The last debate for the Democrats

Looking at “The 4th Democratic debate transcript”

Clinton: We have to get the economy working and incomes rising for everyone, … We need a president who can do all aspects of the job.

We will have a planned economy.

Sanders: ordinary Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, 47 million people living in poverty, and almost all of the new income and wealth going to the top one percent.

If voters aren’t angry enough about this, the government can let in another 10 million immigrants and tweak the “poverty” definition so that an advocate for higher taxes can talk about the “100 million people living in poverty.” (Actually that does raise the question of why, if life in America without rich parents is an intolerable grind, there are any migrants who want to come to the U.S. Did Tashfeen Malik come here because she thought that Bernie Sanders was going to get elected and redistribute wealth to her? Why wouldn’t all migrants seek to stay in their home countries and/or Europe?)

Sanders: And then, to make a bad situation worse, we have a corrupt campaign finance system where millionaires and billionaires are spending extraordinary amounts of money to buy elections.

How well did being backed by rich people work for Mitt Romney in 2012? Are the Koch brothers more powerful than the average American voter’s desire to be taken care of by the Great Father in Washington? Have they picked our next president yet? According to “Koch Brothers Officially Back Carly Fiorina” it would seem that we will all soon have to buy Compaq-brand PCs.

O’Malley: Eight years ago, you brought forward a new leader in Barack Obama to save our country from the second Great Depression. And that’s what he’s done. Our country’s doing better, we’re creating jobs again. But in order to make good on the promise of equal opportunity and equal justice under the law, and we have urgent work to do

It is great that we were sent a savior. But how come, after seven years of being saved, we still have “urgent work to do”? We were able to win World War II in four years. From the latest AOPA Pilot: “Of the 294,000 aircraft built in the United States for the war, 21,583 were lost domestically during test flights, ferrying, training, et cetera, and 43,581 were lost en route to and during theater operations. Most surplus aircraft were destroyed for their aluminum, but some were sold to civilians. Airworthy P–51 Mustangs sold for less than $1,000.”

Sanders: … we should have health care for every man, woman, and child as a right that we should raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour; that we have got to create millions of decent- paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

We are years into Obamacare, spend nearly 20 percent of GDP on health care, and don’t already have health care for Americans? There are going to be millions of currently unemployed people rebuilding our infrastructure? Who wants to be the first to drive over a bridge that has been built by the Obamacorps (folks who spent 99 weeks playing Xbox)?

Clinton: I would work quickly to present to the Congress my plans for creating more good jobs in manufacturing, infrastructure, clean and renewable energy, raising the minimum wage, and guaranteeing, finally, equal pay for women’s work. … decreasing the out-of-pocket costs by putting a cap on prescription drug costs; by looking for ways that we can put the prescription drug business and the health insurance company business on a more stable platform that doesn’t take too much money out of the pockets of hard-working Americans.

The Citizens for a Planned Economy will support this! Hillary’s ministry of wages will set the fair salary for every woman in America (maybe they can use the federally mandated child support guidelines as the starting point). And the federal government will also allocate revenue to favored companies in the health insurance and pharma industries.

Clinton: And third, I would be working, in every way that I knew, to bring our country together.

Except for the Republicans, whom she hates, because they are staging a “concerted assault on voting rights, on women’s rights, on gay rights, on civil rights, on workers rights.” (a little farther down in the transcript)

O’Malley: I would lay out an agenda to make wages go up again for all Americans, rather than down. Equal pay for equal work, … raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour

“I too can find wise ministers to run a centrally planned economy.”

O’Malley: we need a new agenda for America’s cities. We have not had a new agenda for America’s cities since Jimmy Carter. … that will invest in CBVG transportation,

Okay, what is “CBVG”? And why can’t state governments make agendas for cities within their states? Should there be the same agenda for Honolulu, Hawaii and Bangor, Maine?

Sanders: I stood up to the gun lobby and came out and maintained the position that in this country we should not be selling military style assault weapons.

