55 to 64.

    Furthermore, 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 had the lowest percentages of voter registration of any cohort in that election.

    Unprecedented African-American voter registration and turnout (both spiked heavily in 2008), for obvious and quite understandable reasons, delivered the presidency to Obama in 2008.

  13. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Um, I said not vote in numbers large enough to make a difference. If passionate Facebook supporters had any sort of meaning, Ron Paul would have been elected by now.

  14. Scott says:

    @Hal_10000: Well, both Rs and Dsl had 60 seconds to respond and 30 seconds follow-up. Rs chose to not be substantive. Maybe the moderators had better questions with just 3 on the podium resulting in better answers.

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Not nearly enough to make a difference in the primary outcome. I feel certain of that.

    I’ll even wager a grand right here and now that African-American and Hispanic voters will deliver the vast majority (better than 95%) of the Super Tuesday states to Clinton. Anybody want to take the other side of that bet – that youth voters deliver Super Tuesday for Sanders?

  16. charon says:


    who are they hoping will watch,

    People with DVR’s. Me, for example.


    The Republican debate was pretty much content free

    I thought it more pretty much not true rather than content free. Lots of content, most of it false, I had to turn it off could not stand it.


    I almost felt sorry for O’Malley.

    One nice thing about the DVR is fast forward through that which is not of interest.

  17. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I think a lot of Sanders’ potential support will depend on whether he wins Iowa or not. If he does as well as NH, I can’t see the media blackout of him continuing.

    But on the other hand, man do they love their Trump. And now that it’s Trump vs. Cruz, it’s constant popcorn time.

    Which would be great if being a reality show star meant you were any good at being POTUS. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

  18. Jack says:

    Cankles is feeling the Bern.

  19. Jack says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Which would be great if being a community activist meant you were any good at being POTUS. Unfortunately, as time has shown us, it doesn’t.


  20. C. Clavin says:


    Which would be great if being a community activist meant you were any good at being POTUS. Unfortunately, as time has shown us, it doesn’t.

    Once again…the facts don’t align with your blinkered ideology.
    With everything you copy and paste being wrong…have you considered going elsewhere to plagiarize your opinions?

  21. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: Says the man who uses a dachshund as a butt plug.

  22. Jc says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I agree with Harv from what I saw in my district in 08′ and 12′ – Minority turnout was higher than I had ever seen it. It was great to see as the district majority demographic is minorities, during a midterm though, crickets…was in and out in under a minute and nothing but white faces and none of them were young. Dem party needs to figure out how to get more out to vote in the mid terms, as here in VA, they could seriously swing the state delegates if they did as well as possibly the house of reps

  23. Jc says:

    Old man Jack, hitting the sauce kinda early today aren’t you? with Hasselbeck off the mornings now, do you have to come here to get your old blood pumping?

  24. Jack says:

    @Jc: If I wanted to go somewhere to get my blood pumping, it certainly wouldn’t be here. The degree of ignorance and partisanship displayed here is on par with The View.

    So, which are you JC, Rosie or Whoopie?

  25. C. Clavin says:


    Says the man who uses a dachshund as a butt plug.

    Wrong again.
    Everything you type is verifiably wrong.
    No wonder you have such a miserable lot in life. It’s difficult to succeed at anything when you are constantly wrong.
    I’m sure the government support you take helps.

  26. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin:

    They don’t call them wiener dogs for nothing – C. Clavin

  27. Franklin says:

    Jack, I didn’t think anybody could make Cliffy look like a sage. Congrats!

  28. Jack says:

    @Franklin: He is green and pungent.

  29. Jc says:


    So, which are you JC, Rosie or Whoopie?

    OOOOOooooooooo 🙂 lol.

    The degree of ignorance and partisanship displayed here is on par with The View.

    Then why do you come here? seriously (queue Richard Gere ” I got nowhere else to go!”)

    Actually I would consider this to be a pretty moderate place. Doug and Stephen are moderate Republicans IMHO – Remember those? lol

  30. ernieyeball says:

    I have decided to stick with love.
    Hate is too great a burden to bear.

