The World’s Best Infrastructure (TM) here in Maskachusetts was unequal to a cold front passing through and therefore we, along with 200,000 other residents, lost power prior to the Vice Presidential debate. What did I miss?
Checking the transcript…
The very first question seems to rest on false premises.
Senator Harris, the coronavirus is not under control. Over the past week, Johns Hopkins reports that 39 states have had more COVID cases over the past seven days than in the week before. Nine states have set new records. Even if a vaccine is released soon, the next administration will face hard choices. What would a Biden administration do in January and February that a Trump administration wouldn’t do? Would you impose new lockdowns for businesses and schools in hotspots? A federal mandate to wear masks?
Yet we were informed months ago by the NYT that the federal government did not have the power to shut down or reopen a state, that only a state governor could do these things (and therefore nobody should listen to the Orange Man in the White House).
Harris’s very first response seems to be untrue: “The president said [coronavirus] was a hoax.” (AP: “In fact, Trump pronounced Democratic criticism of his pandemic response a hoax.”)
Harris says that the virus is airborne:
And here’s the thing, on January 28, the vice president and the president were informed about the nature of this pandemic. They were informed that it’s lethal in consequence, that it is airborne, that it will affect young people and that it would be contracted because it is airborne. And they knew what was happening, and they didn’t tell you.
If so, how could any politician or policy beat this virus? Unless each American retired to an individual bunker until a European or Asian pharma company developers a cure or vaccine, how would Americans have avoided an infection that is truly airborne? From a set of graphs of infections versus mask mandates:
This does not look like a chart of humans being in charge!
But I want the American people to know that from the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of Americans first. Before there were more than five cases in the United States, all people who had returned from China, President Donald Trump did what no other American president had ever done. And that was he suspended all travel from China, the second largest economy in the world. Now, Senator Joe Biden, Biden opposed that decision. He said it was xenophobic and hysterical, but I can tell you, having led the White House Coronavirus Task Force, that that decision alone by President Trump bought us invaluable time to stand up the greatest national mobilization since World War II. And I believe it’s saved hundreds of thousands of American lives. Because with that time we were able to reinvent testing. More than 115 million tests have been done to date
A buttload of tests were done at the White House, right? And everyone there got coronavirus. How have tests helped? Also, how does the Federal government get credit for “the greatest national mobilization since World War II”? Shouldn’t Zoom, AWS, Verizon, and Comcast get this credit? Who would have imagined that the Internet and these services could scale up to Americans sitting at home on video chat 50 hours/week?
More from Pence:
But when you say what the American people have done over these last eight months hasn’t worked, that’s a great disservice to the sacrifices the American people have made.
Is it obvious that the sacrifices that Americans have made have done anything more than prolong the epidemic? The death rate here is higher than in “give the finger to the virus” Sweden (COVID-19 deaths by country). Plus we have the millions of life-years lost to the shutdown (delayed health care, poverty, lack of education, long-term unemployment, alcoholism, drug addiction, depression/suicide, etc.). Trump was an early Church of Sweden adherent, until Americans desperate to cower in place rejected his advice to sweep up and move on. Now Pence and Trump will say that they crushed the virus?
Because the reality is that we’re going to have a vaccine, Senator, in record time, in unheard of time, in less than a year. We have five companies in phase three clinical trials. And we’re right now producing 10s of millions of doses.
My Russian IFR students say that their parents back in Russia have already had a COVID-19 vaccine (CNN). If the American vaccine is months or years later than the Russian one, how is that “record time”?
(Separately, when will the Russians give us a common cold vaccine? I have gone through enough Sudafed this month to start my own meth lab and enough other people are sick here in sanitized-and-masked Boston that the meth labs are converting their product back into Sudafed…)
Later in the debate, Pence noted that “China is to blame for the coronavirus.” I.e., maybe the U.S. can’t direct whom the virus infects, but the Chinese can. When does the virus get to be in control? (see also, the Chinese response to this idea)
We now know Donald Trump owes and is in debt for $400 million.
Can this be correct? Here in our electricity-free town, we provide sanctuary undocumented migrants who can afford a two-acre lot and a $1 million house to be constructed on said lot. If the final property is worth $2 million and there is a mortgage for $1 million, do we say “The virtuous migrant is in debt for $1 million” or “The virtuous migrant has accumulated assets of $1 million”? By Harris’s standards, nearly every commercial real estate developer and owner in the U.S. is insolvent.
Here’s a tough question!
Senator Harris, the Biden Harris campaign has proposed new programs to boost the economy and you would pay for that new spending by raising $4 trillion in taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations. Some economists warn that could curb entrepreneurial ventures that fuel growth and create jobs. Would raising taxes for the recovery at risk?
