Third Republican Debate: CNBC Loses, Rubio and Christie Win

The worst-moderated debate thus far may have reordered the field.

republican-presidential-debate-logo

Last night’s third Republican debate was the worst-moderated (and that’s saying something) and perhaps most interesting thus far. Not all of the attention went to the clowns, allowing several candidates who could plausibly govern the country a shot a making a case for themselves.

Viewers who tuned in on time were forced to watch twelve minutes of drivel from a panel that made the Fox & Friends crew look like PBS. And they were better than the rotating CNBC announcers who competed with one another to ask the most tendentious and stupid questions. The network is simply an embarrassment to television journalism.

For whatever reason, though, Donald Trump didn’t suck all the oxygen out of the room this time. Indeed, as an ABC News analysis notes, “For 28 full minutes — from 8:32 to 9:00 — the Republican frontrunner for the last three months didn’t utter a word. And apart from a brief battle with John Kasich early on in the debate, the real estate mogul didn’t cause many fireworks on the stage.”  One might say that Trump was “low-energy.”

Ben Carson, the closest challenger in the national polls and frontrunner in Iowa, continued to come across as a really nice guy who doesn’t have the first clue about how government works. I’m clearly not his target audience, because I simply can’t understand the appeal.

Carly Fiorina, who debated herself off the undercard the first go-round and by most accounts dominated the second debate, didn’t make much of a splash last night. The moment that most stuck out at me was her suggestion that the Federal government had no role in encouraging the set-up of 401(k) retirement plans, which were created by the Federal government and take their name from their section of the tax code.

Neither of my favorites, Jeb Bush and John Kasich, did anything to elevate themselves out of the single digits.

Bush’s attack on Marcio Rubio for missing Senate votes while campaigning for president was both poorly aimed (he needs to be fighting the top contenders, not the also-rans) but easily parried (Bush didn’t complain when John McCain did the same thing). Despite my defense of Bush’s chances earlier this week, I’m coming to agree with Josh Marshall that “the window is closing on the Bush campaign. And it may already have closed.” He’s had three shots now to distinguish himself as the main not-Trump in the race and his missed each time.

Kasich aimed his fire, if somewhat obliquely, at Trump and Carson but just came across as an angry old man who doesn’t understand these kids today. I fully endorse the substance of his attacks—he has real governing credentials and the frontrunners have no idea what they’re talking about—but they came across as peevish. Given a nominating electorate that seems very much in the mood for someone who isn’t part of a system that they’ve given up on, emphasizing his credentials in that system isn’t a winning strategy. Rather, he needs to argue that he’s different—someone who’s got a record of accomplishment but also of keeping faith with conservative values.

Rubio had his most impressive performance thus far. While I remain unconvinced that he has sufficient experience for the presidency, he finally flashed the natural political skills for which he’s long been touted. In addition to easily turning Bush’s attack against him, he deftly won over the crowd—and one suspects the audience at home—by taking on the panel and the mass media in general.

Ted Cruz took that tack as well, with devastating effect. ”The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz said. “This is not a cage match. Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?” Cruz added, “How about talking about the substantive issues?”

Cruz has previously struck me as something of a mad scientist, a rabid ideologue with no concern for the actual human beings impacted by public policy. For two hours, at least, he came across as a plausible political leader.

Mike Huckabee came across as a guy who knows he’s got no chance at winning but is enjoying one more shot at the spotlight.

The biggest winner of the night, though, may have been Chris Christie. Relegated to an afterthought in the first two debates, he managed to get substantial air time and made the most of it. He brought down the house with his rant about the line of questioning involving fantasy football: ”Wait a second, we have $19 trillion in debt, people out of work, we have ISIS and Al Qaeda attacking us and we’re talking about fantasy football?” And he scored more points against moderator John Harwood: ”No, John, do you want me to answer or do you want to answer? Because — I got to tell you the truth, even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude.”

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Too bad the media isn’t running for President.

  2. Jenos Idanian says:

    The moment that most stuck out at me was her suggestion that the Federal government had no role in encouraging the set-up of 401(k) retirement plans, which were created by the Federal government and take their name from their section of the tax code.

    Sounds like Fiorina knows more about 401(k)s than you do. Let me share what I assumed was common knowledge.

    The 401(k) rule was passed in 1978 as a way for taxpayers to defer taxes on deferred income. It was never intended to serve as a retirement plan. It took two years for one clever guy (a benefits consultant named Ted Benna) to realize the unintended consequences of the law and see how it would allow the creation of a retirement fund. See for yourself.

    So Fiorina was right — the federal government didn’t create 401(k) plans. They simply passed a law that was written loosely enough that a clever man in the private sector saw how it could be creatively interpreted to make such plans.

    And the Ted Cruz bitch-slap of the (snicker) moderator) shouldn’t just be quoted bloodlessly. The whole exchange should be watched.

  3. Scott says:

    Attacking the media is the oldest, easiest, and laziest trick in the book. It gets applause lines and distracts from the issues. Notice that Cruz did not answer the question.

    I admit that I generally loathe my senator. He is all flash and I don’t seem to get his “brilliance”. Anybody notice he is dabbling in Ron Paul economic quackery, even talking about going on the gold standard? The CNBC nitwits didn’t even have the quickness to call him out on that.

    Consider me not impressed.

  4. Tillman says:

    If CNBC, pro-Wall Street pro-business CNBC, is an example of biased liberal media, the Republican party is doomed. The candidates questioning CNBC’s political leanings was a perversion of the natural order, like an ouroboros with the tail engulfing the head.

    Otherwise about what I expected. Rubio needs more polishing, but he sort of just ended Bush’s campaign on live television last night. Cruz was an organ grinder. (Let’s go back to the gold standard!) Christie seemed desperate to me. Like, he didn’t have the guts of Kasich to go full-bore at the beginning against senseless candidates, but he had to attack something so he went after the debate topic.

  5. Just Me says:

    Scott did you watch the debate? If any media needed to be attacked it was the moderators of this debate. CNBC was awful. The moderators were asshole who fought with each other over who got to ask the next question, they tried to put one candidate against another, they asked stupid or irrelevant questions and were rude.

    They weren’t looking for answers to legitimate questions they were just trying to stir crap up between the candidates.

    I think Rubio won. I’m not a Christie fan but he was good last night. Not a real Cruz fan but he also had a good night.

