Tag Archives: On the Issues

Getting to know the real Ted Cruz, an account from his close friend Jay Nordlinger

Ted Cruz meets voters at a campaign event
Ted Cruz meets voters at a campaign event

There was a three-part series in National Review which I found just fascinating, and a good antidote to the hit pieces you see from the Republican establishment, which they attack Cruz for “likability”. As regular readers of National Review know, Jay Nordlinger is more of an establishment type. But he backed Cruz from the beginning in the GOP primary, because he has known Cruz personally for a long time.

Here are the three parts:

From part 1:

I met Ted Cruz on the presidential campaign of George W. Bush in 2000. I had taken a leave of absence from NR to assist that campaign. This was in mid-September, for the last six or seven weeks of the campaign. […]Ted was a domestic-policy advisor on the campaign.

We bonded, as they say. We had many a late-night discussion at Earl Campbell’s barbecue joint and other choice spots.

On judges:

Ted had a fancy education. He went to Princeton University, where he was a debate champion, and to Harvard Law School, where he was an editor on several publications, including the Law Review.

But I noticed something on the campaign — the campaign in 2000: He had a scrappy, outsider’s heart.

More on his background: He clerked for Judge Mike Luttig, on the Fourth Circuit. In fact, Ted made me aware of Luttig, and I came to admire this judge almost as much as Ted did. Then Ted clerked for the chief justice of the United States: William Rehnquist.

In fact, I think Ted learned to play tennis just to play with the chief. I’ll have to check with Ted on that.

An additional note on Mike Luttig: When a Supreme Court seat came open in 2005, Ted pushed for Luttig’s nomination. So did I, in my capacity as an opinion journalist (not that I had great pull). When John Roberts got the nod, we supported this nomination, of course, as all conservatives did. But our heart was with Luttig.

I back Edith Hollan Jones and Janice Rogers Brown for Supreme Court picks, but J. Michael Luttig is on my list, further down.

On school choice:

Tell you a story. Ted was, and is, an impassioned advocate of school choice. He thinks it’s shocking — immoral — that poor kids are trapped in hopeless, violent schools. One day, he was telling me about lawyers in the opposite camp: the camp of the education establishment. (For once, I think the word “establishment” is appropriate. Or Bill Bennett’s word: “Blob.”)

“You could practically smell the sulfur coming off them,” said Ted.

I don’t have permission to tell that story. But what the hell. It’s done. (Ted can sue me!)

Promoting school choice is the civil rights issue of our time. We have to get the money out of the government, and back into the hands of parents, so that they are free to choose schools that serve their children, instead of indoctrinating their children. We need kids who can get private sector jobs, not recite global warming dogma and put condoms on cucumbers.

On the free enterprise system:

Ted was exceptionally versatile. He knew a lot about the law, of course. And about domestic policy, of course. He was a domestic-policy adviser. He had Medicare Part B and all that jazz down pat. I am still a little hazy about these things, never being able to get through a white paper. Even the abstract …

He knew a lot about economics, and was a big free-marketeer. When he was in high school, he took part in something called the Free Enterprise Institute. They read Hayek, Friedman, Bastiat, everything. Ted imbibed. And saw the reason of.

He knew a lot about foreign policy, and was a hawk. Also, he was a “social conservative.” That term is weak, but it will have to do. Ted opposed abortion, for example — and knew why.

This is important: Ted was amazingly free of cynicism. What do I mean by that? I mean, he reallybelieved in America, free enterprise, and all that rah-rah stuff. Other people feel the need to roll their eyes a bit. Not Ted.

Here’s something from part two, now:

Ted worked at the Justice Department and at the Federal Trade Commission. Then he was solicitor general of Texas (under the attorney general, Greg Abbott, who would become governor). Frankly, I didn’t know that states had solicitors general until Ted became one.

I blogged before about Ted’s experience pushing for free-market policies at the Federal Trade Commission, and for gun rights and religious liberty as Solicitor General of Texas. Everywhere he has gone, he has pushed conservative positions. If you were hiring a candidate and went strictly off of resume, this would be the guy you would hire. Trump would not get an interview – he has no resume.

