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October, 9th 2007

The debate continues

– Liz Mair

I actually liked the way Fred handled that comeback to Hunter. He's right to say that China is a didgy dealer, but he's also right to say that nixing free trade is the wrong way to handle the issue.

I am liking Brownback's talk about the optional flat tax. Brownback himself is rather uninspiring, but this is a good idea in terms of giving people a choice that, if taken, will no doubt propel us towards serious tax reform. I'm glad to see he immediately whipped out the name of one program he would cut-- my guess is, most of them couldn't do that if put on the spot. Still not a Brownback fan, but he's got some good ideas.

Tancredo may be crazy, but I'm glad he's pushing us onto talking about Medicare and Social Security. He's stumbling over his words, though, and sounds a bit dopey.

***

Oh crap, Chris Matthews is trying to force Giuliani to take a swipe at Romney. So far, he's just talking up his own record.

Romney has been forced to say that Rudy believes in cutting taxes. He's back to bashing Rudy on the line-item veto and is bashing him over the commuter tax. He won't come out and actually say he's better on fiscal issues, though (because he's not, and the Club for Growth agrees).

Giuliani just pulled out the hammer on Romney: spending under Romney went up, under Giuliani, it went down. His explanation on the line-item veto is falling a little flat. He's saying Romney raised taxes (which he did).

Romney's disagreeing, and is forced to revert to the line-item veto (my assessment: he can't talk about taxes, because he knows Rudy's right). He's also just said he doesn't think that a line-item veto is unconstitutional if not enshrined in the constitution. I'm not convinced, and I think Rudy's right to raise the issue of process. Rudy's also cut the discussion off with an excellent line about a Republican presidential candidate who has actually beaten Bill Clinton.

***

How is this turning into a fight between Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter? Who the hell is even paying serious attention to Duncan Hunter anymore? Why is one of the front runners being pushed to engage him?

McCain really just mentioned people making money off of E-bay. On the plus side, I don't think (unlike when, I think it was, Dick Cheney mentioned it) that he was saying that like it's something cool that means big diversification of the economy, which we should all be happy about. Nonetheless, it's weird. I love that McCain just talked about bear studies, though.

And Tancredo's bashing McCain on immigration. How novel.

***

Romney won't say he's a Bush Republican. Neither would I. But I'm not trying to appeal to the voters Romney's trying to appeal to (you know, the defense hawk, socon, supposed fiscal-conservative-prone-to-MBA-candidates types who liked Bush). Oh, and suddenly, our trade agreements actually suck. This guy will say anything, to anyone...

Yay! Rudy hits the Dems on trade. Will this resonate? I have no idea. It does with me, possibly not with many other people. But I do like the entrepreneurial spirit point. And I agree about the point about Dubai owning bits of NASDAQ. Thanks Ron Paul for reinforcing it.

McCain just took a real swipe at the guys who are dubious about free trade and China. I liked it.

Again, with Romney, what is with all this "we're going to make sure America gets a fair shake in trade agreements" stuff? It sounds a lot like he's trying to covertly imply that at present, we're not getting a fair shake. That's not exactly what he's been saying to economic policy groups previously, from what I've seen.

My friend tells me that Romney on trade is not nearly as big a deal as I think it is. So I'll drop it. But I will be curious if anyone else thinks his slight rhetorical shift matters.

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