Tag: Marco Rubio

Do Republicans Care About Winning?


DebateThe question dogs any woman who writes about politics: “Don’t you want to see the first woman elected president of the United States?” The unstated premise, always obvious, is that you are some sort of traitor to your sex if your hand isn’t itching to pull the lever for someone with the correct chromosomes. My answer has always been, “That depends upon what she believes.”

Hillary Clinton banked on the First Woman President effect from the start — an understandable gambit for someone with no substantive accomplishments and many flaws. Her sex may be the only thing she hasn’t lied about. She doubtless lulls herself to sleep at night by lovingly eyeing the cross tabs of election data showing that women are an ever increasing share of the total electorate (53 percent in 2012); that single women in particular lean hard to the Democrats (67 percent voted for Obama in 2012); and that marriage is on the decline among younger voters.

Two things will disturb her reverie. One: In the past two months, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, Mrs. Clinton’s support among Democratic women voters has dropped by 29 points, from 71 percent to 42 percent. Two: Carly Fiorina demonstrates what a true leader looks like.

Shakeup in the Ricochet Primary


The results of Ricochet’s August GOP primary poll are in! [Editor’s Note: Not a Ricochet member? That’s easily fixed.] As you will notice, Governor Scott Walker’s commanding lead over the field has completely vanished and he is now tied with Carly Fiorina as the top pick. Below, is the first choice among Ricochet members:

1st choice

Q: Who is your first choice for the GOP Nominee?

American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone – a Review


AmericanDreamsIn this campaign book Marco Rubio sets out his stall as the unapologetic Reformicon candidate. He writes clearly and with verve about his plans for tax, education, and entitlement reform, if somewhat less clearly about why he should be the one to execute them.

Being something of a Reformicon skeptic, however, I found it hard to get excited. There are the usual anecdotes about “Marge and Homer of Springfield” who have been done down by the system – or, at least, the parts of it he wants to change – and how his (or Mike Lee’s and his, or Paul Ryan’s and his, or Yuval Levin’s and his) policy prescriptions will make things all right again for them and the middle class. If you’ve read the lawnmower book you know the drill. If you’ve read much of Ricochet you also know the usual objections.

(Some of the anecdotes seem rather strange choices. Jennifer, in the first chapter, has failed to reach her American Dream despite going to college and getting a four-year degree in – public administration…)

As the GOP Plays with Trumpism, Hillary and the Democrats Work to Shape the New American Economy


U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hugs a U.S. flag as he takes the stage for a campaign town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire August 19, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Donald Trump’s policy views have a high degree of plasticity, even for a politician. But the retrograde version he currently espouses — mass deportation, protectionism, maybe even the gold standard — and the harsh way he espouses them have a foothold in the GOP. Columnist George Will may be correct that each “sulfurous belch from the molten interior of the volcanic Trump phenomenon injures the chances of a Republican presidency.”

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Only four things are certain since social progress began: Dogs will eat to excess; pigs will enjoy being unclean; people will play with fire; & GOP politicians will do the Philistine song & dance for the national audience, making sure no one suspects that their presidential-looking bodies harbor souls moved by the greatest enterprises known to mankind. It’s a […]

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Rubio, Walker Release Plans to Slay the Obamacare Dragon


Marco-Rubio-Scott-WalkerAs Peter Suderman writes in Reason any Republican effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare is likely going to be disappointing, given both the enormity of the task and the fact that they’ll be starting with a ball further down left field than when the President took office.

Still, there’s room to maneuver and maybe even to reverse the ratchet in a few areas. Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Scott Walker issued fairly similar plans that attempt to do just that (Walker issued a short white paper; Rubio wrote an op-ed for Politico that sketches his ideas, albeit with fewer details).

After repealing ObamaCare, both plans start by removing the single greatest inanity of our system: that insurance purchased through one’s employer is tax-free, while insurance purchased directly is not. This system is virtually unique in the world — a bad example of American exceptionalism if ever there was one. Moreover, making it easier for people to purchase insurance directly not only removes an extraneous layer from the healthcare system but also will reduce a major source of governmental intrusion (i.e., Hobby Lobby).

