Looking at the transcript of the Hillary/Bernie debate:
Bernie: [Americans] are working longer hours for low wages. They’re worried about the future of their kids, and yet almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. Not what America is supposed to be about.
Our job, together, is to end a rigged economy, create an economy that works for all, …
Hillary: … there are lots of reasons why Americans today are feeling left out and left behind. Yes, of course, the economy has not been working for most Americans. Yes, of course, we have special interests that are unfortunately doing too much to rig the game.
But there’s also the continuing challenges of racism, of sexism, of discrimination against the LGBT community, of the way that we treat people as opposed to how we want to be treated.
I want to imagine a country where people’s wages reflect their hard work
The candidates can apparently agree that a lack of skills and education, compared to the latest world standards, could not possibly explain the flat wages, nor can the fact that U.S. employers have been loaded up with a lot of higher costs for health insurance and regulatory compliance.
[Separately, if wages are flat for Americans with skills, can someone please find me a plumber to work at 2006 prices?]
Hillary: I also believe in affordable college, but I don’t believe in free college, because every expert that I have talked to says, look, how will you ever control the costs.
Could we possibly have a dumber and more inflationary government college tuition support system than the current one? How can it be tough to control costs for free college at government-run colleges? They can set their budgets, hire the people they want to hire, etc.
Hillary: I believe in raising the minimum wage and equal pay for work. But the numbers just don’t add up, from what Senator Sanders has been proposing.
If the market is the wrong way to set wages and a central planning bureau in D.C. will do it, how can Hillary be sure that Bernie’s central planning ideas are inferior to hers?
Bernie: Every major country on earth, whether it’s the U.K., whether it’s France, whether it’s Canada, has managed to provide healthcare to all people as a right and they are spending significantly less per capita on health care than we are. So I do not accept the belief that the United States of America can’t do that.
Why can’t the American government be less competent than these other governments? We aren’t good at building infrastructure compared to Germany (previous post). What stops us from also being bad at government-planned health care? We agree with the Germans that roads should be provided to all people as a right. It just so happens that when we try to build a road we spend way more than do the Germans and we get less.
Hillary: The Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I want to improve it. I want to build on it, get the costs down, get prescription drug costs down.
The people who spent $1 billion on an ecommerce web site with a handful of SKUs are going to show the rest of us how to save money when shopping at CVS. They’ve had six years to work on this since the Affordable Care Act was passed, but in the near future everything is going to get much cheaper.
Bernie: we have 29 million people today who have zero health insurance, we have even more who are underinsured with large deductibles and copayments and prescription drug prices are off the wall.
A glass-is-half-empty kind of guy. He does not highlight that, after spending more than $1 billion, we have a working web site. This is not going to be the grateful-to-programmers President Sanders.
Hillary: I am laying out a specific agenda that will make more progress, get more jobs with rising incomes, get us to universal health care coverage, get us to universal pre-k, paid family leave and the other elements of what I think will build a strong economy
After these changes are implemented, if you have enough kids you might be able to skip out on work for 5-10 years. Once the last one emerges from the womb and the parental leave runs out, the parents can quit their jobs and still get free health care. Working taxpayers will take over responsibility for all of the kids starting at around age 3.
Bernie: The reality is that we have one of lowest voter turnouts of any major country on earth because so many people have given up on the political process.
Most voters don’t have any practical influence. My Massachusetts ballot contains primarily candidates who are running unopposed. Is it fair to blame, as Sanders does, Wall Street?
Bernie: Making public colleges and universities tuition free, that exists in countries all over the world, used to exist in the United States.
Someone needs to explain why the Brits dismantled their free university system recently.
Bernie: creating 13 million jobs by doing away with tax loopholes that large corporations now enjoy by putting their money into the Cayman Islands and other tax havens.
There are 13 million Americans who are currently on their sofas playing Xbox that someone would want to hire? If not, who would take these 13 million new jobs? Syrian immigrants?
Hillary: It certainly didn’t stop me from taking on the drug companies and the insurance companies. Before it was called Hillarycare — I mean, before it was called ObamaCare it was called Hillarycare because we took them on, and we weren’t successful, but we kept fighting and we got the children’s health insurance program.
As in previous debates she claims to have fought insurance companies to the near-death and prevailed, with the result being the government shoveling money over to those companies for providing children’s health insurance. Can Hillary please start a fight with me? I will be happy to let her win as long as I can get paid as much every year as do the health insurance companies. She also took on the drug companies. I would like to take over from Merck as the loser of this fight with Hillary.
Hillary: Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.
It is true that if a woman had sex with a reasonably high-income guy in New Hampshire she could earn far more, after tax, than the U.S. President (through the state’s unlimited child support formula). But does that make female waged labor, however economically irrational, “anti-establishment”? Was Margaret Thatcher, 37 years ago, “anti-establishment” for identifying as female?
Hillary: I am not going to make promises I can’t keep.
She has secured the agreement of Congress to pass any laws that she suggests? If not, how will she keep any of her promises?
