By JESS FORTE
This Tuesday, Republican candidates faced off in the fourth GOP debate, held at the Milwaukee Theater in Wisconsin. At the start of the debate, the moderators stressed that the debate would focus on the economy.
The contenders included front-runner and business mogul Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. The debate was hosted by Fox Business and The Wall Street Journal.
The first question focused on the $15 an hour minimum wage. Trump said that “our country is being beaten on every front economically” and that he would not raise the minimum wage. Carson said that every time a minimum wage increased, so did the number of those without jobs.
Next, a moderator asked Rubio about free healthcare and college, but he turned the question around to explain that he was not in favor of increasing the minimum wage.
Connor Thompson, a senior economics major and treasurer for UT’s College Republicans, agreed with the candidates. “If you raise the minimum wage, it distorts the free market and leads to a surplus of people looking for jobs,” Thompson said. “The increased costs would decrease the incentive to start a new business, and America’s entrepreneurial spirit is what makes this country great. ”
One question from Facebook asked candidates what they would be do to lower the 20 trillion dollar national debt. Kasich recommended lowering taxes and looking at his website while going over his allotted time twice.
Lucas Alvarez, a junior sports management major and president of UT’s College Republicans, favors Cruz’s tax plan the most out of all the candidates. “It is fair, simple, and against the IRS,” he said.
Bush focused on how more people are relying on the government and talked about a 20 percent corporate tax while suggesting repeal of all of Obama’s rules to start over.
The moderator asked Fiorina what she would do for jobs since Democratic presidents have created more jobs per month than Republicans. She suggested zero-base-budgeting and that “we must take our government back,” earning cheers from the crowd.
Next up in the hot seat was Carson. He started off by saying, “Well first of all, thanks for not asking me what I said in tenth grade.” Carson was also upset about being lied about and then criticized Hillary Clinton for lying in the past.
Trump said that illegal immigration is hurting the U.S. “on every standpoint.” He is also confident of the success of his wall. Kasich jumped in, saying that “we need to control our border,” but that it would be unrealistic to take 11 million people and move them out of the country. Bush agreed with Kasich that it would be nearly impossible to deport 500 thousand immigrants a month. Trump rebutted by saying that President Eisenhower deported over a million immigrants during his presidency.
In response to a question on increasing the retirement age, Cruz said, “Well my mom is here so I don’t think we should be pushing any grannies off cliffs.” While turning the question around to immigration, he also went over his time twice.
On taxes, Carson wanted to get rid of deductions and loopholes. He said that there would be a “rebate” for people at the poverty level with more options in the future. Paul wanted “lower taxes and less money in the private sector.” Cruz suggested a flat tax of 10 percent across the board and a 16 percent tax for businesses.
Rubio wanted a “pro-family tax code.” He focused on how important families are to our country. Paul argued that Rubio’s tax plan “wasn’t conservative” due to a trillion dollars in military spending. Trump said that we need to “make our military bigger, better, stronger,” and that all of the candidates’ tax plans on stage were “better than what we have now.”
Trump and Bush went back and forth about the U.S. being involved in other countries. Bush thought the U.S. should stay involved, while Trump said that the U.S. should stop “being the policemen of the world.”
Two hours into the debate, moderators asked the candidates why they would be a better president than Hillary Clinton, who has more government experience. Rubio said that this election is about the future, and that if he was the nominee, they would be the “party of the 21st century.” With all of these rebuttals and economic policies, there were distinct winners and losers, according to those who watched.
“Rand Paul and Jeb Bush had their best performance tonight,” Alvarez said. “John Kasich was the weakest tonight, and he continuously intruded on the other candidates’ time.”
Jess Forte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org