The first (and likely only) debate between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina took place tonight. From the first question to the last closing statements, Boxer was fully in control. Despite a format that was difficult -- timed responses and rebuttals -- Fiorina could not escape her past record at the helm of Hewlett-Packard, or her tired Republican ideas. One of the finest moments came with the first question to Fiorina about opposition to the small business jobs bill and teachers bill. Here it is:
How do you justify immediate help for the wealthiest Americans but not for average Californians who might be out of a job and listening to this debate tonight?
Fiorina's response is predictable and rambly. The one thing she did well all night was deflect the actual question asked of her.
FIORINA: Well, you know I think first we need to start by describing what the 2001/2003 tax cuts really were -- tax cuts that are going to expire in January. The vast majority of that tax relief went to middle class Americans and in fact, if those tax cuts are not extended, the average California family will pay up to $1600 more in taxes. It's also true that small business owners in particular are struggling under the weight of businesses.
Senator Boxer has voted against small business tax relief each and every time. The death tax will skyrocket to 55% on January 1st. We have 88,000 farms in this great state, most of them family-owned.
And here comes the Fiorina zingy special....
To create jobs, we need to make sure that in particular, our small businesses, our family-owned businesses, our innovators and our entrepreneurs are freed from strangling regulation and freed from taxation.
Then the gloomy-doomy description of our lives. So miserable...she did this all night.
I think in the middle of a terrible recession...this is the worst economic crisis since 1979 and since 1929 in this state. Just think about it. We have 12 metropolitan areas with unemployment above 15%. We have 23 counties with unemployment above 15%. And meanwhile in the last 20 months, the federal government spending has increased 10% each year, and federal government employees have increased 14.5% over the last 2 years.
At this point, I'm thinking to myself, thank GOD Federal spending has increased 10%. It wasn't nearly enough, for sure, but if it hadn't, California unemployment rates would likely have been closer to 20%. Then Boxer responds. While I'm not certain where she comes out of the gate with the teachers' bill, it did drive home her point.
BOXER: I'd like to go back to the question, because it's very important. We had 16,500 teachers plus get pink slips in the mail. They were not going to be in the classroom when our children are there. What's more important than our children? You know, I'm a product of public schools, 95% of our people go to public schools -- the kids go to public schools.
This was a bill that was paid for. Do you know that my opponent actually called that bill -- this bill where we saved these teacher jobs -- she called the bill a disgrace. She called it disgraceful. Now I'll tell you why I don't think she likes it, because we paid for that bill...
[zinger coming up]
...it was deficit neutral because we paid for it by stopping some tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas. So every time you really get past the surface, you see my opponent fighting for the billionaires, the millionaires, for the companies who ship jobs overseas. She even opposes the small business legislation that most everybody supports that would give tax breaks to small business.
And so it went, for the entire debate. Fiorina could not escape the fact that she laid off 30,000 employees while at HP's helm and sent those jobs to China. Not only couldn't she escape it, she actually tried to make a point from it about how the US should be more like China, by giving giant tax incentives and preferences to corporations. At one point, I observed that Carly Fiorina wants the US to be China.
And they say it's Democrats who are commie pinkos.
Other highlights from the debate: Carly Fiorina believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned because it's a states' rights issue, but Prop8 was the act of an activist judge and should become a federal issue. She would not take a position on Prop 23, the oil company collective effort to turn back California's greenhouse gas bill, except to adopt the Republican talking points about it being a job-killing bill. Boxer hit back hard on that last one, saying that if Fiorina couldn't find a way to take a position on Prop 23, she really didn't have any business representing California, since Prop 23 would undo the green industries beginning to take hold in California.
Overall, Boxer had control from start to finish, even when the questions were stupid. Both received a couple of those, hand-picked from video uploads by the debate moderators.
It really just comes to this: Carly Fiorina mismanaged HP, and while she was at the helm, their product quality and corporate reputation went from sterling to mediocre at best. She had no problem sending 30,000 jobs overseas in one of the largest layoffs in the history of California, and as Boxer pointed out, she still walked away with a $22 million golden parachute after driving the value of HP stock down to less than 50% of what it was when she stepped in.
Barbara Boxer should run away with this election. She's been a faithful and responsive representative for Californians. No matter how much Fiorina outspends her, there's no reason to elect someone who wants to take us back to the middle of the last century and beyond.