Dear Republican Candidates: Audentes Fortuna Adiuvat


gladiator-are-you-not-entertainedWith the notable exception of Carly Fiorina, all of the non-Trump candidates have been — how to put this politely? — soporific this past month. Doubtless, many of them have been simply waiting for the Trump thing to burn itself out, and have busied themselves with fundraising, flesh-pressing, policy paper issuing, and hoping that something about an email server will wake Americans up from a quarter century of toleration for the the Clintons’ lawlessness. But — however smart that strategy might have seemed a few weeks ago — it isn’t working. Trump is bigger than ever, and no one is paying attention to any of you, largely because you’ve done so little that’s attention-worthy.

As a conservative, I like my politics boring: The less that’s going on in publicly-owned mansions and domed capitols, the more space there is for important things to happen in business, religion, science, and civil society in general. I don’t — or at least shouldn’t — want politics to be any more entertaining than necessary, but this has been too little of a bad thing. We’ve an important election coming up, with a surplus of important issues and interesting candidates with some very different takes on them. And what are they doing? Trying to lay low and wait for things to blow over. On this point if no other, the Trumpsters have my full sympathy.

So here’s my general suggestion: The Republican candidates — all of them, including Trump — need to find some way to constructively tap into the frustration so many people are feeling and turn it into something constructive. Get some attention. Have some fun. Mix it up. Go rogue. Give people reason to think there’s cause for excitement on our side.

Five 2016 Candidates Who Could Change the GOP


ClevelandI posted this piece to my Forbes.com blog. The premise: once your start narrowing the field of 17 Republican presidential candidates, there are arguably five with the potential to move the party in a different direction — in doing so, easing the GOP into a post-Reagan identity that’s eluded Republicans since the end of the Cold War. I deliberately left the three three non-officeholder candidates – Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina – out of this conversation. Each has had a good summer, but each also faces questions as to whether their respective surges can last.

My five choices:

  • Jeb Bush. How would a Bush 45 presidency alter the GOP? Obviously, there’s the emphasis on Latino outreach, but don’t overlook Bush’s willingness to move a wee bit on items like climate change. As such, he’s a continuation of what the liberal historian Sean Willientz calls “modern Republicanism” – in the tradition of Thomas Dewey and the previous two Bushes, trying to soften the party’s conservative edges.
  • Scott Walker. Where Walker breaks with the field: the ability, for the son of a small-town Baptist minister, to be “pastoral” in much the same way that Reagan was able to channel faith into a larger conservation about values and principles (remember, it worked for Mike Huckabee in Iowa in 2008).
  • John Kasich. Ohio’s governor immodestly told The New York Times: “Hopefully, in the course of all this, I’ll be able to change some of the thinking about what it means to be a conservative.” Kasich seems to be representing an updated version of Bush 43’s “compassionate” message – emphasizing, as Kasich likes to put it, “people in the shadows.”
  • Marco Rubio. The Florida senator would be all of 45 at the time of next year’s national convention. Not that Rubio would bring a complete set of Gen-X sensibilities to the race (the media will note this ad nauseam), but he would be able to speak peer-to-peer to the non-AARP sector of the electorate on matters like child-rearing, college-savings and caring for aging parents – something new for a GOP accustomed to 60- and 70-something nominees.
  • Ted Cruz. The Texas senator is a quiet third in the latest Fox News poll (one point ahead of Bush, two points behind Ben Carson), and of late doing something even quieter: mounting a clever but stealthy campaign across the Deep South (20 stops, 2,000 miles across “Cruz Country – i.e., states participating in next March’s “SEC Primary”). Cruz has raised the most hard money in this campaign; his may be the one candidacy most dead set on realizing the Tea Party’s dream of ending the culture of big government and over-spending.

