Tim Kaine vs. Mike Pence: Vice Presidential Debate Analysis

I have just finished watching the vice presidential debate and am going to give my opinions on all the points that stuck out at me. I will go through those points as a stream of consciousness.

Stylistically, Mike Pence appeared far more polished and controlled than Tim Kaine. Senator Kaine interrupted Pence far more and was on the attack for the first half of the debate. Kaine did a good job of cornering Pence by characterizing Trump’s positions and indefensible. Pence was not very assertive in terms of attacking Kaine in return. He was trying to act polite by not interrupting or retaliating. As a result, Pence was on the defense for the first half of the debate and only started to push back in the second half. Pence showed that he was far less bombastic than Trump. He showed that he is a good foil for Trump’s more assertive personality. Perhaps the American people will be surprised to see that Trump has chosen such a dignified and eloquent man as his running mate.

With regards to trustworthiness, Tim Kaine’s point on Clinton having a passion was irrelevant. He did not address the email scandal or her record of corruption. In fact, he hurt his own credibility when he misrepresented Trump’s words and business practices. Trump did not say that all Mexicans are rapists and criminals. He was talking specifically about certain illegal immigrants from Mexico, not all Mexicans in general. Also, it is worth noting that when we are talking about illegal immigrants, we are talking about a group that is composed entirely of criminals, given that they entered the country illegally. Trump went on to say, “some I assume… are good people.” Kaine conveniently left that part of the quote out, which Pence later criticized him for. He also mentioned Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was presiding over the Trump University case. Trump did not say that he could not judge the case because he is Mexican. He said that the judge is a member of organizations that are pro-Mexico and illegal immigrants. This is true, Curiel is a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association, which has spoken out against Trump’s positions. The HNBA released a statement on July 2nd, 2015, saying that they “cannot remain silent and allow Trump to promote such racist and discriminatory behavior.” It also called for a boycott on all of Trump’s businesses. Curiel was also a member of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association 2014 Scholarship Selection Committee, which awarded scholarships to illegal immigrants. These are clear conflicts of interest when trying a case involving Donald Trump.

Kaine also characterized Trump as benefitting himself at the expense of the American people. In order to make money as a capitalist, you need to provide value to other people. They must be willing to voluntarily give you their money in exchange for what Trump has to offer. Trump’s wealth and success are a testament to the value that he has provided to others. No transaction in the free market occurs without both parties benefitting. Therefore, Trump did not enrich himself at the expense of America.

When it came to the topic of the economy, I think both candidates did a good of articulating their plans. The Clinton-Kaine economic plan was essentially more of the same policies that Obama implemented. Kaine wants the government to invest more money in infrastructure and clean energy jobs. Both of those investments have proven to be lousy. After the billions of dollars spent on infrastructure after the stimulus bill, our nation’s roads and bridges are still in poor condition. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America’s GPA for its infrastructure is a D+. The government has also failed in creating clean energy jobs. Only look at Solyndra as the perfect example, which failed after receiving $529 million in subsidies. Since 1973, the US government spent $154.7 billion on renewable energy with little to show for it. There is a laundry list of renewable energy companies that have received subsidies and later failed. Solar power only makes 0.2% of the electricity in America after all of that investment.

Kaine also said that he and Clinton would make tuition-free and debt-free college. Even though he used the word free, it really means that the tax payer is going to foot the bill. The students and families will still pay for college in the form of taxes and national debt. It will not be “free” by any means.

Raising the minimum wage would work to increasing the unemployment rate by pricing low-skilled workers out of the market. The workers who are retained will benefit, but many others will be fired on not be hired in the first place. Many jobs may become automated all together if the minimum wage is set too high.

Kaine then brought out the shopworn policy of having women receive equal pay. While it is true that women earn less than men, it is not due to discrimination on the part of employers. It is already illegal for employers to do so. Stefan Molyneux does a good job of debunking this myth in his video on the gender pay gap. Men are more likely to go into higher paying STEM fields than women are, which can account for the pay gap. Men are also more likely to work overtime than women are. It is also worth noting that women who have never been married earn about the same as men who have never married. More legislation to even out the pay gap is not necessary. The pay gap exists as a result of the choices than men and women make.

The fifth point on taxing the rich is also a tired proposition. The wealthy pay a disproportionate amount of the income tax revenue. The top 1% pays almost half the income tax in 2014. The top 20% of earners paid 84% of the income tax. The bottom 60% of income earners in America actually received more money from the government than they paid in taxes. The idea that the rich need to pay more in taxes is ludicrous.

By contrast, Pence and Trump are proposing a different path than the one that has already been tried over the last seven and a half years. They want to cut back on regulation and decrease the tax burden on the American people. Trump’s tax plan will simplify our tax code to four brackets (0%, 10%, 20% and 25%), instead of the seven that we have now. They are cuts across the board, not just for the wealthy. This will are capital for private investment instead of the government taking it squandering it. The plan also includes cutting the corporate tax from 39% down to 15% to incentivize American companies to bring their money back to America. The amount of money those corporations have overseas is approximated at $2.5 trillion.

