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Friday, October 3, 2008

The Dynamics of the Race Remain the Same

I though that Governor Sarah Palin performed rather well last night. Frankly, so did Joe Biden and Gwen Ifill was lot less partisan than I expected. Last night, Governor Palin was much more like the Palin the Conservative base fell in love with. She connected with the people at home a lot more than Biden ever could Biden, for his part, didn't make any of the long winded nonsensical statements that most Conservatives hoped or even assumed he would make. On points I give the debate to Palin. She certainly stopped the bleeding of the McCain campaign. It is even possible he will gain a couple points as a result. He might even gain more. Still, ultimately, I believe the debate will largely prove irrelevant.

The amazing fascination we had with Palin only a few weeks ago has been blitzkrieg ed by the financial crisis currently gripping Wall Street. Had this been four weeks ago, we would today be saying that Palin's performance was a game changer. After several more weeks of media pounding and a couple of bad interviews, she not only met expectations but she beat them. Four weeks ago, that would have been all that mattered. That's because four weeks ago this election was coming dangerously close to a referendum on Sarah Palin. Her fascinating persona was taking over the campaign.

That has all changed, and now even Sarah Palin has taken a back seat to the avalanche coming from Wall Street that most folks fear will affect Main Street. As such, while Palin did well, even fabulously well, but she would have had to have had an unprecedented Herculean effort in order to make this debate a game changer. This continues to still be about the economy. Voters are angry and their anger is centered at the Presidential party a lot more than at the other party.

That said, John McCain still has a chance to make the game changer. Here is how.

1) Challenge the ludicrous notion of 95% tax cuts.

One of the reasons that Barack Obama has taken the lead is because his assertion that he will provide tax cuts to 95% of the people is largely left unchallenged. In fact, Palin didn't directly challenge this notion either last night. The first point needs to be made that about 40% of the people don't pay taxes. You can't give a tax cut to someone that has a tax rate of ZERO. That's not a tax cut but a welfare check. Second, Barack Obama wants to raise the top two tax brackets, the capital gains tax, and the inheritance tax. Those tax increases will affect a lot more than just five percent of the people.

2) Challenge Obama's spending numbers

Barack Obama claims that all of his spending increases are paid for by raising taxes on 5% of the people and ending the war in Iraq. First, even his own estimates have an eighteen month withdrawal on the war in Iraq. Second, he wants to double down on the efforts in Afghanistan. Where is all the savings? Then, he wants to create universal health care, increase education spending, increase foreign aid, increase infrastructure spending, after school education, among a litany of spending increases. Barack Obama has voted for nearly one billion dollars worth of earmarks. Can you imagine the bloated budgets that he and the Democratic Congress will create. He isn't going to be able to pay for all of this by merely raising taxes on the top five percent. The numbers don't add up.

3) Link the bailout, to inflation, to spending.

This bailout will add $700 billion to our debt. Barack Obama is proposing spending increases that could add another trillion in yearly debt. The bailout will already put enormous upward pressure on inflation and downward pressure on the Dollar. Barack Obama's spending proposals WILL, I SAY WILL, explode gas and food prices. What's the point of a thousand Dollar tax cut if food and gas now cost two thousand more? John McCain needs to re emphasize the importance of fiscal responsibility, put into the context of the bailout, and then stress that Barack Obama will lead this country into hyper inflation.

4) Debunk bottom up economic growth

It is absurd to say that taking from one group so that another group has more will grow the economy. It is more absurd to say the wealthy don't need the money they earn. It is even more absurd to say that the money you take from the wealthy wouldn't grow the economy if they kept it. This populist message may have political appeal but it is totally economically brain dead. If it is exposed, so is Obama's entire economic platform. Raising capital gains, income tax, and inheritance tax into a weak economy isn't bottom up economic growth, it's a recipe for a depression.

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