2012 Tuesday: For one night, at least, a return to the most urgent topic at hand

When Republican candidates take the debate stage tomorrow night after their longest hiatus since August — and, my, how fast three weeks can go by — it may come as a surprise to see anyone other than Herman Cain standing there. Stories about sexual-harassment allegations against Cain have been taking up most of the oxygen in the campaign since the first report appeared Oct. 30, and the other candidates have taken advantage of their competitor’s troubles to stay mostly out of the spotlight.

Let’s hope they’ve used the time to prepare for the debate, because the topic is paramount for the election: “jobs, taxes, the deficit and the health of our national economy,” according to CNBC, which will become the fifth network in two months to broadcast a GOP debate. (Erin McPike reports that high ratings have driven the frequency of debates, which I suppose is a good sign of an engaged electorate.)

While Cain has drawn the public’s attention, other contenders have been picking their shots. Mitt Romney gave a speech about spending and entitlement reform that was a bit bolder than his earlier efforts on fiscal policy. Rick Perry has been trying to hone his message on jobs, taxes and the economy. Newt Gingrich joined Cain for an amiable discussion of entitlements and government spending before a friendly audience. Michele Bachmann tried to elbow her way back into the thick of things by declaring some Republicans are nothing but “frugal socialists.”

One thing that’s been clear about this race is that the candidates have competing ideas about how to bring the budget deficit under control. There is much daylight between just about any pairing of them when it comes to Medicare and Social Security. Their tax-reform plans vary widely. Republican voters will want to choose the one whose plan offers promise both in terms of policy and politics, in the eventual match-up with President Obama.

Other questions — yes, I’m referring back to Cain — will still get more than their fair share of attention. But if the other candidates haven’t used this relatively quiet period to sharpen up for a debate on the most important topic in next year’s election, it will be very disappointing.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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73 comments Add your comment

Jefferson

November 8th, 2011
11:34 am

SS is no more an entitlement than your paycheck is.

Road Scholar

November 8th, 2011
11:48 am

Let’s ask all the candidates what they are going to do to address this country’s very apparent lack of ethics! From Wall Street to ATL public schoolsto to……

Swami Dave

November 8th, 2011
11:48 am

Anyone who can do math and recognize that Social Security recipients collect much more than they have ever paid into the system (even if interest were included) can see that it is an entitlement.

The federal government itself defines it as a “pay-as-you-go” system that pays current benefits with the taxes collected from current workers.

For it to be as much “an entitlement as your paycheck is”, your employer would have to pay you based on work that someone else performed!

-SD

@@

November 8th, 2011
11:51 am

While watching the Gingrich/McCain debate, I was mildly perturbed with Gingrich, but then I thought…Cain participated willingly. He’s a grown man, fully capable of making his own decisions.

I see an alliance beginning to form. Gingrich, with his vast knowledge and legislative experience. Cain with his business experience and connection to the voters. A mutual respect between two men with different but not opposing talents.

I LIKE IT!!!!

@@

November 8th, 2011
11:51 am

Oops! Not McCAIN…CAIN!!!!

Aquagirl

November 8th, 2011
12:02 pm

I LIKE IT!!!!

Great news! They’re all yours, honey….the upgraded suite is ready when you are.

Tea Party Hobbit

November 8th, 2011
12:08 pm

@@, I’d love to see Newt become chief of staff for Herman Cain, or whoever becomes the candidate. Couldn’t do better…

St Simons - we're on Island time

November 8th, 2011
12:20 pm

Just dropped by to let you walmart & hank jr republicans know, you’re still not invited to the yacht club this weekend, or evah, but Biff & Muffy thank you for your misguided vote anyway. You can let yourself out thru the service entrance, don’t get on the carpet.

