The VP debate. Vice presidential debates are usually inconsequential, but the one tomorrow at the University of Utah between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will be meaningful. The reason is that their presidential running mates are both getting up there in years. Trump is 74 and Biden is nearly 78. In addition, Trump has COVID-19, and Biden often appears to be rather feeble. In announcing a VP running mate, presidential candidates always say they chose someone qualified to assume the presidency. In this case, we should hope they really did.
We could be watching two future contenders for the presidency. If Biden wins, it’s entirely possible he won’t seek a second term. That would make Harris the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2024, even though she did poorly seeking the nomination this year.
And Pence will be well-positioned to win the GOP nomination in 2024, especially if Trump wins this year. If Trump loses, Pence will have a harder time in 2024, as competitors will note he was part of a losing ticket. It’s also hard to stay relevant and visible while out of office.
I expect the debate tomorrow to be much better than the insane presidential debate on Sept. 29. It will be historic, with the first woman of color on a presidential ticket. It will also be more policy and ideologically-oriented, and we hopefully will get a good picture of what initiatives and policies each administration would pursue.
But I predict the debate will also get testy, with Harris attacking Trump on many fronts.
Reader Response. A reader took me to task for suggesting that the Legislature’s 2019 tax reform package (which was repealed before becoming law) was visionary and would have been good for the state long-term. He wrote: “I would not call taxing food modernizing the tax structure of the state.” I respectfully disagree. I know I’m in the minority, and I know it’s not popular, but boosting the food tax was the right thing to do for a balanced tax system that keeps up with the state’s needs. Low-income people would have received far more benefits under the reform package than the paltry amount they save by the reduced food tax.
Herbert & Cato. The Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank, is out with its latest governor ratings, and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, once again, doesn’t fare well. He gets a D, a lower grade than a lot of liberal Democratic governors of California, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Mexico and others. Cato’s grading formula claims to reward governors who cut taxes and spending. In reality, the Cato scores are ridiculous. It is preposterous to rate California ahead of Utah in controlling taxes and spending. Utah is penalized because it has more students, percentagewise, than any other state, and it is a fast-growing state with major infrastructure needs. But the governor and Legislature are certainly holding the line on taxes and spending. Utah is routinely rated as one of the best-managed states in America, with the best economy. Its governor and Legislature are very conservative. If you get a copy of the Cato report, use it for kindling.
Parting Shot. Democrats and the liberal news media were all outraged, aghast and aflutter over the fact that Trump took a ride in an SUV to wave to supporters outside Walter Reed hospital. They said he was endangering the lives of the Secret Service agents guarding him. They don’t mention, of course, that Secret Service agents are with him 24/7 and accompanied him to and from the hospital, and all were appropriately masked up. Had it been Obama, the same talking heads would have praised him for rising from his sick bed to project strength and character and to assure citizens and world leaders that he is healthy and in charge.
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