So Americans will be able to buy an AK-47 but it has to be pink with polka dots?

Sanders: I have supported from day one and instant background check to make certain that people who should have guns do not have guns. And that includes people of criminal backgrounds, people who are mentally unstable.

I’m not a gun expert, but does all of this paperwork make a difference? Didn’t Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik acquire guns through a friend (latimes)? And wouldn’t they have passed most background checks in any event?

Clinton: He voted to let guns go onto the Amtrak

How else are you going to shoot yourself when you’re stuck for what seems like an eternity on an Acela train crawling feebly between Boston and New York? (Regrettably it seems that the bill Sanders supported was for guns in checked bags, so you wouldn’t have access to your beloved gun while Amtrak was making you miserable.)

Clinton: He voted for immunity from gunmakers and sellers which the NRA said, “was the most important piece of gun legislation in 20 years. “

If it were possible to sue gun manufacturers for damages following shooting deaths, wouldn’t all guns then be made offshore and imported by LLCs that were dissolved every year or two?

O’Malley: I’m the one candidate on this stage that actually brought people together to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation. This is very personal to me being from Baltimore. … It was because we were burying over 300 young, poor black men every single year … I drove our incarceration rate down to 20-year lows, and drove violent crime down to 30-year lows

The New York Times just ran an article showing that O’Malley was so successful that Baltimore is now slightly safer than El Salvador and Honduras. There were 344 homicides in 2015 and 93 percent of the victims were black.

O’Malley: I’ve never met a self respecting deer hunter that needed an AR-15 to down a deer.

Spoken like a man who has never planted a rhododendron or tulip…

Clinton: Well, sadly it’s reality, and it has been heartbreaking, and incredibly outraging to see the constant stories of young men like Walter Scott,

Supposed the court system and prison industry in life; supporting Hillary in death.

Clinton: One out of three African American men may well end up going to prison.

Sanders: We have a criminal justice system which is broken. Who in America is satisfied that we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth, including China?

But our federally-mandated child support system requires that we put a lot of these guys in prison (see “Post-Divorce Child Support Collection”).

Clinton: I took on the health insurance industry back in the ’90s, and I didn’t quit until we got the children’s health insurance program that ensures eight million kids.

She took on the industry and ultimately gave them 8 million new customers, whose premiums are paid for by tax dollars? Can she please also take on my industry?

Clinton: We finally have a path to universal health care. We have accomplished so much already.

Sanders: … we have to deal with is the fact that 29 million people still have no health insurance.

We have moved from an expensive system in which tens of millions of Americans were uninsured to a crazy expensive system in which tens of millions of Americans are uninsured.

Sanders: We’re not going to tear up the Affordable Care Act. I helped write it. But we are going to move on top of that to a Medicaid-for- all system.

If I get free health care under Bernie’s Medicaid-for-all why would I want to buy additional insurance through (And I hope that we’re not all getting Medicaid because with Bernie’s higher taxes we will all readily qualify for this poverty-relief program!)

Sanders: The real issue is that in area after area, raising the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour. The American people want it. Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, creating 13 million jobs, the American people want it. The pay equity for women, the American people want it. Demanding that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes. The American people want it.

The most accurate statement in the debate!

Sanders: I do believe we have to deal with the fundamental issues of a handful of billionaires who control economic and political life of this country.

How do we explain the loss of Mitt Romney then? The imposition of the Obamacare surtax on investment income? Is it that the billionaires have such sophisticated tax avoidance strategies that they didn’t mind President Obama and his higher tax rates? Billionaires care about tax rates in Bermuda, Ireland, and the Netherlands, but not the U.S.?

Clinton: I know how much young people value their independence, their autonomy, and their rights.

… so the central planners in Washington will set their wages, tell them that they don’t have the right to refrain from buying overpriced health insurance, etc.

Clinton: he’s criticized President Obama for taking donations from Wall Street, and President Obama has led our country out of the great recession.

