econ debate

When you take the 9-9-9 plan, and you turn it upside-down, I think the devil’s in the details.
—  Michele Bachmann, making it clear the 9-9-9 plan is a bit too tax-heavy for her. She’s said in the past she ideologically believes in no taxes whatsoever, though she conceded that wasn’t realistic. This remark actually drew a slightly peculiar reaction from the crowd; suffice to say it didn’t go over like she wanted.

When asked whether soaring levels of income disparity in America are acceptible, Rick Perry steamed right past and stuck with an anti-Obama message, saying that the President is the number one impediment to getting the economy back on track. Rick Santorum chimed in subsequently, talking about the “breakdown” of the family (he actually slipped gay marriage into it, too), but in terms of specifics on the question, it’s clear income disparity wasn’t something either man much wanted to discuss in moral terms.

i don’t think the federal government should be involved in that type of investment, period.
—  Rick Perry, speaking on Solyndra, the solar technology company which received a government loan guarantee of over $500 million before filing for bankruptcy. He explained that he doesn’t have a problem with states leveraging its funds to try to spark innovation and hiring, however, and that’s a good thing — Perry has been proactive in pushing for certain industry subsidies within Texas.

Mitt Romney remains the front-runner. No surprises there.

I think Herman Cain is a flash in the pan–he was confident and remained on message all night, but pretty soon that message is going to sound flat and one-dimensional.

Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum both had strong points, but neither of them are very likely to gain much ground after tonight’s performance. I think both of them sense that they can beat Romney on the substance, but tonight’s format didn’t present much opportunity for either candidate to directly engage him for any sustained period of time.

Rick Perry continues to disappoint. He appears increasingly out of his depth.

With the exception of his answers about the Federal Reserve, Ron Paul was barely noticeable.

Michele Bachmann was even more unmemorable, though she did rip on Herman Cain’s “9-9-9 Plan” (“When you take the 9-9-9 plan and turn it upside down, I think the devil is in the details.”). 

And I’m becoming increasingly convinced that Newt Gingrich doesn’t really want to be President. He just wants to regain some level of cultural importance. 

The reason for giving a tax break to middle income Americans is that middle income Americans have been most hurt by the Obama economy.
—  Mitt Romney, responding to Newt Gingrich’s criticism that his economic plan sets a lower income threshold for a capital gains tax cut than President Obama supports. This response is indicative of the long-view game Romney has played in the last couple debates; in seeing a stable position as the GOP frontrunner, Romney realizes he can dabble in middle-class rhetoric to try to stay viable as a general election candidate.

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman went back and forth a bit on health care, with Huntsman believing that a system of waivers for individual states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act was insufficient. Mitt Romney’s position? “I think we all agree on "repeal and replace,” and I’m proud to have presented a plan for what to replace it with.“ When challenged by Huntsman, Romney again stressed that repeal is indeed his intention.