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
    Born January 15, 1929 Shot dead like a dog. April 4, 1968

    Goddamn Hippie

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Tyrell: Tyrell, normally the courts decide whether there was defect in a product. But the NRA convinced our elected representatives that shouldn’t apply to guns. Believe me, there are many, many industries that would like to be exempted from lawsuits. Guns are one of the very very few that are. It is amazing how often people who champion letting the free market decide look for special privileges want special exemptions when things don’t got their way…

  32. Jack says:


    Tyrell, normally the courts decide whether there was defect in a product. But the NRA convinced our elected representatives that shouldn’t apply to guns.

    A gun that fired a projectile when the trigger was pulled and said projectile struck something at which the gun was pointed, is by definition, not a defective product. It worked as advertised.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Jack: … And with the help of the NRA, our elected representatives have decided all cases concerning guns for all eternity. No jurors, judges or anyone else gets to review the specific case. Guns are defect less from now until forever. No one who feels differently will ever get their day in court.

  34. edmondo says:

    Mrs. Clinton tended to present herself as an inheritor of the Democratic Party’s traditional agenda on the economy, social safety nets and foreign policy.

    So, if she’s elected, we can count on more Wall Streets subservience, a greater income inequality and more Middle Eastern wars!

    Are you ready for Hillary?

  35. Jack says:


    And with the help of the NRA, our elected representatives have decided all cases concerning guns for all eternity. No jurors, judges or anyone else gets to review the specific case. Guns are defect less from now until forever. No one who feels differently will ever get their day in court.

    Wrong. Any gun that blows up while firing it could be considered a defective product and that suit would move forward. A smart gun, that fires in the hands of someone NOT supposed to be able to fire it would be “defective” and that suit could go forward. An entire class of guns whose firing pins, mag wells, or barrels break, warp, crack, or become unusable under normal stress are likely defective and that suit could go forward. The law does not say that gun manufacturers cannot be sued for defective products. It says that they cannot be sued for a product that works as advertised, but people want to call defective.

  36. Jack says:


    So, if she’s elected, we can count on more Wall Streets subservience, a greater income inequality and more Middle Eastern wars!

    Don’t forget the continued fleecing of the middle class. Sub 3% GDP, and the widening gap between rich and poor.

  37. ernieyeball says:

    @edmondo:..Must have been a different group of young people who stood in line with me for 2 1/2 hours to vote in November 2008. College town.

    Don’t let the sages on this blog know where these Halls-of-Ivy are located.
    That kind of subversive activity does not play well here.

    James Joyner says:
    Sunday, August 28, 2011 at 11:42
    The 30,000 kids who are passing through shouldn’t be able to dominate the public policy decisions for the 10,000 residents who actually live in the community.

    Mr. Mataconis writes:
    …most students are merely transitory residents with no ties to the communities in which they live. After their four years, most of them move on rather than establishing residence in the community. Can they really be considered residents of the community where their college is for voting purposes?

  38. gVOR08 says:

    @edmondo: @Jack: Which two GOP candidates do you believe will not provide Wall Street subservience, greater income inequality, ME wars, fleecing of the middle class, <3% GDP growth, and the widening gap between rich and poor. (I asked for two as I’ll give you Ben Carson. He hasn’t a clue what he’d do, and he’d be unable to do it, so he might miss one or two.) I think you're both engaging in a fair amount of cum/post hoc ergo propter hoc. Obama, a Dem, is prez, these things are problems. But what actions of his do you believe caused these things?

  39. Jack says:


    But what actions of his do you believe caused these things?

    Quantitative Easing caused the fleecing of the middle class as money was created out of thin air and went to banks. <3% GDP were caused by Obama economic policies.. The widening gap between the rich and poor were caused by the first two and the increase in costs due to regulations and taxes on small businesses.

    None of the Republican candidates will do what Obama has done, likely the opposite.

  40. C. Clavin says:


    Don’t forget the continued fleecing of the middle class. Sub 3% GDP, and the widening gap between rich and poor.

