It was a great showing all around by the Republican presidential hopefuls during Wednesday’s debate at the Reagan library. With the economy weighing heavily on voters’ minds, the responses given by candidates were very encouraging — with few exceptions. It was doubly refreshing to see that, for the most part, Reagan’s “11th commandment” was obeyed as the presidential field generally focused on the topics at hand with little bickering.
In the opening remarks, almost all of the presidential aspirants correctly identified inflation as the biggest source of economic suffering in America today. Because of the forum, it is worth recalling Reagan previously stated inflation was “as deadly as a hitman,” and is “the price we pay for those government benefits everybody thought were free.”
This feels especially poignant when looking back on the pandemic-era spending which triggered the inflation now costing Americans over $700 every month. It turns out those $1,400 COVID relief checks weren’t such a great deal after all — mere crumbs compared to what politicians doled out to friends during this entirely mishandled crisis. As Ron DeSantis eloquently stated, “they borrowed, they printed, they spent, and now you’re paying more.”
But at least you can feel good knowing a bunch of Congressman got some free money.
GOP presidential aspirants had no trouble pinpointing inflation as the root cause of our economic woes. It would have been more enlightening if candidates were pressed on their solutions. This is perhaps more of a failure of the moderators, as politicians are trained to answer in soundbites. The debate hosts should have taken a deeper dive into the number one issue plaguing our economy. (RELATED: MICHAEL MACHERA: The Stakes Are Raised At The Second Republican Debate)
However, it was clear that Vivek Ramaswamy understood the assignment. Without prodding, Ramaswamy assured voters that under his presidency, “we will have a new chairman of the Federal Reserve who places a priority on dollar stability.” Kudos to Vivek for this. I hope all candidates more clearly define their plans to stabilize the dollar.
On other important economic issues such as school choice and unleashing American energy, the GOP hopefuls seemed to have consensus. While responses were more vague when it came to health care, Nikki Haley added specificity by calling for greater transparency, tort reform, and competition to “put the patient in the driver’s seat.”
Tim Scott, Mike Pence, and Doug Burgum delivered a fine, tag-team performance explaining how government policy (subsidizing electric vehicles) has made U.S. automakers less competitive amid the ongoing strikes. Companies don’t become “winners” just because the government decrees it so. The government’s ‘help’ of the auto industry calls to mind Reagan’s “most terrifying words in the English language.”
On the topic of immigration, it was constructive that Chris Christie acknowledged there are 6 million job openings in the U.S. While GOP voters are undoubtedly frustrated by challenges at the southern border, it is worth adding context that we do need more workers in this country. Immigration is yet another broken government policy failure.
Ron DeSantis delivered a solid debate performance minus one hiccup. DeSantis was asked if breaking up America’s largest tech companies would hinder our ability to compete with China, to which he replied “no.” Of course we want America’s tech companies to be the biggest and best in the world, and of course there are consequences if China surpasses us in innovation. DeSantis told viewers “they [large tech companies] are monopolies,” but the entire history of commerce tells us that giants fall. (RELATED: JON DECKER: Republican Voters Are Tired Of Bashing Big Tech)
Years ago, even Jeff Bezos himself admitted to his employees, “I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt.” Bezos elaborated that his employees’ mission, therefore, was to try to delay the inevitable as long as possible. No one stays at the top forever. Not the New England Patriots, and not Amazon.com.
Conservatives do have legitimate concerns when it comes to tech censorship, but using government authority to break up our most successful businesses is not the answer.
Overall, it was a very solid showing by all of the GOP candidates. Give them credit. They came out and delivered pro-growth, optimistic messages while focusing on the questions at hand.
The only loser in the debate? For my money, it was the candidate whose reckless spending helped jumpstart inflation, yet didn’t feel the need to show up and answer any questions about it.
The rest of them made The Gipper proud.
Jon Decker is president of the Viante Foundation.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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