Germany: Freedom from Fear?

by Andrew Stuttaford

As I’ve mentioned before, Angela Merkel has recently been picked to receive the Roosevelt Foundation’s ‘Four Freedoms’ award.

One of FDR’s original four freedoms was freedom from fear.

How’s that working out?

NBC:

MAINZ, Germany — A spate of Hundreds of sex assaults allegedly committed mostly by North African men on New Year’s Eve in Cologne has sparked an “explosion in sales” of pepper spray and non-lethal guns, German officials and an industry chief said….

“We saw a huge spike of sales numbers after January,” said Ingo Meinhard, head of the German association for gunsmiths and weapons dealers.

The association expected purchases of “so-called deterrents and defensive small arms” to at least double in 2016 following the Cologne attacks, Meinhard told NBC News.

“CS gas spray, stun guns and pepper spray are especially in great demand,” he added.

…In addition to defensive sprays, Cologne police said it had already received more than 300 applications from adults wanting to carry imitation handguns and so-called gas pistols.

This was compared to 408 licenses for these weapons issued during all of 2015, police spokeswoman Daniela Lindemann said. Germany’s strict gun laws mean that only hunters and professional marksmen are allowed to obtain licenses for lethal arms and would-be buyers are subject to background checks.

The Local:

A survey by public broadcaster ZDF found that 60 percent of respondents believe Germany cannot cope with the large numbers of new arrivals, which reached 1.1 million in 2015. The Cologne attacks clearly had an impact, the broadcaster said, as only 46 percent of people surveyed in December felt that way. The poll of 1,203 people over January 12 to 14 also found that a majority (56 percent) are now dissatisfied with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policies, up from 49 percent in December. Seven people in 10 fear the influx will lead to more crime, compared to 62 percent in October.And a growing minority, now at 42 percent from 33 percent in October, say they fear their cultural values are under threat.A separate survey by the group DeutschlandTrend for the state TV ARD found that 51 percent of German adults said they do not believe Merkel’s repeated claim – “we will manage” – that Germany can absorb the inflow.In October, 48 percent of respondents said they had this view. The poll also found that 48 percent of those surveyed said they were afraid of refugees, while 50 percent said they did not have this view. That question was not asked in October.

Meanwhile from Warsaw the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) gives its verdict on Merkel’s immigration policy. Here’s an extract:

The Chancellor’s calculation that she would succeed in imposing a model of appropriate behaviour on the migrants (by making gestures of solidarity and by admitting the migrants resident in Hungary at the beginning of September 2015 to Germany) has failed. Attempts to stigmatise the backgrounds of groups opposing the admission of the migrants also failed.

Merkel did not foresee that these measures, combined with earlier instances of neglect (several years of ignoring the fact that the German asylum system is used as a gateway for economic immigrants, the lengthy consideration of applications for asylum and the over-extended deportation procedures, although since last September the relevant laws have been revised), will spread the view even more widely that Germany is not in a position to enforce its own regulations. And as a consequence, this will lead to increased pressure from the migrants. According to a former President of the Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany, Hans-Jürgen Papier, never in the legal order of the Federal Republic of Germany has there been “such a gap between the letter of the law and the reality”.

Hang in There, Governor Hogan

by Roger Clegg & Hans A. von Spakovsky

The Maryland state legislature is back in session, and the Democrats have announced that one of their priorities is overriding Governor Larry Hogan’s veto last year of a bill that would automatically re-enfranchise felons when they are released from prison, even if they are still on parole or probation (Maryland already automatically re-enfranchises felons once they are no longer on probation or parole). Governor Hogan is adamant that this is a bad bill.

And Governor Hogan is right, so here’s hoping that the veto-override effort fails. 

If you aren’t willing to follow the law yourself, then you can’t demand a role in making the law for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote. We don’t let everyone vote — not children, not non-citizens, not the mentally incompetent, and not felons — because we have certain objective, minimum standards of responsibility and commitment to our laws that must be met before someone is given a role in the solemn enterprise of self-government. People who have committed a serious crime against their fellow citizens don’t meet those standards.

The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf, not automatically on the day someone walks out of prison — let alone when parole and probation have not yet been served. After all, the unfortunate truth is that most people who walk out of prison will be walking back in. Deep down, the Left knows all this; that’s why, though it is happy to let felons vote, it is somehow reluctant to restore their Second Amendment rights.   

The Maryland bill’s proponents can’t make the (lame) argument in this case that the felon has “paid his debt to society” because he hasn’t, so now they are arguing that re-enfranchisement leads to less recidivism. But there is no persuasive evidence that this is so, and in fact the claim confuses cause and effect. That is, the people who have turned over a new leaf do not commit crimes, and so they have had their right to vote restored and they vote; they do not decide to turn over a new leaf because their right to vote has been restored.

