Tag Archives: Policies

On the issues: assessing the 2016 Republican presidential candidates

Latest Republican presidential primary polls
Latest Republican presidential primary polls (click for larger image)

The PDF is here. (50 pages, but you only have to read about the candidates you might consider voting for)

Unfortunately, radically leftist Politico is the only one with a write-up on it, so here goes:

The hard-line conservative arm of the Heritage Foundation has tough criticism for much of the 2016 field, but high praise for the Texas senator.

The political arm of The Heritage Foundation has released a detailed assessment of the 2016 Republican presidential field — and it offers harsh words for many candidates. But not for Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz receives almost exclusively praise for his stances in the 50-page 2016 presidential policy scorecard, the first of its kind produced by Heritage Action. The report grades the candidates across six categories: growth, opportunity, civil society, limited government, favoritism and national security.

Many of the lines in the scorecard appear destined for future attack ads.

Jeb Bush, for instance, is accused of having “kowtowed to the state’s environmental lobby” in Florida. Chris Christie “has shown favoritism toward well-connected real estate developers.” Rand Paul’s “views at times veer outside the conservative mainstream.” And Donald Trump backs “massive tariffs that would damage the American economy.”

Cruz, by contrast, manages to emerge with barely a blemish, receiving only softly worded critiques of his adopting “sound policies advanced by others” rather than crafting his own.

[…]“Cruz has been willing to pay a political price for taking on government favoritism,” the report reads.

The group even forgives Cruz for one of the few trespasses he has made against its positions, voting for a bill that served “as a bargaining chip for [Export-Import Bank] allies to secure reauthorization.” The report credits him for later switching his vote and then publicly attacking Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for allegedly lying about his plans.

Bobby Jindal, who is running hard to the right in Iowa, receives among the more glowing reviews. So does Marco Rubio, who angered the right with his pursuit of a comprehensive immigration plan after first being elected with tea party support.

The two current front-runners in the polls, Ben Carson and Trump, were dinged for their lack of a record on conservative causes and a lack of specifics in their visions. “His unconventional foreign policy prescriptions raise more questions of significant consequence than they answer,” Heritage writes of Trump.

Bush was singled out for some of the most biting critiques. “Has shown favoritism toward Florida special interests and supports amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, reads one bullet point.

In its 2016 assessment, Heritage dings Bush for not supporting recent efforts to defund Planned Parenthood this fall because he said he opposed precipitating a government shutdown. The report accuses him of “playing to President [Barack] Obama’s talking points rather than reinforcing conservatives.”

No, everyone knows that my list of candidates favors governors who have a history of putting in place actual policies that actually affected real people in the real world and got real conservative results. So on that score, Cruz and Rubio way down the list because they have achieved very little:

  1. Scott Walker
  2. Bobby Jindal
  3. Rick Perry
  4. Ted Cruz
  5. Marco Rubio

Ted Cruz’s Twitter feed and his overall feel to me is that all he does is talk, talk, talk. He just doesn’t have the record of Bobby Jindal at putting policies into place. For example, as governor, Jindal actually cut spending. He actually put in place pro-life measures that actually saved lives. He actually put in place a school choice program that helped low-income students get out of failing schools. He actually cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. He actually defended religious liberty. Cruz is just a senator, so he hasn’t got that proven record. I believe he would be conservative, but I feel safer trusting someone with experience.

Having said that, the more I read reports like this Heritage Action Scorecard report, I am finding out that Cruz has been willing to at least pay a price politically for doing the right thing at various times. So, although he does not have the accomplishments that the governors have, he has been willing to push conservative values when it was not to his advantage, politically. I have to admit, there is some value to this in one sense – we know that he would do what he says no matter what. But there is a problem with Cruz. We don’t know whether he is able to create clever policies that will draw the votes of independents and even moderate Democrats. That’s what Walker and Jindal were able to do. So, although I respect what the Heritage Action team have written, I am not changing my rankings.