    I think Fiorina, Kasich, Huckabee and maybe Christie don’t and it past the NH primary. I think Paul may throw in the towel before.

    Can’t stand Trump. Carson seems like a nice guy who cares but I don’t think he has a clue about running the country. I do think this format hurts him-he is much better in a one on one interview but even then I’m left wondering if he really knows what he’s doing. I would trust him to operate on my kid, but not sure he can be the president.

  6. Scott says:

    @Just Me: Yes, I watched the entire debate and my comment still stands. I’m not defending the moderators. They were awful and, for a business channel, fairly uninformed and ignorant about economic issues. However, the candidates did not just go after the moderators but the media in general. Go back and listened to what was actually said. There was very little of any substance discussed. Personally, I thought that Kasich and Christie did the best because they actually provided rational answers, not cheap rhetoric.

  7. Scott says:

    BTW, if I hear the word “reform” one more time, I’m going to barf. It is just a synonym for cuts. And I want specifics on the cuts.

  8. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Scott: I feel the same way whenever I hear “comprehensive immigration reform.” Or “campaign finance reform.”

  9. stonetools says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Ezra Klein on the Ted Cruz attack:

    Cruz’s attack on the moderators was smart politics — but it was almost precisely backwards. The questions in the CNBC debate, though relentlessly tough, were easily the most substantive of the debates so far. And the problem for Republicans is that substantive questions about their policy proposals end up sounding like hostile attacks — but that’s because the policy proposals are ridiculous, not because the questions are actually unfair.

    The Republican primary has thus far been a festival of outlandish policy. The candidates seem to be competing to craft the tax plan that gives the largest tax cut to the rich while blowing the biggest hole in the deficit (a competition that, as of tonight, Ted Cruz appears to be winning). And the problem is when you ask about those plans, simply stating the facts of the policies sounds like you’re leveling a devastating attack.

    Now Ted Cruz may get away with this, because Klein knows math and most conservatives don’t. But CNBC did ask tough , substantive questions. The Republican candidates were just not up to answering them. Instead they attacked the moderators (who were, admittedly, imperfect).

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott: I almost never watch debates and last night was no exception. But for a bunch of business writers to be

    uninformed and ignorant about economic issues

    strikes me as a given, not a surprise. The rest of them probably still agree with Santelli that poor people caused the Great Recession.

  11. Guarneri says:

    “But CNBC did ask tough, substantive questions. ”

    “Comic book villain …”

    Yes, substantive, indeed, and similar in tone to questions asked of Democrat debaters (snicker). The comic book moniker might better be reserved for Ezra and the OTB commenter.

  12. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    Weak argument,
    The 1978 Revenue act created the tax deferral, without which there would be no 401k plans. Congress may or may not have intended to create a retirement plan, but without the Revenue Act and sec 401 there would be no such plans.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The 401(k) rule was passed in 1978 as a way for taxpayers to defer taxes on deferred income.

    Uh…yeah that’s what a 401k does.
    From Investopedia:

    The 401(k) rule was passed in 1978 as a way for taxpayers to defer taxes on deferred income.

    Shockingly similar….doh…it’s the same thing.
    Because some guy decided to take advantage of the law and promote something from it doesn’t mean what you say it means.
    What it does mean is that the Government provided a means for the private sector to make gazzillions of dollars.
    You cannot have a strong free market without rigorous Government regulation.

  14. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Guarneri: Ezra Klein? Wasn’t he the guy who set up the secret mailing list for journalists and academics and left-wing politicos to coordinate their attacks on conservatives? That guy?

    Yeah, that’s the guy. He thinks asking about super-villains and the like are “substantive.” He probably thought the Democratic “debate” was also “substantive.”

    He should go back to his little juicebox mafia

  15. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: Please, Cliffy. Everyone knows you’re stupid. You don’t need to prove it time and again.

    In 1978, the government passed the 401(k) rule. But it wasn’t intended to allow retirement plans. That was never the intention.

    It took two years for Mr. Benna to look carefully at that loosely-written rule and realize what the government had unintentionally done. And it would have likely undone that if the results hadn’t been so popular.

    This is as clear-cut case of showing how the government is incompetent and the private sector is far more agile and flexible, and you want the government to get credit for something they did accidentally? You’re actually proud of something they created through carelessness and incompetence?

    On second thought, that’s entirely typical of you.

  16. Joe says:

    Was it just me or did Carly Fiorina frequently look like a computer generated avatar?

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Journolist? Seriously? The man set up a discussion forum of like minded people in the same profession. Clearly a hanging offense. Or maybe you could have Darryl Issa investigate him for ten years.

  18. Jenos Idanian says:

    @gVOR08: The man set up a discussion forum of like minded people in the same profession.

    What is the “same profession” of “several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics?”

    Same goal, yes — advancing the liberal agenda and taking down conservatives. But same profession? Some of them were in professions that, allegedly, require them to be objective. Conspiring on the best way to kill stories that hurt their agenda is hardly objective.

  19. Rafer Janders says:

    Good grief, people. This thread should be about the disastrous GOP debate, not Journolist or other nonsense. Don’t fall for this ridiculous “squirrel!” attempt at diversion all the time….

  20. Modulo Myself says:

    I think the GOP must have realized after the Benghazi debacle how ugly they look/sound/are. The goal now is to deliver Marco Rubio to the RNC convention in a state of cryogenic stasis. How do you do it? Go crazy and get the base riled up about the socialists at CNBC.

    I mean, Ted Cruz is asked really totally stupid questions about why he didn’t support the budget deal and Donald Trump about the fact that he’s Donald Trump and Ben Carson about being spokesperson for a scam. It’s terrible; the last blow!

    The next debate will be numbing soothing sounds. Favorite pets; bedtime stories you tell your kids and grandkids; the best ideas for starting a war. Nothing that can even come close to popping the ugly bubble. The moderator? A hologram Reagan, c.1987, napping and demented.

  21. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rafer Janders: I didn’t bring up Juicebox Klein, I just gave it a context. And yeah, it was disastrous — for CNBC and the liberal media in general.

    Remember, it was this bad from a “conservative” media source (according to at least one commenter here). If the liberal bias is this bad from a “conservative” media source, how bad is it from CNN, the New York Times, et al?