With regards to Trump’s tax returns, he said that he will release his tax return only after an IRS audit is complete. His lawyer advised against releasing the tax returns while under an audit. The New York Times illegally published Trump’s 1995 tax returns. The reporter said that he would be willing to go to jail for publishing them. The tax returns showed that he lost a billion dollars in a single year. It also shows that he had a billion dollars to lose in the first place, which means he is really rich and successful. He is on record of saying that he lost hundreds of millions of dollars when Atlantic city tanked. Trump used his losses to reduce his tax burden in future years, which is in complete compliance with the law. The law is made that way so that people can be encouraged to take risks. If he is not legally required to pay a tax, it does not mean that he is dodging the tax. Trump has a fiduciary responsibility to his family, his company and his employees to pay no more tax than is legally required. His fiduciary responsibility is a binding agreement to act in the best interest of the company. He is obligated to maximize the resources available to his company. As far as the claim of Trump not paying taxes for 20 years, he has actually paid enormous sums of money in taxes. Even if it was not through the income tax, it was through property taxes, sales taxes, corporate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, and federal taxes. Trump did pay for the schools and the military through those means.

One entity that did not pay taxes in 2014 was in fact the New York Times. This is not to say that they broke the law, but it is hypocritical of them to accuse Trump of not paying his taxes.

As someone who supports Trump, I can tell you that I did not support him because of what may be in his tax returns. I support him because of his policies and ideas. That is what his supporters are judging him on. His tax returns were brought up as a distraction from the issues that Trump has brought to the forefront of the political discussion.

On the topic of social security, I do not see any way that we can keep the program solvent in the future. With $20 trillion in national debt and another $128 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the program will collapse under its own weight. I think privatizing it would be a good solution to this problem. I am disappointed that neither Pence nor Kaine were willing to lead the way in entitlement reform.

When discussing law enforcement, I was impressed with Pence’s response on how the police should not be maligned for implicit bias or institutional racism. While there may be some bad cops in the country, we cannot paint with a broad brush. Hillary Clinton said that everyone in the country was guilty of implicit bias. The relationship between the community and the police has been destroyed by the black lives matter activists. They have promoted the lie that cops are killing unarmed black men for sport and getting paid for it. They have driven a wedge between communities and law enforcement which must be healed. I am glad that both candidates wanted to work on that healing process.

On the issue of immigration, I have written about this at length on my post about why I support Donald Trump. He plans to build a wall, increase border patrol, deny federal funds to sanctuary cities, and deport all illegal immigrants in the country. I think all of these steps would work to solve the problem of illegal immigration. Both Pence and Kaine agreed on deporting illegal immigrants who commit crimes and strengthening border control. However, Kaine proposed that families of illegal aliens can remain together in the country through amnesty. He also wanted to grant amnesty to those “who work hard, pay taxes, play by the rules, and take criminal background record checks.” Illegal immigrants are by definition not playing by the rules. Every moment they spend in this country is a violation of the law. My parents and I followed the immigration laws of the country to the letter. We entered and gained citizenship legally. Is it not unfair to me and my family to grant amnesty to immigrants who broke the law? I cannot reconcile this injustice.

With regards to terrorism, I am glad that Mike Pence pointed out that Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama left a power vacuum in the Middle East when they chose to withdraw soldiers from Iraq. ISIS filled the void that we left. In light of the terrorists attacks in Europe and America, it can be objectively said that we are less safe now than we were eight years ago. I was also impressed with how Pence mentioned that we squandered the sacrifices made by our servicemen in Iraq when we withdrew. That argument would certainly resonate emotionally with many Americans.

The turmoil in Syria was also discussed at length, in which both candidates were in favor of creating safe zones in Syria. This is a policy that I agree with as well. It would be much better than bringing the migrants into Europe. I think the migrant crisis that is plaguing Europe right now can actually be traced back to Hillary Clinton’s decisions of withdrawing from Iraq and overthrowing Gaddafi in Libya. Her foreign policy destabilized the region and displaced millions of people. I think it would be wise for us to stop immigration from the Middle East for the time being.

The most interesting question of the night for me was the one regarding faith. I was actually impressed with Tim Kaine’s answer regarding executions. Although he was personally opposed to the death penalty due to his faith, he still upheld the law. Pence inevitably directed the discussion towards abortion. The practice of partial birth abortions is sickening to me and I too cannot understand a party that supports it. Kaine responded by saying that he supports Roe v. Wade. The proponents of Roe v. Wade have never set time for when the pregnancy can no longer be terminated. Presumably, they would be alright with late term abortions, just as Pence said.  Kaine also said that the government should punish women for making reproductive choices. While I agree with that, the trouble is whether or not they are murdering a child when they make that choice. Roe v. Wade did say that a woman has a right to choose, but does not specify at what point she can no longer make that choice. We do not know when human life really begins in the womb. Why should we take the risk of committing a murder by supporting abortion?

To conclude, I think Senator Kaine came off as more assertive but not as strong on policy as Governor Pence. I think that Pence won the debate on his ideas and for showing his respectable demeanor as Donald Trump’s running mate.

These are all my thoughts on the debate. I hope my rambling did not test your patience too much.


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