My Analysis of the Georgia U.S. Senate & Gubernatorial Debates

As a former debate champ from high school and college I couldn’t help but pick some nits from all the candidates performances tonight. Spare me the master debater jokes. I promise you I have heard them all and have invented more than a few of them. 😎  But given the raucous atmosphere and first debate jitters that can be forgiven. In reality our “debates” are little more than opportunities to give polished and memorized talking points and aren’t real debates as they have in the House of Commons in the U.K. for example. The most interesting moments occur when the panelists asking the questions can nudge them off script or when they have a Rick Perry deer in the headlights moment. No such luck tonight.

You can watch the debates online at 13wmaz.com which sponsored the debates.

 

Senate Debate

It seems like a strange tactic by the Perdue camp to try and paint Michel Nunn as an outsider when her family are 9th generation Georgian’s.  She was born here and has lived in Georgia for around 26 years of her life. If anyone would bleed peanut butter it would be her. She is Georgian so let that tired line rest Perdue and quite frankly that has nothing to do with the ability to be a good senator. And didn’t you also spend a good part of your life out of state by the way Mr. Perdue?

The crowd was very raucous for this debate and it sometimes made it hard to hear. Perdue mostly just repeated his campaign speeches and rarely went off script. He seemed oblivious to the actual questions which was an evasive tactic and Nunn pointed this out on several occasions.

two-faces-of-mitch-mcconnell-iraqI think the “it” moment of the debate for me was when Nunn replied: “David has talked about the failed government policies of President Obama and Harry Reid. In fact, I’m not sure that he recognizes that he’s not running against Harry Reid or Barack Obama, he’s running against me,” said Nunn, who has tried to position herself as a moderate who would work across the aisle if elected, in the model of her father, former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.).

“Michelle, I have a lot of respect for you, but you’re dead wrong: I am absolutely running against Barack Obama and Harry Reid,” replied Perdue. “Make no mistake — no amount of false advertising can remove the fact that Barack Obama hand-picked you, he hand-funded you, he’s mentoring you.”

Georgia voters don’t have a clue who Harry Reid is or why they should hate him and they realize Obama won’t be in office much longer so I am not sure his tactic has any traction. And where did the mentoring line come from which was a bit bizarre especially because if she wants a mentor she has her own dad.. Should the Nunn campaign decide to educate Georgia voters about Mitch McConnell that might also backfire on Perdue.

Early last week week, Politico reported on comments Perdue made in 2005 during a deposition about the collapse of Pillowtex. At the time, when asked about outsourcing, he replied, “Yeah, I spent most of my career doing that.”

Democrats quickly jumped on Perdue’s remarks, but the candidate didn’t back down.

Defend it? I’m proud of it,” Perdue told reporters Monday afternoon. “This is a part of American business, part of any business. Outsourcing is the procurement of products and services to help your business run. People do that all day.”

Given the raucous and very biased crowd, I don’t think anyone really knocked this debate out of the park. I kept a debater’s flow chart  and I scored it Nunn 83 Perdue 78 and Swafford 65 out of a possible 100.

Michelle Nunn kept repeating the importance of bipartisanship. That certainly is an asset she brings to the table Perdue lacks but next time she needs to back it up with practical examples where it actually matters. If I were her I would point out the female senators from both parties are getting work done while the men are huffing and puffing. That more than anything is a good reason to vote for more female politicians since they will actually get some work done while the men strut their feathers for the cameras.

 

Georgia Governor Debate

The crowd seemed a bit calmer for this second debate. Perhaps all the fair food and exhausted legs finally caught up with them. Anyone that has read this blog knows just how much I despise Nathan Deal. I think he is inept and corrupt and I desperately hope he is defeated. Having said that, the old buzzard is a halfway decent debater if you don’t know the issues or that he grossly exaggerates and distorts the facts. In other words, for political junkies “in the know” he lost but for the average Joe six-pack who doesn’t know any better he held his own. He demonstrated a little more fire in his belly than Jason Carter at times. People like to see passion so Mr. Carter needs to work on that for his next debate and show some some more raw emotion and passion on the issues.

After calling Carter “young and inexperienced,” Deal questioned why the state senator from Atlanta didn’t propose bills or budget amendments to address the problems he now talks about on the campaign trail.

“You’ve never passed a bill, you’ve never been put in a position of leadership … within the DeKalb delegation, you’ve never been elected to a position within the Democrat caucus of the state Senate,” Deal said. “Why would anybody decide you have the leadership skills to lead this state?”

Carter accused Deal of passing blame for the state’s economic status, returning to a focus on the state’s unemployment rate he has hammered since Georgia’s 8.1 percent rate for August was announced.

The candidates also sparred over ethics complaints filed against Deal and recent criticism by a judge of state officials failing to turn over key documents in a lawsuit. That lawsuit resulted in a $700,000 decision plus attorneys’ fees in favor of the former state ethics commission director, and the state later settled with three other former employees who had claimed retaliation for work investigating the ethics complaints.

“A little bit of what we did this week as taxpayers is going to pay for the cover-up,” Carter said.

Deal defended his office, and said he’s been the only candidate to propose changes to the state ethics commission to eliminate conflicts of interest when complaints are reviewed.