  22. Ron Beasley says:

    The Wall Street centric CNBC crew proved they are as ignorant of economic issues as the Republican candidates. But it demonstrated that Wall Street would be perfectly happy to have a Wall Street friendly Hillary Clinton as president over any of the occupants of the Republican clown car. With the exception of Christie, Fiorina and Rubio everyone else came out a loser. This really should mark the end of the Jeb Bush campaign. Carson once again demonstrated that while he may have an exceptional understanding of the human nervous system works he doesn’t have a clue about how the economy or how governance works.

  23. jewelbomb says:

    @Guarneri:

    “Comic book villain …”

    But no one asked any questions about “comic book villains.” That was just Ted Cruz’s characterization. The actual question posed to Trump was as follows: “”Mr. Trump, you’ve done very well in this campaign so far by promising to build a wall and make another country pay for it, send 11 million people out of the country, cut taxes $10 trillion without increasing the deficit, and make Americans better off because your greatness would replace the stupidity and incompetence of others. Let’s be honest, is this a comic-book version of a presidential campaign?”

    All things considered, this was a pretty substantive question. Cruz and other Republicans need to stop feeling sorry for themselves when people ask them question about their crazy promises.

  24. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    I pasted the wrong quote. My bad. Doesn’t change the point.
    Actual quote from Investopedia:

    By definition, a 401(k) plan is an arrangement that allows an employee to choose between taking compensation in cash or deferring a percentage of it to an account under the plan.

    Laws evolve and as the maker of laws the Government is involved in that evolution.
    In addition a 401k is not a “retirement plan”…at least it shouldn’t be. It’s one element of a retirement plan.

  25. Tillman says:

    @Joe: I was struck by how much time she spent talking, and how little she said. I’ll give Secretariat credit: she might actually have some wits to her, she managed to avoid whatever limelight void Eveready and Justice Never Sleeps fell into. But the miniscule amount of info she delivered also suggests debates might be her only strength.

    Bit of trivia, “92% of jobs lost in the Great Recession belonged to women” is a Romney line from last cycle.

  26. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: You just can’t bring yourself to admit that you were wrong, can you?

    The government never intended the 401(k) rule to be used for retirement plans. That’s why it took two years after it was passed for it to be used that way. And they don’t get the credit for it, because it was entirely accidental and inadvertent on their part. The private sector gets full credit for seeing an opportunity and seizing it — an opportunity created by government incompetence.

    You wanna give the government credit for 1) screwing up their intent and 2) not changing that screwup when it turned out to be popular and helpful? That explains just how you get some of your opinions…

  27. michael reynolds says:

    Fascinating. I just read all the way down through comments and saw no one even mentioning Jeb. You remember Jeb, right? Guy who grabbed up all the money so he was a shoo-in?

    Jeb is done.

    Trump is on a downward glide path, he’s not done yet, but he’s still done.

    James, the reason you don’t get Carson is that he’s not a candidate, he’s a road-side pull-out where you park your car while you check the map. Polls show the yahoos very much uncommitted to Carson. His support will now begin to evaporate. Because. . .

    . . . the true battle to be the next America’s Billionaires Got Purse Dog, is on! And the winner is clearly Rubio. James is right, Kasich was the most sane man in the asylum and as so often happens in horror movies, his very sanity makes him seem insane. He’s trapped! Trapped in the asylum!

    I am not convinced Christie has much upside. People like him, he’s amusing, but I don’t think fundamentally people will support him. Just an instinct.

    Anyway, if I had to guess, I’d say the race two weeks from now will be between Rubio and Cruz. I expect Jeb will drop out. Carson will wander off one day never to be heard from again. Paul will quit. Huckabee has no other job, so he’ll hang around. Fiorina? No, that flash in the pan has already flashed.

    You next billionaire’s purse dog: Marco Rubio.

    Your next Joker wannabe: Ted Cruz.

  28. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    you want the government to get credit for something they did accidentally?

    They purposefully set up a rule numbered 401k that allowed the deferment of taxes on deferred income.
    You always let your ideology get in the way of the facts.
    And then you lie to assuage your insecurities over your idiocy.

  29. Gustopher says:

    Bush’s attack on Marcio Rubio for missing Senate votes while campaigning for president was both poorly aimed (he needs to be fighting the top contenders, not the also-rans) but easily parried

    Given that the top contenders and ridiculous fools who will almost certainly fade away, I think it makes sense for Bush to try to get rid of the other “acceptable” candidates before the focus gets on them. After Trump, Carson and Fiorina are gone, people are going to be looking for someone who is at least borderline qualified.

    Bush did a terrible job of attacking Rubio, but targeting was right on.

  30. Neil Hudelson says:

    If Bush does fall out soon, I’m curious where his donors will go. While he may be shedding donors, his fundraising ability is still considerable. I imagine that even if he doesn’t have a candidate he prefers, at this point he definitely has some he wants to destroy, including possibly Rubio.

  31. Jenos Idanian says:

    @C. Clavin: Yes, Cliffy, they purposely set up that rule.

    They did not intend it to be applied for retirement benefits.

    Two years later, one clever guy in the private sector saw how to exploit the rule-writers’ carelessness and found a loophole that allowed for the use of that error to be used for retirement funds.

    Source 1:

    The accidental birth of the 401(k) can be credited to Ted Benna. In 1980, the benefits consultant used his interpretation of the law to create a 401(k) plan for his own employer, The Johnson Cos., that allowed full-time employees to fund accounts with pre-tax dollars and matching employer contributions. Benna then asked the Internal Revenue Service to change some proposed rules under the law that ultimately lead to the widespread adoption of 401(k) plans by employers in the early 1980s.

    Source 2:

    We tend to think of 401(k) plans as the bedrock of the retirement savings system.

    But these plans, named after a section in the Internal Revenue Code, were actually developed more by accident than by design. When lawmakers originally established the Revenue Act of 1978, the goal was to limit executives at some companies from having too much access to the perks of cash-deferred plans.

    The government screws up all the time. You want to celebrate that the screwup this time had GOOD results? And use that to excuse other government screwups?

    You are quite possibly more effed in the head than I thought possible.

  32. Jenos Idanian says:

    To sum up: Fiorina was right about the 401(k), Dr. Joyner is wrong, and Cliffy is predictably stupid and will always double down on stupid.

  33. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    You are trying to create a basis for your ideology.
    The Government made a rule.
    Someone interpreted that rule…and then the subsequently Government updated the rule.
    But whoa…the Government didn’t do it.
    It’s nonsensical. Public and Private sectors work like this all the time. The free market cannot exist absent Government.
    However your ideology wants the Government to be un-necessary. And for there to be leprechauns riding unicorns.
    The facts are at odds with your ideology.

