CNBC Republican Debate: Live Blogging GOP Michigan Debate

I am live blogging the CNBC GOP debate tonight beginning at 7 pm CDT. View the debate live herefind your local TV channel here or hang out at Maggie’s Notebook and I’ll be updating the page often.

The Michigan Republican Party and CNBC is sponsoring the debate. The theme is ‘Your Money, Your Vote.’ The place is Oakland University in Rochester. CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, anchor of “Closing Bell,”  and CNBC chief Washington correspondent, John Harwood are moderating.

Participating are Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Huntsman, Paul, Perry, Romney and Santorum.

HERES MY OPINION NOW THAT IT’S OVER: Bachmann won the debate, but she will not get credit for it – as usual. Newt was great and the feistiness was there – is a co-winner. He leveled Maria Bartiroma on how the media is not reporting the economy correctly. What a hoot! He’s brilliant.

Cain looked good and he was strong. He didn’t let the panel move him off message. He handled himself well. 

I like Rick Santorum, but he did not look good tonight. Nothing wrong with his answers but he seemed to whine about what he has already done, and he wasn’t always generous to others on the panel. There is a way to criticize and differ, and then there is that feeling that someone is whining to Mommy. I think he’s done, but he feels very good about the primaries.

8:59PM – OMgosh, Cain is being interviewed now, still on the stage, debate over. This lame interviewer thinks the audience booed when Cain was asked about the problems he has had this week. I can tell you, the audience booed because the question was asked.

For other perspectives, Karen at The Lonely Conservative was pounding away and has lots of detail, The Other McCain has opinions.

7:00 pm – The debate is live now and we are seeing the miserable economics of the state of Michigan – “saved at the brink by a controversial bailout.”

Maria Bartiromo and John Harwood introduce themselves.

Maria: Focus almost exclusively on the economy and how to fix the financial situation of this country.

60 seconds to respond. 30 seconds for rebuttals.

Jim Kramer, host of Mad Money is on the panel.

Maria: Dow dropped 400+ points due to Italy. What will you do to make sure their problems will not take down our econmy.

CAIN: We must grow the economy. Can’t do that until we fuel the engine. Can’t do that with our loaded caboose. A dollar must be a dollar when we wake up in the morning. We must seriously cut spending.

Maria: Focus on our economy and let Italy fail?

CAIN: No, we our our economy must be strengthened.

ROMNEY: We must not bail out banks in Europe or here.

Maria: The US contributes to the IMF. Are you saying we must stop those contributions?

ROMNEY: I’m happy to donate to the IMF, but we must make sure we never reach the kind of problem Italy is having. We must get serious or 4 or 5 years from now we will be Italy.

PAUL: [on debt and deficit] You have to let it liquidate. We’ve taken 40 years to build up this debt. If you profit up, we’ll do what we did in the Great Depression. We must liquidate the debt. We are the road to perpetuating this for years more and it’s very dangerous.

KRAMER: If Italy falls doesn’t it involve our banks to?

HUNTSMAN: You are seeing the metastis affect. Too Big to Fail is our problem. We have 6 banks with assets of 66% of our GDP. We are setting ourselves up for disaster. We have to get back to properly sized banks and financial institutions.

Harwood: Now that bailouts for the auto industry has the companies profitable, but you want no more bailouts, why should Republicans feel confident in your plans?

ROMNEY: Bailout by Bush or Obama, it was the wrong way to go. Private bankruptcy process was the best way to go. Gave GM to the UAW. Government played it’s heavy plan. Bankruptcy would have been better for the country.

Harwood to Romeny: You said “I’m running for office for pete’s sake.” What can you do to convince the people that you are serious about the office of the president? [Ridiculous question!]

ROMNEY responds as he should, he’s going on to support his record. I will be true to my family, my faith and my country. I will never apologize for America.

PERRY: We must send a message to the American people. We will trust the capital markets and let the markets pick the winners and losers, not Washington DC

MARIA: Why is tax reform essential to job creation in light of massive unemployment.

GINGRICH: Ben Bernake should be fired a soon as possible and we must know why we bailed out those we bailed out. The Fed Reserve must be audited and limited. We have no American energy and we have class warfare.

BACHMANN: Taxes lead to American countries leaving the country. Capital is mobile. Capital went to where corporate tax rates went to 25%. Our reguatory burden is huge – ObamaCare the biggest immediate problem. We must legalize American energy and build the fence on our southern border.

SANTORUM: The tax rate is down for some secor. Govt has made us uncompetitive, compete on regulations, repeal ObamaCare. Send a clear msg, America will compete. I want an atmosphere lower taxes, zero tax if you repatriate back to the US. We must produce energy here and cut all subsidies.

