Tonight’s undercard debate was all business. It was a focused debate, and the candidates were focused on their message, also. That’s a good thing. I think we’ve had enough of moderators becoming the story. Tonight, they talked policy, and each candidate got the opportunity to lay out their vision for the American economy.
Sen. Rick Santorum made a clear connection between the breakdown of the family and our economic malaise.
SANTORUM: [W]e need to do something about a tax code that doesn’t penalize. One thing that I’m excited about our tax code, proposed changes, is it’s very pro-family.
You have a $2,700 tax credit, period, for every person in that family, so that family, you know, would have about an $8,000 tax credit, which would be refundable. So every dollar she works, she’s still only losing 20 cents.
The problem with the tax code today, because of all the different provisions, you’re right, you go back to work, you lose welfare benefits, you’re losing money. Throw on top of that the — even a bigger problem, over 50 percent of children being raised in a home today of a single mom are raised in a home where the father is [living] at [the time] the child is born.
Now what does that mean? That means we have incentivized people not to marry. We’ve incentivized people to cohabitate instead of marry. Why? Because mom will lose welfare benefits if she marries father.
It’s not just mom going back to work, but it’s mother and father marrying to form a more stable family for that child to be raised in a two-parent family.
So we’ve got all sorts of really corrupt incentives that were put in place, well meaning by the left. But we need to remove those. We need to remove those incentives. We need to adopt a tax code that says we’re going to be pro-family and pro-work. And that’s what we’ll do.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, focused his policies on reducing the size of government. To that end, he went hard after his Republican colleagues who have failed to so while in office.
JINDAL: The most important thing we have to do, we have a fundamental choice to make, folks. Are we willing to cut the government economy so we can grow the American economy?
That is the most fundamental question we’ve got to answer. We are on the path to socialism right now …
The hour is late, but it is not too late for America.
Though under President Obama, you asked about his economy. We’ve got record dependents, a record number of Americans on food stamps, record low participation rate in the work force.
This is a fundamental choice. Sending a big government Republican to D.C. is not enough to fix this problem. It’s not enough just to beat Hillary Clinton. We’ve got to change the direction of our country.
What that means is let’s shrink the government, not slow its growth rate, but actually shrink the government so we can grow the American economy.
Gov. Chris Christie stayed laser-focused on Hillary Clinton. When Gov. Jindal went after him and Mike Huckabee for their records on spending, he did not bite at all.
CHRISTIE: First off, let me, let me just say this in response to this back and forth. For the people who are out there right now, I want to guarantee you one thing real clearly. If you think that Mike Huckabee won’t be the kind of President who will cut back spending, or Chris Christie, or John Kasich, wait ’til you see what Hillary Clinton will do to this country and how she will drown us in debt. She is the real adversary tonight, and we’d better stay focused as Republicans on her.
The best theater of the night belonged to Gov. Jindal when he refused to answer what he considered a “silly” question that was asked of all of them, which prompted every other candidate to refuse to answer.
SEIB: To do the things you’re talking about, that you’re all talking about, getting things done in Washington, you have to work with the other side. So a question, who in Congress do you most admire on the Democratic side? I need one name from each of you.
And let’s start with Governor Jindal.
JINDAL: We can waste our time. And I think this is why people were so frustrated with the last debate with these kinds of silly questions.
We’ve only got a certain amount of time to talk about the economy. Let me use my time to say this. I want to fire everybody in D.C. in both parties. I think they all — we need term limits, get rid of them all, make them live under the same rules they passed on the rest of us.
Others followed suit and took the opportunity to make some powerful points. Gov. Huckabee addressed the Veterans’ Administration:
HUCKABEE: Well, since we’re not going to answer the question, let me just remind everybody, tomorrow is Veterans Day. And here’s what I would like to remind everybody. The VA has been a disaster in large part because the people in Congress have never bothered to fix it, and this president has certainly not …
I’m going to ask you just this, what would happen if the Congress and the president had to get their health care from the VA? We would fix the problem, and we would fix Congress.
Gov. Christie took the opportunity to show his support for our law enforcement officials that have been under such pressure as of late.
CHRISTIE: I’ll tell you the thing that disturbs me the most about what’s going on with the Democratic Party in Washington, that they’re not standing behind our police officers across this country …
That they’re allowing lawlessness to reign in this country. I spent seven years of my life in law enforcement, here’s what every law enforcement, 700,000, should know tonight. When President Christie is in the Oval Office, I’ll have your back.
But the economy was on center stage tonight, and Sen. Santorum made sure the indisputable link to the family was on full display.
SANTORUM: I think for most Americans, the most important business is the family. And we haven’t really talked much about the importance of the family to the economy.
And ladies and gentlemen, every single book, from left to right, that’s been written over the last couple of years has said the biggest problem in America today at the hollowing out of the middle of America is the breakdown of the nuclear family in America.
We’d better be the party that’s out there talking about this issue and what we’re going to do to help strengthen marriage and return dads into homes in all communities.
You want to talk about the communities that are hurting the most, the ones you see the protests in … there are no dads. And we need to do something about it.
We can only hope that the economy of the family continues to be front and center as we look toward the future.