  34. cian says:

    Ben Carson, the closest challenger in the national polls and frontrunner in Iowa, continued to come across as a really nice guy

    A few people here have said this, but how so? For a nice guy he seems driven by hatred for a whole host of people- immigrants, African Americans, gays, women, liberals, Obama, scientists, the list goes on. I can’t think of one positive thing he has had to say about anyone or thing. He may, at times, appear ‘really nice’, but he isn’t. He really isn’t.

  35. Jenos Idanian says:

    Here’s NPR doing a story on Mr. Benna and how he (NOT the federal government) created the 401(k) plan.

    Note the complete lack of intent of the law’s drafters to create a retirement benefit out of it.

  36. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    All that does is support my point that 401k’s are not a retirement plan…counter to your comment.
    Benna started with something the government created…but the government didn’t create it???
    I mean…it’s a really terrible system…and so I’m not arguing the Government is perfect at all.
    But to deny Government involvement in a law that the Government created and then modified and updated is patently absurd.

  37. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    Viagra was created for other things than ED…under your illogical argument you should call up Phizer and tell them to surrender all their income and royalties because they didn’t actually create it.

  38. C. Clavin says:

    Pretending for just a moment that Fiorina was right about 401k’s…it would have been about the only accurate statement all night.
    Every single GOP contender made totally misleading claims about economic issues. Then when confronted with their lies they responded by attacking the media — and lying some more.
    If not for the terrible moderators we would likely be talking about Republicans complete inability to grasp reality.
    When exactly did fiction became the primary element of all Republican policy?

  39. Neil Hudelson says:

    I must have missed a FASCINATING debate on retirement plans last night, for it to generate this much discussion.

    Or we are stuck in a perpetual “I’m rubber and you’re glue” loop.

  40. stonetools says:

    I think it’s a bit too soon to count out Jeb just yet. The man has lots of money, good will and two months to develop some kind of game. Reality check: people don’t start voting till February next year.I do think we can start to talk about winnowing the field.
    It goes without saying that the kiddie table folks should be just cut. No one wants to hear from them and IMO they should not be invited to future debates. They’re just wasting everybody’s time.
    After the next debate in November, I would go with just one debate, based on whether anyone met the 5 per cent mark in some average of polls over the last 2 weeks before that debate. It seems to me that if you can’t meet the 5 per cent mark after several months of campaigning and 4 debates, then the public isn’t interested in you running for President.
    It looks at this point that the likely candidates remaining are :

    Trump
    Carson
    Cruz
    Rubio
    Bush
    Kasich
    Fiorina
    Christie

    Of everybody else, we can honestly say that they had their chance, but it’s time to go home. Frankly, even Fiorina and Christie are borderline on that list, but they have had a couple of moments. The rest have had none at all.

  41. C. Clavin says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    I thought we were discussing nonsensical small government ideology…but point taken.
    I am easily drawn down the rabbit hole by trolls.

  42. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @C. Clavin:

    When exactly did fiction became the primary element of all Republican policy?

    In about 1979. I can’t remember who was running…it seems to me he had some sort of Irish sounding name…

  43. al-Ameda says:

    The highlight of the debate was the predictable pathetic conservative whining about media bias. It’s a stale act to be sure, however it plays well with base Republicans. It does however beg a very simple question:

    Why doesn’t Fox News take over the Republican Debate franchise and for each debate select as moderators 2 or 3 of the following unbiased people: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Monica Crowley, Michael Savage, Dinesh D’Souza, Laura Ingraham or Ann Coulter?

  44. Gustopher says:

    @al-Ameda: Sarah Palin should moderate a debate. People love her, and she is certain to ask questions that the primary voters will care about.

  45. steve s says:

    Bush’s attack on Marcio Rubio for missing Senate votes while campaigning for president was both poorly aimed (he needs to be fighting the top contenders, not the also-rans)

    Uhh, Marco Rubio is the best odds of being GOP nominee on the betting sites. Are you paying attention?

  46. pajarosucio says:

    James, I agree with your post pretty much across the board and had many of the same thoughts this morning.

    I did wonder if Rubio’s crowd support was because of his performance or because the crowd supported him already. It seemed he got wild applause for saying many things the other candidates said. I saw someone tweet earlier during the “pre-game” show that Rubio got the largest cheer from the crowd as the candidates were introduced on the stage. It seemed that maybe more was going on there.

  47. Tillman says:

    @stonetools:

    I think it’s a bit too soon to count out Jeb just yet. The man has lots of money, good will and two months to develop some kind of game.

    What he had was a reputation as the smart one of the Bush family, and he threw it away. He had Republican politicos endorsing his candidacy early on, and that dried up. He had months — years — to figure out passable answers to questions concerning his brother’s administration and its failures, and he squandered those.

    All of these criticisms applied before Rubio tore him down over playing politics. Chris Christie got in a hit, for Christ’s sake, by making Bush’s fantasy football answer politically irrelevant. Lindsey Graham did better at the kids’ table by expressing himself like a precocious child sidekick of ’50s TV shows than Bush did. If it was necessary for his campaign to turn itself around, as the meeting of the Bush family and donors suggested, he utterly failed.

    At best, what you’re describing is Bush as the Lincoln Chafee Who Could.

  48. Just Me says:

    If Jeb drops out his donors probably go to Rubio (Christie would be a possibility but I think Christie is treading water as badly as Jeb right now) but of the viable candidates left Rubio seems to have the most steam. Cruz is probably too far right for Jeb donors and Fiorina seems like she’s peaked.

  49. DrDaveT says:

    Viewers who tuned in on time were forced to watch twelve minutes of drivel from a panel that made the Fox & Friends crew look like PBS. And they were better than the rotating CNBC announcers who competed with one another to ask the most tendentious and stupid questions. The network is simply an embarrassment to television journalism.

    My subjective impression was that the ineptness of the moderators made every candidate look better than they otherwise would have, with the possible exception of Trump.

    Ben Carson, the closest challenger in the national polls and frontrunner in Iowa, continued to come across as a really nice guy who doesn’t have the first clue about how government works.

