Thursday, June 28, 2018

Democrats Have Civil Debate With No New Tax Positions

This post was originally published on Forbes Oct 14, 2015

I covered the Democratic debate from the Sahara Restaurant in Worcester Mass which had been taken over by We Want Bernie - Worcester for the evening.  I was mainly looking for new bits of tax information from each of the candidates. There was nothing.  The tax comments were interspersed in discussions of other issues.  The candidates were very civil with one another and avoided taking advantage of the few zingers that were put in the question.  Here is what I noted the most.

Jim Webb

I have nothing on Jim Webb's tax thinking going into thinking into the debate, although I did pick up a scrap on youtube, about him being in favor of some sort of favored rate to encourage corporations to bring money onshore.

Nothing  on taxes from Webb.  The one thing they tried to embarrass him about was  a remark he had made about affirmative action.  He indicated that he had never opposed affirmative action for African Americans given the special history of slavery and Jim Crow, but that the more expansive concept of "people of color" can leave out recognition of historically disadvantaged white groups.

He was handed a chance to embarrass Sanders over Sanders conscientious objector status in Vietnam while Webb was a decorated Marine.  He passed on that, while still indicating that he, Webb, was most qualified to be Commander in Chief.  Webb stood out when foreign policy was discussed by mentioning China's activities in the South China Sea and its cyberwarfare.

His best line was right at the end when the candidates were asked about who the enemies they had made were.  Webb went last and after Hillary mentioned the Republicans and Bernie mentioned Wall Street, Webb said it was probably the guy who threw a grenade at him, but that guy is not around anymore.

Bernie Sanders

I got quite a bit on tax policy from the Sanders campaign, which I covered here.  Some of the high points are lower thresholds and higher rates for estate tax, elimination of favorable rates on capital gains and dividends and elimination on cap on earnings subject to social security tax.

Sanders mentioned his tax on Wall Street speculation in the context of college funding.  On climate change after genuflecting to Pope Francis he mentioned supporting a carbon tax.
Bernie's finest moment was when he was handed a chance to bust Hillary about e-mails and he told her that everybody is sick of hearing about her damn e-mails and they shook hands.

The other interesting thing was that in the intro, Bernie did not talk about his wife and children and grandchildren but went straight into the issues.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary is center stage because of her rating in the polls.  Her campaign tax positions so far indicate that you shouldn't vote for Hillary if you want a shorter Internal Revenue Code.

Hillary mentioned her profit sharing proposal in the intro, where she also mentioned that she is a grandmother .  When she was questioned about not being consistently progressive, she said that she was a progressive who liked to get things done.

Martin O'Malley

O'Malley's campaign indicated they would get to me after the debate, so he is a blank slate.

O'Malley's remains a blank slate on taxes.  His toughest moment was when he was asked about violence in Baltimore.

Lincoln Chafee

Chafee seems to think the Internal Revenue Code isn't so bad, but he would like to see a 45% bracket kick in at $750,000.

Chafee managed to work in a mention of his call for a higher tax bracket.  He kind of reminds me a bit of Mr. Rogers, which maybe wouldn't be such a bad thing.


A good time was had by all in the Sahara in spite of sound system difficulties and a couple of regulars who did not think a few dozen Bernie Sanders supporters trying to watch a debate should prevent them from shooting the breeze as per usual.  The next meeting which I will not make is at Jillians.  There were a group of students mainly from Clark University in a circle talking at the end.  One of them was talking about a million student march on Washington to demand free public college and student debt forgiveness.  Here is something on that.   All in, it was a good night, although my attempt at live blogging was pretty much a bust.

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