Thus, while it is frequently claimed that a Florida study supports re-enfranchisement, former attorney general Michael Mukasey has pointed out that this claim is flawed:

“Florida has had, and indeed has broadened, a system that requires felons to go through an application process before their voting rights are restored. Obviously, those who are motivated to navigate such a process self-select as a group less likely to repeat their crimes. Suggesting that the automatic restoration of voting rights to all felons would lower recidivism is rather like suggesting that we can raise the incomes of all college students if we automatically grant them a college degree—because statistics show that people with college degrees have higher incomes than those without them.”

We have written more about this issue here.  Kudos and good luck to Governor Hogan and the Maryland legislators who are supporting him.

Ten Things that Caught My Eye Today (Jan. 15, 2015)

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

1. Your friend the one-note pony had a favorite debate moment last night:

 

2. And I, of course, always enjoy a Bill Buckley shout-out. Even if from Donald Trump. Even if I totally get what Ted Cruz is saying about New York values. On the other hand … I grew up here. And so did National Review. There was some pushback on Twitter to New Yorkers defending their town, especially from our parts last night. But totally see what we mean, too. Among those who have worked in NR NY offices over the years: Whittaker Chambers – WFB described him as “the most important American defector from Communism.” Good things happen here and good people reside here too. And we fight for our values – and work to build something better (I think of the Sisters of Life and Avail, Gianna Center and Good Counsel Homes and The Human Life Review and the Chiaroscuro Foundation and the World Youth Alliance, to name only a few).

And this seems like as good a time as any to consider re-reading Witness, and especially Chambers’ letter to his children in it. (Anytime is.)

3. 

4. 

5. Of course we would go into the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade with a Planned Parenthood lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress.

My Q&A this summer with the man behind the videos here. In a way, it’s only appropriate. Like the anniversary of Roe always being on what seems like the coldest day in winter. (Not ALWAYS. But often.)

Keep reading this post . . .

NR Coming to New Hampshire — Sign Up Now!

by Jack Fowler

All who are anticipating word about that great quadrennial event, wait no more: National Review will be in Manchester on February 6 for a most fun evening of ruminating, riffing, and debate-watching (it’s the pre-primary GOP debate being held at St. Anselm College, to be broadcast on ABC). Subscribers and NRO denizens and usual suspects are invited, but urged to register now as seating is limited (our simple policy: no register, no admit). The Ballroom doors at the Radisson Hotel Manchester (700 Elm Street) will open at 5:00 p.m., and the action-packed program begins at 6:00 p.m.

In store: A panel session featuring Rich Lowry, Charlie Cooke, and other at-the-scene NR editors and writers, in the Granite State to assess the presidential race and the looming primary vote, followed by a special live snort-and-chuckle-inducing edition of GLoP Culture, featuring the acclaimed trio of Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long, and John Podhoretz (all the night’s proceedings will captured and broadcast over the ether by the techno whizzes at Ricochet). Then the ensembled (we’re expecting a 400-plus crowd as we had in 2008 and 2012 — both of them terrific affairs) will watch the debate from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. And then, before you can say “spin room,” the GLoP threesome will be back on stage, tanned, rested, and ready to share a smart post-debate take that will end the night with a laugh.

Now get this: The event (plus food!) is free. But it’s limited (to the first 400 people). There is parking available, but that’s between you and the Radisson. And so are the drinks — we’ll have a bar setup, but we can’t buy everything, so you’ll have to handle your own brewskis. To reserve a spot, sign up here. It’s the law. And even though the event truly is free, you’re not going to be a complete mooch: figure on spotting NR a few sawbucks as the very worthwhile cost of an exceptional evening.

Republicans Need to Start Talking about Cutting Spending

by Veronique de Rugy

Please forgive me for asking but after last night’s debate I wonder when — or if — the Republican presidential candidates will ever have a real conversation about cutting government spending. While the issue of deficits and debt came up a few times, always in the context of blaming President Obama while ignoring any role the Republican Congress has played, the question of how to deal with the nation’s greatest fiscal challenges was almost completely ignored. There was one question about entitlements. But everyone — except Governor Chris Christie — used their media-training skills to bridge to another topic.

The government spends way more than it takes in. And it will get worse with the explosion of spending on Obamacare subsidies, Social Security, and Medicare and Medicaid. At this point, the government can’t tax or grow its way out of this mess. Spending needs to go down. Entitlements need to be reformed. There is no other way to go about it.

However, all we got last night on the spending side (with the exception of Christie’s few comments) was Marco Rubio complaining about Ted Cruz’s vote for a budget that would have cut defense spending, Mike Huckabee’s commitment to funding Social Security forever, and Jeb Bush demanding the end of sequestration (was he asleep the last 3 months?).