Tonight’s debate

Be sure and tune in to both debates tonight on Fox Business, as I am expecting Jindal and Cruz to outperform their competitors in their respective debates:

Republican debate – Fox Business/Wall Street Journal

Time – Primary: 9 p.m. ET. Secondary: 7 p.m. ET

Location – Milwaukee Theater, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Moderators – Gerard Baker, Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo

Primary: All candidates averaging at least 2.5 percent in four most recent national polls by Nov. 4.

Secondary: Remaining candidates averaging at least 1 percent in one of the four most recent polls.

Primary: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Rand Paul.

Secondary: Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum.

Candidates on my list are in bold. The debate will be live-streamed, so you have no excuses for missing it. This one promises to be a good one. The moderators will not be amateurs as with the Democrat-biased CNBC debate.

Scott Walker’s new budget: tax cuts, spending cuts, school choice, smaller government

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Scott Walker announces some of the items in his new Wisconsin budget.

The Daily Signal reports:

Gov. Scott Walker unveiled his proposal for Wisconsin’s state budget on Tuesday night, and he did not shy away from offering bold ideas.

The second-term Republican governor has proposed a budget for 2015-17 that would cut property taxes again, eliminate the cap on the state’s school choice program, and reform government by merging agencies.

Walker’s budget would also spin off the public University of Wisconsin System as a separate state entity and require those receiving government benefits to take a drug test.

Tax cuts, expanding school choice, smaller government.

Here are the details on the school choice expansion:

The governor also talked about expanding the state’s school choice program.

“I am excited to announce our plans to lift the cap on vouchers so more families … can have the choice to find the best school for their children,” Walker said. “Every child deserves the chance to succeed.”

If passed by the GOP-led legislature, all students living under 185 percent of the federal poverty level and currently attending a public school would have access to a voucher to attend a private school.

This expansion is on top of school choice programs already in place in the cities of Milwaukee and Racine.

Walker’s budget also expands public school choice in the form of independent charter schools. Wisconsin currently authorizes these schools in the city of Milwaukee, but nowhere else in the state. Independent charter schools are public schools, but do not operate under the auspice of the local school board or teachers’ union.

The governor has proposed a statewide board, which would authorize new charter schools statewide. In Milwaukee, the independent charter schools have repeatedly outperformed their traditional public school peers.

Oh no! What will the leftist public schools do when parents can choose not to give them money? WHO CARES!

And welfare reform:

Walker also introduced a plan recently that would build on his previous entitlement reforms.

“Our budget expands the requirement for able-bodied adults to be enrolled in an employment and training program in order to receive food stamps,” Walker announced. “Now, some might claim that we’re making it harder to get government assistance. We’re not. We’re making it easier to get a job.”

He is mean. Mean to lazy people!

The leftist New York Times reports that the streamlining of government will result in 400 public sector positions (some of which are vacant) being eliminated.

The article also reminds us why conservatives love Scott Walker:

Mr. Walker came to national prominence in 2011 largely because of his first statewide budget proposal, which relied on cuts to collective bargaining rights and increased health and pension costs for most public workers to help solve an expected budget gap.

That got rid of the massive $3.6 billion deficit he inherited from his Democrat predecessor.

But there is more. What do you think the deepest, darkest place is in the United States? I think it’s the university.

The NYT article continues:

Mr. Walker’s proposal calls for cutting about $300 million, or 13 percent, in state funds from the University of Wisconsin System, which includes 13 four-year universities and enrolls some 180,000 students. Mr. Walker’s plan would also take the unusual step of removing the university system from direct state control to a “quasi-governmental” authority that could act autonomously on issues of personnel, procurement, capital projects and tuition.

As word spread in recent days that proposed cuts were coming, some in the university system expressed deep concern, likening the focus on the universities to Mr. Walker’s earlier clashes with public-sector labor unions. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Faculty Senate this week condemned the proposal. Students said they intended to organize opposition.

