Can we stop pretending that Rick Santorum is a fiscal conservative?

Back in 2008, Jonah Goldberg explained that Mike Huckabee’s brand of conservatism was inconsistent with traditional conservatism, in that the former Arkansas Governor believes that government exists, not to protect individual liberty, but to make people live moral lives in accordance with his personal beliefs:

When it comes to economic issues, [Mike Huckabee] is hard to distinguish from all  sort of different brands of liberals. He is hostile to free trade. He is very friendly to raising taxes. He believes in regulation wherever  necessary. He thinks abortion must remain a federal national issue, can’t send it back to the states. And that’s what I mean by “right-wing  progressive.” He wants to use government towards conservative ends. He says it’s a biblical duty to fight global warming. The problem with  someone like Huckabee is that he much like, in my mind, a liberal sees no dogmatic constitutional limits on the “do-goodery” of the federal  government. Whatever he thinks is the right thing for the federal government to do, if he thinks there’s a good thing that can be done by the federal government, he wants the federal government to do it whether  it’s constitutional or in accordance with principles of limited  government. And maybe what he wants to isn’t what a cultural liberal would want to do but he still wants to use the government the same way.  It’s big government conservatism. And that, I think, is the real threat  these days to conservatism.

Citizens United exposes Occupy Wall Street

The folks from Citizens United are putting out a new documentary, Occupy Unmasked, which exposes the radicalism behind the Occupy Wall Street movement and its goals are. You can watch the trailer below, though most of what is seen is familiar to those of us that followed OWS during the fall or were involuntarily exposed to a protest:

Could a corporate income tax cut be on the horizon?

As you know, President Barack Obama has made Warren Buffett’s tax bill a frequent talking point, often mentioning that his secretary pays a tax higher rate. Of course, Obama and his apologists don’t mention that they are taxed different — Buffett being taxed via capital gains.

The debate is interesting in that an official in the Obama Administration has said that the president will propose a reduction in the United States’ corporate income tax. That’s certainly welcome news given that our corporate tax rate is among the highest in the industrialized world, but it’s also at odds with Obama’s frequent class warfare rhetoric because it would put more money into Warren Buffett’s pockets:

Reuters reported late Friday, citing two anonymous sources, that President Obama will call for reducing the U.S. corporate income tax rate to “the high 20 percent range” from 35%.

Pressure increases on Dick Lugar

It’s no secret that national grassroots and Tea Party groups, including our friends at FreedomWorks, are gunning for Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN), who is one of the poster children (metaphorically speaking) of everything wrong with the Republican Party from a fiscal standpoint.

His primary opponent, Richard Mourdock, is seizing on that point, recently launching an ad hitting Lugar on wasteful earmarks, including supporting the now-infamous Bridge to Nowhere and a teapot museum:

Lugar’s absence from Indiana is also becoming a point for many conservatives and Democrats in the state. Apparently, Lugar lists a home he sold some 35 years ago as his primary residence. So when he visits his “constituents” in Indiana, he winds up staying in a hotel at taxpayer expense (emphasis mine):

The Indiana Democratic Party has combed through records going all the way back to Lugar’s first year in the Senate, 1977.

National Review urges Gingrich to drop out

It’s no secret that the editors of the National Review, a highly influential conservative publication, aren’t fans of Newt Gingrich. Back in December, they came out against the former Speaker’s bid for the Republican nomination, despite his lead in GOP primary polls at the time. They weren’t finished. Just last month they slammed Gingrich for his for his anti-capitalist attacks on Mitt Romney’s wealth.

And yesterday, the National Review called on Gingrich to get out of the race and endorse Santorum, using Gingrich’s own logic from last month against him:

At the moment Rick Santorum appears to be overtaking Newt Gingrich as the principal challenger to Mitt Romney. Santorum has won more contests than Gingrich (who has won only one), has more delegates, and leads him in the polls. In at least one poll, he also leads Romney. It isn’t yet a Romney–Santorum contest, but it could be headed that way.

We hope so. Gingrich’s verbal and intellectual talents should make him a resource for any future Republican president. But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee. It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.

Judge Napolitano: Stop e-mailing Fox

In messages to fans on his Facebook page, Judge Andrew Napolitano, host of the recently canceled show, Freedom Watch, is urging fans and supporters to stop e-mailing Fox. The first plea came on Saturday:

It will be far more productive for my work at Fox and the work of my friends and colleagues here—many of whom share our values—if the email traffic to Fox toned down considerably. I will continue to voice the message of freedom in many more Fox venues, and you will hear that message, and we will do our best to alert you in advance of those venues and the times that I will be on them; and we will post those alerts right here on this site. PLEASE BE SURE TO WATCH THE FINAL FreedomWatch SHOW ON MONDAY FEBRUARY 13TH, ON FOX BUSINESS AT 8:00 PM, EASTERN TIME. You have been very strong in your views and generous in your comments about the show, but now is the time to relax and lay low and prepare for the future. God bless each of you.