This is a huge problem considering that each candidate has a tax plan that would, without serious spending cuts, increase the debt and the deficit, even under dynamic scoring (at least at first). Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind that their tax plans aren’t revenue neutral. In fact, I think it is a good thing because it means they would reduce the amount of money the government collects from us as well as reforming a messed up tax code. But while starving the government beast sounds great to hardcore limited-government types like me, enacting a very large tax cut in a fiscal environment of large deficits is very problematic. And I am not even talking about the politics of such a plan — or the freak out that would follow on the Democratic side.

First, as Milton Friedman reminded us, the true size of government is measured by how much it spends, not by how much it collects. Hence, feeling good about low taxes while the government continues to be a leviathan is nothing more than self-deception.

Then, there is the fact that if Republicans want to continue to afford their foreign policy or want to continue to be able to fund a military with exploding health-care and retirement costs, they’ll have to make some hard choices. And by that, I don’t mean just reducing the growth of non-defense discretionary spending. You can’t have it all after a certain level of debt and deficits.

Finally, the problem with excessive debt and deficits (apart from the fact that it will drag down the economy) is that there comes a point when it limits our ability to respond to emergencies, whether they are military emergencies, economic emergencies, or natural disasters. The Congressional Budget Office has been making that case for a while but no one seems willing to listen.

Hence, to truly starve the beast, the only sensible approach — both politically and economically — is to propose serious spending restraint. To be sure, Senators Rubio and Paul, as well as Jeb Bush, are on the record saying they favor spending cuts and genuine entitlement reform. But then again you have Governor Kasich, who has expanded Medicaid, while several others are totally silent on the issue.

I find the absence of any serious and detailed conversation about cutting spending and reforming entitlements distressing, if only because — if history is our guide — Republicans in the White House and in Congress have shown that they aren’t that eager to address the issue.

Christie Brazens It Out

by Ramesh Ponnuru

The other day I marveled at Christie’s apparent strategy of hoping nobody has Google. Last night he stuck to that plan.

So let’s set the facts straight. First of all, I didn’t support Sonia Sotomayor. Secondly, I never wrote a check to Planned Parenthood. Third, if you look at my record as governor of New Jersey, I have vetoed a 50-caliber rifle ban.

He did, in fact, urge that Sotomayor be confirmed (as I noted in that earlier post). As for that .50-caliber ban, here’s part of an April 2013 press release from. . . the office of Governor Chris Christie:

RESPONSIBLY EXPANDING NEW JERSEY’S ALREADY STRINGENT GUN CONTROL MEASURES

Governor Christie’s plan to responsibly expand New Jersey’s strict gun control measures includes:

Banning future purchases of the Barrett .50 Caliber (New Jersey law would ban any weapon that is substantially identical to the Barrett .50 Caliber) . . .

Christie did end up vetoing a bill including that ban, but only after proposing it himself.

As for Planned Parenthood: Christie now says that the 1994 news story that reported that he had said he donated to the organization “was a misquote.” Presumably what he actually said was something like, “Even though I am still pro-choice, for now, I oppose Planned Parenthood with every fiber of my being,” and the reporter just misheard him.

(disclosure)

How Obama Stole Dubuque: Local and Federal Officials Respond

by Stanley Kurtz

On Wednesday I told the story of Obama’s outrageous takeover of housing policy in Dubuque, the most frightening example yet of how the administration’s new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule will actually work. Today’s Dubuque Telegraph Herald features a story on the reaction of local and federal officials to my account. Bottom line: they’re angry about the piece but refuse to provide any evidence that it’s mistaken. Dubuque City Manager Mike Van Milligen says “the city will not respond to the author’s opinions,” but claims my story is a mere blog post containing inaccuracies. So Millgen says my story is inaccurate, but he refuses to explain what’s mistaken. Meanwhile, HUD’s lead spokesman, Brian Sullivan, dismisses my article as “apocalyptic,” without explaining why it’s wrong. Fortunately, the Telegraph Herald gave me a chance to respond to charges of political bias. If this is the best HUD can do to parry claims of federal overreach, they are in serious trouble once the country gets wind of the truth about AFFH.

Tale of the Tape: Times Catches Trump Fibbing on China Tariff

by Andrew C. McCarthy

In the row over tariffs and trade policy at last night’s debate, Donald Trump denied a New York Times report that he had proposed imposition of a 45 percent tariff on China. When confronted about it, he said he’d been misquoted, sniping, “It’s the New York Times, they’re always wrong.”

The Times has now publicly released about four-and-a-half minutes of audio from its interview with Trump to demonstrate that he said precisely what the paper reported he said. It’s about 40 seconds from the end of the clip. (He uses tax and tariff interchangeably, saying, “I would tax China…. I would do a tariff” and, ultimately, that “the tax should be 45 percent.”)

There’s an amusing bit around the two-minute mark, too. Despite the paper’s being “always wrong,” Trump relies on a Times report for the proposition that a recent currency devaluation by China is the largest in 20 years. He says the Times wrote it as “two decades,” which The Donald thought “sounds eloquent,” adding, “That’s why there’s good writers at the Times.” 

