Marco Rubio Missed More Senate Votes Than His Rivals

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Analysis: Bush comeback strategy backfires in GOP debate.

According to estimates researchers at the Urban Institute made in 2013, a single man earning the median income who turns 65 this year will pay about $70,000 in lifetime Medicare taxes and collect about $197,000 worth of lifetime benefits. CNBC struck an unapologetic stance against criticism of the way its three moderators handled Wednesday night’s debate among Republican Presidential candidates, suggesting its journalists simply did their job, asking questions without fear or favor.“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Senator Ted Cruz said last night, drawing himself up in a way that made him appear to slightly inflate.“If they’re looking for an entertainer in chief, I’m probably not the guy,” former frontrunner Jeb Bush confessed to CNN, minutes after the third Republican debate.

But his assertion that gradually raising the age of eligibility for the program is “the only way you fix Medicare” exaggerates the effects of such a policy. All tire enjoy reputations as savvy chroniclers of Wall Street and national news, and all three are former staffers of The Wall Street Journal, employed there prior to its being taken over by Rupert Murdoch. And, you look at the questions: ‘Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?’ ‘Ben Carson, can you do math?’ ‘John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?’ ‘Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?’ ‘Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’ How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?” He got a big round of applause, which Carlos Quintanilla, one of the moderators for CNBC, tried to interrupt, asking, “Do we get credit…,” before Cruz interrupted him again. “The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every fawning question from the media was ‘Which of you is more handsome and why?’ ” Cruz said.

Instead of generating much needed momentum, Bush’s attack on his onetime protege raised new questions about his underwhelming candidacy in the primary contest he was once expected to dominate. Recent estimates from the Congressional Budget Office suggest that raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 would save only $19 billion over 10 years, a tiny fraction of the program’s budget, about $500 billion this year alone.

That wasn’t quite how anyone who saw that debate would remember it, but the Senator just shook his head, compared the Democrats to “the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks,” and wondered at the implausibility of a debate moderator voting in a Republican primary. And Bush’s continued struggles highlight a deepening sense of uncertainty settling over a 2016 Republican presidential race that remains crowded and without a clear front-runner. Quintanilla tried again to be heard over the laughter of the crowd before he managed to say, somewhat forlornly, “I asked you about the debt limit and I got no answer.” For the record, this was the question that inspired Cruz’s rant about insubstantiality: “Congressional Republicans, Democrats, and the White House are about to strike a compromise that would raise the debt limit, prevent a government shutdown and calm financial markets that fear of—another Washington-created crisis is on the way.

What’s lethal for Jeb Bush’s presidential ambitions, however, is not the mere fact that he underwhelms on the debate stage, but the particular reasons he underwhelms—these five perhaps above all. The audience numbers for the CNBC debate were likely slightly less thanks to the World Series going on at the same time, but they were still substantial. Does your opposition to it show that you’re not the kind of problem-solver American voters want?” Given that Cruz’s previous responses to such crises have included filibustering the Senate with a reading of “Green Eggs and Ham,” and that he has, in just the past month, been involved in a squabble with his fellow Republicans over his efforts to make the debt ceiling a hostage in the fight against Planned Parenthood, it was a pretty good question, which Cruz blithely ignored.

He arrived at both the second and third debates with plans of attack against his chief rivals of the moment: Donald Trump last time, Marco Rubio this time. After former Florida Governor Bush attacked him for missing Senate votes – saying this bothered him as a Sunshine State constituent – Rubio replied that Bush and the news media didn’t worry about John McCain or Barack Obama missing roll-calls when they were on the stump.

In a tweet, Harwood said moderating the debate “enriched my understanding of challenges @SpeakerBoehner has faced and @RepPaulRyan will face.” Quintanilla also put on a smile, using Twitter to poke fun at the proceedings. “I’ll say this much: everyone should moderate a debate, once. Harwood focused on the fact that after-tax income would go up by almost 28 percent for the top 1 percent under Rubio’s plan, according to the Tax Foundation. With his powerful family on hand, Bush spent much of the weekend huddling behind closed doors outlining a strategy that depended, above all else, on challenging Rubio. Then he played his ace. “The only reason why you’re [complaining] now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone convinced you that attacking me is going to help you,” said Rubio. “Rubio had roughly 70 percent of the memorable moments in the debate and continued to show that he is simply better at this than the other candidate on stage,” wrote Leon Wolf at the conservative RedState site. Even before the debate ended, CNBC was being roundly criticized—Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, tweeted that CNBC “should be ashamed of how this debate was handled”—and, to be clear, the moderators did fail.

No compelling visuals were offered, unlike in the second GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential library that featured an Air Force One plane as a compelling backdrop. It wasn’t just Republicans – many in the mainstream media concurred that Rubio had damaged Bush with his arched-eyebrow response, and in general came off best over the whole evening. “The Florida Senator was good in the first two debates. For his part, Rubio countered that the bottom 10 percent of earners would actually see the biggest boost of all — an almost 56 percent increase in income. The mild-mannered Bush mustered up an attack on Rubio for missing so many votes in the Senate. “Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work. While most GOP plans keep some form of the deductions for charitable giving and mortgage interest, Carson suggested “you also have to get rid of all the deductions and all the loopholes.” And after his tax ideas were attacked by John Kasich, Carson maintained the federal government could collect all the taxes it was owed from the country’s GDP.

