The GOP Presidential candidates met on Wednesday night in Michigan, a state currently experiencing one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation at 11.1 percent  to discuss their ideas on turning around a stagnant economy.

The Republicans were eager to participate because the recession is perceived to be President Obama’s biggest weakness. The debate, entitled “Your Money, Your Vote”, and moderated by the CNBC money team underscored kitchen table issues such as tax reform, healthcare, and housing.  Even questions on monetary policy and global trade issues were included for good measure.

And although initially everyone thought the awkward moment of the evening would be Maria Bartolomo’s question to Cain on why the American people should hire a president they felt had character issues, the debate will most likely be known for Texas Governor Rick Perry’s “Oops moment”; his inability to remember the third federal department he would eliminate as President. Oddly, it came at the end of what was arguably turning out to be his best answer of the night regarding the Caterpillar Company’s decision to move operations to Texas.  

But my attention was keenly focused on what the candidates would say regarding matters related to advancing economic freedom. My highlights include:

The Republicans were eager to participate because the recession is perceived to be President Obama’s biggest weakness.

•         Asked about the possibility of bailing out Italy from its crisis, Mitt Romney scored points by answering “We shouldn’t bail out banks in the U.S., much less banks in Europe.”

•         On passing tax reform Rick Santorum said it well, “We need to compete on taxes; we need to compete on regulations. We must send a very clear message to manufactures in this country and all over the world that America will compete.”

•         John Huntsman’s quip regarding the Occupy movement deserved props, “I want to be the President of the 99%, and the 1%.”

•         “Tax codes do not raise taxes; politicians do” drew a loud applause for Herman Cain in answer to the question “How can you assure 9-9-9 will not turn into 19-19-19?”

•         And Ron Paul pleased many in the hall with his statement, “The disease is spending. I would go after the spending. I would cut 1 trillion dollars out of the budget in five departments.”

•         Michelle Bachmann served herself well on the healthcare question, “The issue of cost is the main problem. We have Obamacare, but we don’t have the savings. I would allow anyone to buy any plan, anywhere in the United States.”

•         And finally, top marks to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who proposed the repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, which he rightly noted punishes small banks.

Throughout the debate, it was encouraging to hear there was broad agreement among all the candidates on the need to cut spending, reign in big government, advance a robust energy policy, and reduce taxes. As liberty loving voters lets make sure they honor their words, win or lose.

Daniel Garza was formerly Associate Director at the Office of Public Liaison for The White House. He is currently the Executive Director of and a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. 

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Daniel Garza is president and chairman of The LIBRE Institute. You can see here a video of the author explaining the High School Diploma Initiative here.

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