Obama gets credit for the U.S. economy’s dead cat bounce! What would have happened if Mitt Romney had been elected? Every business in the U.S. would have had to go Chapter 7 with the assets sold to Mexican, Canadian, and Chinese firms?

Sanders: The leader of Goldman Sachs is a billionaire who comes to Congress and tells us we should cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

And yet these programs grow every year. This is not one of the billionaires who, according to Bernie, controls the U.S. economy then? The Goldman billionaire is one of the powerless billionaires that Congress ignores?

Sanders: We do that by doing away with the absurd loophole that now allows major profitable corporations to stash their money in the Cayman Islands, and not in some years, pay a nickel in taxes.

“I don’t want there to be any major profitable corporations that are headquartered in the U.S.”

Sanders: I pay for it through a tax on Wall Street speculation.

“I want all of the trading to happen in some other country where there is no tax.”

Clinton: I’m the only candidate standing here tonight who has said I will not raise taxes on the middle class. I want to raise incomes, not taxes, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that the wealthy pay for debt free tuition, for child care, for paid family leave.

Her Central Ministry of Wages will be setting incomes, so the promise to raise incomes is credible. We will make high-income people work longer hours, and therefore have fewer children, to transfer money to child care and family leave so that we encourage low-income people to have more children. Thus eventually nearly everyone in the U.S. will be descended from a low-income family. (See “The Son Also Rises: Policy Implications” for how this is the opposite of what you would do if the goal were higher future wealth.)

Clinton: To help us bring down student debt we’re going to refinance that student debt, saving kids thousands of dollars.

One thing that we proved in the housing market of 1992-2007 was that it doesn’t matter how much something costs as long as you can refinance it.

O’Malley: if we tax earnings from investments on money — namely capital gains — at the same rate as we tax sweat and hard work and toil, we can make the investments we need to make to make our country better.

So, adding in state tax, we will have a capital gains rate of about 45 percent while some of our OECD competitors will be at 0 percent. Let’s invest in start-up incubator space in Switzerland and Korea (both at 0)!

O’Malley: on this stage tonight, this Democratic stage, where we actually believe in science.

“Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” is presumably not included among the scientific results in which O’Malley believes.

O’Malley: President Obama made us more energy independent

Our Great Father in Washington invented fracking back in 1947.

Sanders: the fact that we’ve managed to reach an agreement, something that I’ve very strongly supported that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon

There is no way that the Iranians will be smarter than us and figure out how to make a nuclear weapon despite the pieces of paper that have been signed.

Clinton on ISIS: I have a three point plan that does not include American Ground forces. It includes the United States leading an air coalition which is what we’re doing, supporting fighters on the ground; the Iraqi Army which is beginning to show more ability, the Sunni fighters that we are now helping to reconstitute and Kurdish on both sides of the border. I think we also have try to disrupt their supply chain of foreign fighters and foreign money and we do have to contest them in online space.

The stuff that has been failing for the past few years will start working as soon as she is elected.

Clinton on the Arab and Muslim world: the United States had a very big interest in trying to help stabilize the region.

Why did we encourage groups in various countries to overthrow their governments then?

Moderator: we’ve been hit in this country by home-grown terrorists, from Chattanooga to San Bernardino, the recent shooting of a police officer in Philadelphia. How are you going to fight the lone wolves here, Senator Sanders?

Clinton: We need to be reaching out and unifying our country against terrorist attacks and lone wolves, and working with Muslim Americans.

O’Malley: if Donald Trump wants to start a registry in our country of people by faith, he can start with me, and I will sign up as one who is totally opposed to his fascist appeals that wants to vilify American Muslims.

Sanders: I agree with what the secretary said, and what Governor O’Malley said.

Clinton is going to reach out to Americans who think that terrorist attacks on fellow Americans are a good idea and change their minds. She will try to find Muslim Americans to work with (on what?) but may have trouble because there will be no registry (which apparently was a journalist’s idea, not Trump’s).