He went after the leftist public sector unions, and now the bloated leftist public universities. He is so mean to them! Oh well. (Fake cry)

Just ask yourself – what if the guy we chose as the Republican candidate for president actually knew what he was doing? Wouldn’t that be interesting? What if our candidate for President could do more than just play golf and read a teleprompter? What if our candidate for President could actually tell the truth instead of saying “let me be clear”, then lying, then saying “period” after the lie?

When the Green Bay Packers play NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Green Bay fans understand that he actually knows how to play football – and he is actually good at it, based on past experiences playing football. What if we chose a candidate who could actually do the job? And talk about past experiences doing the job? Wouldn’t that be something? Picking Scott Walker to be president would be like picking William Lane Craig to debate in favor of Christianity.

Hillary Clinton’s views on the economy, taxes and jobs

The video above explains Hillary Clinton’s views on how jobs get created. She doesn’t think that private companies create jobs.

Here’s the story from economist Stephen Moore writing at Investors Business Daily.


Hillary Clinton is getting deservedly attacked for her imbecilic statement at a Democratic political gathering in Massachusetts on Friday about business and jobs.

“Don’t let anybody tell you that, ah, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs,” she preached, to loud applause. “You know that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.”

It may not be too surprising that Hillary can’t connect the dots that it takes an employer to create an employee to create wages and salaries.

That’s how some 150 million Americans get paid every week. Ms. Clinton has made her millions in the cattle futures market, as a government employee and giving speeches for fees of $250,000 a pop. Nice work if you can get it. The rest of us mere mortals need a paycheck.

Hillary’s witless statement might be written off as campaign hyperbole, and some might think the Democratic front-runner for president simply got carried away speaking to her “progressive” base and didn’t really mean it. Sometimes Republicans get into the act, as when Mitt Romney’s GOP rivals attacked him in 2012 for being rich and a successful investor.

But the scary thing is she really DID mean it. Her sophomoric comment, alas, reflects a long-simmering ideologically driven war against business that has become a central platform of the modern-day Democratic party.

Her remarks were simply an extension of President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” statement denigrating businessmen and women who have created companies — large and small.

In the left mindset, economic output and jobs are achieved collectively and thanks to the beneficence of government, not because of the ambition, drive, vision, risk-taking and guts that it takes to start a new enterprise out of nothing.

So who creates jobs then? Well, if it’s not private sector businesses then the only thing left to create jobs is the government. She thinks government creates jobs. And the more government raises taxes, the more money government has to give people jobs.

But is that really how it has worked in the past?

Let’s see.

Consider this article by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, which discusses how the Reagan tax cuts affected the unemployment rate.


In 1980, President Carter and his supporters in the Congress and news media asked, “how can we afford” presidential candidate Ronald Reagan’s proposed tax cuts?

Mr. Reagan’s critics claimed the tax cuts would lead to more inflation and higher interest rates, while Mr. Reagan said tax cuts would lead to more economic growth and higher living standards. What happened? Inflation fell from 12.5 percent in 1980 to 3.9 percent in 1984, interest rates fell, and economic growth went from minus 0.2 percent in 1980 to plus 7.3 percent in 1984, and Mr. Reagan was re-elected in a landslide.

[…]Despite the fact that federal revenues have varied little (as a percentage of GDP) over the last 40 years, there has been an enormous variation in top tax rates. When Ronald Reagan took office, the top individual tax rate was 70 percent and by 1986 it was down to only 28 percent. All Americans received at least a 30 percent tax rate cut; yet federal tax revenues as a percent of GDP were almost unchanged during the Reagan presidency (from 18.9 percent in 1980 to 18.1 percent in 1988).

What did change, however, was the rate of economic growth, which was more than 50 percent higher for the seven years after the Reagan tax cuts compared with the previous seven years. This increase in economic growth, plus some reductions in tax credits and deductions, almost entirely offset the effect of the rate reductions. Rapid economic growth, unlike government spending programs, proved to be the most effective way to reduce unemployment and poverty, and create opportunity for the disadvantaged.

The Daily Signal describes the effects of the Bush tax cuts.


President Bush signed the first wave of tax cuts in 2001, cutting rates and providing tax relief for families by, for example, doubling of the child tax credit to $1,000.