    You keep saying this, but I have no idea where you are getting the idea that Ben Carson seems like a nice guy. Is it just because he doesn’t shout, and talks reaallyy sslloowwllyy? 2/3 of the actual content that comes out of his mouth is mean-spirited, either directly or indirectly. How are you not noticing that? Or do you think it is possible to be “a really nice guy” even if you’re only nice to Christian heterosexuals, and mean to everyone else?

  50. gVOR08 says:

    @Tillman: I still think Jeb is the smarter Bush Bro.

    Their family conclave to rescue Jeb’s campaign reminded me of a cartoon. A handful of people are standing on the roof of the multi-story Bushco World Headquarters building. “OK Jeb, tell them you’re your own man.”

  51. Rafer Janders says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You keep saying this, but I have no idea where you are getting the idea that Ben Carson seems like a nice guy. Is it just because he doesn’t shout, and talks reaallyy sslloowwllyy? 2/3 of the actual content that comes out of his mouth is mean-spirited, either directly or indirectly. How are you not noticing that? Or do you think it is possible to be “a really nice guy” even if you’re only nice to Christian heterosexuals, and mean to everyone else?

    Like most Republicans, James pay far more attention to the shiny surface presentation than to the actual substance. You can say the most awful, hate-ridden things as long as you say them with a smile and a tie on, and Republican rubes will fall for that act every. single. time. It’s like they have a direct line that bypasses their brain and goes straight to their gut.

  52. michael reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I have to correct you on one very important – nay, vital – point: it’s not sslloowwllyy, it’s s-l-o-o-o-o-w-l-y. You stretch the vowel and use dashes. Your way is logical, but I write kid’s books, so, really, who’s the expert? I’m also very good with written sound effects. Whumpf! See?

  53. Tyrell says:

    @DrDaveT: I like the tone and demeanor of Dr. Carson, the calm, thoughtful presence he brings, even though I diasagree with some of his stands. He is a person whom I can disagree with and still respect. I have not seen him acting “mean spirited”, though I haven’t heard everything he has said.

  54. Modulo Myself says:

    People who think Carson a nice guy have the lonely hearts of people sending in their life savings to a televangelist. That’s all there is to it. We see shtick and grift. They see a nice man who needs help.

  55. DrDaveT says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    We see shtick and grift.

    I don’t see an insincere grifter. I see a sincere monomaniac with a really calm affect.

  56. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Is Alinsky somehow involved? How about Mati Hari?

  57. jewelbomb says:

    @Tyrell:

    I have not seen him acting “mean spirited”, though I haven’t heard everything he has said.

    Have you heard anything he’s said? Comparing gays to child molesters? That’s kind of mean spirited. Implying Planned Parenthood was founded to kill black babies? A mean-spirited lie. Comparing Obamacare to slavery and the US under BHO to Nazi Germany? Pretty mean spirited. Not only is he certifiably nuts, but so many of his claims are based in outright bigotry. But hey, at least he seems relatively calm while he’s smearing anyone who disagrees with his ideology.

  58. David in KC says:

    After reading the post and the comments, I apparently made the right decision to watch the World Series.

  59. ernieyeball says:

    @Scott:..Attacking the media is the oldest, easiest, and laziest trick in the book.

    Disgraced former VP Spiro Agnew and the words of William Safire.
    http://www.answers.com/Q/Who_first_wrote_nattering_nabobs_of_negativism

  60. Mikey says:

    @David in KC: Looks like the Royals are getting it done pretty well so far.

    I helped my son with his homework, then watched The Goldbergs while sipping a Negroni. I am satisfied in the knowledge I spent those two hours far better than I would have watching a bunch of preening buffoons posture, bloviate, and bullshit their way around giving anything close to substantive answers.

  61. M. Bouffant says:

    Flat tax & gold standard? Even the laissez-faire loons at CNBC know better than that. Being called on foolish statements & hypocrisy & then not answering but deflecting & whining about the question like a six-yr. old will not hold up before informed audiences.

  62. michael reynolds says:

    @Mikey:

    Are you dismissing Ted Cruz’s call for a return to the gold standard as lacking substance? Why, I’ll have you know the gold standard was a yuge issue. Yuge! Back around World War 1.

  63. Ken in NJ says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The government never intended the 401(k) rule to be used for retirement plans.

    Once a number of large companies starting creating 401k plans, the IRS put forward regulations specifically sanctioning the use of employee salary reductions as a source of retirement plan contributions. This was in 1981. So while it wasn’t initially created specifically to be used for retirement plans, saying “never intended” is either remarkably sloppy or just plain false.

    That’s why it took two years after it was passed for it to be used that way.

    Nonsense. It took two years because that’s how long it took for the IRS to issue the regulations. The Revenue Act of 1978 was signed into law in Nov 1978, but it didn’t take effect until Jan 1, 1980, and the IRS regulations weren’t issued until November 1981.

    As for Ted Benna, he did propose some changes in ~1981 that changed the way 401(k) plans were regulated, making them more like the modern plans we have now, so his loud self proclamations as the “father of the 401(k)” aren’t complete horsecrap. But the idea that the he was the genius who came up with the idea of using them as part of corporate retirement savings plans that nobody else had thought of in the intervening years is absolute rubbish. A number of large companies — Hughes Aircraft, J&J, PepsiCo, JC Penney, and Honeywell, among others — were moving to adopt the new rules into their employee savings plans within months of the Act being passed.

    And they don’t get the credit for it, because it was entirely accidental and inadvertent on their part. The private sector gets full credit for seeing an opportunity and seizing it — an opportunity created by government incompetence.

    Incompetence? Horseshit. Prior to 1974, there was a longstanding history of disagreement between the IRS and various companies over the restrictions on those companies’ already extant deferred compensation plans. The IRS had proposed regulations that would have put enormous restrictions of the tax-deferred status of those arrangements, regulations which were frozen by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. ERISA also also mandated a research study pertaining to salary-reduction deferred compensation plans, which led pretty diorectly to the Revenue Act of 1978.

    You wanna give the government credit for 1) screwing up their intent and 2) not changing that screwup when it turned out to be popular and helpful? That explains just how you get some of your opinions…

    The act did what it was intended to do – clarify and solidify regulations surrounding corporate deferred compensation programs, and specifically allow payroll deductions as part of those plans. And while it wasn’t specifically intended to create 401(k) retirement plans as we see them today, trying to imply that this was some unforeseen possibility is hogwash, and trying to paint it as “incompetence” is just stupid.

  64. M. Bouffant says:

    Is lying through one’s teeth about involvement w/ this crap just another sign of a nice guy?