Apparently, the volume of e-mails didn’t die down as Judge Napolitano put out another message to fans yesterday morning, again urging them much more directly to stop e-mailing Fox about his show’s cancellation:

Dear Friends—

Obama rolls out another budget the Senate won’t pass

As expected, President Barack Obama rolled out his budget proposal for FY 2013, which, as we noted yesterday, comes with a $1.33 trillion budget deficit. As you can imagine, there is a lot to parse through it the proposal, which has been all but declared dead-on-arrival in Congress.

Some of the budget proposals are familiar. President Obama is once again pushing tax hikes on individuals earning more than $250,000 — more than the millionaires and billionaires he so frequently targets. James Pethokoukis has a run down of the tax hikes in the budget:

Obama’s new budget isn’t about economic growth or cutting debt or creating a “built to last” economy. The Obama campaign is built around the idea of reducing inequality. So in his budget, Obama takes the populist whip to the wealthy and to business:

1. The top income rate would be raised to 39.6 percent vs. 35 percent today.

2. Under the “Buffett rule,” no household making over $1 million annually would pay less than 30 percent of their income in taxes.

3. Between now the end of a second Obama term, Obama proposes $707 billion in “net deficit reduction proposals.” Of that amount, only 16 percent is spending cuts.

4. The majority of small business profits would be taxed at 39.6 percent vs. 35 percent today.

5. The capital gains rate would rise to 25.0 percent (including the Obamacare surtax and deduction phase out) from 15 percent today.

6. The double-tax on corporate profits (including dividends) would increase to 64 percent based on the statutory corporate tax rate (58 percent using the effective tax rate), easily the highest among advanced economies.

The Road To Tax Reform: More Potholes Than I Like

Some panels are off in nowhere, little rooms here and there. Other panels are in giant ballrooms, like the Marshall Ballroom, second largest to the Marriott where all the major speakers are, well, speaking. (Perhaps “blustering” is a better word.) And sometimes, those ballrooms were not full. But then maybe I got there early.

It was certainly an illustrious panel, which explained why it began to fill up shortly after it officially began. It was chaired by Grover Norquist himself, President of Americans for Tax Reforms, and the legendary proponent of the “No New Taxes” Pledge he encouraged (some on the left would say “forced”) politicians to take up. To his right was Lew Uhler , chair of the National Tax Limitation Committee, and to his left were Benjamin Powell of the Independent Institute and Phil Kerpen, Vice President for Policy, of Americans For Prosperity. I went because the subtitle implied there was going to be a debate between supporters of the Flat Tax, Fair Tax, a VAT, and maybe even 9-9-9—and that plan’s author, Rich Lowrie, did show up in the audience. But there really wasn’t any debate on that front.

And let’s face it, what kind of debate can we really have on taxes? Even the left admits that the tax code we have now is horrifically complex, prone to corruption and gaming the system. Though they disagree about “broadening the base and lowering the rates,” I don’t think any sane American, left, right, or center, can look at the miasma we have now and say, “Yeah, it works.” For whom?

There were some interesting points to be made, but ultimately I didn’t think the solutions that Norquist posed during question time were all that good. But let’s focus on the interesting first:

Rick Santorum played up his economic statism in 2006

While Rick Santorum has become the latest conservative darling, an ad has surfaced from his failed 2006 re-election campaign where the then-struggling Senator was trying to convince Pennsylvania voters that he was a moderate on economic issues — including his for increasing the minimum wage and continuing subsidies for Amtrak — to deserve to be sent back to Washington.

Andrew Kaczynski also notes that Santorum’s campaign put together a pamphlet in an attempt to appeal to moderates, which included some points that should make economic statists like him.

Gold Standard: The Facebook of Currency?

Deep within the bowels of CPAC, in a small conference room on the second floor of the Marriott Wardman hotel, dozens of people packed inside to listen to a blue ribbon panel—or perhaps I should say “gold standard” panel, for that was what John Mueller of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Jeffrey Bell of the American Principles Project, and James Grant—yes, that James Grant, author of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer and Ron Paul’s pick to head the Federal Reserve—were on hand to talk about and explain: a return to the gold standard. And yes, Grant—and many in the crowd—were wearing bowties.

Although I do wonder if the real reason people showed up were because of the Bavarian pretzels they were offering.

I have to admit, I came into the panel with a major question. I am totally for the abolition of fiat currency, the abolition of the Federal Reserve, and the restoration of a sound money policy. 2011 dollars are worth about 19 cents in 1971 dollars, the year when Nixon closed the gold window and took the country off the gold standard. It is, I argue, the necessary step before we can even look at getting rid of minimum wage, unemployment compensation, things that libertarians would want to remove, but we can’t because the money people are using isn’t worth anything. But is the gold standard really, well, the “gold standard” of monetary reform? Would going back to the sixties necessarily bring back prosperity? Were there any other alternatives?


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.