Bart Abel

November 8th, 2011
12:25 pm

RE: “One thing that’s been clear about this race is that the candidates have competing ideas about how to bring the budget deficit under control.”
————————————————————————–
To be clear, the Republican presidential candidates have ideas that they claim would bring the budget deficit under control. However, their ideas are just variations of the trickle-down economics theme (tax cuts primarily benefiting the rich, welfare for the well-connected, crony capitalism) that would likely continue to grow the deficits, as demonstrated whenever and wherever implemented over the last several decades.

Swami Dave

November 8th, 2011
12:31 pm

Wow……

It truly is amazing that the self-appointed liberals know so much better what segments of the electorate with whom they disagree should do than those free individuals do for themselves. Lacking the ability to justify or convince those “others” (whom they self-righteously self-determine to be smarter than and better than), they choose insults that give clear voice to their real views and perceptions.

I suppose that it is frustrating when so many Americans do not support your political theology based solely on envy, deceit, and theft.

-SD

Jack

November 8th, 2011
12:35 pm

Any topic at all is welcome if it takes the Occupy people off the front page.

@@

November 8th, 2011
12:36 pm

Aquagirl:

…the upgraded suite is ready when you are.

The difference between me and bimbos like Bialek? I would never allow a man to arrange my accomodations.

Neutral territory of my choosing. It’s common sense.

Jimmy62

November 8th, 2011
12:57 pm

Jefferson: I get paid what my employer considers my work worth, whereas SS recipients get more than they ever paid in (unless of course they die early, like black people tend to do, making SS a massive transfer of wealth from black to white and from young to old). That you consider those the same thing tells me all I need to know about the liberal mindset in America.

Aquagirl

November 8th, 2011
1:18 pm

The difference between me and bimbos like Bialek? I would never allow a man to arrange my accomodations.(sic)

Gee, I let my husband book hotels, but then I’ve been known to wear skirts that expose my ankles. Sorry you’re so uptight.

Jefferson

November 8th, 2011
1:33 pm

J62, you are wrong,bud.

GT

November 8th, 2011
1:35 pm

Newt should travel with pasty looking people to make his look healthier. He has figured this out in his mental company.

redneckbluedog

November 8th, 2011
1:59 pm

Jefferson
November 8th, 2011
11:34 am
SS is no more an entitlement than your paycheck is.
—————————————————————————–
Especially if you are a government contractor…If you want to vote yourself out of a job for the sake of the TEA party, go ahead…..but even Republicans are starting to think that maybe we’re not TEA…..Especially when those trigger cuts start hitting those “FAT CAT” defense and energy contractors like Halliburton, Bechtel, Boeing, and Lockheed…..

UGA 1999

November 8th, 2011
2:11 pm

Redneck…..”SS is no more an entitlement than your paycheck is”……thank you for showing us all your ignorance…THANK YOU!

Allen

November 8th, 2011
2:31 pm

Since the debate where all the candidates rejected a deficit reduction package with a 10:1 ratio of spending cuts to new revenues, I can’t see how they have any credibility left on these issues.

UGA 1999

November 8th, 2011
2:36 pm

Allen….you are right Democrats have no credibility on the issue….thanks.

jconservative

November 8th, 2011
2:46 pm

There are several economic problems, not just the deficit.

How do we get 14 million unemployed back to work in a global economy where technology demands fewer employees per production task and where 95% of the world’s consumers live outside the US?

UGA 1999

November 8th, 2011
2:51 pm

Jconservative…that is easy. Place a tariff on all goods produced outside the united states that come into our country. Force companies to move the jobs back home.

