Thursday, January 12, 2012

A fair recap on the Huntsman campaign

While the former Utah gov proved unable to gain traction, this column from Robert Robb of the Arizona Republic speaks to why his platform deserved more recognition:
...On the two most important domestic issues of the day Huntsman has the best policy prescriptions of any of the candidates.

The first is the interplay between the economy and the federal government’s finances.

Huntsman endorsed the most radical tax reform recommended by the debt commission appointed by President Obama. Eliminate all deductions and credits. The highest rate would be 23 percent, compared to today’s 35 percent and the nearly 40 percent Obama has advocated.

Despite the much lower rates, the debt commission estimated that its alternative would raise around $800 billion more in revenue for the federal government over a ten-year period. So, in addition to being more conducive to economic growth, Huntsman’s tax reform, in contrast to that of every other Republican candidate, would reduce the federal debt rather than increase it.

Huntsman also generally endorsed the budget plan of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, including its entitlement reforms. A combination of the debt commission’s tax reform and Ryan’s spending plan is the most politically plausible pathway to bring the federal government’s finances out of the red zone.

The second domestic issue on which Huntsman stands out is financial market reform...

The Obama administration’s approach to preventing bailouts in the future, enacted as the Dodd-Frank reform legislation, is to appoint a committee of wise men to watch over large financial institutions, empowered to tell them what to do if the wise men think they are behaving recklessly.

The Democratic belief in the existence of such regulatory savants is almost touching, similar to a child’s belief in the tooth fairy...

The only practical alternative is to limit the size of financial institutions to below whatever makes politicians and policymakers comfortable in allowing them to fail. Among the presidential candidates, only Huntsman is proposing to do that...

Huntsman’s clarity and boldness on these two most important domestic issues highlight the disappointment that is Mitt Romney, the prohibitive frontrunner.

On taxes, Romney supports keeping the Bush tax rates, but says fundamental individual tax reform of the kind Huntsman is proposing needs to wait for another day...

Romney is even more exposed on financial market reform. He supported the bank bailouts in 2008, so he doesn’t advocate just letting market forces take their course. He favors repeal of Dodd-Frank but, unlike Huntsman, hasn’t proposed anything specific to take its place.

Too-big-to-fail is too big an issue to slough off.

Of course, there’s more to being a successful politician than having the best ideas on the biggest issues, and Huntsman just never developed a political presence that demanded attention.

Nevertheless, his ideas deserved a bigger, longer run than Huntsman proved capable of giving them. 
To Mr. Robb's comments, I would also add that Huntsman had the most balanced and forward looking foreign and defense policy, combining international economic engagement with a more modest overseas military presence, an aversion to nation building, a willingness to use force when rogue regimes or terrorist organizations present a known threat, a restructuring of the military to make it more effective at dealing with today's threats (e.g. Iran, Al Qaeda) while reducing cost by not seeking to play policeman to the world. Net result: more effective force projection; less diplomatic and P.R. blowback; increased international opportunities for U.S. industry; better impact on the budget.

Huntsman's speech after the N.H. primary convinced me, almost without a doubt, that he does not have the "It" needed to win a campaign for the presidency. But his platform was a winner, IMHO.

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Always sniffing for the truth

Always sniffing for the truth

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