Hillary: I am not going to talk about big ideas like single-payer and then not level with people about how much it will cost. A respected health economist said that these plans would cost a trillion dollars more a year.
Where is this “respected health economist”? And how could anything cost more than what we have now?
Hillary: you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received.
Max Weber was an idiot.
Bernie: in the 1990s, Wall Street got deregulated. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Wall Street provided — spent billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions?
Max Weber was not an idiot. (See my review of It Takes a Pillage for how Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary ended up at the bank that was the “big winner” from the repeat of Glass-Steagall during the (first) Clinton Administration.)
Hillary: when I took on the drug companies
Again she talks about fighting these folks. Maybe that is why they are all moving to Ireland?
Moderator: Why aren’t you participating in the presidential public financing system …?
Bernie: actually we looked at it, but it turns out to be a disaster.
… but all the new government-run programs that I will administer are going to turn out wonderfully.
Hillary: when I left the secretary of State’s office, like so many former officials, military leaders, journalists, others, I did go on the speaking circuit.
Translation: “Most of our government officials are doing it for the back-end cash.”
Clinton: You know, we now have power under the Dodd-Frank legislation to break up banks. And I’ve said I will use that power if they pose a systemic risk. … And I keep going back to this because part of the reason the Wall Street guys are trying so hard to stop me — the hedge fund guys, the shadow banking guys — is because I’ve got their number on all of that.
Bernie: Six largest financial institutions in America today have assets of roughly $10 trillion; equivalent to 58 percent of the GDP of the United States of America.
Fighting with Hillary is almost as profitable for Wall Street banks as it is for pharma companies and health insurers!
Hillary: I probably described more times than I can remember how stressful it was advising the President about going after Bin Laden.
Maybe if Hillary had fought Osama Bin Laden directly he would be in the same tough shape as the pharma and insurance companies.
Hillary: I also want to reign in the excesses of Johnson Controls … I want to go after the pharmaceutical companies like Valeant, and Turns that are increasing prices…
If she is fighting them, let’s buy stock in these companies!
Bernie: the business model of Wall Street is fraud.
Usually written as “fee” or “commission.”
Bernie: So what I have said with regard to Boeing and GE and other multinationals that pay zero taxes, you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to end that loophole. They are going to pay their fair share of taxes.
… perhaps to the Irish government.
Bernie: there are many corporations who have turned their backs on the American worker, who have said, if I can make another nickel in profit by going to China and shutting down in the United States of America, that’s what I will do. … [I will] take on these corporations who want to invest in low-income countries around the world rather than in the United States of America.
Let’s make sure that our iPhone 7s are fully charged and patched on January 20, 2017 as President Sanders takes the throne! (See also “The Hottest Idea in Finance: Capital Controls Are Good” (WSJ))
Bernie: So our job is to provide them the military equipment that they need; the air support they need; special forces when appropriate. … The combat on the ground must be done by Muslim troops with our support. We must not get involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.
Translation: “My ideas around Syria and ISIS are exactly the same as Hillary’s.”
Bernie: Well, you can’t simply withdraw [troops from Afghanistan] tomorrow. Wish we could, and allow, you know, the Taliban or anybody else to reclaim that country.
Translation: “My ideas about Afghanistan are exactly the same as Hillary’s.”
Bernie: I worry very much about an isolated, paranoid country with atomic bombs.
Perhaps he will emigrate then!
Hillary: “our veterans deserve nothing but the best.”
Will “Fat Leonard” be in charge of Hillary’s new veterans’ lounges? At least supply the suckling pig and the Cuban cigars?
Hillary: I have much more confidence in the federal system, and I do reserve [the death penalty] for particularly heinous crimes in the federal system, like terrorism. … I do for very limited, particularly heinous crimes believe it is an appropriate punishment, but I deeply disagree with the way that too many states are still implementing it. If it were possible to separate the federal from the state system by the Supreme Court, that would, I think, be an appropriate outcome.
The federal government is almost perfect.
Hillary: I absolutely believe that what is being done [about the tap water in Flint, Michigan] is not sufficient.
Well, maybe except for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Bernie: I believe in fair trade which works for the middle class and working families of this country
Translation: “I believe in trade that disadvantages the middle class and working families of other countries”
Bernie: I don’t want American workers to compete against people making 56 cents an hour.
Translation: “I think that there are lot of Americans whose skills and education wouldn’t justify an employer voluntarily paying them more than 56 cents per hour.”
Hillary: I want to have half a billion more solar panels deployed, the first four years.
Too bad Chinese solar panel factory workers can’t vote for Hillary!
Hillary: You know, we didn’t get to talk about the continuing struggles that Americans face with racism, with sexism, with discrimination against the LGBT community, with new Americans, with people with disabilities.
Just north of New Hampshire the government has been referring to immigrants as “new Canadians” for decades. Perhaps Hillary is in the linguistic vanguard here. (And very likely Americans will continue to struggle loudly with the big issues, such as “Which tennis star is better looking?” (nytimes) while the Chinese quietly build solar panels.)
Readers who watched it on TV: What did you think? Which candidate seems more appealing?