At Congress’ insistence, the tax relief was initially phased in over many years, so the economy continued to lose jobs. In 2003, realizing its error, Congress made the earlier tax relief effective immediately. Congress also lowered tax rates on capital gains and dividends to encourage business investment, which had been lagging.

It was the then that the economy turned around. Within months of enactment, job growth shot up, eventually creating 8.1 million jobs through 2007. Tax revenues also increased after the Bush tax cuts, due to economic growth.

In 2003, capital gains tax rates were reduced. Rather than expand by 36% as the Congressional Budget Office projected before the tax cut, capital gains revenues more than doubled to $103 billion.

The CBO incorrectly calculated that the post-March 2003 tax cuts would lower 2006 revenues by $75 billion. Revenues for 2006 came in $47 billion above the pre-tax cut baseline.

Here’s what else happened after the 2003 tax cuts lowered the rates on income, capital gains and dividend taxes:

  • GDP grew at an annual rate of just 1.7% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the six quarters following the tax cuts, the growth rate was 4.1%.
  • The S&P 500 dropped 18% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts but increased by 32% over the next six quarters.
  • The economy lost 267,000 jobs in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the next six quarters, it added 307,000 jobs, followed by 5 million jobs in the next seven quarters.

The timing of the lower tax rates coincides almost exactly with the stark acceleration in the economy. Nor was this experience unique. The famous Clinton economic boom began when Congress passed legislation cutting spending and cutting the capital gains tax rate.

So in the past, the trickle-down supply-side tax cuts that Hillary Clinton derided in her speech created lots of jobs. We have to do what is known to work.

American Spectator praises Australia’s bold new conservative leader

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia
Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia

Well, I think we can get some encouragement from this article from the American Spectator.

Let’s take a look at his policies and appointments:

On economic policy, his government has moved in the opposite direction of those who favor Dodd-Frank-like behemoth approaches to the financial industry. Instead it’s opted to simplify regulation. As the minister responsible for the reform bluntly pointed out, “no amount of legislation will ever be a guarantee against another Storm Financial.” Indeed it’s often excessive regulation that creates opportunities for financial shenanigans by industry insiders.

Regarding the welfare state, Abbott’s minister for Social Security, Kevin Andrews (another conservative politician-thinker), has announced a major overhaul of a welfare system that was starting to drift in a distinctly European-direction. Predictably the left are up in arms. But so too are those rent-seeking Australian businesses who now find themselves dealing with a government uninterested in subsidizing them. That’s nothing, however, to the fury that greeted Abbott’s disbanding of the climate-change bureaucracy established by the preceding Labor government.

[…]The first sign of Abbott’s seriousness about obstructing the left’s long march through the institutions was his government’s appointment of the policy-director of the center-right Institute of Public Affairs to the nation’s Human Rights Commission. This was widely seen as the beginning of an effort to re-balance an organization long criticized as monolithically left-wing. Since then Abbott has indicated that major changes are coming to the ABC: Australia’s government-funded institutional — and ideological — equivalent of the BBC.

[…]Along the same lines, Abbott’s education minister, Christopher Pyne, has initiated a review of the national curriculum implemented by the previous government. A moment’s glance at the curriculum’s treatment of history soon illustrates the extent to which it seeks to downplay Australia’s indisputably Western heritage. In the words of Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell, “Europe, Britain and the United States are mentioned 76 times, while Asia is referred to on more than 200 occasions.” This disparity is odd because although Australia is certainly in Asia, no objective observer could say that Australia is “of” Asia. Moreover, while Australian students learn about “Gaia” and other deep-green fantasies in grade 9, many Australian universities find they need to put the same students through remedial English classes once they begin college.

Then there are Abbott’s initial steps on the international stage. Take, for instance, his recent remarks at Davos. Much of the address was devoted to pushing a strong free trade agenda and insisting that governments should let business do what it does best: promote lasting economic growth. “After all,” Abbott said, “government doesn’t create wealth; people do, when they run profitable businesses.”