    Once again the facts don’t align with your blinkered ideology.
    The 30 year war on the middle class and exploding inequality started with Reagan…so I’m not sure where you think Obama and/or Clinton come into it. (Reagan did manage a 3.5% growth in GDP…but did it by exploding both the deficits and the size of Government. Bush 41 and 43 had 2.1% and 1.6% GDP growth. Bill Clinton had 3.8% GDP growth while creating a surplus…yes, much better than Saint Ronnie. Obama has averaged more than either Bush…2.2% since the stimulus took effect…all while shrinking the Government on net.)
    Maybe you can go back to wherever you copied and pasted that nugget of wisdom from and get some more…you know…facts.

  41. C. Clavin says:


    Quantitative Easing caused the fleecing of the middle class as money was created out of thin air and went to banks. <3% GDP were caused by Obama economic policies.. The widening gap between the rich and poor were caused by the first two and the increase in costs due to regulations and taxes on small businesses.

    Why not trying a link that backs up any one of those dubious claims?

  42. C. Clavin says:

    Here’s a graph showing that income inequality started with Reagan.
    Perhaps you can explain how Obama…someone you think is incompetent…managed to travel in time and cause it retro-actively with his economic policies???
    Note also that middle class income has been a flat-line for the same period of time.
    Again…the facts just don’t match your ideology.
    Perhaps it’s time to re-think your ideology?
    Or you can just continue ignoring facts.

  43. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: You love to bring in irrelevant data. I was asked “But what actions of his do you believe caused these things?” We were talking about the actions of the Obama presidency. All of those items together have caused the problems we have today. You cannot cherry pick data from outside the defined period to support you limp beliefs.

  44. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Here’s a graph showing that income inequality started with Reagan.

    I didn’t say Obama invented income inequality. I said that it has grown to never before seen proportions. It’s no mistake your chart ends before Obama became president.

  45. C. Clavin says:

    I do feel bad for you, man.
    You hold all these really strong opinions, based on complete mis-information and nonsense, that you have picked up from people who are flat-out lying to you.
    It must be tragic to go through life not being able to discern fact from fiction.
    Not sure how you address it at this late point in your life.
    Maybe just try to be more selective in the nut-job websites you visit?
    Seriously…I do feel bad for you.

  46. C. Clavin says:

    That opinion piece you linked to doesn’t say what you say it says.

  47. David M says:


    And yet you support the GOP as they propose to eliminate the estate tax, eliminate capital gains taxes, reduce the top marginal rates and oppose expanding Medicaid or raising the minimum wage.

  48. C. Clavin says:

    Economics aren’t affected by past events?
    Seriously…you can probably get professional help.
    Obamacare will pay for it.

  49. C. Clavin says:


    <3% GDP were caused by Obama economic policies..

    Except both Bushes had <3% GDP growth….so how did Obama's economic policies cause that?

  50. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: There was no Occupy Wall Street prior to Obama. I wonder why?

  51. C. Clavin says:


    There was no Occupy Wall Street prior to Obama.

    From Wikipedia…

    In 2009 and 2010, students across the University of California occupied campus buildings in protest against budget cuts, tuition hikes, and staff cutbacks that had resulted from the Great Recession of 2008. According to Dissent Magazine, “It was in the context of the California student movement that the slogan ‘Occupy Everything, Demand Nothing’ first emerged.”

    You remember the Great Recession of 2008? Otherwise known as the Bush Contraction? Explain again how it was Obama’s fault?

  52. gVOR08 says:

    @Jack: QE is redistributive, but hardly the only cause of inequality, which started growing in the 70s, before QE, before Obama. Otherwise I see assertion, but no evidence or argument.

    Rs have promised to cut taxes on the wealthy, thereby increasing redistribution upward and increasing the deficit . It is pretty well demonstrated both in theory and recent experience that such cuts do nothing for the economy. Rs will weaken financial regulation, inviting the next crash and bailout. There are reasons the bulk of “Wall Street” contributions are going to Rs this cycle. You didn’t mention ME wars, which have been largely a Republican thing.

  53. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: Over $9T in debt, more than all other presidents combined. I seem to remember Obama claiming that Bush adding $4 trillion to debt was unpatriotic. But please, justify this by telling me that although it happened under Obama, it’s someone else’s fault.

  54. Jack says:


    inviting the next crash and bailout.

    The next crash has already begun…under Obama.

