Op-Ed: McIntosh on GOP Debate



Preview of CNBC’s GOP Debate: It’s the Economy, Stupid!


October 28, 2015

By David McIntosh

A record 20 million-plus watched each of the first two Republican debates. From Megyn Kelly’s now infamous question to Donald Trump about women, to immigration, national security and yes, even vaccines, there were plenty of issues discussed. Unfortunately, however, after almost six hours of debate, there has been very little discussion of the most pressing issue of this election: how to strengthen our nation’s economy and get it moving again.

The economy is barely growing and too many men and women are still without work. All across this country, people are worried about economic uncertainty and their financial futures. According to a Gallup poll earlier this month, Americans’ confidence in the economy remains down. Now, more than ever, we need strong pro-growth leadership on the economy.

The good news for economic conservatives is that the GOP presidential field is one of the strongest pro-growth fields in history, which is why at tonight’s CNBC debate in Colorado, the candidates must step forward and tell the country how they plan to right our nation’s financial ship and restore confidence in our foundering economy.

One way we can get this conversation started is for the moderators to ask each of the candidates the following question: What are two specific pro-growth policies that you will seek to enact within your first hundred days in office?

For some of the candidates, like Cruz, Paul and Rubio, this is a real opportunity to shine. These candidates are truly at the forefront of the Republican presidential field when it comes to issues of economic freedom. They have led on pro-growth issues at every opportunity in the Senate and have put forth bold tax reform plans.

Some of the other candidates’ records and positions, however, raise more questions and concerns about their commitment to pro-growth principles. To that end, I hope that during the course of the debate, we get some answers to these questions:

* Mr. Trump, you have a history of calling for the largest tax increase in U.S. history, of promoting higher corporate taxes to pay for government-run health care, of loudly advocating for sky-high tariffs that will act as a 25% – 35% sales tax on every family budget, and of using Obama-like rhetoric to claim that higher taxes should be imposed on those you deem worthy of such punishment. Please, explain how these long held positions would spur economic growth?

* Dr. Carson, many of your economic position statements are full of significant inconsistencies. You have criticized Obamacare, but promoted a de facto nationalization of private health insurers. You have also called for needed entitlement reform, and yet recommend a new government-run catastrophic care program. How do you reconcile these contradictions?

* Mr. Huckabee, during your time as governor of Arkansas, the overall tax burden increased by 47% and the net tax hike was $505 million. You also raised the minimum wage in Arkansas and flip-flopped on regulatory cap and trade. Why do you still defend raising taxes on hard-working Arkansans, and how large of a role would tax increases play in your economic policy as president?

*Governor Kasich, you vetoed the Ohio legislature’s effort to block Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, and now the projected cost of this expansion is more than double what your administration projected. Since Medicaid expansion was a key component of Obamacare, isn’t it duplicitous for you to call for Obamacare’s repeal?

* Governor Christie, after five years in office, New Jersey is still rated the worst business tax climate in the country. Why have you not been able to significantly improve the business tax climate in the Garden State?

This election is going to give economic conservatives an historic opportunity to elect a president who is committed to shrinking the size and scope of government, cutting taxes and spending, and reducing the regulatory burden on small businesses and families.

The candidates who stand for these principles must remind voters of their strong record and plans. For those who don’t, it is an opportunity to either change course or further regress. Either way, GOP primary voters deserve answers.

David McIntosh is President of the Club for Growth and a former Congressman from Indiana.