Weld? No
Weld’s Policies?
Some, Yes

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2019/02/15/weld-nowelds-policiessome-yes/

Bill Weld is not a serious candidate for president. Someone who preferred the Democrat to the Republican for president in 2008 and 2016 isn’t a serious Republican figure. And it’s hard to forget the dilettante governor getting so bored atop Massachusetts state government in 1997 that he quit mid-term in the fruitless pursuit of a lesser office.

So Weld’s challenge to President Donald Trump isn’t for real.

But the former Massachusetts governor gave a serious speech Friday morning that deserves to be taken seriously.

First, the bad:

Weld’s left-wing views on abortion and human sexuality are out of step with GOP voters, and he wisely stayed away from them. His comments on climate change are head-scratching – while he didn’t endorse any particular taxes, for instance, he called for rejoining the Paris Agreement of 2015, a position that lines up with former president Barack Obama and which rightly won’t endear him to many Republican voters. We also regret Weld’s likening immigration skepticism to nativism. It isn’t, and someone who called in his speech for an end to name-calling shouldn’t engage in it.

Now, the good:

Weld’s comments on economic conservatism are helpful.

Weld rightly decried the federal government’s current deficit spending of about a trillion dollars a year, an unsustainable and unconservative approach. President Trump’s response that economic growth will take care of the problem is unconvincing – for a conservative who believes in limited government, increasing government spending is a problem whether there is a deficit or not, because it means government is doing too much and taking too much money from its citizens.

Unfortunately, Weld got the politics wrong. On Friday morning, he called for cutting spending first, and then cutting taxes. But long experience proves that if you want to cut government spending, you first have to cut the amount of money government can get its hands on. As the 1980s British television show Yes, Minister brilliantly showed, government bureaucrats can always come up with reasons why spending can’t be decreased. Only by taking the money away can you force cuts in government spending, and thus in government overreach. So tax cuts ought to come first.

Still, Weld offered some good ideas. In December 2017, after President Trump got decreases in personal income taxes and the corporate tax rate through Congress, he hinted at coming back for a second round of tax cuts. With Democrats now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, additional tax cuts are now unlikely before the 2020 election. But if President Trump wins a second term, and if Republicans control Congress in 2021, the administration should push for several of the proposals Weld made Friday.

Eliminating the federal Department of Education, for instance, ought to be in every first-draft federal budget of the Trump administration.

Cutting the capital gains tax to 10 percent from its current maximum rate of 20 percent is a good idea. Eliminating the graduated income tax is a good idea, too.

Weld touted a 19 percent flat income tax. That would be better than the complicated system we have now. Administration officials should also look at replacing the federal income tax altogether with a sales tax that exempts things poor people need to buy such as food and clothing.

These approaches would encourage investment and explosive economic growth, which would provide opportunity both for middle-class people trying to save for college tuitions and retirement and for poor people trying to escape from poverty.

They would also increase freedom, something conservatives and libertarians can agree on.