    Or is it a “gotcha” question?

  65. Ken in NJ says:

    @DrDaveT: Or do you think it is possible to be “a really nice guy” even if you’re only nice to Christian heterosexuals, and mean to everyone else?

    The equivocation on the right between “civility” and “politeness” allows for all manner of horrors to pass from their lips, so long as they can do it without yelling or cursing.

  66. charon says:

    @Tyrell:

    Whatever about mean spirited, the man is way too narcissistic and megalomaniac …

    http://www.salon.com/2015/10/21/ben_carsons_dangerous_god_complex_the_commencement_speech_i_wont_soon_forget_partner/

  67. charon says:
  68. stonetools says:

    OK, Ben Carson may not be a nice guy. But he effectively fakes one on TV, and that seems to work for Republican voters. That’s all that counts, amirite?

  69. André Kenji De Sousa says:

    @DrDaveT: Carson, to be fair, does not engage in negative campaigning against his Republican opponents. To me he is destroying his biography with thus candidacy.

  70. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The moment that most stuck out at me was her suggestion that the Federal government had no role in encouraging the set-up of 401(k) retirement plans, which were created by the Federal government and take their name from their section of the tax code.

    What was actually said

    the question was about whether or not the government should help establish 401k retirement plans for freelancers like Uber drivers. She doesn’t support it.

    “I think it’s a wonderful thing that businesses start a 401k,” she said. “The point I am making is this: The federal government should not be in a lot of things. There is no constitutional role for the federal government in setting up a retirement plan. There is no constitutional role for the federal government to be setting minimum wages.”

    She didn’t come out against 401k plans. She was against the federal government helping to extend the benefits of 401k plans to contract workers. She is also against the federal government setting up any retirement plan at all, which would presumably include Social Security. Additionally she came out against a minimum wage. I’m all for everyone knowing about her positions on these issues.

  71. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: Um… you quoted me when I was quoting Dr. Joyner. Those are his words, not mine.

    And I was pointing out that the government didn’t “set up” those plans, per se, but were an unintended consequence of a move that was only intended to affect high-paid corporate suit types. That two years later this guy took a really, really close look at the actual language in the law and saw an opportunity was a happy accident.

    And that the IRS allowed it to stand is nothing less than miraculous.

  72. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: Think about this: up until sometime last year I thought we were still on the gold standard. In fact, it was on this site that someone informed me that we weren’t. Somehow I missed that lesson in 7th. grade history . I brought this up to some people down at the local coffee watering hole a while back. To them, the gold standard was the Holy Grail, the Southern Star, and Atlantis all rolled into one, and the country has been in the sewer ever since it went off it.

  73. Grewgills says:

    Jenos Idanian, it was pointed out by Ken above why those assertions of yours are nonsense.
    In short, it was far from miraculous that the IRS let it stand, the IRS participated in writing the rules that allowed for modern 401k plans.

  74. Dave D says:

    @Grewgills: Yeah but Ken said all he did before you did. And he can’t refute Ken so he’ll drill down on a minor issue with what you wrote because it is easier than being wrong. Likely he never will try and refute Ken but he will respond to anyone who doesn’t address the point in his head that happens after that post.

  75. Tyrell says:

    @jewelbomb: My apologies about this. I did not know that Dr. Carson had made such statements as these. I have only heard some of what he said on the debate and some interview in which he was discussing his career. I did not know that he had made such outrageous statements.

  76. MarkedMan says:

    Someone on this blog, on another post, made reference to “last liar wins” and when I read it I thought it was just snarky. But as I’ve thought about I’ve realized just how insightful it is. Republicans simply do not care if their candidates have any connection to reality whatsoever. Or even if they just out and out lie, like Carson denying a connection with the bogus supplements company. And since no one in their party cares if anything they say has any smidgen of reality in it, there is no upside to going first. I used to think Repubs were reluctant to lay out their real plans because everyone would laugh at just how ridiculous they were. But now I see that it is just that if Candidate A goes first and promises 10% tax reduction and creating a million jobs, Candidate B can follow up with 15% and two million. Since no one holds them accountable for anything, the last one wins.

  77. stonetools says:

    @MarkedMan:

    A major problem so far as been that reporters seem unprepared to confront people who will just lie bare faced on national TV. These reporters seemed to have never questioned a hostile witness in their career. I certainly hope the reporters raise their game,or we are in for a long season of one preposterous unchallenged lie after another.
    I’m wondering if four decades of unremitting conservative attacks on the media has simply cowed the media into never challenging conservative politicians on their pronouncements no matter how absurd or dishonest.

  78. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Good God, man, are you always this obtuse? “They didn’t intend” for 401(k)s to be used for retirement? How can you know what the intentions of people were 37 years ago? Congress may not have intended for companies to loot their pension plans and then dump the obligations on the PBGC, but it happened. Intentions only go so far; reality defines how intentions are met (or not).

  79. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools:

    I’m wondering if four decades of unremitting conservative attacks on the media has simply cowed the media into never challenging conservative politicians on their pronouncements no matter how absurd or dishonest.

    Yes.
    Their job is to sell papers, not to defend truth, justice, and the American way. I haven’t been able to find the quote, but JK Galbraith said something like, ‘Shilling for the rich pays better than crusading for the truth.’

  80. Ken in NJ says:

    @Tyrell: Think about this: up until sometime last year I thought we were still on the gold standard.

    And you nonetheless think people should take your opinions on politics and economics seriously

  81. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Grewgills: Ken’s statements are very clear, very detailed, very precise, and pretty much at odds with the sources I consulted. The accepted history says that the rule was drafted and intended to only address well-paid execs, and it was only after it was passed that the full implications of the actual language were realized.

    In other words, I posted a couple of links that gave a history in line with what I said. Anyone got anything to back up Ken’s version?

  82. Bob@Youngstown says:

    at the risk of troll feeding….

    Fiorina’s theme that JI is trying to support is her simple theory that:

    “Every time the federal government gets engaged in something, it gets worse, and then the government steps in and we get a little further down…”

    It makes no real difference whether Benna or the IRS “created” retirement savings programs, it is undeniably clear that the tax code enabled what has become a vital element in the retirement savings programs for Americans.

    Circling back to the theme that Fiorina and JI are espousing, that the Federal government makes everything “worse” or that the federal government is incompetent, both Fiorina and JI seem to suggest that 401(k) s are detriment to society.