  55. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tyrell: Dude, California had zero tuition at community colleges back when Ronald Reagan (remember him, he used to be a conservative) was governor of California. The citizens considered it an investment in the future of the state. In those days tuition at Berkley was also lower than tuition at the University of Washington for in-state students, too. As I recall, it worked pretty well.

  56. jukeboxgrad says:


    Over $9T in debt, more than all other presidents combined.

    Repeating a lie after you have been shown that it’s a lie is a good way of letting everyone know that you don’t expect to be taken seriously.

  57. gVOR08 says:

    @Jack: That remains to be seen and I think the Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans have some influence independent of O.

  58. stonetools says:

    @C. Clavin:

    There are a heck of a lot of conservatives who now truly believe that the financial crisis and the Great Recession started under Obama. Heck, there are conservatives who blame the Katrina disaster on Obama. This is how racism and conservative ideology makes you stupid.

  59. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I don’t think it makes much of a difference. Assuming he wins Iowa, he gets a little bump. Winning NH doesn’t buy him much from a momentum standpoint because it’s home turf and the expectation is that he’ll win there.

    Shortly thereafter he’ll go down in flames in SC and NV, and then Super Tuesday, where he’ll almost certainly lose every state other than possibly Vermont.

    The takeaway talking point after Super Tuesday will be Clinton being hundreds of delegates ahead of Sanders, even without the superdelegates who have overwhelmingly committed to her, and that’ll be the ballgame. Sanders biggest problem is the calendar – the states he might be expected to do well in come too late to save him. The South will torpedo his campaign.

  60. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @edmondo: Frankly, that’s the source of my ambivalence about Hillary winning (along with another “make her a one-term president” clown show). But pray tell me what changes by voting Republican–other than buying a fleet of “the greatest, most beyoootiful, and yuuuuuuge” cattle cars for the immigration enforcement program? (On credit, of course)

  61. C. Clavin says:

    Clinton42 left Bush43 a debt of $5.8T to which Bush added $5.85T, or an increase of 101% to the debt.
    Bush 43 left a debt of $11.6T to which Obama has added $6.2T or a 53% increase in the debt.
    Bush increased the debt far more than Obama…48% more.
    Not sure where you got your number…but of course it’s wrong.
    This doesn’t even begin to account for the Bush wars, the Bush tax cuts, the Bush Medicare part D, or the Bush contraction….all of which are the biggest drivers of the deficit.
    Again, poor man, the facts don’t match your ideologically blinkered viewpoint.

  62. C. Clavin says:

    BTW, Jack…
    Saint Ronnie inherited a $1T debt from Carter…and turned it into a $2.9T debt…or a 190% increase in the debt….worst President ever.

  63. MarkedMan says:

    @Jack: Jack, much as I hate to admit it, you are more correct than I thought. Although the act did give blanket immunity, it then took some of that back with six exceptions:

    There are six exceptions to the blanket civil immunity provided by the PLCAA:
    (1) an action brought against someone convicted of “knowingly transfer[ing] a firearm, knowing that such firearm will be used to commit a crime of violence” by someone directly harmed by such unlawful conduct;
    (2) an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se;
    (3) an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought;3
    (4) an action for breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the product;
    (5) an action for death, physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, except that where the discharge of the product was caused by a volitional act that constituted a criminal offense, then such act shall be considered the sole proximate cause of any resulting death, personal injuries or property damage; or
    (6) an action commenced by the Attorney General to enforce the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.4

  64. Tyrell says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: That is true. There were a lot of free schools then. I went to a state university for like $500 a year. When and why did college start costing so much ?

  65. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: I think it was a perfect storm:

    1) increased availability of student loans
    2) Parents insisting that their little darlings be coddled (helicopter parents)
    3) Universities competing for students (climbing walls! Dining rooms with Cordon Bleu cuisine! Hotel-like living spaces!)
    4) The whole diversity industry coupling together with the school administration bloat cycle (basically, there was nothing pushing back against the increase in bureaucracy)
    5) State schools getting less and less from the states
    6) and finally….the distinction of going to “the most expensive college” (bragging rights for parents) while their little darling majors in Ukrainian basketweaving. (again, bragging rights for parents because their daughter is so arTISTic.)