Here it comes to Cain about the “character issues.” Why should America look to him as a leader. The audience boos. (Maria asks the question)

CAIN: Americans deserve better than being tried in the court of public opinion without substantiated charges. I value my integrity.

Harwood: Would you keep Cain on if you bought his company? (audience boos)

ROMNEY: I won’t answer that.

Harwood: Occupy Wall Street. Do you consider something wrong with the equality of income in this country and should government do something to right it?

HUNTSMAN: I will be president of the 99% and the 1%. I don’t like the anti-capitalsm message, but I will say that this country will never again bailout corporations. We have banks too big to fail. We must address that problem. The bailout in the auto sector $66B-worth, not a good use of taxpayer monies. The people in this country are sick and tired of seeing money go for bailouts.

Kramer: do public companies have any responsibility to create jobs, or only to make profits?

ROMNEY: Democrats think when a corporation makes profits it’s a bad thing. I say profit is what’s left over after all expenses have been paid. Today we have a president who doesn’t like businesses. I want business to thrive and create jobs.

PERRY: Of course companies can be profitable and create jobs. Tax reform will put out the sign: Open for Business again.

GINGRICH: Most people, including those Occupiers (Wall Street) don’t have a clue about history. Bill Gates drops out of college and makes computers. Was he in the 1% or the 99%. The media must report accurately on business.

MARIA: What is wrong with the way the media is reporting on Occupy Wall Street and the economy?

GINGRICH: What? I haven’t heard a single intelligent question asked of anyone in Occupy Wall Street. How about asking them who will pay for the park they are parked in if businesses fail? (huge applause)

MARIA: Fairness in taxation. Why now when the higher income group is doing better than the rest of America is it the time to tax the wealthy less.

CAIN: 9-9-9 throws out the current tax code. It is transparent. People can understand it. It is fair. Everybody gets treated the same, is the definition of “fair.”

MARIA: How do you assure that when the government needs more revenue, your plan won’t go to 19-19-19?

CAIN: It’s not the code that raises taxes, it’s the politicians who do that.

HARWOOD: You don’t advocate for a Flat or Fair tax. You want to preserve the Bush era tax cuts.

ROMNEY: The Obama economy has crushed middle income people. Median incomes have dropped 10%. I want to help the people who have been hurt the most. A sustantial tax break for middle incomes.

BACHMANN: Obama is wrong. He knows nothing about how to create jobs. He looks to Axelrod for his orders. We know what needs to be done. We have 53% of Americans paying all of the taxes. 47% pay NO INCOME TAXES. In my tax plan, every one pays something. The poorest can pay the equivalent of two happy meals a year.

PAUL: Everytime you spend, you tax. Address spending because it is a tax. cut $1T out of the budget in the first year. Get rid of price fixing. The price fixing of the federal reserve –  manipulating interest rates way below norm. They are ripping us off. What you want is the market to determine this. Who would think The Federal Reserve chairman knows what the rate should be?

No economic recovery without a recovery in house. $4M are behind on mortgages and thousands are underwater. Romney says let the market play out.

GINGRICH: Two steps in terms of housing. If the House next week would repeal Dodd-Frank, you would see the housing mkt pick up next week. It kills small banks. The banks are profiting more today by foreclosing than with short selling.

Maria: Not one of your 59 points plan addresses housing. Why?

ROMNEY: Because it’s not a housing plan, it’s a jobs plan. What Gingrich said is right. ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank are the opposite of what should be done.

Steve: Since 2010 the housing market has continued to decline. We’re at 2003 prices now. If we continue, we’ll be at 1999 prices.

ROMNEY: What would you have the govt do? Buy up all the houses. We’re in trouble because of the CRA, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Let markets work, people get jobs.

PERRY: Construction isn’t in negative numbers in America. What I’ve laid out, getting the energy industry freed up. Pull back all the land and water regulations. Get a flat tax. Real problem are regulations. All of them. They are killing America. The next president has to have the courage to pull back all regulations since 2008. If it’s killing jobs, do away with it.

BACHMANN: I agree that we have to stop what we’re doing now. At the time of meltdown, 50% of homes were financed by Fannie and Freddie. Today it’s 90%. It’s the epicenter of crony capitalism. For these genuises to give 10 of their execs bonuses of $13M each, that lunacy. Put Fannie and Freddie into bankruptcy.

GINGRICH: Your firm was paid Million by Fannie and Freddie. I received that for giving them the advice to stop doing what they were doing. I’ve done no lobbying. I was told loans were being made to people with no credit history – I told them to stop it.

