January 31, 2012

The Trouble With Newt

Not a promising, conciliatory beginning, izzit? Portends poorly for the tenor of the whole piece...

We start, as James Pethokoukis did, with Art Laffer's (HOSS alert!) shining guest editorial on the Speaker's bold 15% flat tax plan.

Imagine what would happen to international capital flows if the U.S. went from the second highest business tax country in the world to one of the lowest. Low taxes along with all of America's other great attributes would precipitate a flood of new investment in this country as well as a quick repatriation of American funds held abroad. We would create more jobs than you could shake a stick at. And those jobs would be productive jobs, not make-work jobs like so many of Mr. Obama's stimulus jobs.

Sounds pretty good, huh? Well it is, and Jimi P likes it as well. Unfortunately...
If only Gingrich were as bold and specific when it came to cutting spending. Even Laffer admits in the op-ed that the Gingrich plan--despite faster economic growth--would be a revenue loser to the government. Now, that's not such a big deal if you also plan to slash the size of government. But Gingrich doesn't say what he would cut, aside from, dare I say it, grandiose projections like this one in his "21st Century Contract for America": [Hint: Six-sigma, baby! Waste, fraud and abuse!]

Sorry to be bellicose, but that is what a bass player I knew called "the crux of the biscuit." Government is going to be leaner and more efficient. It is going to do things you like and not things your lefty Facebook friends like.

But I want less government. I want government to do less. And I continue to believe in an existential threat if we continue down this road. And all the current GOP candidates except one will continue down this road in some fashion. Ergo, with some trepidation, I will be caucusing for Rep. Ron Paul. And I hope he wins the nomination and the general election.

2012 Posted by John Kranz at January 31, 2012 1:46 PM

I think if he wins the nomination Ron Paul could win the general election. And I'm sure he would try even harder to cut government than Newt would, but I'm not sure he would be more successful. There's much to be said for a man's leadership ability, philosophical purity notwithstanding.

But the real reason Newt is promising the world in every local campaign and refraining from the "I'm gonna destroy things" rhetoric we all want to hear is that, quite simply, it's the way to win elections. Want proof? Where are Ron Paul's poll numbers?

The campaign will be long and multi-phased. The present phase is establishment v. laissez-faire, one versus two, Romney vs. Gingrich. Supporting Paul at this phase is to abdicate control to the establishment. Not that I like it - that's just the way the game is rigged to play out.

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2012 2:55 PM

But Governor Romney and the Speaker are both establishment GOP figures, no matter how many times Speaker G claims he isn't.

I am reminded of Phil Gramm's adage: "How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four -- calling a tail a leg does not makei it one."

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2012 3:07 PM

Check your definition of "establishment." Experienced former leader in the party? Gingrich. Manchurian candidate of those currently pulling strings in the halls of power? Romney. Indeed, it is this insider experience that I believe gives Newt a much greater chance of successfully changing government than the now-and-always on the outside, Ron Paul.

Also consider this from Dr. Milton Wolf, cousin of President Obama:

Mr. Gingrich may be an imperfect vessel for Tea Party support, as the former Alaska governor has said, but in truth, if you connect the dots between the ideals of the Reagan Revolution, Mr. Gingrich’s Republican Revolution and the Tea Party movement, you get a straight line. The GOP establishment is right to fear Newt Gingrich and the Tea Party, just as they once feared Ronald Reagan.
Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2012 3:21 PM

Ha - that tail-versus-leg story goes back farther, to a different Republican entirely:

http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2007/05/23/lincoln-quote-sourced-calfs-tail-not-dogs-tail/

Back on topic, JG is right - Ron Paul could win the nomination, and the general. The Giants could beat the Patriots - that's why they make the teams actually play the game and not just make it a foregone conclusion based on odds. If they face each other enough times, even the Raiders can beat the Patriots. How many times out of a hundred that might happen is conjectural. Is Ron Paul to the election what the Raiders are to the Super Bowl? Perhaps November will tell us.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 31, 2012 3:23 PM | What do you think? [4]