Five Policy Issues to Watch For in the First GOP Debate

Five Policy Issues to Watch For in the First GOP Debate

August 6, 2015

By: Patrick Hedger, Policy Director-American Encore

On Thursday night, the top 10 GOP candidates by way of an average of numerous polls will take the stage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio for the first prime-time primary debate. The debate will begin at 9pm Eastern on Fox News.

Since this is the first debate of the cycle on a major news network, and given the fact that the stage will be rather crowded, candidates will be looking to score style points above anything else. This is especially true given the presence of Donald Trump at center stage. Mr. Trump has rocketed to the top of the polls arguably due entirely to his bold and brash style. All this leaves little room for policy substance.  Nonetheless, there will be some cues as to what these candidates are thinking on economic policy. Here are a few to watch for:

“Compassionate conservative”- This is a line that voters shouldn’t fall for as it is an excuse for spending money and growing the size of government. Some of the candidates are guilty of this through their support of growing entitlement programs or supporting flawed economic policies like the minimum wage.

Jobs/Unemployment- Be careful when listening to the candidates, in this case the governors, when they talk about their records on “jobs.” Some governors were in office during an economy largely built on shaky foundations, such as the housing bubble. Some have recently been office or are currently in office, a time when the unemployment rate is yielding false positives due to a collapsing labor force participation rate. For these reasons, it’s probably a good idea to ignore the numbers and listen for the solutions instead. If we can limit government regulation, lower taxes, restructure welfare programs, and promote free trade, the jobs issue will take care of itself.

“Manufacturing”- Manufacturing is an important component of our economy, but it’s not the only one. We need policies that promote universal economic growth, not just in particular sectors. Service, knowledge, and technology sectors are creating fantastic opportunities for millions of Americans. It’s a simple fact that a lot of manufacturing for lower-order goods can be and is done more affordably overseas. This lowers consumer costs for American families and businesses. This doesn’t destroy jobs; it liberates resources for the American economy to expand in the fields where our workers and resources have a distinct advantage. We need an-all-of-the-above economic policy, not just one that behooves specific companies or industries.

“All-of-the-above energy policy”- This is a favorite line of just about all the candidates. It sounds great, but Americans need to face the fact that without subsidies, some energy sources aren’t competitive. Look for the candidate that says that they want something similar to “a level playing field.” That’s the right answer on energy.

Healthcare- Every candidate will want to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Awesome. The replace part is the question. Look for candidates who are willing to say that we need to get away from an insurance-dominated system. Insurance reliance is the problem that we have with healthcare. Patients are consumers, and these consumers don’t see the prices or feel their effect because of insurance or government programs. As a result, healthcare costs and spending have exploded. Some solutions include health savings accounts and reduced regulations on healthcare along with vouchers to replace entitlement programs. Expanding insurance coverage isn’t the solution.

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