The Limits of Likability

by Mona Charen

There are paradoxes in American politics. One of them is this: We are supposedly moved to choose the more “likable” candidate and we profess to hate negative campaigning. During last night’s debate, the audience grumbled or booed when candidates (including Trump, who is so admired for his toughness) made direct attacks on their adversaries. It made the audience uncomfortable. But as politicians know, disdaining “going negative” is a luxury candidates cannot afford because it works and it always has. 

Two candidates on the main stage last night demonstrated that they are either miserably bad at going negative (Jeb Bush, who asked Donald Trump to “reconsider” his views on Muslim immigration) and Ben Carson (who just doesn’t have the stomach for it). Ben Carson is one of the great Americans of our time and it’s a shame that he felt he could only help the country that he loves by running for an office he is thoroughly unprepared to fill. Running for president has become the equivalent of seeking a knighthood or a Nobel Peace Prize. When a kid delivers a good speech in high school debate class, people say “You should run for president.” There are other ways to excel (well, no one needs to tell Dr. Carson that), but these vanity races are a waste of everyone’s time and money. Carson is the most likable of men, but it takes you only so far.

Donald Trump, who is also, in my judgment, unqualified to serve as president, does have the instinct for the jugular. He was able to hold his own against an unleashed Ted Cruz, who, we are constantly reminded, was a college debate champion. Marco Rubio, who has campaigned as a broad-spectrum conservative who can appeal to every segment of the Republican Party (with the exception of the center/left Kasich territory), was thought to be mortally wounded due to his support for the “Gang of Eight” bill. Rush Limbaugh practically read his political obituary yesterday afternoon. But Rubio demonstrated great nimbleness in parrying that issue by noting that Ted Cruz’s immigration positions were not that different from his own, and by arguing that the immigration question has changed in light of the threat from ISIS. This has resonance with many on the right. Larry Kudlow, for example, a longtime advocate of legal immigration, was moved after Paris and San Bernardino to endorse a pause in all immigration. 

Ted Cruz counters that his support for increased immigration was a poison pill, but his advocacy of increasing H1B visas sure sounded sincere at the time. It’s certainly fair to change your mind, but not to deny that you have done so, or to imply that everyone else is fatally squishy. As in his earlier tangles with Jeb Bush, Rubio came prepared and landed a few roundhouses at Cruz’s expense. He is no pushover.

Chris Christie lied about some major issues: His support for the nomination of Sonio Sotomayor, his 1994 personal check to Planned Parenthood, and his claim that he eliminated Common Core in New Jersey. Just because you look straight into the camera does not mean you are frank.

I think there were 3 tickets out of last night’s debate and they were issued to Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. But it’s been an odd year.

Friday Links

by debbywitt

January 17 is Ben Franklin’s birthday – bio, quotes, videos, his 200 synonyms for drunk, the bodies found in his basement, and more

1932: U.S. Army kicks U.S. veterans out of Washington

A brief history of shaving

Prohibition in the United States began on January 16, 1920

The delicate art of breeding cheetahs

Dinosaurs performed dances to woo mates, according to new evidence.

ICYMIThursday’s links are here, and include the Feast of the Ass, an infographic on the most powerful weapon in sci-fi history, a map of power outages caused by squirrels (with bonus squirrel-related links), and that time President George H. W. Bush escaped cannibals.

Bartiromo: ‘Why Increase Immigration?’ Rubio: ‘Look, Snowden! Crop Insurance!’

by Mark Krikorian

Finally, someone asked about the central question of immigration policy: How many? Here’s what Maria Bartiromo asked of Rubio in Thursday night’s debate:

Under current law, the U.S. is on track to issue more new permanent immigrants on green cards over the next five years than the entire population of South Carolina. The CBO says your 2013 immigration bill would have increased green cardholders by another 10 million over 10 years.

Why are you so interested in opening up borders to foreigners when American workers have a hard enough time finding work?

Unfortunately, Rubio dodged and weaved and brought up every other issue he could think of rather than answer. And he got away with it.

First, he suggested terrorist penetration of our immigration system wasn’t a problem in 2013, when he served as the public face of Chuck Schumer’s amnesty/immigration-surge bill:

The issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, 36 months ago, you did not have a group of radical crazies named ISIS who were burning people in cages and recruiting people to enter our country legally. They have a sophisticated understanding of our legal immigration system and we now have an obligation to ensure that they are not able to use that system against us.

Okay, but 24 months ago we had a group of radical crazies named al Qaeda who had a sophisticated understanding of our legal immigration system. My colleague Steve Camarota published a report 164 months ago detailing “How Militant Islamic Terrorists Entered and Remained in the United States, 1993-2001″. Spoiler alert: Most of them used our legal immigration system.

