Latest Republican Debate Offers a Better View of Fiscal Policy

One of the major complaints about the recent Republican debates has been that many of the issues tackled by the candidates have been incredibly topical. Indeed, there was a great deal of backlash after the first debate by everyone from left-wing pundits to financial analysts like Dawn J. Bennett. According to critics, a large number of the candidates had devolved into name-bashing and lacked a substantive punch. However, there has been some progress since.

Republican debate candidates
Image courtesy of REUTERS/EVAN SEMON

Despite some truly comical questions from the moderators in the third debate, certain fiscal stances were established and a conversation on the topic was at least started. In the most recent fourth debate held in Milwaukee, WI, on November 10th, some of these economic issues and the envisioned policies to deal with them were fleshed out a bit more, at least by some. Here are two of the more important topics that were spoken about at the debate:

Minimum Wage

Whether or not raising minimum wage would harm the economy was a highly contested question at the recent debate. While John Kasich, the current governor of Ohio, claimed that his state has implemented a somewhat higher minimum wage, citing that “people need help,” Ben Carson and Donald Trump were both staunchly against any government controlled increase.

Fellow candidate Marco Rubio elaborated on his stance, saying that “If I thought that raising the minimum wage was the best way to help people increase their pay, I would be all for it, but it isn’t. In the 20th century, it’s a disaster. If you raise the minimum wage, you’re going to make people more expensive than a machine.” Instead, he argued for more vocational education in order to create and fill higher-paying jobs.

Bailouts

On the subject of bailouts, Kasich was also on the side of occasionally helping out banks and other institutions that were failing, based on an assessment of the patrons of these banks and who could afford to lose the money. Ted Cruz took issue with his stance, and called for a return to the gold standard and for the Fed to act as a last resort lender.

Marco Rubio lamented a system that he believes allows small banks to be kept mired in regulations, while larger banks simply hire teams of lawyers and work around the rules. He suggested a repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act (Obama administration regulations intended to keep banks from becoming too big to fail), as he deems it to be helping big banks to get bigger. Ben Carson similarly called for policy that wouldn’t allow these banks to get so large in the first place, but held back from saying that these banks should be broken up.

This debate has certainly provided more answers to the questions on everyone’s minds than the prior ones. However, whether knowing what the candidates have to say about monetary policy will actually effect any change is another matter.