On day one, Joe Biden will repeal that tax bill. He’ll get rid of it. And what he’ll do with the money is invested in the American people. And through a plan that is about investing in infrastructure, something that Donald Trump said he would do. I remember hearing about some infrastructure week. I don’t think it ever happened. But Joe Biden will do that. He’ll invest in infrastructure. It’s about upgrading our roads and bridges, but also investing in clean energy and renewable energy.
Won’t all U.S. corporations then be acquired by Irish, English, Canadian, and Swedish companies so that the profits can be brought back to lower-tax jurisdictions? Any given basket of assets has to be worth more to an Irish conglomerate that pays 12.5 percent in tax than to a U.S. entity that will pay 45 percent federal and state corporate tax, right?
Also, if the U.S. is the world’s least efficient country in terms of building infrastructure (example: NYT), why does it make sense to take $trillions away from private investment and pour it into government-run projects?
Why do we need upgraded roads if Americans are going to be cowering in place for the next few decades (even if we beat coronavirus, there will be additional viruses right behind it, no? And Americans have generally developed an aversion to contagion that only hiding in a bunker can address)?
If you come from a family that makes less than $125,000, you’ll go to a public university for free.
So anyone who earns more than $125,000 and has college-age children will cut back on hours and/or try to push compensation into a four-year deferral program so as to earn exactly $124,999 per year? (See Fast-food economics in Massachusetts: Higher minimum wage leads to a shorter work week, not fewer people on welfare for how this has worked at the lower end of the American wage scale.) See also “Biden Affirms: “I Will Eliminate Your Student Debt”” (Forbes): “I’m going to eliminate your student debt if you come from a family [making less] than $125,000 and went to a public university.” and “Under his plan, Biden would forgive all undergraduate federal student loan debt for borrowers with annual incomes under $125,000 who attended public colleges and universities, as well as historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and private minority-serving institutions (MSIs).” (should everyone who owes on student loans and falls into these categories stop making payments now in hopes of relief in 2021? President Harris will forgive debt, not provide a refund for absurd amounts already paid, right?)
And Joe Biden wants to repeal all of the tariffs that President Trump put into effect to fight for American jobs and American workers
If we’re going to all sit on our butts at home while Europeans and Asians are back to work, why do we want tariffs? If U.S. manufacturing is effectively shut down by governors’ orders, what industry are we protecting from hard working foreigners?
Joe Biden will not raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $400,000 a year. He has been very clear about that. Joe Biden will not end fracking. He has been very clear about that.
But if corporate tax rates are cranked by up (except for Apple, Google, Facebook, and the other big Democrat donors who can stuff their money into Irish and Dutch sandwich structures that would once again start working), isn’t that essentially a tax increase on any U.S. resident who owns shares in U.S. corporations? (see Harvard professor Mankiw’s analysis of how an individual’s total tax rate depends also on corporate tax)
And why not end fracking? Aren’t we trying to be green?
You yourself said on multiple occasions when you were running for president that you would ban fracking. Joe Biden looked his supporter in the eye and pointed and said “I guarantee, I guarantee that we will abolish fossil fuels”.
(See also “World’s largest solar plant goes online in China”, selling power at about 5 cents/kWh for a capital investment of roughly what it costs to build a mile of subway track in New York City).
A bizarre question, about Pence’s religious beliefs:
This year we’ve seen record-setting hurricanes in the south. Another one, Hurricane Delta is now threatening the gulf. And we have seen record-setting wildfires in the West. Do you believe, as the scientific community has concluded, that man-made climate change has made wildfires bigger, hotter and more deadly? And it made hurricanes wetter, slower and more damaging?
What difference does it make what Pence believes? A person who believes that humans have changed the climate could still be unmotivated to do anything about it, e.g., saying “We’ll let the Chinese and German engineers deal with that in 50 years when technology is better” or “It’s a shame, but the U.S. is a shrinking percentage of the world economy, so India and China will be in control of this going forward.”
A remarkable argument about hurricane frequency ensues between the moderator, confident regarding “science” despite having no scientific education, and a politician with no scientific education. Eventually a second politician with no scientific education weighs in on climate modeling.
Harris on foreign policy:
Full post, including comments
So, you know Joe is – I love talking with Joe about a lot of these issues, and you know, Joe, I think, he said, quite well. He says, you know, ‘Foreign policy: it might sound complicated, but really it’s relationships there – just think about it as relationships. And so we know this, in our personal, professional relationships – you guys keep your word to your friends. Got to be loyal to your friends. People who have stood with you, got to stand with them. You got to know who your adversaries