Webb’s Wrap: Will VP debate focus on policy? . . . GOP tax reform criticized . . . Is primary election reform needed?

The VP debate. The nation is hoping for a reasonably decorous debate tonight that focuses on policy and the contrasting political philosophies of the very conservative Mike Pence and the very liberal Kamala Harris.

Will we get that kind of debate? I think there will be less name-calling and interruptions than the presidential debate, but there will be many very sharp exchanges.
Harris will aggressively prosecute Trump, and Pence will have to fight hard to avoid being on defense all night long. There’s plenty of material for Pence to go after Harris and Biden. The Democratic Party took a hard left turn during the presidential primaries, and left voters behind on many issues.

But Pence will have to shift the discussion to those topics, rather than spending all his time explaining why Trump does the things he does. A good debater can take almost any tough question and turn it around to make points he or she wants to make.

I think Harris and Pence will each hold their own. And I hope the country gets some clarity on the agenda of a Biden/Harris presidency, and what might be in store in a second term of Trump/Biden.

Reader Response. From Richard Haskins: “Thank you for responding to my brief comment regarding the tax reform package. My comment was more about the term visionary than the food tax itself. As was reported many times, the legislature was looking for an easy pot of money (low hanging fruit as I remember the term), so as to enact an income tax cut that would primarily benefit upper income individuals. We can argue about the whether the food tax is good public policy but the so called tax reform package was nothing more than a recycled Republican tax cut disguised as tax reform. The Rube Goldberg efforts to try and rebate the food taxes back to the low income taxpayers was clumsy at best and most likely ineffective. That bill was never about visionary tax reform but about rearranging the chairs on a sinking ship. If they need an example of visionary, try Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1988 which was passed by a Republican President and Democratic Congress rather than the supply side nonsense in President Trumps tax cut of 2017, the clumsy attempts by Republicans to repeal the ACA, or the idiotic attempts to cut the payroll tax by executive action. If the Utah Legislature is serious about a visionary tax reform, they should look for something that both parties can support and deserves the term visionary.”

Political people. Rebecca Chavez-Houck is stepping down from her position as executive director of Better Boundaries. A press release says: “For the last year and a half, Rebecca has guided Better Boundaries through some challenging times. Her legislative experience and relationships at the Utah State Capitol were critical in the negotiations that preserved the spirit of Prop 4. Rebecca used her decade’s worth of experience in independent redistricting and electoral reform to steer us through the Census and helped us to lay the groundwork for the creation of the Independent Redistricting Commission. From her attempts to create independent redistricting through legislation while serving in the Utah State Legislature to being one of the original signatories on the initiative application, Rebecca has been a champion for fair elections and bipartisan redistricting.” Longtime Deputy Director Noah Rosenberg will serve as interim executive director.

Parting Shot. Are primary election reforms needed? I’ve heard a lot of dissatisfaction expressed by thoughtful people I respect about the primary election process this year, especially the gubernatorial race. The main concern is that Spencer Cox won the nomination with only 36 percent of the primary vote. A majority of Republicans voted for someone else. I’m personally not much bothered by that fact, but I’m interested in other opinions. Please send me any suggestions you have on how the primary election process should be reformed. Among the options are a runoff election, or ranked choice voting, or a return to the caucus/convention system (which would be a terrible mistake). What do you think? Send your suggestions to [email protected].