Paul Ryan

Tax Rates Impact Economic Performance, but other Policies also Matter

Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

I’m a big fan of fundamental tax reform, in part because I believe in fairness and want to reduce corruption.

But I also think the flat tax will boost the economy’s performance, largely because lower tax rates are the key to good tax policy.

There are four basic reasons that I cite when explaining why lower rates improve growth.

  1. They lower the price of work and production compared to leisure.
  2. They lower the price of saving and investment relative to consumption.
  3. They increase the incentive to use resources efficiently rather than seek out loopholes.
  4. They attract jobs and investment from other nations.

As you can see, there’s nothing surprising or unusual on my list. Just basic microeconomic analysis.

A Libertarian case against Romney

Mitt Romney

On Friday, Jennifer Knight published a piece entitled “A Libertarian Case for Romney.” The essence of the post is that the Romney/Ryan ticket are a move in a better direction than President Obama, and as such they should get our vote as a way to try and put the brakes on the path our nation is headed down.

Unfortunately, I can’t help but disagree.

Oh, sure, Romney and Ryan are talking a better game than Obama, but the bar isn’t really set that high.  For me, at least, voting for Romney requires a few things that he frankly hasn’t provided.

First, I would have to trust him at his word to actually do what he says he would do.  Honestly, I haven’t seen a lot from his record that really convinces me that he’s geniunely interested in “putting the brakes” on anything.

For months now, libertarians are being told that we simply must vote for the GOP nominee (now known to be Mitt Romney) or risk four more years of Obama.  Honestly, I’ve been tickled by the arguments.

You see, if the GOP gave a damn about the libertarians out there, why didn’t they nominate someone who we might actually like?  Ron Paul, for example, or even Gary Johnson when he was still in the GOP race?

The GOP and its supporters, and their relationship with libertarians, is amazingly similar to a relationship between a an abusive husband and his battered spouse.  First, there are the refrains of how they’ve learned their lesson and it will never happen again (like electing someone who swole the national debt and expanded government like George W. Bush).  For a while afterwards, things are fine.  Then, suddenly, it starts back.

A Libertarian Case for Romney

House Fire

When firefighters are putting out a home blaze, do they carefully cover up all the furniture and belongings so they aren’t harmed by water damage? After a horrific car crash, do the EMT’s carefully disrobe a critically injured patient so as to protect their clothing? No. There is a crisis, a risk to life and property. After the crisis is dealt with - the fire’s put out, a pulse is restored - there is an opportunity to assess the damage and rebuild in a thoughtful, methodical way.

Our country faces crises in the financial and civil liberties sectors. I don’t need to outline the scope here, especially for libertarians.  Though we are antsy to achieve the government and society that will ensure and promote civil liberties and free market economic policies, first, in 2012, we need to restore the pulse of the economy before rebuilding the society that’s been systematically taken apart since the New Deal days.

Obama’s plan for the economy involves over-regulation, effectively banning new domestic gas or oil production, and tax increases of unparalleled scope beginning January 1, 2013. Beyond that, there’s not much of a plan - Harry Reid has failed to get a budget passed in well over 1,000 days.

The Romney/Ryan plan leaves much to be desired both in its scope and timing, but it is a beginning.  Negotiations can go from there. Even if passed in its current form, it puts water on the fire.

Can you believe in both “American exceptionalism” and limited government?

If there was one theme that was found throughout the Republican convention last week, it was this: America is awesome and everything would be great if only our guys were in power.  Now, this is certainly not a new idea.  It is common for partisans to see their opposition as the source of all our societal ills.  But in the Republicans’ case, this is amplified into the concept of “American exceptionalism,” the idea that America is not only a great nation, but one that is uniquely blessed and, thus, obligated to spread freedom throughout the globe.

Now, this would be one thing if it were just a bunch of overblown nationalism.  Pride in one’s country is perfectly fine, of course, but the concept of American exceptionalism takes that to an even further extreme, arguing that the normal rules don’t apply to the US and we have a special role unique in history.  It is an attitude that causes one to overlook America’s numerous failings and sins, and to excuse actions that, if undertaken by another nation, we could rightly condemn.  It is a worldview that calls anyone who questions it unpatriotic and part of the “blame America first” crowd.

Thoughts on the Republican National Convention

RNC

Last week, I went to Tampa for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This was sort of an odd experience for me, being a libertarian and all. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been to conventions and conferences before. The oddest experience was BlogCon in Denver last November, when the local Occupiers showed up to protest us. But the RNC was a much, much larger scale event.

Tropical Storm Isaac: While I understand why Republicans saw fit to scale back events for Monday, the storm really didn’t do much to the Tampa area. It rained some, but it wasn’t near what everyone was expecting. Truth is Republicans could have gotten away with more than gaveling the convention to order. By the time the storm actually hit, everyone was more concerned with what could happen to New Orleans and the rest of Gulf Coast than Tampa.

Grassroots v. the Establishment: Over at FreedomWorks, Dean Clancy has put together a great synopsis of the fight over the new rules implemented, which won’t start until the 2016 process. We went over some of this earlier last week, but at this point many grassroots activists are disenfranchised. Many Ron Paul supporters who attended the RNC as delegates may now be looking for an alternative come November because of the rules changes.

Rule 12 would allow the Republican National Committee to change the rules if 3/4 approve. As Clancy explains, “The new Rule 16 requires that a delegate who attempts to violate his binding pledge to a candidate under state law or state party rules shall be deemed to have resigned and the Secretary of the Convention must record the improper vote as it should have been cast based on state law or party rule.”

