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Posted by on Oct. 29, 2015 at 3:54 PM
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One thing CNBC debate moderators learned quickly in their televised debate was that

republicans like to invent their own reality. There should be a special disease the

American Psychiatric Association can name after Fox News for this problem.

The GOP lies were everything from tax cuts for the middle class to helping students,

but even Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio were high above the rest with a convenient

neglect of legitimacy and truthfulness. Here’s a tip to them: if you have to make it up

and spin it, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Check out these 8 worst lies from last night:

Lie 1. The GOP Tax Plan cuts taxes for everyone!

The candidates were breaking their necks trying to claim who had the best tax

plan last night, but I guess “best tax plan” to them means who is giving more

money to corporations. The Tax Foundationpredicts that Senator Marco Rubio’s

tax plan would result in a $6 trillion revenue hole. That’s a problem if you care

anything about running a government at all. Jeb Bush’s, on the other hand,

would only add $3.4 trillion to the debt. But Trump’s is the worst, with a $12 trillion

price tag, and that doesn’t even include this wall he wants to build. Although he

says Mexico is going to pay for that. Each plan prioritizes cuts to taxes for

corporations, not middle class Americans.

Lie 2. Rubio works hard for the people of Florida.

Poor Marco Rubio had a bad night fighting against his former bestie, but Bush

was right. Even Rubio’s own hometown newspaper is furious over their ROI on

the Senator. He’s missed 34 percentof the votes in the Senate this year.

Conservatives are mad he missed the Planned Parenthood vote. The military

industrial complex is mad he missed the defense reauthorization vote and 

a ton of hearings and briefings on national security. Not to mention missed

votes on trade and education.

Lie 3. Carly Fiorina is running for president based on her “successful”

business record.

How Fiorina defines success is troubling. First there are the 30,000 people laid

off at Hewlett-Packard who she basically called worthless. She was 

forced to resign after their stock plummeted 53 percent. Her $24 billion merger

with Compaq was a flop. When she was gone the company’sstock went up 

10.5 percent, all the while, she was scoring a $21.4 million severance package

with an additional $21.1 million in pensions, stock options and stock holdings.

Lie 4. Republicans promise to protect Social Security.

Lie. Lie. Lie. Ben Carson literally called Social Security a Ponzi scheme. 

Rubio’s plan would raise the retirement age so seniors have to work longer.

Bush agrees, saying we need to raise the retirement age from 65 to 70 years

old. So would Rand Paul. Christie isn’t much better, he wants to raise it to 69.

Canadian Ted Cruz wants to means test it.

Lie 5. Rubio wants to help students and cares about the cost of college.

Rubio cares about the cost of college about as much as he cares about his job

in the U.S. Senate. For someone who talked a lot last night about having debt

and having to foreclose on a house, he wants to hurt others who have suffered

as much as he has, but without the million dollar book deal. First,he’d kill the

Department of Education entirely. He doesn’t think that students should be able

to refinance their loans. He flat out opposed President Obama’s plan for college

affordability. Heopposed cutting student loan interest rates. Finally, he’d cut 

Pell Grants. FAIL.

Lie 6. Republicans care about equal pay for equal work.

Since when?! Rubio had the gal, to say in a floor speech “I just think we’re wasting

time” while the Senate was discussing these equal pay bills. But hell, at least he

knew with paycheck fairness was. Jeb can’t even consider himself that lucky. In

New Jersey they had a state version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and salary

transparency for government contractors. Under Governor Chris Christie, 

both bills were vetoed. Classy. Heck, just last year, the Post and Courier said

that Carly Fiorina called the Paycheck Fairness Act “propaganda.” These

are the people we’re dealing with here…

Lie 7. Marco Rubio is a champion for the middle class.

Dude, your lazy ass can’t even show up to work. When Rubio does decide to

vote, they’re not helping anyone in the middle class. He voted against students.

He voted against paid family leave, and get this, he even opposed it for new

mothers who had just given birth. Asshole. He called raising the minimum wage

silly and a waste of time. Like it’s somehow going to be his time, he can’t even

show up to do the job. Finally, his tax plan would give rich people who don’t

have to work a free ride on taxes. How does this help the middle class again?

Lie 8. Republicans say President Obama has killed the economy.

Oh, how quickly they like to change the story about what happened to our economy

in 2007 and 2008, long before President Obama took office. Since he has been

in office, however, we have had67 consecutive months of private sector job

growth. More Americans have held full-time jobs in August 2015 than ever

before. The private sector has added 13.2 million jobs to the market. 

Not including the 142,000 from last month. The unemployment rate has held

steady at its lowest rate since 2008, before Obama took office with jobless claims 

at a 42-year low.

If there’s one thing the GOP likes to do it is create its own facts to fit their narrative.