O’Malley: We haven’t discussed the shameful treatment that the people of Puerto Rico, our fellow Americans, are getting treated with by these hedge funds that are working them over.

Don’t lend money to a state or local government in the U.S.!

O’Malley: We haven’t discussed the fact that in our hemisphere we have the danger of nation-state failures because of drug traffickers; and Honduras, and Guatemala and El Salvador.

Why are they failures if their murder rate isn’t that different from Baltimore’s?

Clinton: I spent a lot of time last week being outraged by what’s happening in Flint, Michigan and I think every single American should be outraged. We’ve had a city in the United States of America where the population which is poor in many ways and majority African American has been drinking and bathing in lead contaminated water. And the governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care.

Americans who vote for Republican governors, like the guy in Michigan, will be poisoned. In any event, only the Great Father in Washington can ensure that we have safe water. (Wikipedia says that “the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality insisted the water was safe to drink” and “Flint water officials filed papers with state regulators” that turned out to be false, so we cannot have faith in local and state bureaucrats. The mayor who decided to switch the water supply is a Democrat.)

Sanders: Well, Secretary Clinton was right and what I did which I think is also right, is demanded the resignation of governor. A man who acts that irresponsibly should not stay in power.

Sanders will get rid of this governor, but leave in place the federal and state bureaucrats who staged a quiet slow-motion war of memos about the Flint water supply for the last year or so? (see “EPA stayed silent on Flint’s tainted water”) Maybe he wants to keep the bureaucrats because they will be supervising the millions of people to be hired under his infrastructure rebuilding program?

Sanders: what we’ve got to do is create a political revolution which revitalizes American democracy; which brings millions of young people and working people into the political process.

With the $15/hour minimum wage, these groups will be disjoint.

Summary of what the three candidates said: Despite being led by one of the greatest human beings who ever lived, American government today is incompetent, unable to deliver functional infrastructure, safe water, desired foreign policy results (even with countries in Central America), or health care to citizens. Branches of the government may be unable to pay their debts (Puerto Rico). What we need to do is give this incompetent government a larger percentage of the GDP to allocate. We should also task this government with setting wages for both government and what was formerly known as “private sector” jobs.

Readers: I didn’t watch the debate itself. What did you notice if you saw the video version?

8 thoughts on “The last debate for the Democrats

  1. I would never have been able to tolerate the debate without running away screaming in horror, and it looks like I would not even have been able to tolerate reading the transcript, so thank you for your brave sacrifice. Now that you have summarized it I am reassured that none of them has the ability to connect what they say with reality at all, so that if Trump is the GOP nominee his Democratic opponent will be squashed like a bug.

    By the way the reason such chattering imbeciles can reach this level is that the press does not play the herd-culling role it does for Republicans by seizing not only on every silly thing they say, but on every sensible thing they say that was said slightly sub-optimally so it can be twisted into something bad. This guarantees that if there are any Republicans who can debate and speak at a major league level, one will be nominated, while the Democrats frequently put up stiffs who can’t make sense.

  2. You have done the world a service by writing this commentary.

    I watched some of it and I noticed that there seemed to be a laugh track. O’Malley would say “What about my 30 minutes? Can I have 30 minutes too? What about me?” with the demeanor of a child asking politely for his ice cream. And then the audience would laugh. And the camera would pan to his smiling face.

    There were a lot of smiling faces, forced smiles everywhere on the stage. Except Bernie, he actually looks like he doesn’t force anything, he might actually believe the things he’s saying.

  3. In person, Clinton is the weakest “can’t lose” candidate ever. Buckle up for four more years of the last eight years, wearing a pantsuit.

  4. A few details on the Flint water system: the mayor that signed on the change to a different water system was effectively a figurehead after his first day in office. The city was in bankruptcy, and a (Republican backed) emergency manager took full control of all city finances – still in effect today.

    Also, the change was to Lake Huron water thru a new pipeline, that is supposed to be completed later this year. But once the Detroit water system heard they were signed up with a different water system, they gave them about six months to get off Detroit water. The result of that was the unexpected switch to Flint river water.

