Thursday, September 22, 2011

That's (Republican) Debatable! With 12% More Players!

There’s another Republican debate tonight. If we ask nicely, perhaps T-Rav, Emperor of Sockpuppets, will do a play by play? If not, we’ll mock him mercilessly. Anyhoo, this debate will be in Florida, and given the outcry surrounding Rick Perry’s description of Social Security as a “Ponzi Scheme,” expect that to be a big issue. Also, welcome a new player! Here's what you need to know.

First, the race has turned into a two man race: Perry and Romney. The others are still technically in it, but the polls are beginning to coalesce around these two: Perry holds a 28% to 24% lead over Romney, with no one else in double digits. That’s not surprising, as that happens once front-runners emerge. What is surprising is that Romney is catching up. Perry's 11% lead is down to 4%.

More surprising, Tea Party people in South Carolina apparently are shifting away from Perry toward Romney. I think there are two primary reasons for this. First, Romney has done an effective job of defusing the RomneyCare issue. Whether his defense is true or not, he presented what sounds like a very credible distinction between RomneyCare and ObamaCare. That makes him less toxic, especially as he promises to repeal ObamaCare.

Secondly, Perry is suffering from an unending assault over cronyism -- and has yet to do a good job explaining this away. Cronyism is an issue that sticks in the craws of most Tea Party people. And with Warren Buffett, Solyndra and LightSquared dominating the right-wing blogosphere, cronyism remains a hot button issue. This hurts Perry, especially as no one has made a cronyism charge against Romney.

Does this mean Perry is finished? Hardly. It means Romney will be a stronger competitor than expected and rather than watching Perry run away with the nomination, either one can win this thing. Romney needs to pound away at the crony issue if he wants to win. Perry needs to disarm that issue and find a way to point out that Romney isn't really proposing conservatism.

The other candidates are probably done at this point unless Romney or Perry slips up and falls out. Alternatively, they need to find a way to shock everyone to such a degree they become “buzz-worthy.” Newt is planning to give the intellectual speech to end all speeches. . . but we’ll see. It’s hard to get traction when people assume you can’t win.

One guy who actually has an outside chance tonight is Gary Johnson. He’s the libertarian-leaning former governor of New Mexico. He will be allowed to participate because he cleared the 1% hurdle in the polls (McCotter didn’t). If he comes across as a sane version of Ron Paul or simply as a genuine conservative, he could literally surge into the race as voters still don’t seem happy with Perry or Romney.

The other issue that is hurting Perry is his description of Social Security as a Ponzi Scheme. It is a Ponzi Scheme, but you can’t say that. Even Mitch Daniels, who is known for being truthful and breaking bad news to the public, described this as “too truthful.” A Ponzi Scheme (named after Charles Ponzi) is a fraud that takes the form of an investment that promises each investor more money than they put in, but which doesn’t earn enough money to pay what it promises. So long as enough new people get suckered in, the fraudster is able to pay what he promised to those already in the investment. But once the flow of new people slows, the whole thing collapses.

That’s exactly how Social Security works -- it pays people more than they paid in and it makes no money on its own. That was fine for decades, but when the baby boomers didn’t have enough kids, they triggered its collapse. Now we face a series of bad choices: cut the promised benefits, raise taxes, add more taxpaying workers (i.e. immigration), or let the system collapse. Unfortunately, voters are unwilling to accept any pain in finding a solution to this pending disaster. That hurts anyone who raises this issue, i.e. Perry.

But the real problem for Perry came when he proposed handing Social Security off to the states. Not only does this set off alarm bells for people who think they are going to get their benefits cut, but it sounds like an accounting gimmick that will crush state budgets. Romney is already pounding away at Perry on it. Indeed, Romney has asked Perry six questions, including how a state-run program would be administered or funded and how people could move from state to state under his plan. Look for this to come up a lot tonight (as the average age in Florida is 107).

Finally, I suspect you'll hear a lot about Israel as well, with Obama making such a mess of it, with Rick Perry using that issue to discuss foreign policy, and with Florida being heavily Jewish. Also, expect Perry to play to Hispanics tonight, who dominate parts of Florida. Perry did a fundraiser with Hispanic businessmen this week and is actively courting them. Other than that, expect a LOT of Bernanke bashing after he broke the stock market yesterday.

Bring your popcorn!

41 comments:

T-Rav said...