    All the digging in the weeds about what came first, Benna or whatever, is the equivalent to the chicken or egg discourse. It makes no real difference to the central theme that the Federal government is feckless.

    I’m sure that Fiorina would be just fine with the Agriculture Dept just allowing the poultry producers to regulate themselves. There are hundreds of other things like air travel safety that Fiorina and JI would like the Federal to just “butt out”

  83. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    This link from the EBRI written in 2005 lines up with what Ken said.

  84. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Grewgills: Yes, it does. But it doesn’t seem to contradict the “unintended consequence” story that’s been going around for years, and supported by the sources I found.

    Here’s a bit from the NPR story:

    To understand, let’s back up, to the accidental rise of the 401(k) — to the 1960s and 70s. Back then, if you worked for a big company and retired, you got a pension. A regular check.

    Benna helped run these plans. He was a consultant. And in the late ’70s, he was unhappy.

    “Most of what I was doing was working with business owners,” he says. “Their main interest was, ‘how can I get the biggest tax break, and give the least to my employees, legally?'”

    Then, Benna says inspiration came from two different places: God (he’s a religious man) and the Internal Revenue Code. It was 1978. Congress passed an obscure add-on to tax code section 401.

    “Added this little paragraph ‘k’. And I still have, you know, the original copy. It was only a page and a quarter long. That’s all it was.”

    401(k) was an unassuming tax break for companies letting workers put away cash on the side. Only the tax nerds noticed… until divine inspiration hit Benna.

    “Hmm. Well, how about adding a match, an additional incentive? Immediately, I jumped to, ‘Wow, this is a big deal!'”

    His concoction was effectively a bribe for workers: they got extra money from the boss and a tax break, if they took some of their own paycheck and set it aside for retirement.

    And here’s an account from NASDAQ itself:

    But these plans, named after a section in the InternalRevenue Code, were actually developed more by accident than by design. When lawmakers originally established theRevenue Act of 1978, the goal was to limit executives at some companies from having too much access to the perks of cash-deferred plans. (Why, you ask? Since the 1950s, companies had been fighting with the InternalRevenue Service to allow moremoney to be squirreled away in such plans.)

    And here’s CNN saying that the government accidentally allowed the creation of 401k plans.

    I might be wrong, but if I am, so is NASDAQ, CNN, and NPR, among others.

  85. Matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: So wait when the government passed the laws that were used to develop 401k plans it wasn’t intentional thus the government had no role.

    When the government setups an amendment to the constitution authorizing well regulated militias for homeland defense and that is unintentionally turned into “private ownership of guns for all” that’s clearly the government having a role?

    okay then…

  86. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    First, all of those articles directly source Benna’s rather self serving story.
    Look at the timeline in the link provided. The law was passed in 1978, but didn’t take effect until 2 years later in 1980. Saying that it took two years, from 1978 till 1980 for someone to figure out how to turn it into a retirement plan doesn’t make much sense in that context. The implication in Benna’s self serving account is that the law was in effect for 2 years before he figured out how to take advantage of it and others followed suit. If you look at the timeline you see Hughes planning to use the new regs for retirement in 1978, Johnson and Johnson following in 1979 and a sizable group ready to do so by 1980, when Benna says he invented the idea. By 1981, less than a full year after implementation the IRS was writing regs to facilitate 401k plans.
    The law when passed in 1978 may not have had the intent to be a broad based retirement supplement plan, but by the time the law was implemented that idea was largely formed and the government had a large hand in modifying regs to facilitate that. This was not the government bumbling. This was the government passing a law and working with the private sector to take advantage of additional implications of that law. If the government didn’t want the law to allow for 401k retirement plans then the government wouldn’t have changed internal IRS regs to facilitate 401k retirement plans. That should be pretty simple to fathom.
    Additionally, as mentioned above, Fiorina is NOT opposed to 401k plans. She is opposed to the federal government facilitating 401k plans for contract workers. You are attributing more to Fiorina than her statement warrants, unless she expanded upon it outside of the debate.

  87. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I might be wrong,

    Who cares who “invented” or “created” 401Ks?

    Either you subscribe to the Fiorino premise that the government can do no good or you don’t.

    Obviously she feels that 401ks should not be available to all employees because those programs are evil agents of the goberment.

  88. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Let’s look at her actual words, shall we?

    “The point I am making is this: The federal government should not be in a lot of things. There is no constitutional role for the federal government in setting up a retirement plan. There is no constitutional role for the federal government to be setting minimum wages.”

    I think that’s pretty self-evident. You wanna argue with her point?

  89. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    That depends on what she means by ‘constitutional role’. If she means mandated constitutional role then she is right, but the point is trivial and irrelevant. If she means constitutionally allowable role then she is demonstrably totally and completely wrong.
    In any case, I hope the eventual GOP candidate runs strong on that premise. End Social Security, end federal tax benefits for retirement savings, and abolish the federal minimum wage. Let that be their mantra and let them repeat it loudly and clearly so all Americans know that is exactly what they want and that is what them standing by the middle class looks like. It will be a winning message, just not for the GOP.

  90. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Grewgills: My big problem is when the government starts mandating things “for our own good.” I got no problem with the government allowing things like 401ks, and even encouraging them.

    Mandating them, though? That’s where I draw the line.

  91. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    So mandated food and drug testing by the FDA is past your line?
    Mandating contributions to unemployment also past your line?
    Mandated car insurance beyond your line?
    Social Security also beyond your line?
    I could go on, but I think you get my point. Your line is far beyond the modern line for any industrialized nation.

  92. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: We already have the optional drug testing — just call it “herbal” and you takes your chances. Same for food and “organic,” I believe.

    But we’re all so much safer knowing that our hair braiders, psychics, nail technicians, and aura therapists are all properly regulated and licensed, aren’t we?

    I feel so much safer, knowing that Big Brother Big Government is there to protect me from making bad decisions… to the point of throwing me in jail for my own protection.

  93. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    There are specific standards to be certified organic and those foods have to meet FDA safety standards which are not optional.
    Herbal and homeopathic remedies are poorly regulated and as a result they are mostly useless and some worse than useless.
    Would you really rather forego the FDA and take your chances on market forces ensuring your food and drugs were safe?
    No speed limits or other traffic laws and just trust to other drivers choosing to drive at safe speeds and on the right side of the road?
    I’m pretty sure the federal government doesn’t directly regulate cosmeticians, psychics, or ‘aura’ therapists, so that is all irrelevant.

