Is Rudy Giuliani A Fiscal Conservative ?

I’ve been pretty hard on Rudy Giuliani lately, but he appeared on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program and had some interesting things to say:

KUDLOW: When you were a US attorney, you were very, very tough. You had a successful record. You were tough on the mobsters. You were tough on the drug pushers and the narcotics people. You were also tough on the white collar criminals. Let me ask you some of the hot button issues in the business community on this. First, CEO Perry and back dating stock options.

Mr. GIULIANI: CEO Perry to me is a question of private governance. That’s what you have corporations for. That’s what you have stock holders for, directors for. That gets corrected that way. That isn’t–unless there’s some fraud involved. It’s not for the government to start evaluating how much money should be paid in a private business. Back dating stock options is a different thing. I mean, if someone committed fraud, they should go to jail. If they are pretending that the stock options were given on a certain date and they were actually given on another date, that’s kind of straight out and out fraud and that’s something the government has to be involved in. If there’s an accounting dispute about the period of time you can select and it’s a legitimate accounting dispute, then you probably handle that civilly.


KUDLOW: How would a President Giuliani reform the tax code?

Mr. GIULIANI: I think it needs a massive simplification. If we were doing income tax for the first time. In other words, if we were starting off new back at the beginning of the last century, then probably we should go with a–we probably should’ve gone with a flat tax, maybe two levels of tax, but really simple. Our economy has kind of grown up now on depreciation and deductions and industries have grown up around that and so I don’t know exactly how much you can simplify it, but you sure have to make a stab at it. And I think Reagan got it right. I felt that what Reagan did was, I kind of think of it as like cleaning out the forest. You got–the tax code was this big, he got it down to a simple code, reduced the top rates. Kind of leveled out the rates a little so there weren’t as many. The tax code needs a simplification in addition to lowering your sum taxes. Another tax that has to be dealt with is the death tax. That’s a double tax. People get it twice and it has a major impact on lots of people who aren’t really wealthy. You know, people who have their money in land or they have they money in real estate or they have they have their money in the family business or the family farm and they’ve got to sell the darn thing or they get in a big dispute with the IRS about what it’s worth on paper.

There’s more, to the point where Stephen Moore from Cato declared himself “very impressed” with what Giuliani had to say on Kudlow’s show. At the very least, it’s interesting, and encouraging that the front runner for the Republican nomination is at least talking like a fiscal conservative.

Another interesting Giuliani-related development came out today:

The Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee today announced that Steve Forbes, President and Chief Executive Officer of Forbes and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine, has endorsed Rudy Giuliani for President of the United States. Mr. Forbes will serve as a National Campaign Co-Chair and Senior Policy Advisor.

“I am honored to support Rudy Giuliani for President,” Steve Forbes said. “As Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani showed how exercising fiscal discipline, including tax cuts, lowers deficits, spurs economic growth, and increases revenue. It is time the rest of the country benefit from a true fiscal conservative leader who gets real results.”

I’ve always been a Steve Forbes fan and his affiliation with the Giuliani campaign may at least be a sign that fiscal conservatism is making a comeback in the GOP.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I have been pretty hard on Giuliani here in the past. I still have serious, significant doubts about him as President. I consider him far too authoritariam and I suspect that when it comes down the a balance between individual rights and expanding the power of the state, especially in the law enforcement area, he will side with the state every time. He may be talking a good game on economics, but when it comes to the entire package, he still doesn’t measure up to what America needs in the White House right now.

H/T: Hit & Run

  • Eric Dondero

    Well, well, well, Doug Mataconis. Not only have you been hard on Rudy Giuliani, but you’ve been brutally critical of those of us libertarians who have been supporting him.

    You could make up for it with perhaps a headling story apologizing to us Libertarians for Giuliani. We might forgive you after that.

    BTW, you’ve missed other key endorsements.

    In the last few days two major libertarian Republicans have come on board the Rudy Train.

    Cong. Ed Royce, a longtime friend of the Republican Liberty Caucus, endorsed Giuliani last weekend and even hosted a fundraiser for him in Orange County. Royce is familiar to libertarian activists, for his Top Aide for the last couple decades has been OC Libertarian stalwart Jon Fleischman.

    Then just yesterday the news broke that another libertarian Republican Michigan State Rep. Jack Brandenburg was switching from Romney to Giuliani. It even made the Washington Post. They called it a “whammy” of a political development.

    Brandenburg is a close political ally of libertarian Republican hero fmr. State Rep. Leon Drolet. He’s also closely aligned with the Libertarian Party of Michigan. (Ironically, his hometown of St. Clair Shores is one of the towns that has an elected Libertarian Party City Councilwoman.)

    We had Jack on last night on “Libertarian Politics Live.” You can listen to the interview at

  • Brad Warbiany


    You’re aware that there’s more to Libertarianism than fiscal conservatism, right?

  • Doug Mataconis


    You did read the last paragraph of my post, right ?

    You know when I might change my mind about Giuliani ?

    When I hear him speak out against FBI agents who lie to Federal Judges to obtain surveillance warrants, and lie to telecommunications providers when sending out “national security” letters.

    When I hear him condemn President Bush’s use of so-called “signing statements” which purport to assert the right of the President to use a law as he sees fit regardless of what Congress or the Courts might say.

    When I hear him admit he made a mistake when he overzealously prosecuted Bess Meyerson and Michael Milken.

    When I hear him speak out against the Federal Governments trampling of the authority of the states on issues like medical marijuana.

    Maybe then I’ll start thinking he means what he says.

  • Adam Selene

    Don’t hold your breath Doug.