“We did not interfere,” he said. “If we had we would have been indicted by somebody.”

This is where Carter should have pounced in and bellowed out “NOT YET! “And he could have continued and said something like “Let me answer the ethics question like this, I wouldn’t trust Nathan Deal to be the treasurer of my son’s boy scout troop given all the details that have surfaced not only during his time as Governor but stretching back to his time in Congress. Where there is smoke there is fire and all these ethics questions seem to follow him around like an evil shadow. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out the body casting that shadow is the common denominator.

That is type of pithy short zinger that was missing. People don’t remember long answers they remember short and memorable responses. So my advice to Jason Carter for the next debate is to speed up your delivery and have some zingers ready to deploy. You wasted a lot of time just by speaking too slowly at times. People also like to hear stats, facts, and figures which shows you have complete command on subject matter. Education is very important but so are specifics on infrastructure, transportation policy, tax rates and incentives, more details on your jobs plan,  and so many other areas a Governor has to deal with like snowstorms for example.

I was also disappointed on Jason Carter’s response to marriage equality and medical marijuana. I realize why he had to preface his answer with not forcing any church to marry anyone and other qualifiers, but at the end of his statement he should have clearly and unapologetically said “I support same sex marriage because it is the right thing to do.” The same applies to medical marijuana where he gave a lawyer’s answer instead of simply being straightforward. Poll after poll shows most Georgian’s now support both so I fail to see his reticence to speak out more forthrightly on these issues. No more poltitispeak, just flat out say you support both in no uncertain terms. Your reticence does you no favors for your base and people opposed are already voting Deal. Perhaps if Jason carter were to watch the video at the end of this article and show half the courage and articulation of this young man speaking in Iowa he would win the election in a landslide.

This debate was actually much closer than the Perdue and Nunn debate and I would have to say it was  a tie with no clear winner. Deal got his jab in with the young and experienced line and Carter responded with a few of his own but neither really had a knockout punch that will sway undecided voters. Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 11.11.59 PM

Medicaid Expansion in Georgia

Deal made a comment than Georgia cannot afford the extra $2.5Billion over 10 years. But he failed to mention that Georgia is losing $33.7 Billion over 10 years by not expanding. How many tens of thousands of jobs would be  created and impacted by close to $40 billion additional monies flowing into our state economy? How much more tax revenue would we add from those extra jobs?

Our GSP (Gross state product) was $434 Billion. Our annual budget is around $41 billion a year. To say that out of a $41 Billion dollar budget they can’t find room to pay an additional $250 Million a year is a flat out lie. Take a look at the budget yourself here. In fact Georgia wastes around $140 million a year in overpayments to people who receive food stamps. Amazing that Georgia had $14 million to spend on a fishing museum in Perry though that costs an additional $1.6 million a year in bond payments and operating costs. Over $3 million and counting for ethics charges by Nathan Deal and an additional $74million owed by Copart who bought his salvage yard and there is your money right there.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government covers 100% of the costs of Medicaid expansion through 2016, and then 90% going forward. That can fairly be described as an amazing deal for states, a fact that even many conservative Republican governors – Arizona’s Jan Brewer, Ohio’s John Kasich, et al – decided they couldn’t responsibly turn down.

In reacting to the  decision by Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich to agree to the Medicaid expansion, Families USA President Ron Pollack said in a statement that any other decision by Kasich would have been “fiscal malpractice.” Lou Cannon has characterized the decision by some Republican governors to agree to the expansion “the triumph of economics over ideology.” But he might have just as easily called it the triumph of economics over morality.

Of course the real reason to find the money in the budget has nothing to do with dollar signs at all. It would be relatively simple to find $250M out of $41 Billion dollar annual budget. The real issue that matters is all the lives an expansion of medicaid would save. It would also vastly improve the quality of life that suffer from things like untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and hundreds of other illnesses that cannot be treated at an ER and require medication. Is Medicaid perfect or as good as private insurance? Absolutely not. It needs a real overhaul and more accountability. But is it better than no medical coverage at all? Again, absolutely. Another option is what some other states have managed to do and use the money from the Federal government to simply buy private insurance policies.

Nearly 20% of Georgians are uninsured and we are around 6th in the country for the number of uninsured people in the state. The top five were Texas, Louisiana, Nevada, California and Florida.Georgia State University associate professor Bill Custer said there are several factors concerning why Georgia ranks consistently among the states with the highest percentage of uninsured residents. Georgia, he said, has a larger percentage of residents who cannot afford health insurance because their wages are low or they are unemployed.

HomeTown Health’s Jimmy Lewis added this week that if the state doesn’t pursue a solution, the result will be a “Third World nation” level of medical care in rural Georgia. I‘ve seen a couple of people on Twitter argue  that “Obamacare” is responsible for these hospital closings. The right’s complaints are, if nothing else, ironic – implementation of the Affordable Care Act would offer these struggling communities a life preserver.

This Georgia hospital shows why rejecting Medicaid isn’t easy.

How big cities will suffer in states that snubbed Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion

How States Rejecting the Medicaid Expansion Sabotaged Their Biggest Cities

Another rural hospital closes because of state’s Medicaid refusal

As rural hospitals fail, Ga. considers downsizing

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