There’s my “starting five.” Your thought as to which, if any, goes the distance?

Responding to Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan


GovDear Grand Old Party — particularly all candidates, consultants, and media:

I know how you want to respond to this. Don’t do it. You’re outraged — it’s crazy, unworkable, and a political disaster. I agree. I don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with you on everything, but you’re right about that.

But here’s what you should have learned by now: When you furiously attack Trump, even on policy, you make his fans ever more defensive and ever more loyal. Moreover, to debate policy with Trump is to wrestle Proteus. Lay hand on him and he changes shape. Two blinks ago he supported complete amnesty. On air today he said he’d round up and deport everyone, including children born here. (He can’t, by the way.) But he also says he’ll let most of them right back in. The actual written plan says only that he’ll deport all aliens with criminal convictions. What’s real? Don’t bother trying to figure it out; it’ll be different tomorrow.

The Lie Upon Which Rubio’s Social Security Plan is Built


Social-Security-CardMarco Rubio has laid out his plan to save Social Security in the 21st century at National Review Online. As with pretty much every other Republican candidate’s plan save Huckabee’s, it basically entails three steps.

The first: Raise the retirement age for receipt of Social Security benefits:

With Americans now living longer than ever before, the strain on Social Security’s finances is steadily increasing. … First, we must gradually increase the retirement age for individuals under 55.

Marco Rubio on the Iran Deal


A few days ago, Jeffrey Goldberg published the transcript of his interview with Marco Rubio in the Atlantic. I won’t try to summarize it, because I found the whole thing interesting — which is noteworthy in itself. It isn’t easily reduced to a soundbite, because he’s actually making arguments.

I don’t want to prejudice your views unduly, but there’s no reason for me not to say that Rubio seems to me in much better touch with reality than the other candidates have so far. He’s not saying things that make him (and by implication America) sound insane. He’s not scoring cheap points. He’s not talking about himself. He’s answering the questions directly. He’s obviously aware what he would inherit if he were elected.

Member Post


I respect strong men, and I’m thankful to know some.  Men who carry guns, are willing to take risks, are not easily intimidated, and have no use for political correctness.  Men who will hold the door for a woman and stand ready to defend her in case of need.  Men who have the self-confidence and dignity to treat a […]

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Economic Debate: Kasich, Rubio, Bush Up — But Trump’s Protectionism is the Real Downer


DebateWith a record 24 million people watching the GOP debate, you’d think there would have been a lot more time spent on the most important issue of the day: the economy. Look at any poll. Jobs and the economy are always at the top of the list. But there was barely a mention of this on Thursday night.

The Republican party is not going to win this election unless it persuades the electorate that its primary principles of low marginal tax rates, lighter regulation, free trade, and a sound dollar are the best path to growth. Call it free-market capitalism. Call it supply-side. Call it entrepreneurship. Call it take-home pay. But the endgame is growth and prosperity.

So let’s make this very simple. Like almost every election in American history, 2016 is going to be about growth versus redistribution, private-sector markets and competition versus government planning, and a hard reliable dollar versus a protectionist collapse of the greenback.

GOP Bracketology — July Version


Tournament-BracketNow that Scott Walker’s in the race, with John Kasich on tap for next week, the GOP’s 2016 field soon will total 16 presidential candidates. We can rank them, 1-16. Or go by tiers. Or pick names out of a hat. My choice: divide the field into four brackets, four candidates apiece, which I’ve done in this column over at Forbes.com.

Bracket One — The Non-Conformists

1. Donald Trump

Update On The Ricochet GOP Primary — June Results


Fresh out of the printer are the latest polling numbers from the Data Division at Ricochet (I just made that up. There’s no office. It’s just a couple of guys.) While new candidates continue to enter the race, Ricochet members are largely adhering to their initial preferences among the candidates.

Scott Walker remains the clear favorite for Ricochet members, with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz holding on just behind. I have also included Rick Perry below, as he has emerged with enough support to warrant a highlight. In past months, we’ve also seen other candidates — such as Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal — enjoy a bump.