CAIN: Start with fixing the real problem by bold solutions. Get the regulators out of the way so that small and medium-sized banks are not forced out of the industry, and show certainty in the future. Throw out the tax code. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be dealt with after doing what I just said. I would find a way to unwind the government’s involvement with FM and FM.

HUNTSMAN: Lost in this debate are the people feeling pain because their house is upside down or they have lost their job. Housing should be 15% of GDP. Today it’s 2%. Right-size banks. They are too big. Fix too Big to Fail. I would right size them by charging some fee from the banks that mitigates the risk tax payers are paying. Banks must take on the risk.

You will repeal ObamaCare, what’s the answer

HUNTSMAN: I would sit down with all Governors. I got it down in Utah. Address cost containment. How do you empower patients to understand what they are going. We must modernize records. We must take care of the uninsured without a mandate paying for it.

PAUL: We must have the right to opt out of ObamaCare. We should never have a mandate. Quality is going down. Prices are skyrocketing due to inflation. Medical savings account that is deductibe from taxes.

PERRY: Have a menu of options to choose from. Providers must have incentives on healthcare rather than sickcare. Let the states figure out how to handle Medicaid. We will do it properly and we will save huge money.

CAIN: HR3000 allows the decisions to be with the doctors. Princess Nancy [Pelosi] sent it to the trans can.

ROMNEY: Send Medicaid money to states. Let individuals buy insurance on their own. Do what Ron Paul said. Get healthcare to work more like a market. People have to have a stake.

GINGRICH: My colleagues have done an incredible job of answering a stupid question. We need a serious long discussion on television to discuss healthcare. Go to a doctor patient relationship and involve the family. Put Medicaid back to the state level. Focus on a new program on brain science to defeat Alzheimers and dementia, etc. Focus on vaccines.

BACHMANN: Allow any am to buy any health care anywhere in the US with no federal mandate and no government monopoly. All to pay all costs, co-pays, deductibles, with their own tax free money, and I would have true medical malpractice reform.

SANTORUM: In 1992 I introuded the first health savings bill. I proposed a block grant in the 1990’s. I for keeping the government out of health care.

I didn’t get to talk about Housing. I was on the banking committee. I wrote the letter pleading to let us bring up putting curbs on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

ROMNEY: I have a long history of healthcare. Markets work. today government is playing too heavy a roll. Give them transparency.  18% of our GDP is spent on healthcare.

Harwood: You said states should have the responsibility for insuring the uninsured. There is a large roll for government.

ROMNEY: Take the Medicaid dollars and give it back to the states. ObamaCare is wrong. I’ll repeal it.

PAUL: My budget to cut the budget by $1T deals with Medicaid. There is a transition to moving Medicaid money back into the economy. Healthcare for the eldery, Medicaid and childcare. It deals with the bailouts. Get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Europe has credit default swaps. They are in trouble. We will probably have to bail them out.

8:07 pm – Commercial Break

Whoopee! Rick Santinelli on the panel.

Harwood: If everyone rules out tax increases, what can you offer Democrats to go along with you.?

SANTORUM: You build a foundation. If the Rep is just about keeping the top rate lower, we have to have a plan for manufacturing. I’m picking one sector over others and I don’t care that the WSJ doesn’t like that. I’m picking manufacturing. Democrats and Republicans can agree with that.

ROMNEY: In a state like mine with 80% of the legislature Democrat. I had to see if there were Dems more concerned about their state than their party. This is the time to care about America. Ya da ya da – we must change course. We have a president driven by his reelection.

PERRY: Caterpiller moved part of their operation to Texas where we created a climate to give them the opportunity to keep more of what you work for. A regulatory climate that doesn’t strangle your business. Commerce, Education and one more (he can’t think of it – later said it is the Department of Energy) will be gone. EPA needs to be rebuilt.

Maria: Should Boening shut down their South Carolina plant if they don’t unionize?

CAIN: Absolutely not. Government should not have a part in how companies set up.

SANTELLI: SS is going to be in the running. $105B this year – cut payroll taxes, the main funding for SS. There seems to be some agreement $260B. Is this a tax cut you would back.

GINGRICH: In context in 1968 Johnson brought SS into the general budget to hide the deficit. Take it off the Federal Budget. You don’t solve it on the backs of Americans. Give younger Americans the choice for a private account. There is $2T400B in the fund. It must be off budget right now. Obama should never say, or no president should ever say, I might not have the money for your SS check.

