Archive

Posts Tagged ‘debate’
February 26th, 2013 at 4:52 pm
The Shameful Behavior of the Senate, re: Hagel

As I write this, the Senate is voting on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. It is doing so without a single word of debate (other than a quick summation of his resume by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan). So, after voting two weeks ago to reject cloture on the nomination — a move by definition meaning that the opponents want more time for public debate — those same opponents now are not taking the opportunity to, you know, actually debate. No summary arguments will now be recorded for history about why so many found the nomination so troubling. No attempt will be made to lay before the public a full, well-organized, incisive explanation of what the stakes are. All that remains is the impression that senators two weeks ago threw a mere hissy fit, utterly pointless except to show that they could stomp their feet and whine if they darn well wanted to.

Opposing senators two weeks ago asked for more time to examine Hagel’s record. Plenty of new material has emerged since then, much of it serving to reinforce the earlier objections to the nomination. And plenty of other new material, even material intended for eventual release to the public, remains publicly unavailable for now specifically because Mr. Hagel refuses access to it. This, of course, raises questions about what else Mr. Hagel is hiding.

So, having demanded time for new material to emerge, and having seen new material emerge, why are the opponents now declining the opportunity to discuss those materials, and to review the old ones, for the public record, and to try to convince some of their colleagues to withdraw their support? By Senate rules, 30 hours of debate is allowed post-cloture. Cloture was invoked yesterday. Instead of 30 hours, though, the Senate used all of about three minutes, featuring only the aforementioned summary by Sen. Levin.

This is a disgrace. It would be a disgrace if the shoe were on the other foot and it was a Republican nominee who might have to wait a whole extra day or two before taking office. It is a disgrace because it is an abdication of the Senate’s responsibility to hold open debate for the sake of the public, whenever weighty issues are to be voted on.

Citizens should be sickened that we have been put through two more weeks of bother, all in the name of further debate, and then denied any serious debate at all.

No wonder the public so often remains in the dark about the real workings of, and reasoning behind the workings of, their elected Congress. No wonder the public holds Congress in such contempt. That’s what contemptuous behavior elicits — and today’s lack of debate was contemptuous indeed.

January 22nd, 2013 at 6:00 pm
Reid’s Filibuster Reform Gets It Half Right

The Hill is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is in the final stages of hammering out a filibuster reform package.  Here are the two biggest changes:

The agreement between Reid and McConnell is not expected to include the talking filibuster, which would require senators who want to block action on legislation to actually hold the floor and debate for hours on end.

In recent days, Reid has begun to focus on a proposal to tweak the filibuster rule by requiring the minority party to muster 41 votes to stall a bill or nominee. Under current rules, the responsibility is on the majority to round up 60 votes to end a filibuster.

I say half right because I favor a talking filibuster and making the minority party (in this case the Republicans) come up with the votes necessary to trigger a filibuster.  Putting people on the record isn’t comfortable, but it is required to make the distinctions between the parties – and their ideologies – more publicly apparent.

Moreover, citizens need to know the well-reasoned, well-researched arguments for and against a proposed policy.  Far from hurting the Republican minority, I think giving articulate conservatives like Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) an opportunity to make their case will help educate the public about important issues.  This in turn will spur a dialogue on the Right that will allow the movement to better understand itself so that it can better persuade the electorate.

October 17th, 2012 at 6:13 pm
Crowley’s Libya Gaffe Keeps Obama Missteps in the News

Robert Stacy McCain: “By highlighting the Libyan issue and adding a new element of controversy, however, Crowley inadvertently ensured that the administration’s failure in Benghazi will be the focus of post-debate news coverage — which is unlikely to improve Obama’s re-election chances.”

Indeed, every news site covering the presidential campaign has at least one entry mentioning the Libya story – none of it favorable to the Obama campaign.

And even though some are prone to think Mitt Romney missed his one great opportunity to skewer President Obama with the Libya debacle, Romney gets another chance.  The next and last debate is focused solely on foreign policy.

Wanna bet Mitt will be ready next time?

October 16th, 2012 at 6:01 pm
5 Points Romney Should Make in Tonight’s Debate

The Heritage Foundation tees up five issues that so far haven’t been mentioned in the Romney-Obama or Ryan-Biden matchups:

1)      Welfare Reform

2)      Trade

3)      Medicaid

4)      Federal Spending and Debt

5)      American-Produced Energy

Each of these is not only critical to American prosperity, but also conveniently is attached to a disastrous policy decision by the Obama Administration.

