GOP Candidates Trade Barbs at Debate

Last night eight GOP candidates took the stage in Simi Valley California in the 5th debate of the primary process. Eyes were on Governor Rick Perry as he made his debate debut on the national stage and the sparks did fly.

Right out of the gate he took a shot at Mitt Romney over job creation, pointing out that Massachuesetts under Romney was ranked 47th in that category. Romney defended himself by saying that while Texas had a favorable business climate and a strong Repubilcan Party, Massachusetts is a Democratic stronghold. Perry shot back by saying “Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt.” Romney responded by saying that that the two previous Texas governors created more jobs than Perry. Then former ambassador and governor of Utah Jon Huntsman joined the “I created more jobs than you” bandwagon by pointing out that while he was governor his state was number one in job creation.

Perry then took on a third rail of American politics, Social Security. He railed against anyone who told the younger generations that Social Security as is would be there when they retired, saying “You cannot keep the status quo in place and call it anything other than a Ponzi Scheme.” Romney shot back saying that unlike what Perry wrote in his recent book, Fed Up!, Social Security is by no means a faliure.  Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner writes that the tussle is “likely to play into the hands of Perry in the Republican primaries, because right now the base wants somebody who is willing to shake things up and challenge the status quo.” Over at Reason Magazine they have a pretty interesting outline of of the Ponzi analogy and they go further by saying that in fact “Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. It is much worse.” Meanwhile Michael Gerson of the Washington Post says that Romney came off better, writing “Perry often seemed awkward, nervous and programmed” and “on several questions, he left an impression of policy shallowness.”


If you watched the debate, who do you think won? If not, how has the media response shaped your view of the candidates?

Who do you think has the better record on job creation? Utah was number one under Jon Huntsman, Massachusetts had a low unemployment rate under Romney, and Texas under Perry has created by some estimates over a third of the net jobs since the official end of the recession. Can each candidate even take credit for jobs created by their states? Can the government really “create” jobs?

The third rail runs parallel to train tracks and provides electricity to the train. It carries enough current to kill anyone who touches it and thus is a good analogy for an issue that is politically hazardous for elected officials. What consequences do you think Rick Perry will suffer as a result of touching perhaps the  most perilous third rail of American politics?  Is Social Security a Ponzi scheme or worse as suggested by Perry and Reason? How can Social Security be changed, if at all, so that it can continue to provide for retirees in the future?

Posted by Max Viscio


Philip Klein-

Reason Magazine-

Michael Gerson-

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