So as to escape Rick Perry’s shine and keep themselves on the front page (wow, Mitt Romney), the Republican presidential field (minus a few) really showed out in last night’s debate. The Jerry Springer-like cheers from the crowd really underscored the spectacle that presidential debating has become, with so much emphasis on who “won” and who “lost.” Aside from all the Pawlenty-Bachmann scrapes and Ron Paul distinguishing his anti-war position (and how), what really stands out?
The moment you see above, when every single Republican presidential candidate on the stage refused a hypothetical budget deal that contained $1 of taxes for every $10 of spending cuts. Steve Benen puts that in rather stark perspective:
Let’s note for context that in March — just five months ago — Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee released a report on deficit reduction. In it, House GOP officials outlined their ideal cuts-to-revenue ratio, and concluded that “successful” attempts at deficit reduction meet this goal: “85% spending cuts and 15% revenue increases.” Roughly speaking, that’s about a 5-to-1 ratio in Republicans’ favor — and this is what GOP officials characterized as their ideal earlier this year.
And yet, as of last night, every Republican running for president believes a 10-to-1 ratio simply isn’t good enough. What’s more, as the video shows, the crowd of Iowa Republicans roared with approval.
10 to 1, especially in this instance, is not just a win. It’s a rout. And it’s still not enough. Ezra Klein made a good point that last night was less about differences in opinion than about “fealty to (Republican) policy,” and took the scorecard mentality so many apply to political debates and flipped it on its head:
A world in which the GOP will not agree to deficit reduction with a 10:1 split between spending cuts and tax increases is a world where entitlement reform can’t happen. It’s a world where the “supercommittee” fails and the trigger is pulled, and thus a world in which $1 out of every $2 in cuts comes from the Pentagon. It’s not a world that fits what many in the GOP consider ideal policy. But it is a world in which none in the GOP need to traverse the treacherous politics of compromise…
The losers in tonight’s debate were anyone who wants to see the sort of compromise necessary for the political process to work, and anyone who has been convinced that they can achieve their goals simply by restating their convictions. As for the winners? Well, I didn’t see too many of those.