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Talkin' tech at the GOP YouTube debate

OK, I have to admit that I have not seen every presidential debate this season because it feels like there have been some 10,000 of them. Yes, that's great, but... That being said, I did tune in last night to see the CNN-YouTube Republican debate (Here is NPR's story from this morning.) It was actually entertaining -- and they even touched on our world.

Of course, government management issues have not been key issues for presidential candidates this season other then the fed bashing that seems to have become common this year and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' screeds on how the entire system is broken and corrupt. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) has essentially proposed cutting the number of government contractors [FCW]. (Very Shakespearian -- first kill all the contractors.)

On the other end of the spectrum, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani has said -- we noted it earlier this year and Giuliani reiterated it in last night's debate -- that he would not replace retiring feds. (Watch this particular segment for yourself here.)

The YouTube question was:
"If elected, what measures will you take to tackle the national debt and control spending?"

Giuliani: I think you have to across-the-board spending cuts the way Ronald Reagan did, a 5, 10 percent per civilian agency should be done right now, actually. President Bush should do it to strengthen the dollar. We should commit not to rehire half of the civilian employees that will retire in the next 10 years. That is 42 percent of the federal workforce that will retire in the next 10 years. Don't rehire half of them. Use technology, one person doing the job of two or three.

Every businses has done it. The government has to do it. And we should look at those programs. There are about 3 percent of programs that OMB finds every year are failing. They should be zeroed out. Twenty-two pecent are found to be not able to be evaluated. They should be looked at. We need that kind of approach.

The next question was even more specific, asking, "What are the names of the top three federal programs you would reduce in size in order to decrease...(Applause)"

Former Sen. Fred Thompson's (R-Tenn) response:

Thompson: Well, it's a target-rich environment, there's no question about it...

He went on to talk about the importance of dealing with Social Security. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper asked if Social Security was one of this three programs.

Thompson: No. I didn't say that. There is -- the OMB has come out with a list of over 100 programs. I would take all 100 of them, the ones that are full of waste, fraud and duplication. I filed a report in 2001, when I was chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, and identified billions of dollars that we should be saving.

Other responses:

Cooper: Congressman Paul, the question was three programs.

Can you name three?

Paul: ... I would like to change Washington, and we could by cutting three programs, such as the Department of Education -- Ronald Reagan used to talk about that -- Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security is the biggest bureaucracy we ever had...

Finally, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Cooper: Governor Huckabee, 30 seconds, three programs.

Huckabee: Anderson, the first thing that I would get rid of would be the Internal Revenue Service.


We'd have a complete -- getting rid of a $10-billion-a-year industry.

I'm not being facetious. If we enacted the fair tax, one of the most researched ways to revive our economic future ...


... we will get rid of the IRS. Secondly, I agree we need to revamp homeland security. It's a mess, and we have a real problem with the way that it's currently structured. And the third...

Cooper: Thirty seconds is up.

Huckabee: Oh, OK. Get rid of the IRS, and that would account for most of the problems. Most people in this country are more afraid of an audit than they are of a mugging, and there's a reason why.

The NPR story this morning said that the star of the show really were the videos. That was true to a certain degree. There was no snowman asking about global warming as in the Democratic CNN-YouTube debate this summer [YouTube], but last night, there was a cartoon of Vice President  Cheney.

You can read the full transcript of the debate here.

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Nov 29, 2007 at 12:17 PM


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