Saturday, January 21, 2012


Gingrich's solid victory in today's South Carolina primary got me thinking about what Republicans want most, Barack Obama's defeat. One might argue that such a goal lacks positive vision, but when you have someone bent on destroying our previously accepted limits on the power of the federal government, such a goal is a worthy one to advance the cause of liberty. It seems apparent to me that Romney's inability to handle the questions about his tax returns, not the facts surrounding the returns themselves, caused a breach in his main argument for nomination, his electability. Further, in thinking about my own enthusiasm, I admit I got excited thinking about having Newt Gingrich debating Obama in his inimitable style, demolishing the shibboleths of the left on national television. Romney gives me no confidence on his ability to handle the unexpected, or even the easy to anticipate in a debate with Obama.

But we have to ask, what wins national elections? We have to further ask if experience is a guide to answering such a question. There have been approximately 800 Republican primary debates so far, well closer to 25. However, there will only be three general election debates. In the past, these debates have generally not proven decisive. As Brit Hume pointed out on Fox News today, most people have seemed little swayed by them, with supporters of each candidate believing that their man (we can say that with Bachmann out) being the winner. Primary debates are necessary, in Hume's opinion because the actual differences between the candidates positions in a single party, aren't that great.

But is that changing? Are the American people open to changing their minds if presented with an intellectually compelling exposition of the key issues? The optimist in me, wants to say yes, given the depth of crisis, surely Americans realize that business as usual is no longer acceptable. If one takes this view, then Gingrich is preferable to Romney, but Paul would actually be even more preferable to Gingrich. Of course, Newt's supporters would argue that Paul is too radical on foreign policy and would not defeat Obama. The realist in me thinks that as bad as things have gotten, they aren't bad enough to cause the sort of epistemological change necessary to accept Ron Paul. But such thinking also militates against Gingrich.

Historically, it has been coalition building, organization and getting out the vote that wins Presidential elections. Gingrich has tried to take a different path. He has certainly has some success, but it remains to be seen if that can win the nomination, much less the general. Romney, by contrast, seems to have done a decent job of building a winning organization, it's the candidate himself that seems to have problems. Also, Romney seems to be finding his voice in a more full throated defense of free enterprise, exactly the tack he needs to take in light of the attacks on his role at Bain Capital.

I am still not ready to endorse a candidate, but I am leaning to support for Romney, as much as I love Gingrich's combative debating style.

With respect to his tax returns, Romney needs to explain the facts to the American people. His case also argues for a tax rate that is both low and equal for all forms of income, whether pay, corporate, gains, retained interest, dividends, or interest. No loopholes and a 15% rate would probably pay for everything the government should be doing. Additionally, in order to keep the marginal rate truly flat, perhaps workers below the social security cap would pay a lower rate of 9.8% so that the marginal tax rate is truly flat.


  1. Flat and low yes, BUT dividends and capital gains are taxed at a lower rate currently to reflect that the underlying corporation has already paid most cases. The case can be made that Romney paid too much in taxes. He is, after all, a retiree. After removing the tongue from my cheek, I think we can all agree that loopholes need to be closed and equity reestablished. If only we could get Congress, who established the deductions at the behest of varying special interests, to turn down that lobby money...

  2. I understand what you are saying, but in order to ensure that the rich don't game the system, a single rate for all sources is probably necessary.