Cruz’s record in the Senate:

Ted has a wider libertarian streak than I do. (Bill Buckley: “Within every conservative is a streak of libertarianism.”) Also, he has less patience for the “establishment” than I do. But, you know? He was the one who got elected, and you know what else? He kept his promises to the voters.

Some may not have liked those promises. But, by golly, he kept them. Which is refreshing in a politician.

And he did not sit around. Oh, no. He did not mark time. A senator observed, “Ted has done more in a couple of years here than some of our colleagues have done in decades.”

Cruz got a lot of legislation passed, more than Rubio.

And from the third part:

Obviously, the Cruz style is not for everyone. But I can say this, to conservatives (and to anyone else, for that matter): If he is president, he will do everything humanly possible to repeal Obamacare. And to prevent Iran from going nuclear. And to do other hard, vital things. I don’t know if these things can be done. But I feel sure that, if they can, Ted will do them. He will go the last mile, and beyond.

Like everyone else, he likes popularity more than unpopularity. But if popularity clashes with the right course of action, popularity will have to go. Ted is used to opposition and scorn. And he would do anything — walk through fire, chew on glass — to keep this country free.

You can read more about Cruz’s achievements in this post.

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Is Carly Fiorina conservative? How can you tell if a candidate is conservative?

Carly Fiorina outperforms at first GOP primary debate
Carly Fiorina outperforms at first GOP primary debate

A lot of my friends are getting very excited about Carly Fiorina, and some of them are wondering why she is not on my list. Well, it’s because this is the primary season, and I am looking for someone who 1) is as conservative as me, and 2) has got achievements at advancing a conservative agenda. The key point being that just because a person is outraged at Planned Parenthood cutting into live-born babies, that isn’t the same as being pro-life through all 9 months of pregnancy, except for the case where the life of the mother is threatened.

To take one example, her view of religious liberty is not as conservative as mine, but it isn’t horrible either. Here she is on the Hugh Hewitt show explaining her view:

HH: And let me close our conversation by throwing a hard one at you. There’s a Kentucky county clerk today. She’s refusing to issue licenses to same-sex marriage couples. She’s in comtempt of court in essence. What would your advice be to her?

CF: First, I think that we must protect religious liberties with great passion and be willing to expend a lot of political capital to do so now because it’s clear religious liberty is under assault in many, many ways. Having said that, when you are a government employee, I think you take on a different role. When you are a government employee as opposed to say, an employee of another kind of organization, then in essence, you are agreeing to act as an arm of the government. And, while I disagree with this court’s decision, their actions are clear. And so I think in this particular case, this woman now needs to make a decision that’s [about] conscience:  Is she prepared to continue to work for the government, be paid for by the government in which case she needs to execute the government’s will, or does she feel so strongly about this that she wants to severe her employment with the government and go seek employment elsewhere where her religious liberties would be paramount over her duties as as government employee.

HH: You don’t counsel that she continue civil disobedience?

CF: Given the role that she’s playing. Given the fact that the government is paying her salary, I think that is not appropriate. Now that’s my personal opinion. Others may disagree with that, but I think it’s a very different situation for her than someone in a hospital who’s asked to perform an abortion or someone at a florist who’s asked to serve a gay wedding. I think when you’re a government employee, you are put into a different position honestly.

That’s a view that I can vote for if she is the Republican candidate, but not a view that I prefer when we are still in the GOP primary election. There are better candidates who have stuck their necks out further to champion causes I care about, like religious liberty and natural marriage.

I took a look at Carly’s record using this “On the Issues” web site and was surprised to see that Carly advocates positions more to the right than expected, but still to the left of my favored candidates. She is definitely a Republican, and her stated views are “good enough” for me to enthusiastically support her against any Democrat.

She’s definitely more conservative on same-sex marriage, taxes, abortion, gun control, health care, energy policy than I thought, but not quite as conservative as Jindal, Walker, and Cruz on some of those issues. The only real red flag I saw was supporting the DREAM Act. But she is definitely a Republican, and much more so than people like Romney, Kasich, McCain,, Lindsay Graham.

