Tuesday, October 09, 2007

On the Hunt for Specifics

Yours truly will be hosting the post-game show following this afternoon’s GOP debate on CNBC. The actual debate will go from 4-6pm. I’ll take over after that with a special 2-hour edition of Kudlow & Company.

In the first hour we’ll talk with Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul. I’ll be joined by pollster Scott Rasmussen and the “Dynamic Duo” of The Wall Street Journal’s Steve Moore and former labor secretary Robert Reich.

In the second hour, former Virginia Senator George Allen (co-chair of Fred Thompson for President) will offer up some of his thoughts. We’ll also talk with some Democratic presidential hopefuls including New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd.

What I’m looking for this evening is specifics. Strong, clear, specific ideas on budget cuts, pro-growth tax reform, and entitlement solutions.

Right now the Romney camp is pointing fingers at the Giuliani camp, which in turn is pointing fingers back at Romney that neither is really a budget cutter. What’s lacking here is exactly which government departments, agencies, or programs can be radically cut back or eliminated all together?

As for solving social security, which of the GOP hopefuls will use private savings accounts? Will they increase the retirement age? Or will they shift from a wage based inflation index or CPI inflation index?

And why aren’t they talking about balanced budget rules that would cap spending totals?

In the spirit of Dick Armey, why not move ahead with a spending pay-go? All that means is that if you go ahead and raise spending in one area, you need to cut spending somewhere else. No tax increases, but rather, spending cuts.

I also want to tackle this issue of middle class discontent, or so-called “economic populism.”

First off, with respect to taxes, why do we need six tax brackets? Right now, the middle-income people have three brackets - a 28 percent, 25 percent, and a 15 percent bracket. Low-income folks have a 10 percent bracket. High-income earners have their 35 and 33 percent brackets. Why not abolish the middle-income brackets and go back to Ronald Reagan’s 28 and 15 percent brackets and get rid of the 10 percent bracket altogether?

Why not a single rate flat tax like Eastern Europe? What about the kiddie credit or the marriage deduction?

In other words, tax ideas should go beyond George Bush and should be very specific, especially supply-side incentives for the middle-class in the form of lower marginal tax rates.

Look, the GOP needs some serious rebranding right now as the party of limited government, both on lower spending and taxing.

So I’ll be on the hunt for specifics tonight – not generalities.

Sen. Hillary Clinton has a whole policy booklet on her ideas. And of course I don’t agree with her. But as for the Republican candidates, where’s their playbook? Where’s the beef?