    The original plan to switch to a different regional system might have been a good idea. Supposed to save maybe $10 million per year. But now the unconditioned water has spread lead throughout the pipes, sounds like they expect to spend $100+ million to replace many city water system pipes (maybe even a $billion? now that is a Federal emergency and more Fed $$$ comes in).

    (thanks for the run down on the debate – sitting in a Flint hospital ER was apparently a better use of my time than watching it)

  5. Regarding this:

    Sanders: We’re not going to tear up the Affordable Care Act. I helped write it. But we are going to move on top of that to a Medicaid-for- all system

    There’s probably an error in the transcript. Senator Sanders has stated that he wants to implement Medicare for every American. The words “Medicare for all” are right on When he said that he wouldn’t tear up the Affordable Care Act, he means to say that he won’t take insurance away from those who have received it because of the Affordable Care Act. You have to read between the lines there.

    By the way, it’s possible that Medicare is the most popular institution in American life.

    Your references to a planned economy are interesting. There are a number of American industries which have benefited enormously from federal planning. Interestingly, two of them are software and aviation. It appears that you’ve been able to achieve quite a high standard of living working in those two industries. Perhaps extending planning to more industries would allow more Americans to also earn very high incomes.

  6. A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of standing on the escalator by Jason Kottke

    The London Underground recently conducted an experiment on one of the escalators leading out of the busy Holborn station. Instead of letting people walk up the left side of the escalator, they asked them to stand on both sides.

    The theory, if counterintuitive, is also pretty compelling. Think about it. It’s all very well keeping one side of the escalator clear for people in a rush, but in stations with long, steep walkways, only a small proportion are likely to be willing to climb. In lots of places, with short escalators or minimal congestion, this doesn’t much matter. But a 2002 study of escalator capacity on the Underground found that on machines such as those at Holborn, with a vertical height of 24 metres, only 40% would even contemplate it. By encouraging their preference, TfL effectively halves the capacity of the escalator in question, and creates significantly more crowding below, slowing everyone down. When you allow for the typical demands for a halo of personal space that persist in even the most disinhibited of commuters — a phenomenon described by crowd control guru Dr John J Fruin as “the human ellipse”, which means that they are largely unwilling to stand with someone directly adjacent to them or on the first step in front or behind — the theoretical capacity of the escalator halves again. Surely it was worth trying to haul back a bit of that wasted space.

    Leaving aside “the human ellipse” for now,1 how did the theory work in the real life trial? The stand-only escalator moved more than 25% more people than usual:

    But the preliminary evidence is clear: however much some people were annoyed, Lau’s hunch was right. It worked. Through their own observations and the data they gathered, Harrison and her team found strong evidence to back their case. An escalator that carried 12,745 customers between 8.30 and 9.30am in a normal week, for example, carried 16,220 when it was designated standing only. That didn’t match Stoneman’s theoretical numbers: it exceeded them.

    But not everyone liked being asked to stand for the common good:

    “This is a charter for the lame and lazy!” said one. “I know how to use a bloody escalator!” said another. The pilot was “terrible”, “loopy,” “crap”, “ridiculous”, and a “very bad idea”; in a one-hour session, 18 people called it “stupid”. A customer who was asked to stand still replied by giving the member of staff in question the finger. One man, determined to stride to the top come what may, pushed a child to one side. “Can’t you let us walk if we want to?” asked another. “This isn’t Russia!”

    There’s a lesson in income inequality here somewhere…1

    What a phrase! Check out Fruin’s chapter on Designing for Pedestrians for more.↩

    Ok, explicitly: the people standing are poor, the people walking are rich, and speed is income. When the walkers redistribute some of their speed to the whole group, on average everyone gets to where they’re going faster. But the walkers are unwilling to give up walking because they believe their own individual speed will prevail. “This isn’t Russia!” indeed.↩

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