Empty Phrases, Empty Promises: A Review of the First Democratic Presidential Debate

Mrs. Clinton won the Democratic Party nomination Wednesday night by being the only adult on the stage. She was calm and rational. Jim Webb is in the wrong party based on his foreign policy positions; Lincoln Chafee should go live in Tibet; Martin O’Malley won’t even win the Maryland primary that’s how little the Democrats who know him think of him; and Bernie Sanders doesn’t live in the real world, but I have to give him style points for his theatrics. Let’s examine the issues.


  • Free Public College Education: How do you think the country’s hundreds of private colleges and universities feel about that concept? It will put most of them out of business as well as cause enormous problems because why would anyone even apply to a private college? The public institutions couldn’t handle the load, but even trying would double or triple whatever cost Sanders and O’Malley think they can cover by raising taxes on the rich.
  • $15 minimum wage: How can you complain about the high unemployment of blacks and Hispanics and then favor a policy that will guarantee even fewer will find jobs in the future?
  • Reforming the Criminal Justice System: May I point out incarceration rates have been on the decline, but the notion that anyone is in prison for smoking marijuana is total fiction. You can be sent to prison for selling very large quantities of marijuana, not for smoking a joint at a frat party or even on a street corner.
  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Let’s begin by admitting that 11 million or so illegals are here because our policies of the past fifty years virtually invited them to attempt the journey. Now we’re going to increase their benefits and people living in poverty in Mexico are going to stop trying to come here? Really!
  • Climate Change: The thing that always gets me about this issue is that the environmental organization spokespeople tell us it’s already too late to prevent things like the flooding of Manhattan. All that makes me want to do is not buy property in Manhattan.
  • Reign in Wall Street: Wall Street is a shortcut term for whomever the candidates want to blame for something bad. Sometimes it means corporations. Do they include Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, etc.––the MAJOR source of job growth in the economy over the past two decades? If not, they can’t attack Goldman Sachs and the other financial institutions. Why? If they didn’t exist to finance those high tech companies, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would never have been able to leave their garages. Wall Street must mean big banks, but banking is one of the most highly regulated part of our economy. That doesn’t mean an occasional rogue individual doesn’t take advantage of a loophole, but most of what big banks do is both legal and necessary. Banking allows individuals and businesses to function, which benefits society and by the way results in more taxes to finance the federal government.
  • Reign in Insurance Companies and Pharmaceuticals: Without health insurance, our society would be hampered by tens of thousands of families each year going into debt to pay medical bills; without pharmaceuticals we’d be suffering more and dying sooner. That’s awful. Let’s crush them.
  • Lobbyists Control Congress: That’s correct. Here are the worst offenders: AFL-CIO, AARP, and NEA.
  • Gun Control and holding manufacturers responsible: We hold auto companies responsible for manufacturing defects, not if I drive my car into a ditch because I was texting. That’s the only standard that can work. Holding gun manufacturers responsible for how their products are use is absurd. In terms of reforms that would make it more difficult for people with mental illness and criminal intent to obtain weapons, I’d be in favor if it can be done without violating the U.S. Constitution.
  • The Decline of the Middle Class: For half of Sanders’ 40 years of decline we’ve had Democratic presidents: Carter (4), Clinton (8), and Obama nee Barry Soetoro (7). But beyond that what is the cure? Sanders would tax the “rich” to pay for public works jobs. How did that work with TARP? Shovel ready jobs weren’t and make-work projects were invented so that individual states got their share of the money. O’Malley would increase education spending, but college grads are already having trouble finding jobs. Clinton would do a little of this and a little of that, but nothing that adds up to the simple truth that businesses, not presidents, produce jobs.


Here’s what we need: Teach entrepreneurship in high school, provide internships for young people to see how businesses work, and clear the regulatory climate to enable people to start and expand businesses. Right now, going over 50 employees is not worth it. College and community-based incubators, technical assistance and other programs can help young companies get over the initial hurdle, although not all will succeed. One thing we cannot do is pretend the best way to grow the economy is to expand the public sector.

The Democrats offered empty phrases that can’t stand up to scrutiny and they offered empty promises that they cannot deliver on. What’s their plan B? Blame the Republicans.