You know, I was really thinking of maybe watching "The Office" season premiere tonight, maybe one or two of the other new shows that are on, but noooooo....Apparently just because you do something 17 or 18 times, that means you have to do it again. ;-)

More seriously, some of y'all should join in and help out on this. The more the merrier, after all.

DUQ said...

T-Rav, Thanks for doing it! I'll see if I can show up.

AndrewPrice said...

Morning everyone.... sorry I'm late to the e-office. ;-)

T-Rav, That's exactly correct, do something 17-18 times and you are trapped doing it forever! Mwoo ha ha ha!

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Thanks! Let me also echo T-Rav's comment that everyone join us. It will be fun.

LawHawkRFD said...

Perry needs to explain, briefly and succinctly, what a Ponzi scheme is, since he (and you) are correct that it is a Ponzi scheme. First, we always used to call them pyramid schemes, and the Social Security pyramid is now upside down. It works until the number coming in at the bottom of the scheme are too few to produce enough money for the number at the top.

Second, he needs to point out that those who retired on Social Security were supposed to get more than they put in, because that's what would have happened in a legitimate investment plan. Who's going to invest in a plan that only gives you back just the money you put in?

If a private investment manager "borrows" the investment money to pay for all his other ventures and personal needs, he goes to jail (Bernie Madoff, anyone?). If the government does it, it's called Social Security. Social Security needs to become a legitimate private investment plan for future generations or Americans need to start breeding, now, at about twice the rate of the generation which produced the baby boom. There is no third alternative. In the meantime, the gummint needs to hire the head of the only pyramid scheme that ever actually worked for an extended period of time--Amway. LOL

Putting the states in charge of Social Security would simply transfer the funds from one profligate government to fifty profligate governments. It's easier to hit a single target with many shots than to hit fifty targets with one shot. It won't work. And that doesn't even address the issue of how it could be accomplished with a highly-mobile population that likes to move from state to state.

Though I had at least six candidates on the top of my list ahead of the current field (one dropped out, another simply will not run), I am beginning to get the sense that Perry is a tyro (whom I would support if he won the nomination), and Romney will probably pull ahead. Perry will have to score a bases-loaded home run tonight, or he's likely to lose his front-runner position.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Good points. Maybe we should hire the head of Amway! LOL!

I think Perry does need to explain all of this if he wants to succeed. If he doesn't, then he's going to scare people and that's bad for a candidate.

I think it's hard to say if Perry or Romney really is in the lead here, but I am starting to think you're right that Romney is looking like the likely candidate right now.

Ed said...

Gary Johnson? Never heard of him. Are you going to profile him?

BevfromNYC said...

I am on a plane right now and so far no snakes (bah-dum-bum). I will try to watch tonight. So far I've been able to get away with just T-Rav's sock puppet commentary (sounds like a great name for blog!!)

DUQ said...

Bev, No snakes! LOL! Do you see Samuel L. Jackson anywhere?

T-Rav said...

So apparently Darrell Issa, for reasons I haven't checked up on yet, has endorsed Romney for the presidency.

.....

T-Rav said...

Oh, and thanks for the compliments, folks. I've got a busy afternoon lined up, but I'll be back in plenty of time for the fireworks (unless my computer blows up or something).

StanH said...

Sadly right now it’s “ABO” (anybody but Obama) real inspiration for these candidates has not set in. Perry’s ad against Barry as President Zero was great, and got me excited a bit. I still would like Palin to get in for the freak out factor, and how to box liberal ears.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Yeah, I'll put something together on him for next week. The little I've seen on him is pretty good, but I haven't looked too closely because he seemed to be pretty irrelevant.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, LOL! That does sound like a great blog name! Don't tell T-Rav though, we don't want him breaking off to do his own thing!

Snakes on a plane! LOL! I should have reviewed that this week. Instead, I'm reviewing Piranha. Blech!!

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, If you see Samuel L. anywhere, you should always run for your life!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Issa huh? Hmm. He's pretty solid when it comes to conservatism. Did he give any particular reason?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, You're welcome! Thanks for doing the recaps. We enjoy your (and your sockpuppets') commentary.

We might even roll out a special open thread tonight! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, ABO is right. I would vote for Satan right now just to be rid of Obama. Heck, I'd even consider Carter an upgrade!

I agree about Perry's ad -- I liked that a lot.

Here's the link: President Zero.

It's worth your time.

Ed said...

You ain't kidding when you said Bernake broke the stock market. Have you looked at that thing today?

Ed said...

Also, Andrew, are you saying Gary Johnson has a chance to win this? Or do you just mean to do well?