Karl Marx

November 8th, 2011
3:24 pm

Dear Swami,

First please get a basic understanding of what a Defined Benefit plan is. Then you can study ESIRA Act of 1974 and tell us what the impact was on Labor in the US. Now please don’t forget all employers always tell their employees that the money they put into Social Security is “Part of their compensation” package while at the same time they tell the Federal Government how they can’t afford to pay in any longer. I wonder if it is part of “My Compensation” why are they whining about it. Last and let me make this clear this “Entitlement” is really and “Obligation”. You see no one was given a choice to choose their own plan and now you want to renege on your Obligation. Typical, so typical…. Remember businesses don’t pay taxes, businesses collects taxes.

carlosgvv

November 8th, 2011
3:25 pm

The media is like a pack of starving Hyneas chasing a meat wagon when it comes to Cain and his sexual-harrasment problems. Things like jobs, the defecit and healthcare problems take a back seat to steamy tabloid issues. Cain’s opponents, naturally, will follow the lead of the press and ignore the important issues as long as possible. This is the dumbed down American way.

UGA 1999

November 8th, 2011
3:28 pm

Karl…this is why it should be privatized…..

Chuck Doberman

November 8th, 2011
3:34 pm

Actually all of their tax plans have one glaring aspect in common; they all approach from the supply-side thinking, they’ll all decrease taxes on the wealthy and huge businesses and they’ll all pay for it on the backs of those who are already suffering and have little more to give. That basically covers every plan from every GOP candidate… more of the same BS policy that went a long ways toward putting us in the hole we’re in now. Deflect, deny, poutrage… whatever… that’s what they’re offering and the economy will just get worse. They should actually call them their “Advocating Occupy Wallstreet” policies cuz that movement will grow to epic proportion if we elect another “trickle down” master as president

Gimme Gimme Gimme

November 8th, 2011
3:34 pm

Every paycheck has a deduction for SS. Every year the SS administration sends me a statement of my anticipated retirement paycheck.

You can’t screw people who pay into a system for 45+ years.

UGA 1999

November 8th, 2011
3:36 pm

Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie…….yes you can and yes they will…..

Chuck Doberman

November 8th, 2011
3:37 pm

Dang it, Aquagirl is married??!! I liked her for her mind too… tho that green outfit is flatout HOT too

Gimme Gimme Gimme

November 8th, 2011
3:41 pm

St. Simons island is about the whitest place (94.29%) on earth, do you visit Brunswick so you can occasionally see a minority? It is funny you are a Liberal because I am not sure Obama would be let through the gate.

UGA 1999

November 8th, 2011
3:47 pm

Gimmie….hey what is the crime rate in St. Simons?

@@

November 8th, 2011
3:52 pm

Aquagirl:

I was referring to the professional world. You say it’s your ?husband? that books the room?

Just methin’ witcha.

Laquisha

November 8th, 2011
3:59 pm

People have been worrying that Social Security would go broke before they could retire for as long as I can remember, back to the early 1950s.

The system just has to be tweaked every few years to keep it actuarially sound. The easiest fix is to gradually increase the qualifying age to reflect longer lifespaans. The next easiest is to restrict eligibility to the people the system was intended to benefit – retirees, survivors, and the truly disabled, because right now a lot of able bodied people who just don’t want to work are getting checks.

DW

November 8th, 2011
4:01 pm

I love that Aquagirl is always the smartest girl in the room

@@

November 8th, 2011
4:09 pm

I love that Aquagirl is always the smartest girl in the room

Don’t you just!

schnirt

md

November 8th, 2011
4:49 pm

“Place a tariff on all goods produced outside the united states that come into our country. Force companies to move the jobs back home.”

Which would lead to equal tariffs on outbound goods……..now what?

I don’t think isolationism is the answer, but in a global economy where the average worker is willing to work for fractions of what we do, it doesn’t look promising.

And a side note for those in favor of tariffs…….it is us that have created the problem…….take a look around you………more foreign goods than domestic…….

The answer is to quit buying the cheap crap brought in and it won’t be brought in anymore.

Pot meet Kettle

November 8th, 2011
4:52 pm

UGA 1999 …”that is easy. Place a tariff on all goods produced outside the united states that come into our country. Force companies to move the jobs back home.”

……thank you for showing us all your ignorance…THANK YOU!

