The top leading 8 Republican presidential candidates squared off in Milwaukee last night for the 4th debate sponsored by Fox News Business and the Wall St. Journal that saw the candidates discussing their policy plans on spending and taxes with fewer personal attacks.
Some of the liveliest exchanges during the debate came over foreign policy and immigration.
Donald Trump defended his hardline immigration policy stance that includes deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. while building a wall along the border.
John Kasich and Jeb Bush criticized Trump’s immigration plan for lacking practicality.
“Twelve million illegal immigrants, to send them back, 500,000 a month, is just not — not possible. And it’s not embracing American values. And it would tear communities apart. And it would send a signal that we’re not the kind of country that I know America is” Bush said.
Bush insisted that the way to win the presidency is to have “practical plans” and explained that he supports allowing undocumented immigrants the opportunity to earn legal status where they “pay a fine, where they work, where they don’t commit crimes, where they learn English, and over an extended period of time, they earn legal status.”
Trump countered that Bush’s moderate immigration position, which is also the same policy supported by Democrats, is “very very unfair to the people that want to come into our country legally.”
Ted Cruz also weighed in with immigration issue.
Cruz showed his hardline edge over immigration after reminding the audience that he is the son of an immigrant who came legally from Cuba.
“Every sovereign nation secures its borders, and it is not compassionate to say we’re not going to enforce the laws” Cruz said.
Marco Rubio was asked a profound question about the advancement of technology that has reduced many American jobs when Americans are anxious that the new economy that hasn’t produced enough high paying American jobs and the majority of the wealth goes to investors and inventors.
Rubio responded by saying that we are living through a massive economic transformation and we are changing faster than ever.
“You know, it took the telephone 75 years to reach 100 million users. It took Candy Crush one year to reach some 100 million users” he said.
Rubio pointed out that the United States is in global competition and addressed some policies that make America less competitive such as the “outdated” higher education system and a high business tax rate.
“Our higher education system is completely outdated. It is too expensive, too hard to access, and it doesn’t teach 21st century skills. If we do what needs to be done — tax reform, regulatory reform, fully utilize our energy resources, repeal and replace Obamacare, and modernize higher education, then we can grasp the potential and the promise of this new economy” Rubio said.
Although Rubio wants to reduce the business tax code, he didn’t offer an explanation about he plans to make up for the shortfall in tax revenue that will be felt in the Treasury budget if his plan becomes adopted.
Ben Carson was quiet throughout much of the evening but he was questioned about his support of a new flat tax rate of up to 15 percent that he described as a “concept of proportionality” and consists of eliminating “all the deductions and all the loopholes.”
“Everybody should pay the same proportion of what they make. You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. You get same rights and privileges” Carson said.
Rand Paul displayed his conservative stripes and said that he wants a government “really, really small, so small you can barely see it.”
“So I want lower taxes and much more money in the private sector” Paul continued.
Rand Paul criticized Rubio as a big spender who would expand America’s debt with new benefits and increased military spending.
“How is it conservative to add a trillion dollars in military expenditures? You can not be a conservative if you’re going to keep promoting new programs that you’re not going to pay for” Paul maintained.
Rubio responded by saying, “we can’t even have an economy if we’re not safe” and “the world is a safer place when America is the strongest military power in the world.”
Paul said that we spend more on our military than the next ten countries combined and questioned Rubio, “Can you be for unlimited military spending, and say, Oh, I’m going to make the country safe?
“I want a strong national defense, but I don’t want us to be bankrupt” Paul explained.
Donald Trump said that he wants to “make our military bigger, better, stronger than ever before so that nobody messes with us” but then later said he wants to give Putin more influence over Syria.
“But, if Putin wants to go and knocked the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it, 100%, and I can’t understand how anybody would be against it…” Trump said.
Trump admitted that America can’t continue to be the policeman of the world.
“We are $19 trillion dollars, we have a country that’s going to hell, we have an infrastructure that’s falling apart. Our roads, our bridges, our schools, our airports, and we have to start investing money in our country” Trump said.
Bush generated some cheering when he told Trump that he was wrong about his approach to foreign policy.
“He is absolutely wrong on this. We’re not going to be the world’s policeman, but we sure as heck better be the world’s leader. That’s — there’s a huge difference where, without us leading” Bush insisted.
Carson said that Putin is trying to really spread his influence throughout the Middle East.
Carly Fiorina challenged the scaled back and isolationist foreign policies that Paul and Trump seemed to espouse.
“You know, Mr. Trump fancies himself a very good negotiator. And, I accept that he’s done a lot of good deals, so, Mr. Trump ought to know that we should not speak to people from a position of weakness. Senator Paul should know that as well” Fiorina said.
Fiorina spoke about putting more troops in Germany and rebuilding the Sixth Fleet and the missile defense program in Poland while conducting very aggressive military exercises in the Baltic States so that Putin understands that the U.S. protects its NATO allies.
Paul responded to Fiorina criticism by stating, “You can be strong without being involved in every civil war around the war…”
Rubio called Putin a “gangster” and said he is building up his military in a rapid way despite the fact his economy is a disaster.