Live-Blog Of Bloomberg/Washington Post GOP Presidential Debate

9:58: Rick Perry steals Santorum’s slogan: “let America be America again.” Santorum, of course, stole that slogan from a pro-union, pro-racial justice and pro-immigrant poem by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes.

9:52: Rick Perry suggests he was on an oil rig this morning, referring to “talking to that out of work rig operator out on the Gulf of Mexico today.”

9:47: Rick Santorum admits that socialist Europe has more upward class mobility among the Middle Class. Most of Europe enjoys universal healthcare, heavily subsidized higher education, and higher rates of unionization, all factors that help working people prosper.

9:44: Rick Perry claims the biggest creator of poverty in America is Barack Obama, but as governor of Texas, Perry saw a childhood poverty rate that hit 25 percent. Meanwhile, the state has the highest percentage of minimum wage jobs in the country.

9:39: Perry claims an enterprise fund that he runs in Texas has created more than 56,000 jobs. The Wall Street Journal reported today that these claims “have been inflated by counting employment gains far removed from the actual projects.”

9:32: Herman Cain says he would pick a Fed chairman like Alan Greenspan, someone who is not too popular among conservatives. “alan greenspan? really???” Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review Tweeted.

9:26: The difference between Romneycare and Perrycare is this:

Uninsured population Uninsured children Average Annual Percent Growth Infant Mortality
Texas 6.2 Million (26%) 1.3 Million (18%) 7.4% 6.3
Massachusetts 323,500 (5%) 51,400 (3%) 6.3% 5.0

9:23: Bachmann forgets about her time in Congress or in the Minnesota state Senate, claims she spent her “entire life in the private sector.”

9:20: Romney uses his opportunity to ask another candidate a question to go after Bachmann, a major slight to Perry, who has been largely left out of this debate. The fact that so many of the candidates are aiming their questions at Romney instead of Perry seems to confirm that Romney has re-established his front-runner mantle.

9:17: Romney did raise taxes to help pay for reform in Massachusetts. The expansion of coverage is financed with federal funding and higher taxes on individuals who fail to purchase coverage and large businesses that didn’t offer insurance. Romney admitted as much during a March 7, 2010 interview on Fox News Sunday: “If they don’t buy insurance, they’ll find that their taxes are higher,” he said.

9:15: Cain denies that he ever called Ron Paul supporters “ignorant.” He, in fact, called them and their questions about the Federal Reserve “stupid” and “annoying.”

9:13: Romney mentions the jobs that his private equity firm — Bain Capital — created, leaving aside the thousands of jobs it destroyed.

9:11: Romney says he’s not worried about the poor “because they have a safety net.” Perhaps that’s why he wants to raise their taxes. According to a Center for American Progress analysis of Romney’s tax plan, he would give $6.6 trillion more to the wealthy and corporations.

9:09: Romney attacks the anti-union practices of Boeing, a company he own $100,000 worth of stock in.

9:07: Cain hits Romney because his 59-point economic plan isn’t simple enough. Remember, Cain vowed that as president, he wouldn’t sign a bill longer than three pages. (He later backed off that promise.)

9:05: The Pete Peterson Foundation has aired at least four anti-deficit spending ads during the debate so far. Peterson, a billionaire retired Wall Street investor, has committed $1 billion of his personal wealth into political advocacy groups focused on limiting the deficit and reducing the government. Apparently, Peterson is even the sponsor of the debate:

Screen shot from the Bloomberg-Washington Post Republican debate.

8:57: “I want to go to war with China,” Santorum says, referring to a trade war. The candidates had been arguing over a recent bill to penalize China for devaluing its currency, which Huntsman and others oppose as potentially sparking a trade war.

8:54: Who needs policy? Rick Perry said, “we don’t need to focused on whether we have this policy or that policy” — then proposed his own set of policies.

8:54:Bachmann’s campaign sends out a press release saying Cain’s 9-9-9 plan “Would Wreck the U.S. Economy.”

8:46: Cain claims that his 999 plan’s massive new tax on food won’t hurt poor people in part because used goods are not taxed under the plan. So Cain’s plan is for poor people to buy used food?

