The Most Important Issues This Year Are Apparently Trump’s Tax Returns and the War on Coal

Below are my reactions to things that stood out to me in the VP debate:

PENCE: …a war on coal…

That’s some pretty specific pandering.

Kaine: It is so painful to suggest that we go back to think about these days where an African-American could not be a citizen of the United States.

What?

KAINE: She worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.

PENCE: Eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program?

KAINE: Absolutely, without firing a shot.

We don’t know that “absolutely;” the Parchin facility appears to be subject to looser “self-” inspection rules than the others, but is also subject to a rabbit-hole of paranoid rumors. Iran has also, in the past, concealed the existence of facilities altogether (side note: I feel pretty sorry for the Institute for Science and International Security (“ISIS”). They chose the wrong acronym).

“Probably” or “maybe” would be a much more accurate word than “absolutely.”

PENCE: Hillary Clinton — Hillary Clinton — Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate a status of forces agreement…

KAINE: No, that is incorrect. That’s incorrect.

It’s technically correct, but mainly not her fault. The agreement to leave by 2011, for better or worse, was put in place by Bush before he left. But, as the time approached, the Obama team feat. Clinton did not successfully renegotiate a later deadline. It may have been for some lack of trying, but internal Iraqi politics also played an important role: they simply didn’t want U.S. troops in their country anymore. But look where that got them.

PENCE: …war on coal…

Again!

QUIJANO: …neither of your economic plans will reduce the growing $19 trillion gross national debt. In fact, your plans would add even more to it.

Both of you were governors who balanced state budgets. Are you concerned that adding more to the debt could be disastrous for the country. Governor Pence?

This is a loaded question, for both of them really. All the Keynesians watching probably smashed their scotch glasses in an iron grip. It’s impossible to reduce the debt even a cent without doing half a trillion or more of the following, in some combination:

-Cut spending

-Raise taxes

Try the Fiscal Ship game and see how well you do.

QUIJANO: *Question about Trump’s tax returns.*

I like how they both gave their canned, rehearsed answers on the debt/spending/taxes question, a very substantive policy issue, and then the moderator wanted to move on with no cross-examination.

Then Pence attempts to rebut anyway, a brief session of talking over each other, and the moderator still wants to move on to the tax returns.

QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, on the issue of Social Security, in 18 years, when the Social Security Trust Funds run out of money, you’ll be 76… what would your administration do to prevent [a] cut? 

This is the most forward-thinking question I’ve heard in this whole campaign. 18 whole years out! The simple reality is, you either raise taxes, cut benefits (or privatize, which I imagine also involves cutting, because why would any private entity willingly take on an insolvent liability like that), or cut some other spending and put the money into benefits. Those are the only options. The fairest plan probably involves a combination of these things.

But I won’t be 67 until 2054. I’m not planning on Social Security still existing. I doubt the robot overlords would allow it even if it were solvent.

I like how Kaine completely dodged the question as to his own plan to attack Pence on privatization. And then Pence counter-attacks on spending with no specific plan either. But this is how pretty much any candidate handles Social Security.

Policing, Immigration

Nothing new here.

PENCE: … guaranteed that Iran will someday become a nuclear power, because there’s no limitations once the period of time of the treaty comes off.

On the other end, that’s also hardly “guaranteed.” If sanctions brought about an agreement once, they could do it again a decade from now. Do these people really live in a world where all outcomes are certain?

KAINE: That is completely antithetical to the Jeffersonian values of…

Something something Jefferson owned slaves something something Democrats were the party of slavery.

PENCE: But about Aleppo and about Syria, I truly do believe that what America ought to do right now is immediately establish safe zones…

This is about as useful as a “gun free zone” unless you’re willing to go to war to defend it…

PENCE: …the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime to prevent them from this humanitarian crisis that is taking place in Aleppo.

Called it! Libya all over again.

PENCE: We ought to deploy a missile defense shield to the Czech Republic and Poland which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pulled back on out of not wanting to offend the Russians back in 2009.

Agreed. That was naive.

KAINE: Governor Pence made the odd claim, he said inarguably Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama. Vladimir Putin has run his economy into the ground…

Technically, Putin is a stronger leader, in that people follow him when he leads. Where he leads them is another question, though.

Technically, also, we ran Russia’s economy into the ground with sanctions and an oil market glut. They did have it coming, though.

KAINE: [Trump avoided paying taxes even on 9/11]

QUIJANO: The question was about Aleppo, Senator.

Whoa, moderator actually trying to keep them on-topic. Quijano is growing on me.

Except for how Kaine never did come back to the topic, except agreeing on a “safe zone.”

A whole lot of talking in circles, until…

PENCE: …Chinese building new islands in the South China Sea…

I’m glad to hear someone mentioning this. It’s worrisome, but also kinda cool.

PENCE: But for me, I would tell you that for me the sanctity of life proceeds out of the belief that — that ancient principle that — where God says before you were formed in the womb, I knew you, and so for my first time in public life, I sought to stand with great compassion for the sanctity of life.

Bold words, in this day and age.

PENCE: The state of Indiana has also sought to make sure that we expand alternatives in health care counseling for women, non-abortion alternatives. I’m also very pleased at the fact we’re well on our way in Indiana to becoming the most pro-adoption state in America. I think if you’re going to be pro-life, you should — you should be pro- adoption.

Very good.

PENCE: Because there is — a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn. I believe it with all my heart.

Pence bustin’ out that John Rawls?

PENCE: …war on coal…

Did anyone play a drinking game with this? I could imagine someone saying “three shots if Pence says “war on coal,” not thinking he’d do it more than once, and then he does it three times, and everyone winds up completely hammered.

In Summary

This debate was frustrating to read from a transcript because of all the interruptions. I wonder if it was better to watch.

 

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