Monthly Archives: January 2008

Cato’s Ed Crane On The Presidential Race

Today’s Washington Examiner has an interesting profile of Cato Institute President and founder Ed Crane in which he gives his assessment of the Presidential field:

“I’m amazed that people take a candidate like [Mike] Huckabee, who doesn’t believe in evolution, seriously,” said Crane, who presides over a Washington think tank famous for telling the government to butt out of people’s lives.

Rudy Giuliani’s approach to civil liberties “scares the hell out of me,” Crane said, and Mitt Romney doesn’t know the difference between being a president and being a dictator. Ron Paul is a friend, he added, but “I mean, he wants to build a wall. How can a libertarian be anti-immigration?” John McCain “is disdainful of free speech” and “hawkish,” Crane said, “and there’s a certain pomposity about the guy I find unattractive.”

On the Democratic side, he derides John Edwards for posing as “the candidate of the downtrodden and getting $400 haircuts, the hypocrisy reeks.” Hillary Clinton, Crane said, is “dishonest and shrill … calculating, manipulating.” Barack Obama “seems like a nice guy,” but then again, “do you want this guy standing up to al Qaeda?” If he absolutely had to vote, which he wouldn’t and never does, Crane said, “I guess I’d vote for Ron Paul, because he’s for the market and against the war.”

Two points.

First, isn’t it interesting that the guy who runs the Cato Institute — which some on the paleo-wing of the libertarian movement have accused of being part of a statist conspiracy — finds Ron Paul to be the only nearly palatable candidate in the race ?  I’d also note that Crane’s admission that he doesn’t vote and never has would seem to contrast with those who say that Cato isn’t “radical” enough, whatever that means.

Second, doesn’t it say a lot about Ron Paul that one of the founders of the libertarian movement can’t bring himself to whole heartedly endorse him ?

John McCain: The Good, The Bad, And The Really, Really Ugly

Cato’s Michael Tanner takes a look at the guy who will, barring something truly extraordinary, be the Republican nominee for President:

While Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity sometimes portray McCain as a virtual clone of Ted Kennedy, the fact is that he is a true fiscal conservative—certainly more of a fiscal conservative than, say, Mitt Romney. He is well known as an opponent of earmarks and pork barrel spending. But perhaps more importantly, he has long been an advocate of entitlement reform. He was early an ardent support of personal accounts for Social Security, and has pushed for serious Medicare reform, including means-testing. Almost alone among Republicans, he opposed the disastrous Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Tanner also argues that McCain has good proposals, from a free market perspective, on health care and taxes and that, unlike guys like Mike Huckabee, he’s a free trader.

But it’s not all rosy:

John McCain frequently makes Dr. Strangelove look like a peacenik. Its not just his desire to remain in Iraq “for a hundred years.” It’s his bellicosity toward every enemy and perceived enemy from Iran to North Korea. He’s a true believer in the neoconservative goal of remaking the world to fit our desires and beliefs. At best on foreign policy he would be a competent Bush. At worst, he appears a recipe for perpetual conflict.

On domestic policy, he has shown a disturbing predilection for elevating every personal pet peeve, from steroids in baseball to airplane service quality, to a federal issue. And, he has embraced heavily regulatory environmental policies and compulsory national service

And then you get to the fact that McCain seems to view the First Amendment as optional and that he is, Tanner notes, a friend of government:

Most worrisome of all appears to be McCain’s basic philosophy, which is unapologetically statist, as Matt Welch points out in his new book McCain: The Myth of a Maverick. McCain once said “each and every one of us has a duty to serve a cause greater than our own self-interest.” McCain believes that cause to be the good of the collective, often defined as the nation or the national community.

Tanner ends up saying that McCain is, at best, a “mixed bag” but I think it’s worse than that. As I noted back in March 2007, John McCain is not a friend of liberty. Unfortunately, he’s got a very good shot at being the next President of the United States.

Florida Primary/State Of The Race Wrap-Up And Wednesday Open Thread

Given the news that’s breaking this morning, about which there is more below, it’s fairly clear that the race for the Republican and Democratic nomination have both entered their final phase, and things are turning out far differently than we thought they would one month, or even two weeks, ago.


John McCain is now the frontrunner in the Republican race and, thanks to Rudy Giuliani’s pending endorsement, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine a scenario where he won’t be the nominee after the dust clears. Of the remaining candidates, Mitt Romney is the only one in a position to beat McCain but, as long he continues splitting the anti-McCain vote with Mike Huckabee, he’ll slip further and further behind. By the time next Wednesday rolls around, McCain won’t be the nominee yet, but he’ll be pretty darn close.

