Tonight’s first GOP debate of the 2016 season, a mere fifteen months before Election Day, are like a “Get Out of Theme Jail Free!” card for pundits. No need to come up with an original idea for today, just post a drinking game or a superior format for these debates — and the rest of the day is for relaxing!
The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts was sorely tempted to do this — particularly the better format ideas. There was a lot of good brainstorming in the Spoiler Alerts writers’ room on that one, mostly involving weird variations on Friar’s Club roasts, lip synch battles and the Kobayashi Maru exercise.
But after watching Tuesday’s Voters First Presidential Forum in New Hampshire and getting my first unfiltered taste of Republican presidential rhetoric for 2016, I had a better idea. Below me are five charts from reputable organizations. Each chart
falsifies poses significant problems for the GOP’s set of stylized facts that tend to get thrown around in formats such as these.
So if you’re watching tonight’s debates, keep these charts on hand just in case. If you really, truly must have a debate drinking game, here’s my suggestion: Take a drink whenever, in a single uninterrupted statement, any candidate manages to contradict at least two of these charts. Finish your drink if the candidate contradicts three charts in a single go.
1. Total government expenditures as percentage of GDP
Full disclosure: Beckworth’s tweet inspired this post. So it’s only fair that he get the first chart from the awesome St. Louis Federal Reserve.
There are lots of ways in which Republicans can argue that government regulation is a problem (see this chart, for example). But the truth is that the government’s share of the economy has been dropping like a stone over the past five years. So much for creeping socialism.
To underscore what I wrote earlier this week, the United States does not have a problem manufacturing stuff. It’s just that the United States — and the rest of global manufacturing — is now so damn productive that fewer workers are needed. As the above chart — also from the St. Louis Fed — demonstrates, after the 2008 financial crisis, manufacturing output in the United States has rebounded, even if manufacturing employment hasn’t. That’s due to improved productivity. Manufacturing is now following the pattern that agriculture did in the U.S. economy from the 19th century onwards.
I’ve heard that immigration, particularly from Mexico, might come up in this evening’s debates. So it might be worth knowing that, according to researchers at the U.S. Census Bureau, Mexican immigration has dropped like a stone in recent years — so much so that more Chinese and Indian immigrants are coming into the United States now.
Even after sequestration, the United States is still easily outspending its closest military competitors by a fair margin, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Republicans can point out, correctly, that this margin has been narrowing over the past five years — but the gap is still pretty damn impressive, especially if you strip out U.S. allies and focus only on possible rivals. Or, to use the language of Dora the Explorer: Can you find Iran in that chart above? That’s because it’s not there!!
I’ll just quote NASA here:
The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists.
The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
In an independent analysis of the raw data, also released Friday, NOAA scientists also found 2014 to be the warmest on record …
Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades (emphasis added).
So remember, if any GOP candidate says that anthropogenic climate change isn’t real, just remember that they’re basically saying that they know more about the environment than the scientists at NASA or NOAA.
Enjoy the debates!!