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, It's a disaster. It started yesterday and keeps right on going. There's one stock I track which is down close to 18% in two days.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, On Johnson.... I think what he has is undetermined potential. In other words, whereas someone like Cain or Newt has hit their upper limits this time, Johnson is an unknown. So if he comes in and really knocks it out of the park, he will get a first look from people without the prejudice of being considered "incapable of winning."

That means, IMO, he could get momentum, which can lead to him ending up in contention.

That said... it's pretty long odds. He would need to really amaze people tonight. I don't know if he can do that or not -- I don't know enough about him. But the advantage he has is that he's the new guy and people haven't written him off yet.

That's what I mean.

T-Rav, Creator of Sock Puppet Commentary said...

You've inspired me, Bev! I shall take my show on the road (maybe).

Andrew, I just skimmed it; it seems to me like it's a "he's got the best chances and is not as big of a RINO as some people think" thing going on. I don't know if that was his thinking exactly, or if so why, but either way that's bound to pad his numbers a bit more. Groan.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Wait! Don't go... we'll name tonight's open thread after you! :)

I hope Issa knows something the rest of us don't. I'd hate to see him pick Romney just because he's electable because we really do need to think past just getting rid of Obama.

Tennessee Jed said...

One other thing that hurt Perry, I think, was the "miniature dream act" thing he did. There are some defenses of what he did, but I do think Bachmann, in particular, got the soundbite in the last debate.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's a good point. Perry could be also be losing support because of his stance on illegal immigration.

AndrewPrice said...

Update: Here's some interesting news. Thaddeus McCotter has dropped out of the race and has endorsed Romney.

Hmm.

rlaWTX said...

on electability:
[1] after the primaries run their course and the convention nominates an R for President, the nominee will be EVERYWHERE - no more "who?"

[2] most middle & right folks are feeling "ABO" so the nominee has a built in base that may not seem apparent now.

[3] given those 2 points, I think this cycle needs to be a lot more about principles and less about generic R candidates...

Go, Cain!

rlaWTX said...

And I think that McCotter is a bit odder than I originally did - last week, I "unliked" his campaign on facebook. Too many "poor me, they won't let me play" posts...

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I agree with you 100% that we need to find the right candidate and not just ABO. We need to think ahead to how the person we elect will fix the country. We don't want to win the White House and find out we sent someone who is a watered-down Obama.

On electability, I agree with you 100% there as well. Whoever we choose will get instant name recognition, so that should not be an issue for not-choosing someone.

Cain would be a great choice. :)

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Yeah, it seemed a little whiny after awhile. I understand why he's upset and I think it's been unfair that he's been kept out, but it's still never good for candidates to play the victim card. People expect a real leader to overcome adversity, not whine about it.... like Obama does.

I still like him, but it was a bad strategy.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, you don't have to do that, you can just send me some aspirin. I've got a headache after grading papers, and McCotter's withdrawl and endorsement of Romney is making it worse.

(thump) (thump)

AndrewPrice said...

Too late T-Rav, it's named after you! LOL!

I'll send you some e-aspirin. :)

Ed said...

I'm surprised McCotter endorsed Romney, especially this quickly.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Yeah, I wouldn't have expected it. I haven't seen the reasoning yet, but I'll let you know if I see anything.

CrisD said...

I'm in. :D

Patti said...

andrew: i'll be on the floor with my spasy back yelling at the tv. wish me luck.

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, Excellent! It's coming up soon. Let's hope this is another good debate tonight.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, LOL! I can hear you now! :)

I hope your back gets better soon!

T-Rav said...

How Romney is stacking up these endorsements, I don't know. There's an interesting article from the Washington Examiner, on why Romney won't repeal ObamaCare. The writer's reasoning boils down to this: 1) Romney's entire record has been built on appealing to the don't-rock-the-boat crowd; 2) This means he won't do anything which requires burning through a significant amount of political capital; 3) Repealing ObamaCare would require such an expenditure of political capital, therefore 4) Romney won't repeal ObamaCare. I'm not so sure about point 3, but it's worth bearing in mind.

http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/why-i-doubt-romney-would-repeal-obamacare

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, In truth, I don't think the President will have much to do with repealing it except signing the bill -- if it can get through the Senate. So I'm not worried about that. What worries me is that everything he's suggested sounds like Democrat-lite.

I'm trying to keep an open mind and remember that he was the governor of Mass, so it's hard for him to be a true conservative in office. But I am concerned that he's not showing any sense of true fiscal discipline.

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