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Taxes largely ignored at first GOP presidential debate

Biden podium smiling flags gold curtains backdrop white house facebook
Eight Republican presidential hopefuls stood behind podiums last week at the GOP's first debate of the 2024 election cycle. They all have the same goal: replace President Joe Biden at this one. (Photo: White House Facebook page)

So, so much went on in the Republican Party last week.

The biggie, of course, was the official booking of Donald J. Trump. That was immediately followed by announcements from Republicans in the Georgia legislature and U.S. House that they intended to take steps to remove the prosecuting District Attorney Fani Wilis from her job, effectively (they hope) ending the case against Trump.

On a lighter, or so it seemed, note, a heretofore unknown singer reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart with a populist anti-big-government anthem. "Rich Men North of Richmond" made it there in part via some savvy marketing by conservative groups.

Oliver Anthony's song even made it into last week's first GOP presidential debate, much to the writer-singer's chagrin. "It was funny seeing that presidential debate," Anthony said in, what else, a video statement. "I wrote that song about those people."

And about that debate. By now we know that these aren't really debates, and that substance is secondary to presentation. That held true in the Aug. 23 event in Milwaukee.

True, the eight candidates touched on some topics of concern to voters, such as climate change. But true to form, the final analysis came down to other, less weighty matters now used by traditional and social media to determine so-called winners and losers.

Those of us who follow taxes got a few tidbits. They are this weekend's Saturday Shout Outs to a couple of Fox Business videos.

Just a touch of taxes: In Mike Pence says he will cut taxes 'further' when he is president, the former vice president segues from crime to the impending end of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 tax law changes that will end on Dec. 31, 2025. The tax talk starts around 1:30 in the tape, giving us around half a minute on tax policy.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, in discussing the size of the federal government, says "If you don't send it to Washington, we can't spend it, that's good news." He cited his part in creating the TCJA, and advocated sending money back to states and taxpayers. Scott's tax talk was a bit longer than Pence's, but still compressed into his two-minute answer window.

Tax questions that should be posed, if not answered: Before the debate last week, Erica York, Senior Economist and Research Manager with Tax Foundation's Center for Federal Tax Policy, noted that the future of the U.S. tax code should be one topic that takes center stage. That makes the ol' blog's third shout out.

Unfortunately, these tax policy questions went into the overly used "things that won't happen tonight at the first GOP presidential candidates' debate" file. But they are worth reading in York's Tax Foundation blog post Tax Policy Questions That 2024 Presidential Candidates Should Address.

As the headline notes, York didn't limit the tax questions to last week's debate. Here's hoping that at least a few of these tax questions will show up in future GOP primary and general election debates.

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