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What do Republican Candidates Stand For?

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From flickr.com/photos/47422005@N04/19013693243/: 2016 Republican Clown Car Parade - They have no plan but to get noticed.
2016 Republican Clown Car Parade - They have no plan but to get noticed.
(image by DonkeyHotey)
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The August 6th debate among ten Republican presidential contenders was a ratings winner for Fox News. Out here on the left coast, we learned two things: Donald Trump isn't going away and the Republicans lack a plan for America.

An NBC News post-debate poll found that Trump continues to lead all of his opponents with 23 percent of the vote.

The surprise second-place challenger was Texas Senator Ted Cruz. At the end of the Republican debate Cruz was asked what he would do if elected President: "The first thing I intend to do is to rescind every illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by Barack Obama. The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into these videos and to prosecute Planned Parenthood for any criminal violations. The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice and the IRS to [stop] persecuting religious liberty, and then [I] intend to cancel the Iran deal, and finally move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem."

Cruz provided a concise summary of the debate: Republicans don't like Barack Obama and will seek to reverse all of his actions, including Obamacare. They do not support women's health; their desire to defund Planed Parenthood is one indication of this. They oppose efforts to recognize same-sex marriage -- they categorize this as a religious liberty issue. And Republicans oppose the Iran nuclear agreement and pledge unquestioning support for Israel.

Other than Republicans, Americans are interested in what a candidate is for, what their positive initiatives are. National polls indicate that voters are most concerned about "the economy and jobs." Surprisingly, the Republican candidates had little to say about this. The most complete statement was by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush: "There's 6 million people living in poverty today, more than when Barack Obama got elected. 6.5 million people are working part-time, most of whom want to work full-time. We've created rules and taxes on top of every aspiration of people, and the net result is we're not growing fast, income is not growing. A four percent growth strategy means you fix a convoluted tax code. You get in and you change every aspect of regulations that are job killers. You get rid of Obamacare and replace it with something that doesn't suppress wages and kill jobs."

Jeb reprised "trickledown economics:" get rid of taxes and regulations and Obamacare and that will fix all ills; "a rising tide lifts all boats." The GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump, responded: "Our country is in serious trouble. We don't win anymore. We don't beat China in trade. We don't beat Japan, with their millions and millions of cars coming into this country, in trade. We can't beat Mexico, at the border or in trade. We can't do anything right. Our military has to be strengthened. Our vets have to be taken care of. We have to end Obamacare, and we have to make our country great again, and I will do that."

The Republican candidates don't have a plan to deal with income inequality other than the failed policies of Reaganomics.

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After jobs and the economy, most voters are interested in healthcare. Once again, Republicans have no plan other than to repeal Obamacare. In the debate, Donald Trump called it "a complete disaster." After mentioning that a single-payer system has worked well in Canada and Scotland, Trump proposed, "a private [health insurance] system without the artificial lines around every state." His was the most specific proposal offered.

National polls indicate that after jobs and healthcare, most voters are interested in terrorism and foreign policy. All the candidates described the Obama foreign policy as a disaster. The most comprehensive statement was by Senator Cruz: "We have abandoned and alienated our friends and allies, and our enemies are stronger. Radical Islam is on the rise, Iran's on the verge of acquiring a nuclear weapon, China is waging cyber warfare against America, Russia" Russia used cyber warfare against the joint chiefs." Each of the candidates were against the Iran nuclear agreement and some, such as Jeb Bush, proposed sending troops back into Iraq.

After jobs, healthcare, and foreign policy, voters are most interested in immigration. During the debate, there was no discussion of a pathway to citizenship; instead the candidates vied to take the toughest stance possible. Trump said, "We need to build a wall" to keep illegals out." Governor Walker opined, "I believe we need to secure the border." Senator Cruz argued, "[President Obama and other Washington leaders] don't want to enforce the immigration laws."

The Republican candidates emulate Donald Trump who promises to do great things but evades specifics. When asked about Obamacare, Trump said he would repeal the law and replace it with "something terrific." In fact, most of the Republican presidential candidates plan "something terrific."

This calculated vagueness may work with Republicans but it won't work with voters, in general. America deserves a leader with a specific plan.

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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