This summer Obama’s HHS gutted the work requirement for receiving welfare checks that was the hallmark of the mid-1990’s reform.

The President and his fellow liberals in Congress held hostage free trade agreements negotiated by the Bush Administration as a favor to labor unions, and in the process damaged our international standing.

Obamacare is scheduled to hit Medicaid doctors with a 19 percent pay cut starting in 2014.

This is the fourth consecutive year of $1 trillion budget deficits presided over by President Obama, and there is no indication the incumbent will do anything differently if reelected.

As for domestic energy production, Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline angered not only consumers paying high gasoline prices, but also the unionized labor that stood to benefit from short- and long-term job creation.

Mitt Romney should look for ways to insert these failures of leadership into his answers during tonight’s townhall debate with Barack Obama.  People need to be reminded that the President’s kneejerk liberalism is bankrupting the country.

October 12th, 2012 at 1:18 am
Ryan’s Best Line of the Night

“I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way.”

True and well delivered.  The crowd loved it too.

October 11th, 2012 at 8:30 pm
Moore: There’s Nothing Fair about Making Everyone Poor

Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal in an interview with the Daily Caller frames the tax debate in terms both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan should use when attacking President Barack Obama’s soak-the-rich economic policies:

“Fairness is a good principle but should not be put ahead of growth,” Moore said when discussing his new book, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?: The Truth about Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America.  “There’s nothing fair about making everyone poor.”

October 5th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
Obama Admin Hiding FHA’s Need for a $688 Million Bailout

Dan Murphy at National Review found another possible debating point for Mitt Romney:

Tucked away in President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal was a little-noticed provision telling Congress that it may need to provide $688 million to cover the FHA’s projected losses this fiscal year. Translation: The FHA will need a bailout for the first time in its 75-year history.

A short-term solution by the Department of Housing and Urban Development covered up FHA’s growing financial problem until mid-November, i.e. after the presidential election.

Mitt Romney should clue-in the American people on this failure before they vote.

October 4th, 2012 at 9:12 pm
AARP Tries to Get Distance from Obama

Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner flagged a disingenuous statement from the AARP after President Barack Obama’s disastrous debate performance last night:

President Obama invoked AARP to defend his health care law last night, prompting the influential group to release a statement telling him not to do that again.

“While we respect the rights of each campaign to make its case to voters, AARP has never consented to the use of its name by any candidate or political campaign,” the group posted in a statement. “AARP is a nonpartisan organization and we do not endorse political candidates nor coordinate with any candidate or political party.”

The statement is disingenuous because, as I argued in a recent column, AARP stands to gain $2.8 billion if ObamaCare is implemented; an event foreshadowed in an email from a top AARP executive to the White House in 2009 that said, “we will try to keep a little space between us” on health care because AARP’s “polling shows we are more influential when we are seen as independent, so we want to reinforce that positioning…The larger issue is how best to serve the cause.”

AARP already made its choice.  If it wants its money, the group must support its patron, no matter how unpopular he is becoming.

September 7th, 2012 at 2:17 pm
Ryan’s Democratic Stand-In on Challenges of Prepping Biden

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told Roll Call what the biggest challenge is while preparing Vice President Joe Biden to debate Paul Ryan:

“I sit next to Paul Ryan in the Budget Committee day in and day out,” he said on his preparation for the role.”So, I know how he presents the Republican case.

“He presents a plan that’s bad for the country with a smile, so I think the challenge is dealing with presentation of the plan, explaining why the plan is bad for the country,” he added.

With all due respect to Rep. Van Hollen, his biggest challenge is helping Joe Biden explain how ripping out more than $700 million from Medicare to pay for ObamaCare is a better policy than Ryan’s idea to convert future Medicare benefits into a fiscally sustainable premium support voucher.

It would take all of Bill Clinton’s rhetorical sleight-of-hand to pull off that feat.  Instead, Van Hollen is working with the gaffe-prone Biden.

Good luck overcoming that handicap, Congressman.  You’ll need it.

August 17th, 2012 at 8:27 am
Biden Gets Debating Partner, But Will It Help?