And freelance immigrant terrorists existed way back in 2013 too. In fact, Rubio and Schumer introduced their bill just two days after the Boston Marathon bombing; regarding immigration and terrorism, Rubio said at the time “We should really be very cautious about using language that links these two things in any way.” He also tweeted:

In the debate, Rubio followed this bogus diversion by making the legitimate point that Cruz had also backed increases in immigration (a position Cruz has renounced more recently). That should have led to a discussion of numbers but instead, Rubio proceeded to, as Cruz put it, dump his opposition research folder on the debate stage, talking about Cruz’s views on crop insurance and Edward Snowden. There’s a reason launched this attack then, and not during their earlier discussions over, say, tax policy – Rubio knows he’s extraordinarily vulnerable on the immigration issue, especially on his continuing desire to double legal immigration (and triple H-1B visas), and he’ll do or say anything to avoid discussing it.

If this question hadn’t been buried til almost the end of the debate, and if the moderators (who did a good job overall) had pursued the issue and sought an actual answer to their question and gotten Trump and Jeb and the others to weigh in, voters might have had a better idea of the candidates’ immigration views.

And here is Numbers USA’s ad on this exact question, that ran during the debate:

Ted Cruz is Growing in Stature; Donald Trump is Getting More Plausible

by Rich Lowry

It has basically been a Trump–Cruz race the last couple of weeks, and it felt that way for much of the debate, and it seems that way after it.

I think the big event of the night was that Cruz showed he can stand up to the Biggest, Baddest Guy on the Stage. He went out of his way to clash with Trump on the eligibility question, when he could have tried to only address the merits of the question and leave Trump out of it. And he owned Trump in that exchange. Clearly, Cruz had thought through every possible permutation of the argument.

Cruz got bested by Trump on New York values and dinged up by Marco Rubio a bit at the end, but overall he was excellent. He is growing in stature and looking more and more like a plausible nominee. 

But so is Trump. Even when Cruz was running rings around him on eligibility, Trump was fun and roguishly frank about how he is hitting Cruz because he is rising in the polls. It’s hard to exaggerate how good Trump’s New York answer was: No politician in either party could do it better. It speaks to a native political skill that is very impressive. Just imagine if Trump knew something, or actually was prepared. His closing was also notable and showed real range — he slowed down and spoke more quietly about the humiliation of the detention of our sailors, and it was very effective.

Trump remains a big, dominant figure, and is only getting better, with only a couple of weeks to go until actual voting. 

I thought Rubio was good, if a little uneven. His team clearly wants him to sound harsher and more emphatic. It mostly worked for him, but also felt a little unnatural at times, and he has to be careful about not giving himself an authenticity problem. He didn’t seem comfortable with his attack on Christie, and the governor shut him down later saying Rubio “blew it” when the senator ignored a question about entitlements to instead hit Cruz on his VAT plan.

Rubio was better than Christie, John Kasich, and Jeb Bush, but not as good as Cruz and Trump, which reflects his current position in the race.

As for the others: Christie can certainly speak to the mood of the Republican electorate, but his record is a drag on him; Kasich is only relevant to the center–left in New Hampshire and won’t be able to do anything with a decent showing there regardless; Jeb is just not a strong performer in these forums.

In sum, there wasn’t anything transformative, but the shape of the race is steadily coming into focus.

Trump Won

by David French

For some time now, people who believe in the theory of Donald Trump’s inevitable demise have thought that he’d either say something so outrageous that voters would finally reject him or he’d perform so poorly in debates that voters would flee to more polished candidates. Well, it’s safe to say that the outrageous comments theory had been discredited, and — after tonight’s debate — it’s clear that Trump isn’t going to beat himself in direct competition with his colleagues.

Ten minutes into tonight’s debate, however, I wasn’t so sure. Ted Cruz demolished the birther question so effortlessly, so naturally, that I thought it was Cruz’s night. But then came the “New York values” question. Trump bested Cruz, and in doing so he subtly made a point that conservatives need to remember — we can’t and shouldn’t write off any part of America. By hearkening back to New York’s heart after 9/11, for a moment Trump transcended politics. How easily we forget, but for weeks after the terror attacks, New York was America. By the end of the exchange, Cruz was applauding and Trump was ascendant.

The bottom line? Going into the debate, Trump had a solid lead. There was nothing that happened to dissuade Trump’s followers. Indeed, he likely inspired the plurality that support him — persuading them that he’s ready for more debates, including an ultimate confrontation with Hillary Clinton.

As for the other leaders, Cruz had perhaps his best debate. The “birther” exchange showed that a good debater can mix knowledge with humor, and he sliced and diced Trump more effectively than any candidate in the race. But then he endured two withering attacks — first from Trump on the “New York values” question and then, later, from Rubio who dumped a massive amount of opposition research on Cruz in one devastating minute.