But if you’re going to invent the truth, you should probably have the record to back

it up. Last night, these candidates did not.

by on Oct. 29, 2015 at 3:54 PM
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by on Oct. 29, 2015 at 4:03 PM

Flash And Fibs Were GOP Debate's Big Winners

The candidates kept dodging questions on policy -- or just made stuff up.

Lots of people seem to think the dominant storylines about Wednesday night’s Republican primary debate are Marco Rubio’s smooth delivery, Jeb Bush’s weak attempt to knock Rubio off his game, and the supposed incompetence of the CNBC moderators.

If you care about substance, however, the main takeaway was how little candor the candidates showed when talking about policy. 

Over and over again, the GOP contenders on stage in Boulder, Colorado, made misleading claims about important economic issues. And when the moderators confronted the candidates with their contradictions or misstatements, the candidates responded by attacking the media -- and fibbing a little more.

It was good politics, for sure. As HuffPost's Natalie Jackson has noted, beating up on reporters is extremely popular with the Republican base. Probably the loudest cheers for the entire night came after Ted Cruz attacked the moderators for setting up a "cage match" and ignoring substance. Frank Luntz, a conservative pollster, tweeted that his focus group gave that statement a 98 rating (out of 100).

But Cruz’s statement, and the reaction to it, actually showed just how evasive the Republicans were being. The question that prompted Cruz’s outburst was a perfectly legitimate one. It was about the spending agreement between the White House and Congress, and what Cruz thought about it. Questions don’t get more substantive than that.

Here were some examples of the candidates dissembling and, in one case, telling an outright lie.

Donald Trump develops amnesia: The most brazen statement of the night came from Trump. During a discussion about immigration and visas for high-skill workers, CNBC’s Becky Quick asked Trump about a references he’d made to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg -- specifically, calling Rubio "Zuckerberg’s personal senator."

 "I never said that," Trump replied.

Actually, he did. It’s right on his website.

Ben Carson pretends he can change the laws of math: At another moment, Quick homed in on one key problem with Carson’s proposal for a flat tax. Given the rate Carson has in mind, Quick noted, he’d be significantly reducing federal revenue -- in ways that would require either huge spending cuts or, more likely, much higher deficits.

Quick used specific figures from reputable sources, and Carson simply denied them. "When … when we put all the facts down, you’ll be able to see that it’s not true, it works out very well," he said.

Carly Fiorina recycles a debunked talking point: In a discussion of Hillary Clinton and the significance of electing the first female president, Fiorina said Clinton was merely proposing to defend and expand the policies of the Obama administration -- and that during Obama’s term, 92 percent of the jobs lost in America belonged to women.

The argument may have sounded familiar: Mitt Romney used in 2012, at which point the fact-checking site Politifact pointed out several key flaws. The figure includes job losses during Obama's first month in office -- long before any of his economic policies started to take effect. At the same time, it does not include all of the jobs that men had lost when the recession first began, during the end of George W. Bush’s term.

The figure is even more misleading now, since it ignores all of the job growth since 2012. 

Rubio dodges a big question on his tax plan: This was in some ways the most important evasion of the night, because it’s an example of how deftly Rubio will defend and disguise his deeply conservative economic scheme should he become the nominee.

CNBC’s John Harwood asked Rubio about his tax plan. Citing a recent analysis by the nonpartisan (but conservative-leaning) Tax Foundation, Harwood said Rubio’s tax plan would give larger benefits to the rich than to the middle class. Rubio quickly responded that Harwood had his facts wrong -- that the Rubio tax plan would actually give larger benefits to the poor. 

The sleight of hand is easy to miss. (One of the few to catch it was New York Magazine’sJonathan Chait.) Rubio is correct when he says that, by the Tax Foundation’s reckoning, his plan would deliver proportionally higher after-tax benefits to the very poor than it would to the rich. But Harwood hadn’t asked about the poor. He’d asked about the middle class. Sure enough, the Tax Foundation found that the top 10 percent of earners in America would get proportionally larger benefits than all but the bottom one-third of the income scale, and that the top 1 percent -- the wealthiest of the wealthy -- would get more than everybody except the bottom tenth. 

And that’s to say nothing of the fact that his plan is so expensive even many conservatives think it’s wildly unrealistic. If Rubio wins and a Republican-controlled Congress passes something that looks anything like his plan, the only way to offset the expense would be through deep spending cuts into programs upon which the poor and middle class rely. 


* * *

None of this may matter. The early verdict is that Rubio won, because he showed "poise, seriousness, and passion." Pundits are describing the CNBC moderator performance as an "epic fail." And maybe that points to an inherent problem with trying to ask substantive questions in televised debates: Candidates willing to bend or even deny the truth can get away with it, as long as they do so shamelessly and the audience roars with approval.

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