Politico reports that Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will play the part of Paul Ryan as Vice President Joe Biden prepares for his one and only debate with the Wisconsin Republican.

While Van Hollen – the politically savvy ranking Democrat on Ryan’s House Budget Committee – will no doubt do a fine job, I’m more than a bit surprised to learn that Biden even prepares for such things like a debate.  The good ole’ Joe we’ve come to know – “They’ll put ya’ll back in chains!” – just doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who thinks much before he speaks.

My guess is that won’t change even with all the time and money spent on coaches, policy briefs, and poll-tested responses.  Joe is who he is: an emotive liberal who shoots from the lip.  His advantage, of course, is that everyone has incredibly low expectations for him; especially now that he’s going up against Paul Ryan, the universally acclaimed number one intellectual public official in the Republican Party.

If Ryan hammers Biden or makes him look out of touch, well, we expect that.  But if Biden gets Ryan flustered or slides in a good line (even if it’s a non sequitur), then the media will declare him the upset winner.

My guess is that Ryan plays it straight and banks on Biden making an unforced error before confirming the widespread hunch that Biden is out of his depth.  Biden’s history makes that a safe bet.

July 10th, 2012 at 5:53 pm
Chart: Timing of VP Picks, 1980 – 2008

Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner posted an interesting chart showing the timing of vice presidential picks from 1980 to 2008.  Notice a trend?

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Except for John Kerry’s selection of John Edwards nearly three weeks before the 2004 Democratic Convention, all the others picks occurred within a week of or at the respective party’s convention.

As Klein notes, as of today we’re 7 weeks / 49 days away from the Republican Convention in Tampa, so it’s probably waaaaaay too early to expect Quin (Bobby Jindal) or Troy (Jon Kyl) to collect the CFIF office pool money.

For what it’s worth, I’d like a Romney-Christie ticket just to see Chris Christie go after Joe Biden during their debate, play the attack dog on the campaign trail, and land the rhetorical blows on the Obama Administration that Mitt Romney can’t seem to muster.

Of course, those reasons – coupled with Christie’s propensity to be baited into a confrontation – are probably the same reasons Romney won’t pick him.

But if history is any guide, there’s still time for Mitt to get warm to the idea.

January 17th, 2012 at 4:03 pm
Monday Night’s Debate

Troy, Ashton, Tim, Renee, Jeff…. any replies to this would be welcome. Anyway, here’s my take on last night’s debate, and the state of the race, from as neutral an analytical perspective as possible:

HUGE LOSER: Ron Paul finally marginalized himself irretrievably, especially in a pro-military state like South Carolina, with his lengthy diatribes basically positing that the Taliban weren’t all that bad and that bin Laden deserved a trial, or something like that. Plus, he wandered and meandered and sounded more shrill than usual. A horrible performance for him.

LOSER: Mitt Romney had his worst debate performance by far. He started okay and ended okay, both times in exchanges mainly with Gingrich, over the roles and behavior of Super PACs. But in between he was flustered, off his game, a bit stumbling, nervous-looking — and completely bumfuddled by Rick Santorum’s cross-examination about felon voting rights. Just when he had a chance to put the race away for good, he let others back in the game.

SLIGHTLY HELPED HIMSELF: Rick Perry has made himself almost irrelevant by his bad earlier debates and weak finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. Last night, though, he was on his game, even if his substance was, well, not really substantial. Michelle Bachmann would have blown him out the door for saying we should completely eliminate foreign aid, because of course some of that aid actually “buys” for us essential things like cooperation on intelligence, plus military bases, etcetera. What he said about Turkey being virtually a terrorist state was absurdly overstated. But he played very well to whatever purely populist voting bloc is out there, and he did a great job blasting the Obama administration on its “war” on South Carolina over voter ID laws. Overall, if Perry had done this well in the first 10 debates, he might not be dominating, but he would still be very much in the mix in the polls.