8:44: Bachmann repeatedly highlights her time working for the IRS, saying, “I’m a federal tax lawyer. That’s what I do for a living.” Bachmann stopped working in that position in 1993. She also took lots of time off from that job, “seldom entered a courtroom,” and colleagues “cannot recall one important case or criminal prosecution she handled.”

8:41: Romney scaremongers about the effect that raising taxes on the wealthy will have on job creation. After President Clinton raised taxes, the economy created 23 million jobs.

8:40: The moderators play a video of former President Reagan asking that lawmakers ensure everyone pays “their fair share” in taxes. Watch video here of Reagan saying it’s “crazy” that tax loopholes allow a millionaire to pay less in taxes than a bis driver.

8:39:Rick Perry’s campaign sends out research showing Romney supported the Wall Street bailout Bush and Obama engaged in, telling CPAC in 2009, “Though I know we didn’t all agree on TARP, I happen to believe it was necessary to prevent a cascade of bank collapses.”

8:29: In a testy exchange, Romney refuses to say what he would have done differently from President Bush and President Obama to prevent an economic meltdown by bailing out Wall Street, dismissing the question as a “hypothetical.”

8:28: Romney says he would fire Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. In fact, the president can’t do that.

8:27: Cain touts his economic adviser, Rich Lowrie, who developed Cain’s tax plan and said in a recent interview that asking whether the plan would raise taxes on the poor is just “Washington thinking.” Lowrie was also on the board of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity Tea Party group. Must be why Cain is the Koch’s favorite presidential candidate.

8:24: Jon Huntsman jokes that he thought Herman Cain’s “999” plan was the price of a pizza when he first heard about it. Herman Cain says his economic plan “didn’t come off a pizza box.” Cain was a pizza executive.

8:22: Newt Gingrich revives that old GOP chestnut, the health care “death panel” myth. Stop flogging this dead horse guys.

8:20: Bachmann revives one of her classic, repeatedly-debunked conspiracy theories, claiming that President Obama secretly told her he wants Medicare to fail.

8:18: Ron Paul’s eyebrow appears to be falling off:

8:14: Santorum wants to repeal all regulations. In health care, this means that insurers will once again be able to deny coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions and young adults will no longer be able to enroll on their parents’ health insurance policies.

8:09: Bachmann won’t say whether it’s acceptable that no banking executives served jail time for nearly bringing down the global economy with their recklessness. Instead, she turns to the old conservative canard of blaming the Community Reinvestment Act and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the meltdown. 400,000 documents prove her wrong. Moreover, she received a $417,000-subsidized home mortgage from a Fannie/Freddie program.

8:07: Just minutes into the debate, Perry is already showing some of the fumbling that has hurt him in the past. He seems nervous and is already tripping over his words. After two bad debate performances, there’s a lot at stake for him tonight.

8:05: Perry brags about signing six balanced budgets in Texas. He doesn’t mention that one was balanced with stimulus dollars. Perry also refuses to lay out an economic plan, saying he’ll do so over the next three days.

8:03: Herman Cain, a man who has never held elected office, gets the first question – frontrunner treatment – in tonight’s debate. Cain’s plan to “end paralysis in Washington” is to implement a radical reworking of the tax code that throws out all current tax preferences that individuals and companies enjoy. His 9-9-9 tax reform plan would lead to our largest deficits since World War II.

7:58: Bloomberg has a 40-person team fact checking the candidates in real time.

7:55: GOP black sheep presidential candidate Fred Karger has pointed out that one of the qualifications for tonight’s debate was that every candidate’s campaign had to have reported at least half million dollars raised in its FEC filing. Rick Perry has not yet filed a report, so technically he should not have qualified to participate tonight.

7:51: A new poll out today from the debate’s sponsors, Bloomberg and the Washington Post, shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans want higher taxes on the wealthy. Virtually all of the candidates on the state tonight hold views contrary to the overwhelming majority of Americans.

7:45: We’re eager to see how Rick Perry does, as many view tonight’s debate as a make-or-break moment for the flagging candidate who has struggled in previous debates. Also lacking has been Perry’s economic thinking, and Bloomberg runs this brutal graphic laying out the governor’s “plan”: