Friday, January 25, 2008

Some Thoughts on the Race Before the GOP Vote in Florida and the Dems in SC

First let's talk about Rudy. I saw a story early in the week on a Giuliani meet and greet gone bad. Ron Paul's people have been after Giuliani since at least July, when he was booed over his tax statements at a town hall meeting in Jacksonville, Florida.

Giuliani showed up at TooJay's Original Gourmet Deli in Palm Beach Gardens on Tuesday. Ron Paul supporters held up signs that made TV footage of Giuliani look like an ad for candidate Paul. Then when Rudy tried to take questions, the Ron Paul supporters started to chant "Ron Paul! Ron Paul!" It was so loud, according to the Associated Press, that "no one cold think, much less speak."

Could things get worse? Always, of course. Abortion protestor showed up. Giuliani has the most pro-choice position and history of any of the GOP candidates. Rudy gave up and left...

The NY Times endorsed McCain this week. The Times felt compelled to explain why it had not back Giuliani:
Why, as a New York-based paper, are we not backing Rudolph Giuliani? ... What about the man who stood fast on Sept. 11, when others, including President Bush, went AWOL?

That man is not running for president.

The real Mr. Giuliani, whom many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Racial polarization was as much a legacy of his tenure as the rebirth of Times Square.

Mr. Giuliani’s arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking....

The Rudolph Giuliani of 2008 first shamelessly turned the horror of 9/11 into a lucrative business, with a secret client list, then exploited his city’s and the country’s nightmare to promote his presidential campaign.
Ouch!If you're a Giuliani supporter, that's gotta hurt a little...

I saw bits and pieces of the GOP debate last night. Huckabee was asked a question about cutting taxes and made some interesting remarks on China....

Huckabee blew his own horn for a few moments about how great a governor of Arkansas he was on taxes. Then he changed the subject and discussed his perspective on the concerns of average Americans over the economy.

"...frankly, in talking about the stimulus package, one of the concerns that I have is that we'll probably end up borrowing this $150 billion from the Chinese. And when we get those rebate checks, most people are going to go out and buy stuff that's been imported from China. I have to wonder whose economy is going to be stimulated the most by the package."

meHuckabee suggested that a public works project to strengthen America's infrastructure would be money better spent. Of course, it wouldn't be spent as quickly (the point of a stimulus package).

"I'd like to suggest that maybe we add two lanes of highway from Bangor all the way to Miami on I-95. A third of the United States population lives within 100 miles of that... This nation's infrastructure is falling apart. And if we built those lanes of highways -- with American labor, American steel, American concrete -- I believe it would do more to stimulate the economy."

He called it "a long- term stimulus package that I think would have more impact on the American long-term future."

Huckabee's China statement sounds like he thinks there's something wrong with stimulating China's economy. If we manage to stimulate our own economy (which seems to be the goal) why do we care if someone else's economy happens to benefit, too, as a side effect? Globalization has made it hard to isolate the American economy from other economies, and I'm not sure why we want to.

As for borrowing money from China, China held $386 billion worth of US Treasury bonds in November (the last month for which figures are available); that's down from a high of about $420 billion in March of 2007. It's about 16% of our Treasury Bond debt held by other countries. So borrowing money (by selling Treasury Bond) is basically the way the Bush Administration is paying for things. Why should this be different?

Later Sen. McCain was asked a question about the economy. McCain said this:
We will clean up our act and we will regain the confidence of the American people as being careful stewards of our tax dollars, and we will fix this problem with having to borrow money from China, because then we will balance our budget...
What puzzles me is why no one mentions Japan. China may hold 16% of our Treasury Bonds, but Japan holds 25%. We owe Japan $194 billion more when those bonds come due than we owe China. Doesn't that make Japan the real problem?

The China discussion went on. Romney called China tough competition: "They're going to be a much tougher competition, China is, competitor, than we have seen from Europe in a long time."

Giuliani said that China was both an opportunity and a warning, but mostly an opportunity: "I think we have to look at the rise of China as a wonderful opportunity. I see 20 (million) or 30 million people coming out of poverty in China every year. To me, that's 20 (million) or 30 million more customers for the United States." Giuliani seemed to have the most developed and thought out policy on China. And the most positive.

On the Democratic side, John Edwards came out of the Democratic Debate in SC with a new constituency. He now leads "the grown-up wing of the Democratic Party," according to one news source. Clinton and Obama, in other words, acted like children...

Alaska's former senator, Mike Gravel, has returned to the campaign trail after beating something like the flu. Of the nine candidates still running in the two major parties, he's the only remaining candidate without at least a couple of delegates committed to him. Gravel has been out of the Senate since 1981 and now lives in Virginia. Senator Gravel is campaigning in Florida and doing his best to get Bush and Cheney impeached in his spare time.