ROMNEY: This is a moral imperative. I don’t want to raise taxes anywhere, including the payroll tax cuts. I put out a plan this week. Cut programs. Send programs back to the states. Bring productivity and management expertise to the government. Cut it 10%. Public servants should not make more than the people they are serving.


BACHMANN: I do. Obama did this for political gain. It will run SS even more to the red. I voted against it. Money should be flooding in.

Our govt owns 500M shares of GM stock and guarantess billions in mortgages. Fed Res has purch 2.62T in securities. If you were president, how would your admin deal with it?

(there was another one or two hands that went up but I didn’t see who)

HUNTSMAN: I would clean up the balance sheet. Ya da Ya da Ya. Raise the trust of the American people. I’ve actually delivered a flat tax as gov in Utah. The WSJ has endorsed my plan, says it is the best of the bunch. I want to phase out loopholes and subsidies. Lower rates become more competitive.

SHARON EPPERSON: Student Loan debt is $1T. Over $25,000 is the average per student. [students on the screen complaining that they have to pay for their college]. How would you make education better?

PAUL: Government has failed. There is nothing more dramatically failed than the government education loans. It is unconstitutional. Give tax credits if you have to, but inflation is the problem.


PAUL: The same way you pay for cell phones and everything else you need. If the govt gets involved, it causes higher prices, lower quality. The bubbles come from the Fed. Reserve. End the Federal Reserve.

EPPERSON: Student loan doesn’t have bankruptcy protection

GINGRICH: The program is an absurdity. Students stay in college longer because they don’t see the cost. They tolerate tuitions skyrocketing. The College of the Ozarks is a work college. You work to pay for everything. 92% graduate with no debt. We should expect students to go to school and get out quickly. Then go to work.

What top programs you would cut in terms of long term debt?

PERRY: Department of Energy was the one I couldn’t think of while ago. When you look at the unfunded liabilities, those are the places where you have to make the hard choices. SS is one wheter we can go to a blended type of program, but the people who are on SS, it will be there for you. If you are working toward it, we will have it there for you. But we are going to transform the program for young people so that it will be there for them. I don’t think the feds should be in the business of federal programs. How do you force universities to be efficient? Trustees must say you will have graduates moving up and tuition moving down.

8:35 pm CDT – Commercial Break

A Republican governor in California hired a Chinese company to build roads because it was cheaper.

CAIN: That’s wrong, but my 9-9-9 would encourage American companies. It levels the playing field and makes US more competitive. The tax code is what sends jobs overseas. Replace the tax code.

Was it a mistake for Schwartzenegger to hire the Chinese?

ROMNEY: China is cheating so the answer is not simple. Free trade is good, but China is playing by different rules. Cheating and hacking into our intelligent resources. They are killing jobs in China. I love free trade but I will crack down on cheaters like China. I would label China a currency manipulator. I wold bring that action. Where they have hacked into computers and where their currency level is manipulating, I would stop it.

GINGRICH: Companies want to get a foothold in China. How would you make that happen. I would like to hear Huntsman answer. He is fluid in Chinese. What is about America that makes it cheaper to go to China? Fix it. Stop it. Find ways to dramatically cause pain for the cheating and stealing.

HUNTSMAN: Troublesome relationship. Bottomline – slapping on trariffs won’t work now. Longer term, keep doing business the way we’ve always done. Sit down and find solutions. If we slap on tariffs, they say to us, with your Quantitative Easing, you are manipulating currency too.

ROMNEY: Let the currency float to determine the value of our currency. We cannot allow them to steal our jobs.

BACHMANN: The Chinese are bad actors. They have dumped counterfeit computer chips in the US and we are using some of them in the Pentagon. They are housing nuclear weapons in new tunnels. We are in hock to them for Billions. We affectively build their aircraft carrier. By 2015 we will be paying for the People’s Liberation Army in whole. Stop borrowing from them by stopping spending money that we don’t have.

How would you make the stock market safe and restore faith in mkts for the little guy.

CAIN: Restore faith by restoring faith for business owners. All the uncertainty must be restored by growing the economy. Everything starts with growing the economy. Kramer is yelling at him, but Cain says, I feel your pain but we must restore confidence. He mentions Dodd-Frank again, and says two more problems are Dodd and Frank (huge applause and laughter)

PERRY: We have the regs in place and had them before the meltdown. Culture of lobbyist with the people they are regulating. When individuals are breaking the laws and pushing the boundaries, we must stop it – take them out of the business or prosecute them.

PAUL: There is a difference between capitalism and crony capitalism. Kids on Wall Street don’t understand it. Crony cap isn’t when money is made by producing a product. People mix that. This is vital. We must understand the difference.


Linked at Memorandum – read more here.