I really wish that more Republican voters would look at sites like On The Issues, and other sites that grade conservatives like Club for Growth, National Taxpayer Union, the National Rifle Association, and the National Right to Life Committee (PDF), in order to see who the best candidates are from their actions – not from their words during debates, campaign ads, campaign stump speeches, etc. Even a libertarian site like the Cato Institute, which embraces immorality on social issues, has good ratings of governors on fiscal issues (PDF). A person is defined by how they engage in enterprises, not by what they say when asked. Where do you put your money and time? What have you fought for? What have you achieved? You can’t judge a candidate by words and how the words are stated in campaign ads, campaign speeches, or debates – although debating and speaking are important for winning in the general election.

So, where do I stand? I am looking for conservatives who have won long, drawn out fights to get conservative reforms passed. That’s why Carly Fiorina is not on my list of candidates – because I have not seen her leading and achieving in the areas I care about. Her stated views are conservative enough, but now is the time for me to push for the candidates I really want. I have nothing bad to say about her, though, and will support her if she is the GOP candidate. But for now, I’m pushing for Jindal, Walker, and Cruz. I am also OK with Rubio, mostly because, like Santorum, he is so good on foreign policy.

Mitt Romney raised taxes by $740 million while he was governor of Massachusetts

Deroy Murdock explains in this Scripps Howard News Service article.

Excerpt:

Hot on the heels of his eight-vote Iowa-caucus landslide, Willard Mitt Romney is crisscrossing New Hampshire before Tuesday’s key primary. Romney is masquerading as a limited-government, free-market executive from next-door Massachusetts. From the Golden Gate to the Granite State, voters should greet Romney’s impersonation with a quarry full of skepticism.

In fact, Romney increased taxes by $309 million, mainly on corporations. These tax hikes, described by Romney apologists as “loophole closures,” totaled $128 million in 2003, $95.5 in 2004, and $85 million in 2005. That final year, Romney proposed $170 million in higher business taxes, the Boston Globe reports. However, the Bay State’s liberal, Democratic legislature balked and only approved an $85 million increase.

“Tax rates on many corporations almost doubled because of legislation supported by Romney,” Boston Science Corporation chairman Peter Nicholas explained in the January 6, 2008 Boston Herald. Also, Romney raised the tax on subchapter S corporations owned by business trusts from 5.3 percent to 9.9 percent — an 85 percent hike.

“Romney went further than any other governor in trying to wring money out of corporations,” the Council on State Taxation’s Joseph Crosby complained.

Romney also created or increased fees by $432 million. He was not dragooned into this by greedy Democratic lawmakers; Romney himself proposed these items. In 2003 alone, Romney concocted or boosted 88 fees. Romney charged more for marriage licenses (from $6 to $12), gun registrations (from $25 to $75), a used-car sales tax ($10 million), gasoline deliveries ($60 million), real-estate transfers ($175 million), and more. Particularly obnoxious was Romney’s $10 fee per Certificate of Blindness. Romney also billed blind people $15 each for discount-travel ID cards.

While Romney can take credit for a $275 million capital-gains tax rebate, property-tax relief for seniors, and a two-day, tax-free shopping holiday, he also must take responsibility for signing $740.5 million in higher taxes, plus that $85 million in business taxes that he requested and legislators rejected.

“Romney did not even fight higher death-tax rates,” notes former California State Assembly Minority Whip Steve Baldwin, a Romney critic. “When the (Massachusetts) legislature considered this issue, Romney’s official position was ‘no position.’ This echoed Barack Obama’s ‘present’ votes in the Illinois State Senate.”

As Romney drained his constituents’ pockets, the Public Policy Institute of New York’s Cost of Doing Business Index rated Massachusetts in 2006 as America’s fourth costliest state in which to practice free enterprise. The Tax Foundation dropped Massachusetts from America’s 29th most business-friendly state to No. 36. The Tax Foundation also calculated that, under Romney, Massachusetts’ per-capita tax burden increased from 9.3 percent to 9.9 percent. In real dollars, the Romney-era per-capita tax burden grew by $1,175.71.

As if impoverishing his own taxpayers were not bad enough, Romney’s March 5, 2003 signature raised taxes on non-residents retroactive to that January 1. Perpetrating taxation without representation, Romney’s law declared that, “gross income derived from… any trade or business, including any employment,” would be taxable, “regardless of the taxpayer’s residence or domicile in the year it is received.”

