The GOP Debate Awards

Has Ted Cruz considered the inflationary impact of a madman irradiating Fort Knox with lasers if we were on the gold standard?

Okay, right to it.

Most Illiterate Economic Statement: Ted Cruz

[W]hat the Fed should be doing is, number one, keeping our money tied to a stable level of gold.

This guy and the gold standard, my god. Why is this idea so seductive to people? Does it sound like common sense? Is it just nostalgia for an imagined past? Does fiat currency just sound too good to be true? And we should pick some arbitrarily harder and more unworkable way of doing things because life is hard and suffering makes us flinty? Or is the language of stability and order just too seductive to conservative ears? It’s a hard one to understand. Later Cruz expanded on why it’s so great, especially combined with tax and regulatory reform:

And the third element is sound money. Every time we’ve pursued all three of those — whether in the 1920s with Calvin Coolidge or the 1960s with JFK or the 1980s with Ronald Reagan — the result has been incredible economic growth.

Hmm, did anything else happen in the 1920s that’s relevant to economic growth and the super stability of tying our economy to a random yellow metal? Or rather, it was the opposite of growth. It was like, a crash, a big crash, no, a great crash, that made a big impression, no, a DEpression, a big depression; wait I got it, a Great Depression? No that can’t be right. Because yellow metal.

Second Most Illiterate Economic Statement: Tie, everyone.

The entire discussion about bank bailouts and whether we should let depositors lose their shirts when banks fail, without anyone mentioning that the FDIC exists.

Most Plutocrat Admission Ever: Donald Trump, by a landslide. On rejecting an increase in the minimum wage:

But, taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is. People have to go out, they have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratum.

Wages are too high! Inspiring message! We would really make this country great again if we could lower our per capita income to Vietnam levels and devolve this bloated prosperous information economy back into an agrarian and textile-exporting powerhouse!

This is actually off-message for Trump, who at least rhetorically has been not-awful on  working-class issues. But comments like these expose his true interest. He’s a billionaire executive and he’d like it if his labor costs were lower.

Most Hysterical Warning of Impending Apocalypse/Dystopia: Tie

Ted Cruz: “The Obama economy is a disaster.” Cough…5% unemployment…cough…64 months of consecutive private sector job growth.

Ted Cruz: “America is in crisis now.” Ibid.

Donald Trump: “We are $19 trillion dollars [in debt], we have a country that’s going to hell, we have an infrastructure that’s falling apart. Our roads, our bridges, our schools, our airports, and we have to start investing money in our country.” And our wages are too high!

John Kasich: “If Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders were to win this election, my 16-year-olds, I — I worry about what their life is going to be like.” Hmm, daughters of a millionaire governor? They might be okay!

Carly Fiorina: “Imagine a Clinton presidency. Our military will continue to deteriorate. Our veterans will not be cared for….The rich will get richer. The poor will get poorer. The middle class will continue to get crushed.” Eek.

The difficulty of making a case for change, when we are in the midst of relative peace and increasing prosperity, is an unsolvable problem for the GOP. Jon Chait has a good piece about this. Hey, so do I!

Most Nonsensical Word Salad on an Important Topic: Ben Carson, on ISIS. Too long to quote, but read this here. It’s a thing of beauty.

Most Terrifying Commitment to Induce World War: Carly Fiorina, with this gem:

I would start rebuilding the Sixth Fleet right under [Putin’s] nose, rebuilding the military — the missile defense program in Poland right under his nose. I would conduct very aggressive military exercises in the Baltic States so that he understood we would protect our NATO allies…

…and I might also put in a few more thousand troops into Germany, not to start a war, but to make sure that Putin understand that the United States of America will stand with our allies. That is why Governor Bush is correct. We must have a no fly zone in Syria because Russia cannot tell the United States of America where and when to fly our planes.

First, President Fiorina will immediately provoke a war with nuclear power through a belligerent military buildup on Russia’s border. Then we will wait to see what Putin does with his proven power of reverse psychology over President Fiorina, normally used most successfully on 4 year-olds, in which he can get the U.S. to do anything so long as he first tells us that we definitely cannot do it.


Overall, I think Rubio and Cruz and Rand Paul helped themselves. In an instructive, substantive discussion, Rand challenged Rubio on whether you can consider yourself fiscally conservative if you commit yourself to unfettered U.S. militarism and global hegemony. It’s an important debate, though suffice to say, it is not one that Rand will win during this particular primary. I think I agree with the growing CW that this is shaping up to be a Rubio/Cruz final. Though if you don’t understand the appeal of Ben Carson (I don’t!), you probably shouldn’t be making predictions.

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