I happened to catch a bit of the Democratic presidential aspirants’ radio-only debate on NPR, actually I’m listening to it right now. You can’t really call what’s going on a debate since they’re not really engaging each other, only answering the questions posed by the moderators. So far the moderators have dealt with only two topics:
Iraq and Iran
NPR’s comments are here. There’s a link there to the debate.
I caught the tail end of the Iraq/Iran questioning. As might be expected they’re all running against Bush; Barack Obama adds his opposition to the AUMF; Dennis Kucinich adds to that his votes against funding of the war.
None of them have a clue on China. They miss the key point: we have almost no ability to influence China. China is large enough, diverse enough, and solipsistic enough that whatever we do we’ll change the behavior of the regime in China very, very little. However, we can change our own behavior. I didn’t see a great deal of enthusiasm in the group for that.
Edwards, to his credit, pointed out that China’s policy of nonintervention is actually a policy of supporting repressive regimes.
Biden, then Clinton, advocated calling them on misbehavior. See above.
Edwards: American policy is catering to big corporate interests. We have not held China accountable. (with the WTO) I wonder if he’s aware that the largest complaints in WTO history are the complaints that the U. S. currently has filed against China with the organization. He seems to think that the textile industry will return to the U. S.
Obama: If they’re manipulating their currency, we need to take strong action. He’ll meet with the Chinese leadership. It is not in the interest of China to depend [for economic growth] on low wage work. Have no fear, they’re rapidly getting into higher markup manufactured goods. Chinese-manufactured cars are just around the corner.
Biden gently chides his colleagues for China-bashing—treating China unfairly.
Clinton has an anecdote about how she helped a New York company stand up to tariffs threatened to be levied by China if it didn’t partner with a Chinese company (and lose intellectual property).
The moderators turn to immigration—a hot topic in Iowa where the meat-packing industry, formerly an industry that employed a lot of people at good wages, has seen an enormous influx of (illegal) immigrants into the jobs and falling wages.
Obama comes out against local enforcement of immigration laws. Hold employers accountable.
Dodd answers question about hiring nannies without documents. Dodd comes out for stiffer penalties, enforcement. Any self-respecting country has to control its borders. Doesn’t like the labor standards provisions under CAFTA.
Dennis Kucinich is running against George Bush. Economic refugees from NAFTA.
Hillary Clinton says Have (federal) government fulfill its responsibilities. She’s against local enforcement, too. I wonder if the Democratic candidates are aware that most employers are small businesses.
Biden distinguishes between providing services to (illegal) immigrants and hiring (illegal) immigrants. Biden’s stats on illegal immigration are wrong. Says employers have an obligation to determine legal status.
Edwards comments on the effects of illegal immigrants on wages. Downplays effects of immigrants. Loss of middle class jobs. Solution to problem of rights of (illegal) immigrants is comprehensive immigration reform. IMO one of the attractions of illegal migrants to some employers is their illegal status. I wonder if he has any idea of how many inspectors would be required to do what he wants to do?
Obama wants to stop illegal immigration but give those who are here have a pathway to citizenship.
Kucinich doesn’t agree—let ’em work. Again with NAFTA. And the Bush Administration.
Gravell: where’s the problem? Unemployment is low; let ’em come and get jobs.
Hillary Clinton says immigration reform has five components: border security, crack down on employers, help to local communities, foster economic activity here and in neighboring countries, path to citizenship. Sluggish economic performance drives the complaints about immigration. Comments on the impracticality of deporting current illegals.
Edwards on H1-B visas. If Americans are competent to do those jobs, Americans should be doing those jobs. Should also be training people to take the jobs that exist. I’ve already given my take on H1-B: I think we need to have a central clearing house for employers who want H1-B visas so that prospective employees can find what jobs are available.
Biden says H1-B is about right now. Enforcement.
Question on English-only
Obama: some American citizens are Spanish speaking.
Clinton: need English as common unifying language. We expect people who want to come here to learn English. ESL.
Kucinich: need to have our children learn languages.
Biden: don’t worry, they’ll learn English.
Dodd: the benefits of diversity.
Last question: what don’t you know the answer to?
Clinton: what are the best ways to deal with the problems we face?
Gravell: how to convince American people that they’re the solution?
Obama: how drastic steps to handle global warming?
I missed Chris Dodds’s question.
Biden: how do you rationalize competition and trade policy?
Edwards: who would I choose as vice president?
Kucinich: brings up impeachment again.
Quick observations: Biden comes across as very sensible over the radio, Edwards comes across very well over the radio, Kucinich comes across as a loon.
The transcript of the debate is now online here.