In the same speech, however, Abbott made the conservative point that economic prosperity and freedom can’t be sustained in a value-neutral world. Nor did Abbott shy away from relentlessly pressing one of the most important moral arguments for free trade articulated long ago by Adam Smith: that economic freedom, combined with the right institutions, radically reduces poverty faster than any other approach. “No country,” Abbott added, “has ever taxed or subsidized its way to prosperity.”

All in all, the address added up to a solid integration of sound economics with conservative principles. That’s what makes Abbott different from, say, Canada’s Stephen Harper or Spain’s Mariano Rajoy. Abbott happily engages in the indispensable task of moral suasion in favor of conservative positions. What’s more, he’s quite good at it. With his rare combination of plain-speaking and intellectual substance, Abbott makes conservative ideas sound, well, reasonable to the average voter.

Now, I personally thought that prime minister Stephen Harper of Canada was the best leader of any nation out there, but I had not been following Australian politics as much as I should be, and now I think I’ll give the crown to Abbott. He seems to have a good fusionist view that integrates economic policy and social policy, and that makes him better than Harper, in my view. I would like to see Abbott flex his muscles on foreign policy, as well. Something to look forward to.

Conservative Christian Tony Abbott wins majority in Australia

Tony Abbott, future Prime Minister of Australia
Tony Abbott, future Prime Minister of Australia

Timothy Stanley of the UK Telegraph reports that Australia has elected a Stephen Harper of their own.


Tony Abbott has won the Australian election – a blow not only to the Australian Labor Party but to Left-wingers everywhere who presumed that he was too “Neanderthal” to win. Well, us Neanderthals will be having a barbie tonight and sculling some beers to celebrate. “Good on yer, mate!”

Abbott won for two reasons. First, the Australian Labor Party is going through a long-term identity crisis. The ALP was once the party of the working man (and Sheila) but in recent years it’s succumbed to the worst aspects of factional politics, becoming a magnet for liberal pressure groups desperate for their slice of the taxpayers’ pie. The party contained plenty of factions in the past but it always managed to steer a sensible middle course between them – so while it was the ALP in the 1970s that established Australia as an outward-looking, Pacific power it was also the ALP in the 1980s that recognised the need for economic reform and rejected protectionism. It’s the party of both Gough Whitlam and Les Patterson.

However, in recent years the Left gained an ascendance over the Right that undid that delicate balance. Under Gillard and Rudd, the ALP “bought” off Australia’s metropolitan elites by embracing issues like gay marriage and the green agenda – the latter threatening the livelihoods of ordinary Australians trying to drill, mine and log their way through the global recession. It invested in silly, expensive projects that turned into giveaways to client companies and unions. And it displayed all of its internal bickering in public, reducing national politics to student union shenanigans. The ALP is now severed from the base that it once represented so well, leaving the ordinary blokes and blokesses looking around for something new.

[…]On the quiet, Abbott has picked up some of the politics that the ALP abandoned. He is said to be a devotee of BA Santamaria, the Catholic thinker who tried to build a Christian Democratic movement that combined social justice and social conservatism. Abbott’s conservatism is plain to see: he rejects doctrinaire environmentalism and favours a far freer and competitive market than the ALP’s clients would ever tolerate. But he also has Santamaria’s concern for social justice: Abbott wants to introduce a scheme that would pay for parental leave to encourage mothers and fathers not only to spend more time with their children but to have more of them, too. Dig beneath that hard man image and you’ll find a politician who is considerably softer and complex. Whereas some Western conservatives seem to be entirely motivated by the desire to win (Romney, Cameron), Abbott has a philosophy and – almost unique in our materialist age – a theology.

This puts him in the George W Bush, Stephen Harper compassionate conservative tradition – the tradition that tends to attract the most votes. For while British Tories might look at Abbott’s politics and language and sneer, they would do well to remember this important distinction. Tony Abbott wins elections; David Cameron has yet to do even that.

Congratulations, Conservative Coalition!

My previous post on Tony Abbott is here, if you want to know more about his policies.