  94. Monala says:

    @C. Clavin: Good point. Expanding upon one product idea to create a new product is considered innovation in the private sector, not an accident on the part of the original product idea creator.

  95. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Jenos Idanian: @Jenos Idanian:
    Actual words:
    “Every time the federal government gets engaged in something, it gets worse, and then the government steps in and we get a little further down to that progressive vision that Hillary Clinton is talking about,” Fiorina said.

    As I said earlier, she is stuck in the theme that the federal government makes everything worse,

  96. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: A bit of hyperbole, but it’s more often true than not.

    @Grewgills: So, should the herbal remedies be regulated/banned, or should they stay caveat emptor? That’s how I think they should. (Personally, I caveat the hell away from all of them.)

    As far as highways go, I don’t like the “no talking/texting” laws. I think we already had laws against distracted/reckless driving, and I like the generalities in that area. I thought that the existing laws were just fine and dandy and covered talking and texting without having to add a new law.

    I didn’t intend to limit the whole overregulation thing to just the federal government, but as a general symptom of the problem. Psychics are often regulated, because God forbid someone make money without the government’s permission. And I am appalled that it was in Texas that a hair-braider had to fight to escape government micromanagement.

    Here’s a hypothetical for you. A 40-year-old guy who’s been gainfully employed and paid all his taxes since he was 18 wants to opt out of Social Security. He’s comfortably wealthy, and has set up his own retirement plans. He wants to stop paying Social Security taxes, and take full responsibility for his own retirement or possible disability. In exchange for being exempt from future Social Security payments, he is willing to forfeit all he has paid into the system thus far and sign a legal declaration that he will never take a single penny in Social Security benefits, and he will forfeit any future claims in his name on behalf of his spouse and children. In short, the government can keep all he’s paid in and never have to worry about having to pay out anything to him or his heirs, but he gets to stop paying Social Security taxes. Would you allow him to opt out? Remember, the government is already keeping 20-odd years of his taxes, and does not have to allot a single penny for any future claims. It’s a win for the feds — IF they are playing by the rules as written. So why not let him buy his way out?

  97. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    Herbal remedies should be regulated as they can be dangerous and the labeling should reflect what is actually in the bottle, rather than having the free for all we have now. Homeopathic remedies should also be labeled as what they are, very expensive water. Do you oppose FDA testing and regulation of food and drugs? That is after all ‘for our own good’.
    As for highways you still haven’t answered the regulations on speed, tailgating, reckless driving etc. after all they are government regulations (sometimes federal) that are there for our own good. Do you oppose all traffic laws?
    Psychics, palm readers, etc should be required to advertise as entertainment only and be charged with fraud if they attempt to con people out of money for speaking with dead relatives etc. Alternately they can set themselves up as a church and defraud people the old fashioned way.
    The case in Texas was the Feds getting it right and Texas getting it wrong. SHOCKING that.
    As for Social Security, it is at least as much a standard social welfare program as a retirement savings plan, so no he (nor anyone else) should be able to opt out of paying.

  98. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Grewgills: So we disagree, as I thought. I’m a big believer in caveat caveat emptor, and people making their own decisions. If idiots want to take those herbal and homeopathic products, then so be it. If people want to get their hair braided by someone who hasn’t had the full barbering permit and paid the state, so be it. If they want to consult psychics or mediums or whatever, so be it.

    People learn how to make good choices by making bad choices. Protecting people from making bad choices means they never learn how to make good choices.

    And as far as Social Security… the argument is that “give us money now, and we’ll give it back to you later, with interest.” A lot of people don’t believe that promise any more, and talks of means-testing Social Security would make that a lie — “pay now, and you’ll get it back later only if you fail to provide for yourself.” I don’t see the problem with letting people opt out of it. I’m willing to compromise and say that they can’t opt out until they’ve paid in for a while. The only reason to refuse them that option is if the promise is a lie; that the system needs those people who will pay in far more than they’ll ever draw out, and the system will collapse if the suckers are allowed to bail.

    Your default seems to be to regulate and control, unless an argument can be made that excludes them. My default is to not regulate, unless an argument can be made that it is justified.

  99. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    No. My default is not to regulate unless there is there is a compelling argument that it is justified. You and I disagree on what compelling arguments are. For instance I look at what our society looked like before Social Security, Medicare, etc and see how many older and disabled people lived in dire poverty then look at the improvement afterwards and see that as a compelling argument for those social welfare programs. You either ignore that difference or don’t find the improvement they brought to the lot of the elderly and disabled as a compelling argument for those programs.

  100. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Grewgills: I don’t like arguments that can be boiled down to “because other people have been irresponsible, we’re going to treat you as if you’re irresponsible too.” And that’s what your argument sounds like, to me. If I choose to do things that are more risky than you think I should do, you’re vetoing my right to do them. And I resent that. I am not the property of society, and I don’t want the government to act in loco parentis because 51% of the people think I’m doing something foolish and want to protect me from myself.

    How does your position handle the issue of tobacco? Shouldn’t it be just outright banned?

  101. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And that’s what your argument sounds like, to me.

    Then you are listening through an ideological filter and I can’t do much about that.
    Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, WIC, etc have done real measurable good for our society. The whole of the industrialized democratic world have decided that social welfare programs like those mentioned are a net good for society and none of them wants to end those programs. The debate, such as it is, is about the proper extent of those programs, not whether or not they are a proper exercise of government power. You appear to be in a decided minority on that front. Would you really prefer to live in a USA without those programs?

    Tobacco, like virtually all drugs, should be controlled and only available OTC to adults. Cities and states can decide where it is appropriate to imbibe.

  102. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I’m a big believer in caveat caveat emptor, and people making their own decisions. If idiots want to take those herbal and homeopathic products, then so be it.

    So, you can tell the difference between an herbal supplement, a homeopathic ‘remedy’, an actual pharmaceutical, and a deadly poison by… smell? Inspection? Psychic powers?

    People can only make their own decisions reliably when they have good information to work from. Without regulation, those pesky humans will lie about what’s in their snake oil. Since you clearly have no clue what things were like before the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, I suggest you do a little historical research. We’ve already seen what your preferred laissez-faire world looks like. Fortunately, courageous people fought long and hard so that we could be so far removed from that world that Libertarians almost sound reasonable.