A winnowed Republican presidential field of eight candidates clashed Tuesday in Milwaukee, trading political barbs, as well as misstatements, misrepresentations and falsehoods.
Ben Carson on minimum wage
Carson said, “Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.” He added, “This is particularly a problem in the black community.”
In the last 20 years, Congress has raised the minimum wage four times, which has been followed by both job creation and job loss. When the minimum wage was raised to $5.15 an hour in 1997, it was followed by 12 consecutive months of job creation. After the wage was increased to $6.55 an hour in 2008 there were 12 straight months of loss.
Marco Rubio on minimum wage
Rubio said that raising the minimum wage “would be a disaster” and would cost jobs by making human workers “more expensive than a machine.” Economists are split over the effect that raising the minimum wage has on job growth. Some point to research that shows a negative impact on jobs, and some that says it does not make a significant difference either way.
Following a proposed minimum wage increase in 2014, looking at a bump to $9 or $10.10, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that such raises would “increase family income for many low-wage workers, moving some of them out of poverty.” But they also found that such a move would also probably eliminate some jobs for low-wage workers.
Rand Paul on income inequality
Paul suggested that income inequality, a widening gap between the richest Americans and everyone else, is the fault of Democrats and the Federal Reserve. It was an odd allegation, since leading thinkers in both political parties acknowledge the trend has been building up since the mid 1970s, over Republican- and Democratic-led Congresses and presidencies.
Most academics lay much of the shift on globalization and the offshoring of good-paying manufacturing jobs, and technology that made clerical work redundant. Both trends hit the middle class.
Paul also suggested that the Federal Reserve is to blame for controversial bond purchases that have held borrowing costs down, and he said that encouraged banks to park money at the Fed to collect interest rather than lend it out. He said the policy has hurt savers, but he neglected to say the Fed is keeping interest rates unusually low to encourage home refinancing and car purchases. Car sales are on pace to surpass this year the record 17.4 million cars sold in 2000. This ripples across the economy.
Carson on Hillary Clinton
Carson picked up a page from Republican Sen. Rubio’s talking points from the last GOP debate, claiming that Clinton “lied” about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Like Rubio before him, Carson said Clinton, then secretary of state, claimed publicly at the time that the attacks – which left four Americans dead – were triggered by an anti-Muslim video.
He cited an email the night of the attacks to her daughter, Chelsea ‑ made public during her recent testimony on Capitol Hill – that they were caused by an “al Qaida-like group.” Scrutinzing Rubio’s similar claim, The Washington Post Fact Checker found “little support” his charge.
Rubio and Cruz on the U.S.-Israel relationship
Rubio said, “We have a president who treats the prime minister of Israel with less respect than he treats the ayatollah.”
Cruz said of Clinton, “Under her leadership, we have abandoned the nation of Israel.”
Rubio’s shot at Obama appears to fault him for the chilled relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders have never been particularly close. The source of much the friction has been Netanyahu’s strong opposition to the nuclear agreement that the U.S. and other allies negotiated with Iran.
Republicans, however, played a role in seeming to widen the rift by inviting Netanyahu – without first consulting the White House or State Department – to speak before Congress, in effect, offering him a forum to attack the president’s policies.
Despite the strains, Obama and Netanyahu have continued to talk, as recently as Monday when the Israeli leader visited the White House.
“As we have often said, there is probably no world leader with whom we have met more times with than Prime Minister Netanyahu,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Carson and Republican scrutiny
Carson also claimed the Democrats receive less scrutiny than Republicans. That might be a hard case to make, given the relentless scrutiny Clinton has receive over Benghazi, the controversy over President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and whether he was school by radical Muslims, as well as the Swift Boat attacks on Secretary of State John Kerry when he ran for president in 2004, when the decorated Vietnam veteran was attacked as “unfit to serve.”
Trump on immigration
Donald Trump commended President Dwight Eisenhower, alluding to his administration’s program that involved deporting undocumented Mexican immigrants in the 1950s.
“I like Ike,” Trump said.
Trump was alluding to Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback” to support his immigration plan to “build a wall” and deport undocumented immigrants. But the numbers of people deported are difficult to determine, according to a 2010 Politifact article.
Estimates range from 100,000 “forced removals” to 1.3 million. This is because some of these undocumented immigrants left the country “voluntarily” before they would have been deported. Official federal statistics said that the government “formally removed” 150,000 undocumented immigrants and 3.9 million departed voluntarily.
Trump on trade
Trump repeated criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal between the United States and 11 other Pacific nations, including neighbors Mexico and Canada, with whom a three-way deal already exists. Trump complained that China manipulates its currency, would join this pact through the back door and that the new deal, which still must be presented to Congress, does nothing on currency manipulation.
In fact, the TPP has language that commits the 12 signatories to following global rules prohibiting the use of currencies to gain unfair advantages in global trade. It also creates a consultation mechanism should there be concern that a member is manipulating the value of its currency. And as Sen. Rand Paul noted when interrupting Trump, China is not a party to the agreement, which seeks to boost trade with its neighbors at its expense.
Rubio and banks
Rubio repeated his oft-stated point that a large number of small and midsize community banks have been wiped out since the 2010 revamp of financial regulation, called the Dodd-Frank Act after its authors. According to Politifact, the figures he uses are overstated for the time frame he gives, as the trend he describes began decades before Dodd-Frank even became a law in 2010. Experts say that even so, there are a lot of other factors other than Dodd-Frank that the decline of smaller banks could be attributed to.
Cruz and Kasich on Dodd-Frank
Several GOP candidates said they’d get rid of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street overhaul. They complained that banks have gotten bigger, not smaller, and that they’d still need to be bailed out if they fell into trouble. Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich went toe to toe on bailouts. Both failed to mention that under the act, the nation’s largest banks now must write a living will that spells out how to dissolve them, rather than save them, should they fall on hard times.
Additionally, the Federal Reserve now conducts stress tests on the banks to gauge how they’d hold up under downturns of varied severity. If the Fed thinks there is risk, individual banks can now be made to hold more cash in reserve for a rainy day. That’s something Bush endorsed, albeit seemingly unaware it is happening today.
Vera Bergengruen, Tori Whitley, Grace Toohey, Ali Montag, Kevin G. Hall, Anita Kumar and David Goldstein contributed.