BRAVURA LEMONADE-MAKING FROM LEMONS: Rick Santorum only got one question that actually played into his “wheelhouse,” as the expression goes. Almost every time he was given a chance to talk, it was on a subject that wouldn’t ordinarily play well for him. For that reason, he probably only helped himself a little more than he was hurt last night — but if he had not had his “A” game, it could have been a disaster. For instance, he was pressed on his truly wrongheaded vote years ago to automatically restore voting privileges (in federal elections only) to felons once they have fully satisfied all parole and probation requirements. On the merits, I think this is a horrible position. Most conservatives agree. Nothing should be automatic for some former felony inmates; full privileges should come only after careful review by a board convened for that purpose. On the other hand, Santorum always has had this subtext thing going of the Catholic social-gospel, people-can-be-redeemed-and-forgiven variety. It speaks well of him as a human being. This long-ago vote was his way of saying, hey, if you’ve fully paid your legal debt to society, you again become a full member of the society.

Conservatives don’t agree. Conservatives think some crimes are virtually unforgivable, and, moreover, that if they are to be forgiven, it should not be automatic, just by jumping through enough hoops with the passage of time. The good news is that such a proposal will never be politically popular enough to pass Congress, so people inclined toward Santorum but who don’t like this old vote of his shouldn’t worry about it being a serious effort.

But I digress. Somehow, Santorum actually won, big, in his exchange on the issue with Romney. Santorum correctly and effectively blasted the Romney super-PAC for falsely making it appear as if Santorum favors allowing current inmates to vote. Then he hit Romney from the right again (and from the standpoint of whether Romney is either courageous enough or competent enough) because Romney did nothing even to attempt to change Massachusetts law that allows felons to vote even before completing parole and probation. In short, Santorum turned a negative into a slight political positive overall, if only because the bigger impression wasn’t that he is a “squish” on felons, but that he is more honest, more thoughtful, more fair, and tougher than Mitt Romney. Santorum also gave really solid answers on gun rights and on the connection between marriage (or its lack) and poverty. If the debate had been a two-man affair between him and Romney, Santorum would have scored an enormous victory.

BIG WINNER, BUT WITH AN ASTERISK: Newt Gingrich’s performance was a perfect reverse-image of Romney’s. Whereas Romney did pretty well on the opening and closing questions but stumbled in the middle, Gingrich started and ended poorly but in the middle had what most pundits are calling the single best debate performance of this endless nomination season. I wonder, though, if it was a vote-winning performance. In an earlier debate, for instance, my wife astutely said that with detailed answers Rick Santorum was “winning minds without winning votes” (or as I put it, impressing without “connecting” with voters); here, I think Gingrich won visceral reactions without changing minds. Here’s the thing: by now, everybody expects some excellent debate moments from Gingrich. People know he can hit tee balls out of the park. But is that still enough to gain their allegiance? People have seen him all over the map on so many issues, and have seen him so desperate and mean about Bain and other anti-Romney jeremiads, that now they want to see something from him that touches their hearts, not just their viscera, and that tells them he can actually be a steady enough performer (not just an occasionally exciting or explosive one) in a full general-election campaign.

In that light, it struck me that Gingrich really didn’t look good, particularly at the beginning of the debate. He looked a bit pale; he looked grim; he looked particularly fat of body but oddly thin of face; and he didn’t look friendly. Indeed, I think he looked, overall, unappealing, unhealthy, and unlikeable. And even when he was destroying the premised of Juan Williams’ questions, there was a weirdly off-putting edge to him. He was too “hot” (as opposed to figuratively “cool”) for TV, in both tone and visage. It was almost as if he was making one last hurrah before another bomb, a big one, drops on him. It was as if he was in a particularly foul mood because he knows his goose is cooked, for some reason or another.

So, while I concur that Gingrich absolutely dominated the middle portions of debate, with effective and popular positions and explanations, I’m not sure if it will translate into major new poll support. Just a hunch. But it was a hell of a show.

January 4th, 2012 at 2:54 pm
GOP Debates Should Put Foreign Policy Front-and-Center

Quin brings up a fun topic about imagining possible vice presidential nominees, but it’s too early to speculate on who a current candidate should choose because it’s too early to know what each candidate needs in a VP selection.

Ordinarily, Veeps compensate for some perceived deficiency in the top of the ticket.  As a former Defense Secretary and congressman, Dick Cheney was the old Washington pro who could help Texas Governor George W. Bush avoid rookie mistakes.  Ronald Reagan picked the elder George Bush to placate the GOP establishment and unite the party’s money with its grassroots.  Bush later picked Dan Quayle to create a bridge to a younger generation.  Robert Dole and John McCain were grizzled senators who needed a jolt of enthusiasm to energize their campaigns – enter Jack Kemp and Sarah Palin.  In each case, the presidential nominee chose someone who clearly compensated for a perceived deficiency in his electoral popularity.  (Of course, you can judge how well these picks worked out by consulting the relevant year’s election returns.)