Consequently, according to data furnished by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, between 2002 and 2006, New Hampshire residents who work or do business in the Bay State shipped Massachusetts $95 million above what they paid when Romney arrived. The average tax paid by New Hampshirities to Massachusetts grew by 19.1 percent, from $2,392 in 2002 to $2,850 in 2006.

Romney has a pro-abortion record and pro-gay-marriage record. Not only did he pass Romneycare in Massachusetts, but now we know that he also raised taxes. Why is he running as a Republican? I don’t see anything in his record that would cause me to believe that he is a Republican.

You can see Mitt Romney explaining all of his liberal views in his own words in these videos.

Mitt Romney raised taxes by $740 million while he was governor of Massachusetts

Deroy Murdock explains in this Scripps Howard News Service article.

Excerpt:

Hot on the heels of his eight-vote Iowa-caucus landslide, Willard Mitt Romney is crisscrossing New Hampshire before Tuesday’s key primary. Romney is masquerading as a limited-government, free-market executive from next-door Massachusetts. From the Golden Gate to the Granite State, voters should greet Romney’s impersonation with a quarry full of skepticism.

In fact, Romney increased taxes by $309 million, mainly on corporations. These tax hikes, described by Romney apologists as “loophole closures,” totaled $128 million in 2003, $95.5 in 2004, and $85 million in 2005. That final year, Romney proposed $170 million in higher business taxes, the Boston Globe reports. However, the Bay State’s liberal, Democratic legislature balked and only approved an $85 million increase.

“Tax rates on many corporations almost doubled because of legislation supported by Romney,” Boston Science Corporation chairman Peter Nicholas explained in the January 6, 2008 Boston Herald. Also, Romney raised the tax on subchapter S corporations owned by business trusts from 5.3 percent to 9.9 percent — an 85 percent hike.

“Romney went further than any other governor in trying to wring money out of corporations,” the Council on State Taxation’s Joseph Crosby complained.

Romney also created or increased fees by $432 million. He was not dragooned into this by greedy Democratic lawmakers; Romney himself proposed these items. In 2003 alone, Romney concocted or boosted 88 fees. Romney charged more for marriage licenses (from $6 to $12), gun registrations (from $25 to $75), a used-car sales tax ($10 million), gasoline deliveries ($60 million), real-estate transfers ($175 million), and more. Particularly obnoxious was Romney’s $10 fee per Certificate of Blindness. Romney also billed blind people $15 each for discount-travel ID cards.

While Romney can take credit for a $275 million capital-gains tax rebate, property-tax relief for seniors, and a two-day, tax-free shopping holiday, he also must take responsibility for signing $740.5 million in higher taxes, plus that $85 million in business taxes that he requested and legislators rejected.

“Romney did not even fight higher death-tax rates,” notes former California State Assembly Minority Whip Steve Baldwin, a Romney critic. “When the (Massachusetts) legislature considered this issue, Romney’s official position was ‘no position.’ This echoed Barack Obama’s ‘present’ votes in the Illinois State Senate.”

As Romney drained his constituents’ pockets, the Public Policy Institute of New York’s Cost of Doing Business Index rated Massachusetts in 2006 as America’s fourth costliest state in which to practice free enterprise. The Tax Foundation dropped Massachusetts from America’s 29th most business-friendly state to No. 36. The Tax Foundation also calculated that, under Romney, Massachusetts’ per-capita tax burden increased from 9.3 percent to 9.9 percent. In real dollars, the Romney-era per-capita tax burden grew by $1,175.71.

As if impoverishing his own taxpayers were not bad enough, Romney’s March 5, 2003 signature raised taxes on non-residents retroactive to that January 1. Perpetrating taxation without representation, Romney’s law declared that, “gross income derived from… any trade or business, including any employment,” would be taxable, “regardless of the taxpayer’s residence or domicile in the year it is received.”

Consequently, according to data furnished by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, between 2002 and 2006, New Hampshire residents who work or do business in the Bay State shipped Massachusetts $95 million above what they paid when Romney arrived. The average tax paid by New Hampshirities to Massachusetts grew by 19.1 percent, from $2,392 in 2002 to $2,850 in 2006.

Romney has a pro-abortion record and pro-gay-marriage record. Not only did he pass Romneycare in Massachusetts, but now we know that he also raised taxes. Why is he running as a Republican? I don’t see anything in his record that would cause me to believe that he is a Republican.