MediScare, Part “O”, The Entitlement Bomb

Paul Ryan

Early during his second term, President George W. Bush declared he would spend his accumulated political capital on reforming Social Security. Democrats immediately lambasted the president, falsely claiming that his reform ideas were “radical” and would leave the elderly penniless and laying in the streets. They claimed Bush would gamble the life savings of our parents and grandparents on the stock market, and that his Wall Street buddies would grow rich while swindling granny out of everything she owned.

Of course, the truth was nowhere close. Bush’s “Strengthening Social Security for the 21st Century” plan was actually quite timid. It made no changes, zero, in the Social Security program for those 55 and over. Under Bush’s plan, personal retirement accounts would be phased in, with annual contribution limits gradually increased to a staggering…4%…yes 4%…of workers’ payroll taxes allocated to their personal accounts, with annual contributions initially capped at $1,000 per year in 2009, rising over time by $100 annually, plus growth in average wages. In other words, a measly 4% of payroll taxes would have been invested in private accounts, with the other 96% staying in the Social Security Trust Fund.

And yet due to this “radical” plan, this blindingly fast weaning of Americans from the government teat, Democrats successfully terrified Americas seniors and Bush’s political capital was eviscerated. He would end up abandoning the effort and Republicans would crawl back into their shells, unwilling to again touch this third rail of American politics.

Let Paul Ryan Be Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

There was a great deal of excitement among conservatives and libertarians about the pick of Rep. Paul Ryan, particularly among those who were rightfully leery about Governor Romney’s credibility when it comes to cutting spending and reforming our entitlement programs.

They say no one votes based on the Vice President, and now we are seeing why.  The GOP establishment is already urging Paul Ryan to drop his support for his own Pathway to Prosperity budget plan – and it appears Ryan himself is already backing away from certain components.

It feels like Sarah Palin all over again.  In 2008, McCain chose the maverick, buck the system Alaska Governor and then promptly tried to shove the square peg in the circle hole.  The results were predictably disastrous.  What is the point in picking Sarah Palin if you don’t let Sarah be Sarah.

One has to wonder whether the Romney campaign is about to make the same mistake.  The reason conservatives and libertarians love Paul Ryan is BECAUSE of his budget plan not IN SPITE of it.  Take away Paul Ryan’s ideas and you have a very nice, telegenic, young Congressman from a swing-state, but you don’t have a game-changing VP pick.  What is the point in picking Paul Ryan if you don’t let Paul Ryan be Paul Ryan?

Mitt Romney should adopt the Ryan Plan, not the other way around.  It would certainly be easier for Romney, a man who has been on almost every side of every issue, to move to the Ryan position than it would be for the principled Congressman to abandon his signature proposals.

If Mitt wanted a yes man, there were plenty of them.  He didn’t pick a Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty, he picked Paul Ryan.  He should let Paul Ryan be Paul Ryan.

Pandering to Idiots: How Obama Flip-Flops

Jorge Gonzalez is a motion designer and political activist living and working in Midtown Atlanta. In his free time, he enjoys filming, photography, and reading.

I recently had a discussion with a close friend of mine who is a very “progressive” guy. He’s the type that buys into all the horror stories about Republicans and libertarians. You know, we don’t care about the poor or women’s rights or worker’s rights and we’re cruel, intolerant etc etc. He started off the conversation by claiming “Romney panders to stupid people. Obama does not…Obama doesn’t bend his beliefs to fit an uneducated and sensationalistic base.” If you didn’t fall out of your chair just now at the sheer stupidity and myopia of a statement like that, then I ask you to read on, dear Reader, because what follows may be of interest to you.

Promising poll numbers for Romney-Ryan

It’s still far too early in the game to take polls seriously, though it’s hard to ignore them either. Polls really matter around 60 days away from an election. But given how Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for his running mate was supposed to be a political loser from the word “go,” polls are showing that he has received a bit of a bounce.

While Gallup may not show a bounce for Romney in its national tracking poll, other polls aren’t backing that up. Via Hot Air comes numbers from Ohio and Virginia, two very crucial states in the upcoming presidential election, showing good news for Romney. The numbers, however, also show positives for Obama in Colorado and Florida:

Romney has seen the largest gain in Ohio, a state we have seen bounce between the campaigns over the last few months. Today, the GOP ticket leads by 2 points (46% to 44%), compared to July when President Obama led the state 48% to 45%. Romney also gained ground in Virginia – today, he and Paul Ryan hold a 3-point advantage in the race (48% to 45%), while Romney trailed by 2 points in July.

However, President Obama has seen improvements in Colorado and Florida. In Colorado, the Obama-Biden ticket now leads 49% to 46%, an increase from a 1-point lead in July. In Florida, the Democratic ticket trails by just 1 point (48% to 47%), compared to a 3 point deficit in July…

Thoughts On Paul Ryan

By United States Congress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On Saturday, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Anecdotal evidence seems to show that the enthusiasm has definitely increased among conservative voters for the Romney campaign. The crowds have gotten larger at Romney-Ryan events. However, similar anecdotal evidence seems to show that the left is just as fired up and more motivated to defend Obama. Meanwhile, reading the Tweets and Facebook posts from my libertarian friends show that the Ryan pick has not made them more willing to consider the Romney ticket. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the Ryan selection.

The Positive

The biggest positive about the Ryan selection is that this campaign may actually wind up being a debate on the future of our country. The Obama campaign is already seizing on the Ryan budget plan and is attacking it as destroying Medicare, Social Security, and just about every other government program under the sun. Now is an opportunity for the Romney-Ryan campaign to articulate an argument for limiting the size and scope of government as a means of reviving the economy. The American people would be well served by a debate over the size and scope of government. Also, ultimately, given the other choices that Romney was considering, Ryan was probably the best pick. Romney needed to pick someone who would fire up the ticket.

The Negatives


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