Tellingly, none of these Republican presidential nominees except George W. Bush picked a vice president as a surrogate for foreign policy.

So far, campaign 2012 has centered on jobs and the economy, as well it should.  Historically high unemployment and a liberal administration promising more taxes and spending cries out for an articulate defender of limited government and broad-based economic growth.  But domestic politics are only half the equation.  As every President learns, foreign policy is the real distinctive of the job.  It’s very likely that within the next month or two a major foreign policy crisis will remind GOP voters that they need a nominee who gets the free market and understands America’s need to maintain its place in the world as the only remaining superpower.

There are two Republican debates scheduled in New Hampshire before the state’s primary next Tuesday.  At least one should be devoted to foreign policy.  Conservatives – and the country – deserve to know who’s strong on foreign policy, and who needs to compensate with a strong vice presidential pick.

December 9th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
Perry, Bachmann Bow Out; Only Santorum and Newt at Debate with Trump

It is not necessary, but oh so fitting that the week ends with news that GOP presidential candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann will not be attending the December 27th debate “moderated” by Donald Trump in Des Moines, IA.  After a spirited exchange with Quin and Troy, I’m glad to see my musings about a Lincoln-Douglas style debate between Gingrich and Santorum taking a turn toward reality.  With other candidates Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Jon Huntsman already declining – and Herman Cain out of the race – that leaves Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich as the only participants in what could be a decisive event one week before Iowa Republicans caucus to pick a presidential nominee.

Perhaps the twists and turns in this wacky pre-primary season aren’t done just yet.  Next up: Santorum publicly challenging Newt to a one-on-one debate over the past, present, and future of America.  Something tells me it’s the kind of challenge a ‘world historical figure’ like Gingrich won’t pass up.

December 7th, 2011 at 1:08 pm
Santorum v. Newt, Thanks to Trump

Troy, your analysis of Santorum’s weaknesses as a debater is well taken.  You’re also correct to draw out the positive of having so many presidential debates: it allows second tier candidates to make a mark in the public’s consciousness with well-delivered messages whenever the moderator gives them 15 seconds to speak.  Unlike Gingrich and Cain (and arguably Huntsman), Santorum has not made the most of his limited opportunities at these forums.

But that might change with the growing boycott of Donald Trump’s Newsmax debate.  So far, only Gingrich and Santorum have confirmed their attendance at the debate on December 27th in Des Moines, IA.  With Huntsman, Ron Paul, and as of yesterday Mitt Romney (rightly) calling the Trump-as-moderator idea a distracting publicity stunt – and Michele Bachmann leaning towards declining the invitation because she correctly points out that Trump is considering a third party bid – it means that Rick Perry is the only major candidate yet to decide.  If he bows out, then the debate in Des Moines will feature a Newt v. Santorum one-off exactly one week before the Iowa caucuses.

Despite all his miscues in the debates so far, Santorum would be face-to-face with the current GOP frontrunner seven days before Iowa Republicans –  a state party dominated by grassroots conservatives – goes to the polls.  If this unique opportunity comes to pass and Santorum still can’t master the sound bite, he should demand a Lincoln-Douglas style debate with Newt on who has the most compelling conservative vision for America.  That means Trump would effectively become a timekeeper while arguably the two biggest conservative reformers of the 1990’s go at it to prove their base bona fides.  (And if Trump can’t handle not being the star of the show, this gives Newsmax an excellent reason to let him bow out.  Besides, his participation has already cost them ratings with the refusals of several big name candidates.  As a parting gift, they could let The Donald hock his new book during commercial breaks.)

Newt would relish the opportunity.  He has already debated Herman Cain one-on-one, and is set for a Lincoln-Douglas face-off with Huntsman.  Moreover, he said he would challenge President Barack Obama to an L-and-D format where each participant gets an extended period of time to speak and respond.  How could he refuse to engage in the same kind of debate with Santorum?

Both Santorum and Newt have thought seriously about the issues confronting the country, and this format would give them each the opportunity to demonstrate their seriousness to a national audience.  And, with the slow news cycle during the Christmas break providing the perfect opening for sustained attention to the debate before and after, the uniqueness of the event would no doubt increase viewership and water cooler talk.

