Skip the Republican roundtable last night? Read our recap of the key moments and watch video. Plus, The Daily Beast's contributors weigh in.
GOP Candidates: Blame the Government
It was not Blame Canada at Tuesday night’s GOP candidate, instead it was Blame Washington. Whether it was President Obama, the Federal Reserve, Dodds-Frank or just the president’s health care imitative, all the candidates formed a consensus that too much government is at fault for the country’s debate. Michele Bachmann kicked off the anti-regulation crew by attacking the Dodds-Frank Act, claiming that government regulation caused the economic meltdown. “I think if you look at the problem with the economic meltdown, you can trace it right back to the federal government,” Bachmann said. All of the candidates said they would repeal most of government regulations if they came to power, saying that too much regulation had killed jobs. The candidates all criticized the Federal Reserve and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, with Ron Paul specifically calling out the Fed.
GOP Candidates Attack Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan
The 2012 Republican candidates for president joined together to attack Herman Cain’s so-called 9-9-9 plan, which he has claimed will solve the country’s financial woes. “It’s a catchy phrase, in fact I thought it was the price of pizza,” said Jon Huntsman. Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has created a proposal that will have a 9 percent flat income tax, a 9 percent corporate tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax—and he says he will “throw out the current tax code.” Michele Bachmann also ripped into Cain’s plan, saying that “you turn the 9-9-9 plan upside down, and the devil’s in the details”—possibly calling it out as the 6-6-6 plan. Rick Perry and Rick Santorum also took issue with the plan, but Cain continued to defend it and even used it in his question to Mitt Romney.
GOP Attacks Meltdown Response
At the Bloomberg/Washington Post Tuesday night, the Republican candidates for president opened things up by blaming the federal government for the financial meltdown the ongoing financial problems. The debate started on a more serious note than other ones, with each candidate being introduced simply by name and without any fanfare and the questions on the economy started immediately. The candidates lay blame with too much government regulation—specifically calling out Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank for pushing through the 2008 bill designed to increase Wall Street regulation. “It was the federal government that pushed these rules,” said Michele Bachmann, and she was met with agreement by the government bills are killing the business community and thus causing the financial collapse. Mitt Romney stopped short of denouncing all bailouts, but claimed he was "not interested" in any bailouts if he is elected. Newly-energized Herman Cain continued to tout his 999 economic plan.
Perry’s Quiet Debate
How quickly things change. Texas Gov. Rick Perry—once considered the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president—spent the early part of Tuesday’s GOP debate largely silent and being posed very few questions. In his first response, Perry turned around a question about the economy and instead started talking about energy independence. When asked to elaborate further, he said he would lay out an economic plan in the next three days and that “Mitt’s had six years to work out a plan. I’ve been at this for about eight weeks.” While few questions were asked to former House speaker Newt Gingrich, he tried to jump into a few discussions.
Gingrich Defends PSAs
Newt Gingrich attacked Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, for backing the recent federal report that didn’t recommend prostate-cancer screenings for a majority of middle-aged men. He said people “will die unnecessarily” thanks to this decision.
Gingrich Attacks Barney Frank for Role in Financial Collapse
Early in the debate, when asked whether Wall Street executives should go to jail for the financial collapse, Newt Gingrich targeted Rep. Barney Frank for his role in the meltdown along with the other “politicians who put this country in trouble.” The Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill has previously been scrutinized by Republican candidates, but Gingrich took the attack to another level during Tuesday’s debate. Blasting Frank, a former member of the House Financial Services Committee who was charged with oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Gingrich said we should “go back and look at the lobbyists he was close to… at Freddie Mac.” He was referring to Frank’s recommendation of his live-in partner, Herb Moses, for a job at Fannie Mae in the early 1990s, while Congress was still in the midst of writing a law to improve its watch on the mortgage agency.
Most Candidates Direct Questions at Romney
It looks like most of the Republican presidential candidates for president heard that Mitt Romney is the frontrunner again: The 2012 hopefuls were each given the chance to ask one other candidate a question, and most them chose Romney. Herman Cain asked Romney if he could name all 59 points in his 160 page economic plan, Newt Gingrich asked why he only has a capital gains tax cut for people making under $250,000 a year, Jon Huntsman asked about how Romney’s background at a company that helped break up companies will help job creation and Rick Perry asked about the so-called “Romneycare” health insurance program in Massachusetts. Romney fended all off their questions by insisting he is the most prepared to take on President Obama and Washington. Romney himself asked Michele Bachmann about how she planned to create jobs, and she herself had directed her question to Rick Perry.