What to Watch for in Tonight's Republican Economics Debate

The Republican candidates meet tonight to talk economics. Here are five things you should watch for.

Tonight, the Republican presidential candidates gather at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire to debate economic policy. The GOP field has yet to address economic issues with much specificity, so the debate could be a milestone.

To bring you up to speed, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney remains the front-runner, but conservatives don’t seem to trust him—that could change after he's endorsed today by conservative darling Chris Christie, the blustery New Jersey governor. Texas Governor Rick Perry is best positioned to challenge Romney, but keeps screwing up at debates. Businessman Herman Cain is the conservative flavor-of-the-month but lacks the resources and perhaps the basic policy knowledge to challenge the two serious contenders. Everyone else on stage is there on a quixotic mission to sell books/be elected in 2016/push a pet issue.

Here’s what you should be watching for:

1) The most important economic issue today is unemployment, and President Obama has proposed a package of legislation, the American Jobs Act, designed to increase employment growth. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill will have a significant affect on the economy (private forecasters say it could create 2 million jobs) and that it would decrease the deficit by $6 billion over the next ten years. The Republican candidates oppose the bill despite the fact that it relies on tax cuts and long-term investment, rather than short-term stimulus, to improve the economy. With a vote on the bill scheduled for today, expect the topic to come up—but can any of the candidates offer a jobs policy that will equal the impact of what’s the president put on the table? We doubt it.

2) The folks at Occupy Wall Street still haven’t gone anywhere, and as long as they’re out in force reminding the media and the country that unemployment and debt are screwing people over, Republican candidates will have to take questions about them and their problems. Based on the field’s comments so far, you can expect everything from snide condescension to outright criticism of the demonstrators, but the big priority will be finding a way to praise the vital Tea Party constituency at the expense of the Wall Street demonstrators. It won’t be easy, though, since early public opinion surveys suggest that the movement has a generally positive impression in the country. The dilemma is pretty straightforward: If, like Herman Cain, they call the protestors “un-American” and win points with the Republican base, will they pay a price among the broader electorate for kicking the have-nots when they’re down?

3) Politically, the most important question is wither Rick Perry can come out of debate without looking foolish. While he became the front-runner the minute he entered the race based on his strong-on-paper relationships with key Republican groups and his record in Texas, a series of lackluster public performances has him on the ropes. Whether or not he can sound on the ball is one question, but on a more substantive front, Perry’s record of job creation in Texas depended on population growth—including immigration from south of the border—cheap housing, regulations restricting bank lending, corporate subsidies, and hiring a lot of new government workers. Will he endorse these policies to the federal government, and if he does, how will it play with Republican voters?

4) This crop of Republicans loves talking about cutting the deficit, but it can be pretty hard to get them to discuss specifics—especially if you think that a budget-balancing deal that is 10 parts spending cuts to one part tax increases still doesn’t include enough cuts, as every Republican candidate has agreed. Because most candidates have exempted the bloated Defense Department from cuts, they’ll need to explain how cuts to education, health programs, infrastructure investment, disaster relief and research will affect the country. Or, more likely, they’ll attempt to side-step that discussion to talk about the importance of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, which will further increase the deficit with little gain in economic growth.

5) The other big economic question on the horizon right now is the European financial crisis. It’s an incredibly complicated situation that involves the interworking of the European monetary union, international capital flows, and regional jealousies between 17 member countries. It could also catalyze a second recession in the United States if the situation goes belly-up. This weekend, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will be in Paris, France for a meeting with his counterparts from the 20 largest global economies, where the crisis will be at the top of the agenda. Watch to see if the candidates can demonstrate a grasp of the complex crisis, and what they would have the Secretary say on behalf of the United States.

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via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

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Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

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For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

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In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

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The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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