NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

NCPA Analysis of Sunday's Presidential Debate

October 7, 2016

The NCPA experts have been tracking all policy discussion during the debates, and will live-tweet through Sunday's debate and provide detailed analysis afterwards.

After two debates, the presidential and vice presidential candidates have left us with more partisan bickering than actual policy. Their discussion of national security and foreign policy left several gaps in need of filling. They name-checked Social Security, but offered no real solutions. And health care -- a problem that impacts Americans on a day-to-day basis - has been startlingly absent from the debates.

"The previous two debates virtually ignored Obamacare and largely ignored health care in general. Health care is arguably the one topic that effects all Americans," says NCPA Senior Fellow Devon Herrick. "The rising cost of medical care is something that rivals mortgage payments for most Americans. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton should admit Obamacare's flaws and be prepared to discuss which aspects should be replaced. Donald Trump should also come prepared to discuss his health proposal in detail rather than the broad strokes he's known for."

While the candidates have avoided health care like the plague, some people have not -- including former President Bill Clinton.

"In a moment of candor, former President Bill Clinton characterized Obamacare as the 'craziest thing in the world,' his way of describing increasing premiums and decreasing health insurance coverage. The former president is right: With fewer insurance options to choose from and not enough millennials participating, the health insurance industry is dangerously flirting with a death spiral. This is why your premiums are rising and your insurance coverage is decreasing," says NCPA Legislative Director Brian Williams.

NCPA experts predicted this failure in 2013.

Williams continues, "Meanwhile, the President granted a special exemption in 2013 that allows Congress to receive health insurance subsidies that normally aren't available for comparable private sector businesses. Under a Freedom of Information request, our friends at Judicial Watch uncovered signed documents attesting that the United States Senate and House of Representatives have only 45 employees each. This is clearly false.  But it was a necessary falsehood in order to receive the special subsidies in the DC small business exchange. Imagine that: Congress is a small business. Notice that the documents are signed with this oath: 'I know that if I'm not truthful there may be a penalty.''  But so far, no penalty.  You and your family can rest easy knowing that Congress isn't struggling with the same health insurance problems that aggravate you and your family."

Another topic the candidates' need to address is Social Security, says NCPA Senior Fellow Pam Villarreal.

"I would like to see the candidates talk more about Social Security and any plans they have to reduce its $32 unfunded liability. Hillary Clinton wants to expand Social Security to provide more benefits for widows/widowers who lose their spouse's benefit check when that spouses passes away.  However, it is important to note that if Hillary's tax plan is implemented, there will be a fall in payroll tax revenues according to our projections, due to job losses.  Fewer people will be working to pay into the Social Security system.  While this topic seems to be a third rail, it would be refreshing to hear some ideas on reform," says Villarreal.

While national security was a hot topic at the vice presidential debate, there are still some holes left to be filled. "First and foremost, Secretary Clinton could explain where the money will come from to fund her intelligence surge -- an idea that has come up twice -- and other military plans alongside her enormous domestic spending increase," says NCPA Senior Fellow David Grantham. "Moreover, justify why continuing Obama's failed plan against ISIS is a good idea.  Mr. Trump has holes to fill, as well. We hope to hear how the businessman plans to rebuild our depleted military. He acknowledges the problem but has yet to explain a solution. Hopefully, he will suggest better spending before more spending. Finally, both will need to address Russia's recent provocations, the cyber threat and offer some clear guidance on U.S. strategy to combat it. The townhall format may provide better opportunities to elaborate - but we wait to see."

Join the NCPA experts on Twitter at @NCPA for live analysis and commentary during Sunday's debate. 


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