Finally, I like angry Rubio. As someone said on Twitter, you can make a smart person angry, but you can’t make an angry person smart. If he can slow down his delivery just a bit, then his natural eloquence is powerful when he makes a forceful argument. His argument on gun control was outstanding, as was his critique of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy. 

So far, it’s a Trump/Cruz/Rubio race, and this debate didn’t knock Trump from the top. He won, but his chief competitors performed well. The next few weeks will be interesting indeed.

Rubio vs. Cruz on Taxes

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Rubio accused Cruz of having a value-added tax, and Cruz denied it. Value-added taxes come in several different flavors, and people can use the phrase in different ways. It can safely be said, though, that Cruz’s business tax is economically very similar to value-added taxes, and in particular is similar in that consumers and wage-earners would bear much of its burden. The plan also has elements that cut the other way: It gets rid of the payroll tax, for example, which would raise wages. The Tax Foundation says that overall, it would lower tax burdens for most people. But the structure of the business flat tax means that it would not lower those burdens as much as you would think if you just focused on the 10 percent flat tax Cruz mentioned.

Rubio noted that this tax burden would be hidden in a way that would make it easier for it to grow over time–a fear conservatives have traditionally taken seriously. For this reason, I’ve suggested that Cruz modify his plan.

Cruz contrasted his plan with Rubio’s by noting that Rubio’s would leave the top income-tax rate at 35 percent, much higher than the 10 percent in Cruz’s plan. But Cruz’s comparison ignores the way his business flat tax would hit individuals. The true top marginal tax rate in Cruz’s plan would be lower than Rubio’s, true, but not that much lower: A better comparison is 35 for Rubio vs. 24.4 for Cruz. And for people lower on the income scale, the comparison turns in Rubio’s favor: The marginal rate for couples making less than $150,000 a year would be 15 percent in Rubio’s plan and 24.4 in Cruz’s. The Tax Foundation estimates that filers in the 40th to the 50th percentile would see about twice as large an increase in after-tax income under Rubio’s plan than under Cruz’s plan.

So Rubio’s tax cut is bigger for people in the middle of the income spectrum–but that also means that it reduces revenues a lot more, and thus would increase deficits a lot more if not coupled with spending cuts.

(disclosure)

My Takeaways from Tonight

by Jonah Goldberg

It was Donald Trump’s best debate, though his China tariff answer was a hot mess and Cruz had the better of him on the birther nonsense. But it was also Ted Cruz’s best debate, even though Marco Rubio’s jabs left a lot of marks, and Cruz lost on the New York values exchange (and given that the media is so New York obsessed, that will get outsized coverage tomorrow). It was Marco Rubio’s best debate, but he sounded too desperate at times. Substantively, it was Jeb’s best debate, but it may just be too late. Also, his body language is still poor. It was Christie’s second-best debate. I can’t remember if it was Kasich’s best, but he did a very good job of not being filled with anger like last time. Ben Carson seemed like he was resigned to the fact it’s all pretty much over.

Obviously, I have my agreements and disagreements with everybody on the stage, but as a political matter I’m not sure any trend lines will change appreciably because of tonight. A lot depends on which clips and exchanges become the basis of TV chatter over the next few days. But one thing is clear, any hopes of destroying Trump on a debate stage are now dead.

Cruz: ‘I Appreciate You Dumping Your Oppo Research Folder on the Debate Stage’; Rubio: ‘That’s Your Record’

by Tom S. Elliott

Tonight’s biggest battle came when Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tore each into each other’s respective histories on immigration. After Rubio said his position shifted in response to ISIS’s “sophisticated understanding” of how to infiltrate America, Cruz responded that Islamic fundamentalism existed before ISIS. He then hit Rubio’s “gang of eight” immigration bill, which gave the president broad authority to clear refugees for entry. That sparked a Rubio response that tore into every perceived Cruz policy shift.

“I appreciate your dumping your oppo research folder on the debate stage,” Cruz said.

“It’s your record,” Rubio replied.

Here’s the full exchange:  

BARTIROMA: Under current law, the U.S. Is on track to issue more new permanent immigrants on green cards over the next five years than the entire population of South Carolina. The CBO says your 2013 immigration bill would have increased green card holders by another 10 million over 10 years. Why are you so interested in opening up borders to foreigners when American workers have a hard enough time finding work? 

