Last night, CSPAN aired the Cain Gingrich debate sponsored by the Texas Tea Party Patriots. The event was held at The Woodlands and featured a one-on-one between Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. Intended to be in the style of the famous Abraham Lincoln – Stephen Douglas debates, one would hardly call it a real debate. Both men were basically on the same side of each issue with very minor differences, including their support of the Paul Ryan plan. Iowa Congressman Steve King was one of the two ′moderators′, along with Ben Streusand, chairman of the Texas chapter of Americans for Prosperity. The love-fest focused mainly on federal entitlement programs, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. Off the table was any discussion about Cain′s personal issues of the past week, though reporters attempted to corner him after. Herman Cain declared that he would no longer answer any questions concerning the charges of alleged sexual harassment while head of the National Restaurant Association, and instructed his campaign manager, Mark Block, to provide reporters with copies of the ethics codes of journalism.
Watching the event was informative as both men gave substantive answers to the questions of how does one reform federal entitlement programs. Free market solutions and transferring responsibility to the states were the general answers. They both favored providing block grants to the states for both Medicare and Medicaid, allowing the states to choose their own methods of providing health care assistance to their citizens. Incorporating some free market solutions, as well, encouraging more competition between insurance and actual health services providers would keep costs increases down. Improvement in technology, spurred by fewer federal regulations, would also have an impact. On Social Security, Herman Cain once again cited the Chilean model again, as did Newt Gingrich, who also added how the Galveston model succeeds in providing retirees with more money at half the cost.
The CSPAN Cain Gingrich debate lasted 90 minutes and was a very cordial affair. While billed as being in the style of the Abe Lincoln – Stephen Douglas debates, neither of the two candidates attacked each other, even on points of policy. Newt Gingrich did deliberately refrain from discussing Herman Cain′s 9-9-9 tax plan. At the end of the ′debate′, Newt asked Cain what has surprised him the most since running for president. Cain responded by taking shots at the Media for their nit-picking and dishonesty. His final question to Newt was what would he want to be assigned to do first as Vice President? This drew much laughter from the crowd and from Gingrich, who answered ″Not go hunting.″ All in all it was a pleasant exercise in education on how to improve entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while still balancing the federal budget as per the Paul Ryan plan.