So get used to it folks, John McCain will be the Republican nominee.


Outside of Hillary making it fairly obvious last night that she intended to go back on her promise and fight to have Florida’s delegates seated at the convention, it didn’t seem like there’d be any big news about the Democratic race today.

Then, John Edwards decided to drop out of the race. He’ll announce his decision today in New Orleans and apparently won’t be formally endorsing anyone at this time. Nonetheless, his withdrawal will change the nature of the Democratic race significantly as people try to figure out where his supporters will go.

My guess is that Edwards supporters are more likely to go to Obama than Hillary. By supporting Edwards to begin with, they’ve already demonstrated that they are against Clinton to some extent so the idea that they’d run happily into their arms seems unlikely. Moreover, Obama’s message has been more similar to Edwards’ than Clinton’s has to the extent that, at recent debates, it sometimes seemed like Edwards and Obama were double-teaming Hillary. Combined with the Kennedy endorsement and all the resources that provides, this could be enough to put Barack Obama over the top.

So, here’s the question, in a race between Barack Obama and John McCain, and assuming for the moment that Ron Paul will not run on a third-party ticket, which one would be the better choice, assuming there is one ?

Vote buying package clears House (we’re all Keynesians now)

The so-called “economic stimulus package” passed the House of Representatives this afternoon and will move over to the Senate for final passage, assuming there are no changes, before heading to the President’s desk:

The House, seizing a rare moment of bipartisanship to respond to the economy’s slump, overwhelmingly passed a $146 billion aid package Tuesday that would speed rebates of $600-$1,200 to most taxpayers.

The plan, approved 385-35 after little debate, would send at least some rebate to anyone with at least $3,000 in income, with more going to families with children and less going to wealthier taxpayers.

It faced a murky future in the Senate, though, where Democrats and Republicans backed a larger package that adds billions of dollars for senior citizens and the unemployed, and shrinks the rebate to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples. That plan, written by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, would deliver checks even to the richest taxpayers, who are disqualified under the House-passed measure.

Both versions would provide tax breaks to businesses to spur equipment and other purchases.

Republicans from the Georgia Congressional delegation voted against the plan, and rightfully so due to the fact that this type of Keynesian economics has been disproven time and time again.

You can view the roll call vote here.

Here in Georgia, State Rep. Chuck Martin has proposed legislation that would supposedly exempt the rebates from the state income tax:

Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) is pushing legislation co-sponsored by leaders of both parties to make sure Georgians don’t have to pay state income taxes on the stimulus checks they might be receiving from the federal government.

And, unlike the stimulus plan, Martin said his bill doesn’t have any income caps. So more affluent Georgians who don’t receive a check would also get a tax break if the measure is approved.

The savings: on average about $72 for individuals, $144 for couples without children, a little more for families with kids.

However, the Tax Foundation casts doubt on Martin’s proposal:

We’ve read the text of the bill (which just adds a one-year income exclusion, without changing any other laws) and the relevant statute, and we can’t figure this out. When filing taxes, Georgia instructs filers to start with federal adjusted gross income and then subtract state deductions. The stimulus rebate check, as an advance on the 2008 tax refund, would not increase or decrease federal adjusted gross income, so why would it affect state taxes?

It may well be that Georgia legislators want to give taxpayers a one-year cut in their income tax. But if they’re doing that, they might want to get rid of the bottom five income tax rates which apply to income earned under $7,000.

Georgia has $1.6 billion in reserve, and the best tax relief the state can come up with is this small exclusion on a cash advance against a future federal tax hike and the Governor’s weak property tax cut proposal.

Quote Of The Day

Why libertarians always seem frustrated by the Republican Party, from Cosmo’s Brain:

I have come to learn something very important about the Republican Party and libertarians: the big tent welcomes libertarians only when it suits their convenience to do so (which is about every even numbered year). When those same libertarian principles Republicans champion are applied to issues like drugs or morality, then Republicans do not want to hear what libertarians have to say. Rudy Giuliani believes in expansive executive power; Mitt Romney is more pro-business than pro-free market (somebody should tell Mitt that being a businessman and being an economist are not the same thing); John McCain would gladly sacrifice civil liberties in the name of “clean government;” and Mike Huckabee, well, he is a statist who calls himself a conservative. To add icing to the cake, none of them truly care about unity or bringing about any real, significant changes to Washington. None of them seem to share Barack’s desire for unity and change. Like Hillary and Edwards, I feel that they would rather go down in flames and claim they stuck to principle than compromise with others to reach a viable solution (or trade-off) concerning some of America’s problem; whether anything gets down is of secondary importance to them.

Yea, that about sums it up.

H/T: Publius Endures

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