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October, 30th 2007

Democratic debate Part III

– Liz Mair

It's the Social Security round, apparently. And Hillary's been caught out on some inconsistency, courtesy of an AP reporter.

Hillary says she wasn't being inconsistent, and she has a plan. By plan, she means loose principles and nothing specific on offer. But she's switched to talking about evil Republicans and privatization. Smart move, because she was clearly caught out here. BTW, talking Social Security is evidently entering the GOP's terrain (even though as Russert just pointed out, Bill Clinton conceded there was a problem with Social Security).

Obama's going to "Talk Straight." Kind of like "Straight Talk," but wimpier. Though he is correct that noting that there's a problem with Social Security is not buying into GOP talking points. I somehow doubt Hillary cares, though. Now he's trying to link it back to the politics-as-usual point, and how she's afraid of conceding that there's a problem because it might give Republicans an advantage, even if the problem needs to be dealt with. He's right, but I just don't see this as a winning issue for him. Democrats don't want Social Security touched, and Hillary's vagueness on the subject is offering them exactly what they want to hear, whereas Obama talking about lifting caps, and so on, is probably just going to freak people out.

Ooh, I think Hillary just called Obama a tax-hiker.

***

We're talking Obama/Osama confusion now. Fun, fun, fun. Obama has confidence in Americans' ability to see the truth when it's presented to them. Oh, really. Well, on the plus side, at least we're not in the UK, where something like 60% of teenagers think Conan the Barbarian was a real historical figure. I guess that helps some...

***

Now, we're talking fuel prices and stuff. Yawn. I'm afraid I just can't get excited here.

OK, Kucinich is doing the "we went into Iraq to steal their oil" thing. Well, at least it's marginally interesting. Ah-- he also mentioned impeachment! That's interesting. Brian Williams should ask Hillary what she thinks of that...

Richardson's spouting some numbers and stuff. They sound good, but as ever with the environment/energy, it's about how he'd achieve it, not the objective, and that's something he's not talking about, apart from referencing his "Apollo Program," which is great and all, but doesn't quite get to the point. Note: I suspect Richardson's program would in practice look rather free-market-friendly. But, still, the point is, he's not talking about how exactly he'd do what he's talking about doing.

Chris Dodd is right that people avoid using alternative fuels because they're expensive. But he's wrong that the way to solve that is with a carbon tax. Why not make fuels we like cheaper, instead of fuels we don't like more expensive? Silly...

Edwards is confused by whatever Brian Williams is asking, something about federal money for disaster relief. But his answer doesn't sound like a complete disaster. Of course, he's making an argument for less federal disaster aid, because charities and private individuals do a better job than government, but never mind. I like the "we didn't need a surge in Baghdad, we needed a surge in New Orleans" line. I'm not saying I agree with his point, but the line sounded good.

***

Hillary's getting asked about taxes. She's a great admirer of Chairman Mao-- I mean, Rangel. She doesn't like the AMT, everything needs to be fair and progressive, but she won't talk details. Yada yada. She and BIll are rich and people who are should pay more taxes. Oh, and Republicans care about rich people, not normal people. Right.

Note: Hillary also just talked about "freezing" the estate tax for married couples, like that's helpful to working families. Except that it is my understanding that "freezing" the estate tax would mean that the limit for no tax being payable would not rise with inflation, but stay static. That sounds like a situation that will eventually lead to more people paying taxes, not less. Hmmm...

It's hedge fund time, and Kucinich is talking. Voters are pissed at Democrats because they won't raise taxes on Wall Street, they won't end the war, and they won't properly socialize medicine, he says. Obviously. Oh, and getting publicly traded private equity partnerships to pay more taxes will result in more protection of smaller investors. Quite how, I don't know.

Edwards wants to hike taxes on hedge funds, too. Somehow, he's tied this to Blackwater, also. Clever. Ah-- it's because of lobbying. Will he bash Clinton again, then? No, Wal-Mart! Well, you knew it was going to happen at some point.

***

Quickfire round! They need to start booting anyone who gets the answer wrong off the stage. But how to assess that when asking about educational gaps between the US and Germany?

Richardson's glad we're talking education. He's running way over 30 seconds. Time for him to be beamed elsewhere.

Kucinich is talking statues and peace, and funding universal free kindergarten. He's run over, too, so he's outta here!

Obama wants more classroom time, and for the federal government to help pay. He also wants more math and science related jobs. He's run over time, too. Goodbye!

Hillary wants to help families prepare their kids for school. More nurse visitation. Whatever. She's over time, too. Bam, you're gone!

Edwards has two public school systems, in addition to two Americans. He's also over time. Boing!

Biden wants everyone to go to school more, and a minimum 16 years of education, plus more minority focus. And he was just in time-- so he gets to stay!

Dodd wants more federal government partnership or something, to deal with "accidental births" or somesuch. He was also within time, so it's down to Biden and Dodd!

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