You can see Mitt Romney explaining all of his liberal views in his own words in these videos.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney’s tax returns would make him lose the election to Obama

Wall Street Banks contributions to Mitt Romney
Wall Street banks make huge contributions to Mitt Romney

From The Hill. (H/T Riehl Worldview)

Excerpt:

It’s important not to overstate the perils Romney faces. He is still by far the best-funded candidate in the race. He has a state-by-state infrastructure that is the envy of his rivals. Even if he were to lose Saturday’s South Carolina primary, he would  likely remain the overall favorite to clinch the nomination.

But the procession of errors has been striking nonetheless — and it has raised concerns among many in the GOP about his vulnerabilities in a general election contest with President Obama.

Most of Romney’s awkwardness has revolved around questions about his wealth. During a heated exchange during a debate last month, he ill-advisedly offered to bet Perry $10,000 that his own account of what he had written in one of his books was correct. Perry declined, saying he was “not in the betting business,” but the episode heightened perceptions that Romney is out of touch with most Americans.

The same pattern keeps cropping up. Earlier this week, he was asked about the effective tax rate he pays on his income, and managed to injure himself twice in the space of a few sentences. First, he acknowledged that his tax rate was “probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything.” He then added: “I get speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.”

The first claim was almost certainly true. Romney’s income is believed to come chiefly from long-term investments rather than earned income, and that would indeed make him liable for capital gains tax levied at a 15 percent rate. But it still places the multimillionaire in a more lightly taxed band than many voters — something which Newt Gingrich tried to take advantage of with his mocking proposal to introduce a “Mitt Romney 15 percent flat tax.”

Perhaps even worse was Romney’s “not very much” comment. His latest financial disclosure form, which covered the period from February 2010 to February 2011, revealed that he earned $374,327 for speeches. The sum is approximately seven times the median household income in the United States.

Those remarks had been preceded by a televised debate at which he gave a muddled response about whether he would release his tax returns.

Romney flubbed the tax-return question for a second time at a debate last Thursday, eliciting boos from the crowd when he said he would “maybe” follow the example of his late father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, who released 12 years of tax returns when running for the presidency in 1968.

Romney’s mangled syntax on these occasions seems symptomatic of a wider personal unease in discussing his finances. GOP consultants say he needs to get over that discomfort if he is to prove an effective candidate.

Another concern that I have is that Mitt Romney has $20-100 million dollars in his retirement account.

Excerpt:

Like many Americans, Mitt Romney has an individual retirement account. Unlike most Americans, Mr. Romney has between $20.7 million and $101.6 million in it, a big chunk of his fortune.

Experts on estate planning said it is highly unusual to accumulate such a considerable sum in an IRA, an investment vehicle restricted by annual contribution limits. It appears that Mr. Romney’s grew so large mostly because it holds investments in Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he helped start.

[…]Mr. Romney is one of the richest presidential candidates in decades, and his GOP opponents increasingly are trying to turn wealth into a liability. President Barack Obama is expected to do the same if the former Massachusetts governor wraps up the nomination. Mr. Romney’s tax liability has emerged as a debating point in the GOP nominating contest, a proxy for a bigger argument over who should shoulder the nation’s tax burden.

In recent days, Mr. Romney’s rivals have pressed him to release his tax returns. They have attacked him for his role at Bain Capital, the source of his wealth. When Mr. Romney revealed Tuesday that his effective federal income-tax rate had been about 15% in recent years, both the White House and GOP candidates used the number as a cudgel.

[…]Michael Whitty, a lawyer at Vedder Price in Chicago who advises private-equity executives, said it is impossible to determine from Mr. Romney’s public disclosures how the IRA grew so large. Based on its listed holdings, which include many Bain Capital vehicles, Mr. Whitty theorizes Mr. Romney may have invested in Bain funds through a 401(k)-type plan, or directed some of his Bain holdings into such a plan, which he then rolled into an IRA.

How is he going to explain that? This might be one of the reasons why Romney is not releasing his tax returns. He needs to be pounded on this by Gingrich and Santorum until he drops out – we can’t afford to choose a nominee who has no hope of beating Barack Obama.

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