Swede Atlanta

November 8th, 2011
4:53 pm

Laquisha @ 3:59

I am all for maintaining a strong and robust Social Security system. But I’m not sure who you think are getting Social Security benefits other than retirees, survivors and the disabled? You have to qualify to get benefits.

A gradual rise in the retirement age makes sense as well as lifting the cap on wages subject to the FICA tax. I’m not suggesting you lift it completely but from its current position of around $106,000 I believe say to $200,000. That would bring in a significant amount of additional funding into the program.

Jefferson

November 8th, 2011
5:01 pm

Lift the cap, raise the rate .5%. Just because you live longer don’t mean you can work (as effectively) longer. Bennie is calced on top 35 years, that’s enough.

It is an obligation for the gov’t to pay, they collected the payroll taxes.

Don’t be fooled by the greedy.

md

November 8th, 2011
5:05 pm

If SS is supposed to be pay to play, what is all this talk about raising the cap? Raising the cap without raising the back end cap is merely a call for a tax……..at least be honest about it.

JDW

November 8th, 2011
5:12 pm

Well I am going to make Kyle happy here, lifting the cap on earnings subject to SS is a bad idea. The reason SS makes sense is that it should be an investment, you pay in and get benefits. Given the benefit scale, that works for people that have incomes of around the cap or less. Once you get over the cap that investment benefit argument goes away because SS is never going to pay a fair return to someone making $250K plus.

I am all for increasing the retirement age or adjusting the tax rate by 1/2 percent or so, maybe even raising the cap by 5% or 10% but doing away with the cap is a bad idea.

JDW

November 8th, 2011
5:19 pm

BTW Kyle, about time for another health care topic…

“Health care law held constitutional in latest appeals court ruling”
http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/08/us/health-care-ruling/?hpt=hp_t2

For those keeping score at the Appeals Court level the current tally is 3 to 1 in favor.

As an aside to that, I just spent two days with 180 salespeople from one of the largest healthcare technology providers chatting about their sales challenges. As you might expect the current reform bill was a constant topic. The interesting thing was the overwhelming opinion of the bill was that it is 80% positive…the thing that is causing them grief is the uncertainty that the bill will stay in force.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

November 8th, 2011
5:21 pm

I’ll be so happy when the preliminaries are over and we get down to the business of kicking Obozo the Klown out of our White House.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

November 8th, 2011
5:24 pm

“the overwhelming opinion of the bill was that it is 80% positive”
—————-

So an industry gets the federal government to mandate that people buy their product, and the sales people are HAPPY about that?

Big surprise, Captain Obvious.

Obozo: Fascist crony-capitalist. Emphasis on the cronyism.

retired early

November 8th, 2011
5:25 pm

These GOP “debates” could replace “Saturday Night Live” for pure entertainment. Maybe they could do a series…call it “jokers wild”.

JDW

November 8th, 2011
5:36 pm

@LBB…”So an industry gets the federal government to mandate that people buy their product, and the sales people are HAPPY about that?”

READ Goofball…technology providers talking about their customers i.e. hospitals and doctors.

JDW

November 8th, 2011
5:37 pm

@LBB…”I’ll be so happy when the preliminaries are over and we get down to the business of kicking Obozo the Klown out of our White House.”

PS…probably not happening…read the latest polls?

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

November 8th, 2011
5:51 pm

“technology providers talking about their customers i.e. hospitals and doctors”
—————

Same thing. Using the power of government to force people to purchase products (even if indirectly).

Obozo: Fascist crony-capitalist. Emphasis on “crony”.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

November 8th, 2011
5:52 pm

“read the latest polls?”
—————-

Yep, the latest polls put a whole bunch of conservative Republicans in the House and Senate.

Americans will finish the job in November 2012.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

November 8th, 2011
5:59 pm

(Newsroom America) — A new Gallup survey found that self-described conservatives outnumber self-described liberals 42 percent to 21 percent respectively, while 37 percent labeled themselves as moderate politically.

Who would want to be thought of as a lib?

ewwwwww