October 24, 2003

Russian leaders on tax

David A. Keene is optimistic about Russia's flat tax policy:

The new Russia is turning into quite a place. Russian President Vladimir Putin may be a former KGB apparatchik and he may sometimes act more like a czar than the head of an emerging democratic state, but he and those around him are an interesting bunch.

Thus, while policymakers in this country have been struggling for years over the question of how we might reform and simplify the tax code, Putin's government looked the question in the eye and opted for a 13 percent flat tax. The results since its implementation have been dramatic. The Russian economy, in spite of all the problems it faces, is growing faster than any in Europe. What's more, tax revenues are up so markedly that the Kremlin seems to be seriously considering lowering what already is Europe's lowest marginal rate even further.

This is good news for Russia and, ultimately, for the rest of us because a successful, stable and sensible Russia can offset the goofy thinking that dominates the leadership of old Europe. Indeed, it is entirely possible that Putin and his successors will ultimately prove Alexis de Tocqueville's observation that America's natural continental ally across the Atlantic is Moscow rather than Paris or Berlin. Lenin and his buddies made that observation seem a bit silly to many of us for a long time, but they are gone and it doesn't seem quite as silly anymore.

October 15, 2003

Power to the printer?

Bill Cholenski, from Catallarchy.net goes one step further in suggestions for creative monetary stimulus:

I don't think they've thought this through all the way. If "stimulating" the economy with dollars is so important, why discourage counterfeiting? Why not email JPEGs of the $20 bill, and ask people to print them up themselves?

General under fire

Robert Novak on Wesley Clark's campaign:

Supporters of Wesley Clark feared the worst from Thursday night's debate in Phoenix, and they got it. As expected, the retired general was asked about how he, now a Democratic presidential candidate, praised George W. Bush and his whole administration at a Republican fund-raiser in 2001. Neophyte politician Clark was not prepared with an adequate response.

What was worse, the conqueror of Kosovo seemed diminished by the eight professional politicians debating him. Clark has mastered Bush-bashing talking points, but he seemed smaller, less fluent and less confident than his opponents. While increasing his lead against other Democrats in national polls, he appeared the most poorly equipped candidate on the Orpheum Theatre stage.

Since Clark simultaneously declared himself a Democrat and presidential candidate, not much has gone right for him. The announcement of his candidacy was unimpressive, his campaign manager resigned in protest after two weeks, and he has not been able to take an intraparty punch. Yet, strong sentiment persists within the party that Clark is the Democrat most likely to make George W. Bush a one-term president.

Clark in Phoenix ran into immediate trouble on his pre-Democrat past -- specifically his 2001 appearance at a Lincoln Day Republican dinner in Arkansas. As the Bush tax cuts were making their way to passage, Clark declared: "I'm very glad we've got the great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Paul O'Neill, people I know very well. Our President George W. Bush. We need them there."

October 05, 2003

General Democrat

Ann Coulter, in her usual style, takes on Wesley Clark:

Since Wesley Clark entered the race, Democrats have been salivating over the prospect of a presidential candidate who is a four-star general - and has the politics of Susan Sarandon! Clark's entry into the race was seen as a setback for John Kerry, the only other Democratic contender with combat experience. (Although back in the 1970s, Dennis Kucinich served in the Kiss Army.)

Before Clark becomes the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question, consider that Clark's main claim to fame is that he played a pivotal role in what most of his supporters passionately believe was an illegal, immoral war of American imperialism in Vietnam. How does that earn you points with Democrats?

Clark's other credential to lead the free world was that he supervised the "liberation" of Kosovo by ordering our pilots to drop bombs from 15,000 feet at a tremendous cost in innocent civilian life in a 100 percent humanitarian war against a country that posed absolutely no threat to the United States - imminent or otherwise - and without the approval of the almighty United Nations.

So you can see why Clark supported, then opposed, then supported, then opposed the current war in Iraq. Say, is there a website where I can get up-to-the-minute updates on Wesley Clark's current position on the war in Iraq, kind of like a Nasdaq ticker?

Possible Clark campaign slogans are already starting to emerge:

"I Was Into Quagmires Before Quagmires Were Cool"

"Honk if You Got Bombed in Kosovo"

"Only Fired by the Pentagon Once!"

"The OTHER Bush-Bashing Rhodes Scholar From Arkansas"

"No, Really, Vice President Would Be Fine"