RUBIO: First of all, this is an issue that’s been debated for 30 years, and for 30 years, the issue of immigration has been about someone in this country, maybe here illegally, but they’re looking for a job. This issue is not about that anymore. First and foremost, this issue has to be more than anything else about keeping America safe. And here’s why, there’s a radical jihadist group that is manipulating our immigration system, and not just green cards. They’re recruiting people that enter as doctors, and engineers, and even fiancees, they understand the vulnerabilities we have on the southern border, they’re looking to manipulate the visa waiver countries to get people into the United States. So our number one priority must now become ensuring that ISIS cannot get killers into the United States. Whether it’s green cards or any other form of entry into America, when I’m president, if we do not know who you are or why you are coming, you are not going to get into the United States of America.
BARTIROMA: So your thinking has changed? 
RUBIO: The issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, 36 months ago, you did you not have a group of radical crazies named ISIS burning people in cages and recruiting people to enter our country legally. They have a sophisticated understanding of our legal immigration system, and we now have an obligation to ensure that they are not able to use that system against us. The entire system of legal immigration must now be reexamined for security first and foremost with an eye on ISIS. Because they’re recruiting people to enter to this country as engineers, posing as doctors, posing as refugees. We know this for a fact. They contacted trafficking networks in the western hemisphere to get people in through the southern border. They got a killer in San Bernardino posing as a fiancee. This issue now has to be stopping ISIS entering the United States, and when I’m president, we will. 
CRUZ: Maria? Radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, we had Al Qaeda, we had Boko Haram, we had Hezbollah, we had Iran putting operatives in Central America, South America. It’s the reason why I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and led the fight to stop the gang of eight amnesty bill. It was clear then like it’s clear now that border security is national security. 
BARTIROMA: Thank you, senator. 
CRUZ: It is also the case that that Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill, one of the things it did, it expanded Barack Obama’s power to let in Syrian refugees, it enabled the president to certify them en masse without mandating meaningful background checks. I think that’s a mistake. That’s why I’m leading the fight to stop it, and I would note, the Senate a few weeks ago voted to suspend refugees from Middle Eastern countries. I voted yes to suspend that. Marco voted on the other side. You can’t say we need to secure the borders and at the same time, try to give give Barack Obama more authority to allow Middle Eastern refugees coming in when the head of the FBI tells us they cannot vet them to determine if they are ISIS terrorists. 
RUBIO: Maria, let me clear something up here. This is an interesting point when you talk about immigration. Ted Cruz, you used to say you supported doubling the number of green cards, now you say that you’re against it. You used to support a 500 percent increase in the number of guest workers, now you say you’re against it. You used to support legalizing people that were here illegally. Now you are against it. You used to say you were in favor of birthright citizenship. Now you say that you are against it. Not just on immigration, you used to support TPA, now you say you are against it. I saw you on the Senate floor flip your vote on crop insurance because they told you it would help you in Iowa. And last week we all saw you flip the vote on Iowa for the same reason. That is not consistent conservatism. That is political calculation. When I am president, I will work consistently to keep this country safe, not call Edward Snowden, as you did, a great public servant as you did. Edward Snowden is a traitor. If I get my hands on him, he is standing trial for treason. One more point: Every single time there has been a defense bill in the Senate, three people team up to vote against it. Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. In fact, the only budget you have ever voted for, Ted, in entire time in the Senate is a budget from Rand Paul that brags about or cuts defense. Here’s the bottom line, if I’m president of the United States and Congress tries to cut the military, I will veto that in a millisecond. 
CAVUTO: Gentlemen, gentlemen — 
CRUZ: I’m going to get a response to that, Neil. There’s no way he’s going to launch that. He had no fewer than 11 attacks there. I appreciate your dumping your oppo research folder on the debate stage. 
RUBIO: It’s your record. 
CRUZ: I will say at least half of the things Marco said are flat-out false. [Booing] Absolutely false. Start with immigration. Let’s start with immigration and have a little clarity. Marco stood with Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama on amnesty. I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King. Marco stood today, stand on this stage Marco supports legalization and citizenship for 12 million illegals. I opposed and oppose legalization and citizenship. And by the way, the attack he keeps throwing out on the military budget, Marco knows full well, I voted for his amendment to increase military spending to $697 billion. What he said and said it in the last debate, it’s simply not true. And as president I will rebuild the military and keep this country safe.

Cruz’s Night

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Cruz didn’t win every exchange, I thought: Both Rubio and Trump won some of their exchanges (“New York values,” the value-added tax) with him. But I thought the exchanges Cruz won (birtherism, immigration) were more politically important than the ones he lost, and so I’d say he did more good for himself than anyone else.

(disclosure)

Ted Cruz, the Cool, Prepared Bomb Squad Technician

by Jim Geraghty

This debate ran hot and cold — some fiery, fascinating, revealing exchanges among the leading candidates, interrupted by long stretches of the underdogs trying to get attention, and generally failing, by offering reheated servings of their offerings in previous debates.