It’s true that Santorum seemingly needs a miracle where all of the major candidates take themselves off the stage and allow him a one-time shot to prove to conservatives that he is a better Mr. Right than Newt Gingrich.  That seems to be happening with every new debate decline.

Thoughts?

September 13th, 2011 at 12:57 pm
Thoughts on Last Night’s Debate

In addition to agreeing with Jennifer Rubin, here, I have the following, ultra-summary, reactions to last night’s debate and the state of the GOP presidential nomination race:

Herman Cain: When he talks foreign policy, he seems completely lost. When he talks economics, he is wonderful. He’s also incredibly likable. If he doesn’t get the nomination, he should be Secretary of the Treasury. His combination of practical business experience and chairmanship of the Kansas City branch of the Federal Reserve gives him great qualifications for that position.

Michelle Bachmann: You gotta love her passion and principles. Not so much her knowledge. She is actually way out in right field to say that Romneycare is “unconstitutional.” It’s not — not at the state level. The problem isn’t that it violates the Constitution; the problem is that the individual mandate tramples on liberty and completely upends the American understanding of individual choice and personal responsibility — not to mention the practical drawbacks of Romneycare as a whole.

Newt Gingrich: He shines in most of the debates. But his personality, temperament, and philosophical benders are probably not suited to the presidency.

Jon Huntsman: Condescending, unctuous, and with a nasty streak. And unconservative to boot.

Rick Perry: As I wrote last night, the man had a very bad evening.  I saw multiple other analysts say the same. He needs to improve his game, and fast, or else he could enter Fred Thompson-ville. (I like Thompson, by the way; this is in terms of political trajectory, not personal candidate preference.)

Mitt Romney: Plastic.

Ron Paul: When he’s right, he’s really right. But when he’s wrong, he’s in outer space, in fact in another galaxy. He was hurt politically very badly last night by Rick Santorum’s apt criticism of Paul’s goofball statements relating to 9/11.

Rick Santorum: Okay, I’m a big Santorum fan. This is the third straight debate in which I am hardly alone among pundits in saying that he really was impressive. Isn’t it time people stop saying: “He did great; too bad he can’t win,” and instead start saying: “He did great; maybe he might have a chance to win”?

June 16th, 2011 at 4:38 pm
A Very Good Start for Michele Bachmann

Hats off to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) for putting together a string of impressive wins in her just-begun presidential campaign.  Hiring veteran campaign consultant Ed Rollins elevated her profile with the Beltway set, and announcing her candidacy live at Monday’s debate was the perfect complement to her strong performance.

Today, Bachmann’s campaign announced that Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund will be assisting with her biography set to be released in the fall.  Fund’s attachment to the project means that the book has substance, and with his addition it is guaranteed to have style.

One more bright spot for Team Bachmann: A new Rasmussen poll finds her approval ratings second only to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

And she’s only been a candidate for four days.

October 19th, 2010 at 1:33 pm
If Canada, New Zealand and Post-WWII America Could Do It, Why Not Us Now?

In another fascinating article from Reason Magazine, three policy experts explain how governments in Canada, New Zealand and post-WWII America slashed government spending and spurred economic growth.  Each expert highlights the strategies used to achieve the respective financial miracles, but one from Canada deserves special mention:

In assembling these cuts, (Canadian Finance Minister) Paul Martin didn’t follow the usual pattern of consulting interest groups one by one. Instead, he held four televised regional consultations in which various lobbyists, experts, and ordinary citizens contended with one another. Martin also spoke directly to the public about what was needed to turn Canada’s budget around. In October 1994, his Department of Finance published a report, A New Framework for Economic Policy, showing that in order to keep the ratio of debt to GDP from rising, government had to run a substantial surplus on its program budget—that is, have revenues significantly exceeding state expenditures.

Public debates used to be a spectator sport in the civilized world.  (Remember reading about the Lincoln-Douglas debates?)  If Republicans win back control of at least one house of Congress, it would behoove their leadership to find ways to nationalize spending issues with public debates.  And, if members of Congress are too afraid to step forward and defend principles, they should consider sponsoring debates featuring lobbyists, policy wonks and activists.

We all know who votes for whom.  Let’s get them in the same room, on camera and hear their pitch.