    Heck…I thought college was supposed to be when you learned how to keep cockroaches out of the cabinet and how to live off lentils, rice, and cheap veggies in preparation for your first job.

  66. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Tuition at my alma mater is now the same was what my parents earned in income. Oy vey. And even crazier, the acceptance rate is now less than 10%! OY VEY!

  67. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell: I don’t know. It’s common to blame it on student loans, but loans were readily available when I, like you, went to a state school with triple digit tuition – and cheap living available in the dorms. And my school, Univ of IL, Champaign was regarded as one of the ten best engineering schools in the country. A lot of it seems to be state funding cuts, but that doesn’t seem like all of it. I’ve seen it suggested that funding cuts drove them to act more like for profit institutions, competing for students with nicer buildings and more prestigious staff. Anybody know a good source on the subject?

  68. grumpy realist says:

    @gVOR08: Heh. I went to UIUC for grad school (physics). Small world!

  69. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08: State funding cuts are nothing compared to administrative bloat:

    State appropriations reached a record inflation-adjusted high of $86.6 billion in 2009. They declined as a consequence of the Great Recession, but have since risen to $81 billion. And these totals do not include the enormous expansion of the federal Pell Grant program, which has grown, in today’s dollars, to $34.3 billion per year from $10.3 billion in 2000…

    By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

  70. grumpy realist says:

    @Mikey: As said, there’s nothing pushing back against this. Which is why administrations tend to grow and grow and grow.

    Happens with corporations as well. When the original set of layers of the company is 3, and then two years later your company has been bought out, you’re doing the exact same work, and the number of bureaucratic layers above you is 7, time to overhaul the ol’ resume and start looking for a new job.

    Anyone got any ideas for what would be a suitable rival power to set up to continue whacking away at Teh Bloat? Balance of powers is the only way I know of to provide brakes and control.

  71. ernieyeball says:

    @grumpy realist:..small world…

    I attended college 200 miles south of there at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
    Like many Prairie State high school students in 1966 my grades were never good enough to be an Illini.
    Did make my way north to CampusTown to score weed and acid though.
    Good times were had by all!

  72. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tyrell: I can’t speak to the situation in your state, but in Washington, the combination of repeated economic shocks to a tax system that was primarily based on taxes on retail sales and inventory taxes (think VAT and “national sales tax” all you tax reform mavens out there) with state house leadership that was resolved to get savings where they could get them led to budget cuts to higher education that over 20 years time reduced state support from about 75% of costs in 1990 to roughly 20% now.

    Add the fact that the previous president of the University of Washington received $5 million in guarantees–exclusive of bonuses and stipends, and you get to today. $11837/year for in state and $34143 for nonresidents.

    “The UW is proud to be a nationally ranked university with a budget-minded price tag.” (Admissions Office website)

  73. An Interested Party says:

    Cankles is feeling the Bern.

    One can only hope that Republicans will deliver misogynistic attacks like this one…Hillary will walk into the White House guaranteed…

  74. Guarneri says:


    Well, I spoke with the president of Purdue, which hasn’t raised tuition in four years as they have found ways to hold the line on costs. His answer was student loans, admins and underutilized facilities. But then admitted that the latter two were only possible because of the first.

    Who’d a thunk it. Government subsidy causing price increases.

  75. Monala says:

    @gVOR08: Thank you! What’s with all these conservatives suddenly so concerned about income inequality?

  76. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Guarneri: Wow! I don’t understand why student loans were ok when (maybe) you and (definitely) I were going to school–FISLs started sometime in the 1960s–but are bad now. Hmmmmm…

  77. WR says:

    @stonetools: “This is how racism and conservative ideology makes you stupid.”

    I don’t think anything is making them be stupid. I think they are choosing to be stupid.

  78. WR says:

    @grumpy realist: “Anyone got any ideas for what would be a suitable rival power to set up to continue whacking away at Teh Bloat? Balance of powers is the only way I know of to provide brakes and control.”

    Um, yeah. It’s called the labor movement. Which is why corporatist academic executives and Republican politicians fight like hell to suppress student-worker unions and destroy tenure.