The first headline of the night came with Ted Cruz’s methodical dismantling of Trump’s he’s Canadian/he’s ineligible argument. With the cool precision of a bomb squad technician, Cruz made Donald Trump look shifty and dishonest in his accusation, and gleefully pointed out that if the standard for natural-born requires two American citizen parents — has anyone seriously argued for that? — then Cruz, Rubio, Jindal and Trump himself would be ineligible. Ted Cruz does his homework, knows all the arguments backwards and forwards, and — gah, it kills me to write this! — unflappably executes his playbook with a methodical, Belichick-like precision, adjusting for whatever the defense throws at him. Cruz fans like to boast their man would mop the floor with Hillary Clinton, and tonight, that boast seemed more credible. At the risk of sounding like Mel Kiper Jr., tonight Cruz demonstrated great anticipation and quickness.

But . . . in one of the great unexpected twists of the night, Trump came back against Cruz on the “New York values” argument. Out of all the problems with Trump, it’s rather foolish to use geography against him, and while invoking 9/11 could seem maudlin on clumsier hands, when the loud, bombastic Trump speaks more softly, from the heart about his home city, it struck just the right note. Trump had a pretty good night, justifying his anger over the state of the country. His plan for tariffs on Chinese goods might be economic suicide, but I’ll bet to the ears of laymen who are instinctively distrustful of China it sounded like a reasonable form of retaliation.

Marco Rubio had another good night, a little caffeinated at the beginning, but hitting his points and playing to his strengths. A lot of people liked Rubio’s exchange with Cruz on immigration, countering that Cruz flip-flops and changes his position. (Why did this topic get discussed after 11 p.m. Eastern?) In the end, Rubio is going to be perceived as the more pro-immigration candidate and Cruz the more anti-immigration one. Can “you’re a flip-flopper” sufficiently deflect attacks on a position that is fundamentally unpopular among the GOP grassroots right now?

Chris Christie is still a natural on television, but he showed some irritating slipperiness. He shouted to President Obama “we’re gonna kick your rear end out of the White House!” . . . to a president who’s term-limited. (Where was this intense desire to evict Obama in, say, October 2012, when Christie was praising Obama’s work in the hurricane response?) Christie also said he had never donated to Planned Parenthood, and either he’s lying now or he was lying back in 1994 when he said he did make personal donations to the group.

Jeb Bush had some better moments tonight, including making some good points about how Trump’s keep-all-the-Muslims-out plan will alienate Muslim allies and people whose help we need in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda and other jihadists. It’s hard to see how anything that happened tonight really changes his standing, though.

Ben Carson . . . just hasn’t done the homework on the two biggest topics in the debate, national security and economics. Too often, he relied on non-answers like, “What we need to do is get a group of experts together . . .” He’s a nice, bright man, who really seemed to need a question on stereotactic craniotomy to get rolling.

John Kasich remains a really annoying, preachy, malfunctioning automaton who serves as the natural bathroom break opportunity for those committed to watching the whole debate.

‘New York Values’

by Kevin D. Williamson

I like Ted Cruz a great deal and would rather hear my doctor telling me I have testicular cancer than hear Fox News reporting that Donald Trump has been elected president, but hating New York City and “New York values” — which is shorthand for hating Americans who live in cities — doesn’t seem to me like a very good long-term strategy.

National Review is based in New York. Norman Podhoretz is a New Yorker. The New Criterion is in New York. Irving Kristol was a New Yorker. Milton Friedman was a New Yorker. Hell, Ayn Rand became a New Yorker as soon as she could. William F. Buckley Jr. was a man of the Upper East Side.

America wouldn’t be America without New York, or without New Yorkers.

A great deal of wonderful, fruitful, productive, creative things happen in America’s cities. Being the party that urinates on them from a great height is not terribly bright.

Dr. Carson Cites Comments Sections in Noting Coarsening of American Culture

by Tom S. Elliott

Asked about the propriety of Bill Clinton’s affairs factoring into Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, Dr. Ben Carson said these questions are appropriate, and then mourned the coarsening of American culture. “You go to the Internet, you start reading article, you go through the comments section, you can not go five comments down before people are calling each other all manner of names,” Carson said. ”Where did that spirit come from in America? It did not come from our Judeo-Christian roots, I can tell you that.”

Here’s his full comment:

Well there is no question that we should be able to look at any past president, whether they’re married to somebody who is running for president or not, in terms of their past behavior and what it means. But you know, here’s the real issue. Is this America anymore? Do we still have standards? Do we still have values and principles? You look at what is going on. You see all the divisiveness and hatred that goes on in our society. We have a war on virtually everything. Race wars, gender wars, income wars, religious wars, age wars. Every war you can imagine we have people at each other’s throats. And our strength is actually in our unity. You know, you go to the Internet, you start reading article, you go through the comment section, you can not go five comments down before people are calling each other all manner of names. Where did that spirit come from in America? It did not come from our Judeo-Christian roots, I can tell you that. And wherever it came from — [applause] — We need to start once again recognizing that there is such a thing as right and wrong. And let’s not let the secular progressives drive that out of us. The majority of people in America actually have values and principles and believe in very things that made America great. They’ve been beaten into submission. It’s time for us to stand up for what we believe in.