Member Post


Just wanted to give a periodic update on my meeting of presidential candidates.  This is is probably a bit mundane, but I want to keep these going for now. I attended the very popular annual Amherst NH 4 of July parade.  Marching in it, as far as candidates, was Lindsay Graham, Rick Perry and Jeb […]

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On Marco Rubio’s Supposed ‘Tax Mistake’


shutterstock_192953363The Wall Street Journal editorial page recently offered a lengthy criticism of Senator Marco Rubio’s tax plan — “Rubio’s Tax Mistake” — first coauthored with Senator Mike Lee. To be more precise, it’s a lengthy criticism of Rubio’s proposed expansion of the child tax credit. Why does the WSJ hate that credit so much? It argues a bigger child credit (a) does nothing for economic growth and is thus (b) a waste of money that could be better spent on lowering the top personal income tax rate below the 35% rate in the Rubio plan.

A few thoughts: First, to the extent that higher take-home pay would allow families to invest more in their own kids and reduce family instability and stress, the tax credit does have a pro-growth aspect. Human capital counts, too, and this would be a human capital gains tax cut for the folks creating and raising the next generation of workers. Now the WSJ might counter that a better solution for a struggling middle class would be to supercharge GDP growth by deeply cutting the top rate. Yet note that Rand Paul’s new flat tax plan with its low, low, low 14.5% top rate would only increase growth by about 1 percentage point a year for the next decade, according to the Tax Foundation. We are talking about a Three Percent (ish) Economy not a Five Percent Economy, if you buy the group’s optimistic modeling assumptions. (Indeed, the same Tax Foundation modeling shows a significantly bigger growth impact from the Rubio plan thanks to its sweeping, supply-side investment and corporate tax reform.)

Second, the WSJ fails to consider the possibility that right now a “rising tide” might not not so easily lift all boats in a US economy where globalization and automation are buffeting the middle class. Faster growth is necessary, of course, but may not currently be sufficient for broadly experienced prosperity. What’s more, smart supply-side reforms may take some time to raise US growth potential. (That sure seemed to be the case with the Reagan tax cuts.) For instance: The WSJ points out how the economy flagged after the slow-motion tax cuts of George W. Bush, which also included a larger child tax credit: “…only when Mr. Bush pushed in 2003 to accelerate the rate reductions and slashed the capital gains rate to 15% from 20% did the economy take off and save his re-election.”

GOP Presidential Candidates Quiz


shutterstock_106049342As we approach the end of the week, it’s a good time to ask which of these stories from the past several days means the most to the Republican presidential field. These would be both short-term and long-term considerations. In the short term: the August 6 Fox News candidates’ debate in Cleveland. In the long term: strategies for coming back to Cleveland next summer and accepting the party’s nomination.

1) Bush MoneyThe Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Jeb Bush’s Right To Rise super PAC is unlikely to reach its $100 million target by the month’s end. Team Bush could still reach that figure, but to do so might require some accounting gimmicks such as factoring in the accumulated sums of Right To Rise, a separate Bush leadership PAC, plus whatever money’s in the actual campaign that becomes formal next week. Then again, maybe it’s an elaborate head-fake and Bush will beat the street estimates. Regardless, word of a potential financial underperformance spread like crazy over the Internet. Why such interest? Because money is at the heart of the Bush campaign — its strategy, its media validation. So, if true, is this a big deal, little deal, or no deal at all?

2) Rubio Rubbish.On Monday, The New York Times ran this headline: “Marco Rubio’s Career Bedeviled By Financial Struggles.” It chronicled how the Florida senator caught a break by getting an $800,000 advance to write a book about growing up as an immigrants’ son. It claimed that Rubio squandered $80,000 on a “luxury speedboat”. It turns out the S.S. Rubio is a modest offshore fishing boat — in the manufacturer’s words: a craft meant for “safety-minded family boaters and avid anglers”.