When Marco Rubio brushed off criticism of Rubio’s absenteeism from the Senate by invoking John McCain, Bush could have hit back hard. “Seriously Marco? It is because the moderators utterly failed to control a group of candidates whose level of detachment from facts and vitriol seemed to surprise them when it shouldn’t have. McCain is an American hero, he’s chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he created the 9/11 commission, he’s written more laws than you’ve read. You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job.” The first-term senator, Bush’s junior by 18 years, quickly charged that Bush had praised Arizona Sen. Frankly, you’ve never done anything.” Then—sticking the knife in—“Why Marco, you even failed to pass the immigration amnesty deal you co-wrote with Chuck Schumer.” If somebody writes an attack line for him, he can deliver it—unenthusiastically, emphasis in the wrong places, undramatically—but still: It’s delivered.

Carly Fiorina, notably, just started talking when she wanted; at the very end, she had a brief blinking contest with Harwood, who surrendered with a weary “All right, go ahead.” Again, by this point in the campaign, the moderators really should have known better. So some people will definitely be paying more taxes under this deal — which has been the definition of a tax increase for some on the right in the past. For example, when Becky Quick asked Trump why he’d been critical of Mark Zuckerberg’s call for more H1B visas for tech workers, and Trump denied that he had been, she seemed surprised, saying, “Where did I read this and come up with this that you were?”—as if he would tell her. “I don’t know—you people write the stuff,” Trump said. A minute later, when Quick tried to follow up by noting that Trump had called Marco Rubio “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator because he was in favor of the H1B,” Trump replied, “I never said that.

Yet his fundraising should improve coming off a strong performance on national television. “This is all part of slowly moving up in the process,” Rubio’s campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, said after the debate. The central question then becomes whether important GOP figures – state party chairman, big fundraisers, and establishment pundits – decide that it’s time to coalesce around a single candidate to oppose the Carson/Trump outsiders.

Bush.” The soft-spoken retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has led recent polls, flashed his personality at times, but struggled to articulate his policies at others. POLITICO’s Jake Sherman reports that Ryan has pledged to overhaul the GOP steering committee, which will choose his W&M replacement, by Thanksgiving. But Ways and Means members have said in recent days that they fully expect the old rules — under which Ryan will have five of the 38 votes — to be operational when a new committee chairman is selected. But that’s not the only thing they are, or have to be, and it’s the quality and character of a presidential candidate to elevate them into something more. But that was a rejection of questions about Gingrich’s personal life (“despicable” questions, Gingrich said) and not of fact-based queries altogether.

Quick pressed too much and with too much alarm about Rubio, the father of four school-age children, taking money out of his retirement savings, at a cost to him and his family of thousands of dollars. As Philip Marlowe says to Terry Lennox in Chandler’s The Long Goodbye: “You talk too damn much, and it’s too damn much about you.” More and more, it seems no coincidence that he succeeded in government so long, and only so long, as a real estate bubble lifted his state’s economy. My dad was a bartender, my mother was a maid.” He said that after getting married he had to explain to his wife “why someone named Sallie Mae was taking a thousand dollars out of our bank account every month.” Rubio did well all around (my colleague John Cassidy writes about why he was the big winner), including when Jeb Bush tried, with an ill-conceived feint, to cut him down. The issue was Rubio’s frequent absence from the Senate—the occasion for another of the questions Cruz objected to, based on a call in an editorial in the Florida Sun-Sentinel for Rubio to resign.

Rubio had already dealt with the question, inevitably, by attacking the press: “It’s actually evidence of the bias that exists in the American media today,” he said of the editorial. — ABOUT THOSE PARTNERSHIPS: It’s no secret that Democrats have been far more satisfied than Republicans with how the budget deal came together — a notion that appears to extend even to individual provisions. Bush asked if he could jump in, “because I’m a constituent of the Senator and I helped him and I expected that he would do constituent service, which means that he shows up to work.” Whoever told Bush, who so often in his life has been given well-paid opportunities through family or political connections, that he should put Rubio in his place by calling him an employee who had failed to provide good “service,” is not advising him very well.

But he lost the stage, having demonstrated only the sort of petulance that he showed last weekend, when he complained that there were a lot of “really cool things” that he could be doing besides running for President. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Renacci’s Democratic partner on that measure, had no such issue. “We listened to a variety of voices, and tried to accommodate them on some reasonable requests. His only memorable moment came when he bragged about how well his fantasy-football team was doing—“Gronkowski is still going strong!”—better, it seems, than his fantasy Presidential campaign. The group says Icahn’s firm would get a $440 million windfall if the PAC’s first priority, international tax reform, gets off the ground. ** A message from the Beer Institute: The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (H.R. 2903, S.1562) creates a fair, equitable and comprehensive tax structure for brewers and beer importers.

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