Presidential Candidates' Economic Policies
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
The probability of your single vote determining the outcome of the presidential election in your state is so tiny that we can consider it to be zero. So it makes sense to vote in favor of the candidate and party you think has the best positions on the issues, rather than for the lesser of evils. Voting for a non-establishment candidate signals dissatisfaction with the whole system rather than a preference for a candidate or party within the status quo.
There are five political parties on the ballot in many states. I present here, based on statements they have made public in the Internet, the positions on economic issues of the presidential candidates of the Constitution, Democratic, Green, Libertarian, Nader-Reform, and Republican parties.
While I try to fairly represent their positions, my bias is towards free-market policies, so you may take that into account. I have omitted their glittering generalities and laundry-list of complaints, and present here the concrete policies that the candidates advocate.
The Constitution Party candidate, Michael Peroutka, seeks to 'restore our Constitutional Republic.' He would abolish the Federal Reserve system and enact 'the largest tax cut in history,' because 'at least 90 percent of what the Federal government does is illegal.' He would abolish the Internal Revenue Service.
The Democratic Party candidate, John Kerry, would repeal the tax cuts made by President Bush on the wealthiest taxpayers. 'Kerry has proposed creating jobs through a new manufacturing jobs credit, by investing in new energy industries, restoring technology, and stopping layoffs in education.' 'John Kerry wants to give more tax breaks to the middle class with new tax credits on health care and college tuition.' 'Kerry will create a new "State Tax Relief and Education Fund" that will help states ... with an additional $50 billion over two years.' 'To create new manufacturing jobs Kerry will provide new tax breaks to manufacturers who produce goods and create jobs in the United States. He will provide relief for manufacturers that provide quality health care and retirement.' His campaign claims that 'he will implement the McCain-Kerry commission on corporate welfare to undermine the special interest groups that make it hard to cut tax loopholes and pork barrel spending projects.'
The Green Party's candidate, David Cobb, says 'solar, wind and biodiesel should replace oil and other carbon based fuels.' He wants to replace 'trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and the WTO with a system that encourages local development as much as possible, upholds environmental and labor standards and ends poverty.' Environmental 'costs must be internalized by the producer and reflected in the cost of the product. Full cost pricing would mean that the cost of a military invasion of Iraq would show up directly in the price of gasoline, as would the cost of mitigating global climate change.' 'The Green Party supports methods, such as the Index of Social Health Indicators, the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare and the Genuine Progress Indicator, which take into account statistics on housing, income and nutrition.' 'No money should be spent on weapons of mass destruction or foreign adventurism.'
On taxes, Cobb says, 'we call for a tax policy that moves to eliminate loopholes and other exemptions that favor powerful interests. Small business and the self-employed, in particular, should not be penalized by a tax system that benefits those who can influence the legislative tax committees for breaks and subsidies. A central goal of tax policy should be transparency -- a system that is simple, understandable, and resistant to the schemes of special interests. When taxes are levied against labor, using labor in production becomes more expensive and is therefore a disincentive for employment. This also diminishes the economic value of labor by decreasing the worker's purchasing power thus discouraging work.' 'We propose more progressive taxation. Sales, corporate and income taxes should be adjusted to relieve the burden on those less able to pay and increase the burden on large corporations.' The Green Party also advocates environmental taxes, such as the carbon tax.
The Libertarian Party candidate, Michael Badnarik, says, "Excess regulation and government spending destroy jobs and increase unemployment. Every regulator we fire results in the creation of over 150 new jobs, enough to hire the ex-regulator, the unemployed, and the able-bodied poor." 'I want to get young Americans out of the Social Security con game and let them put their retirement money into real, income-producing investments.' Badnarik would abolish the federal income tax. He would eliminate federal subsidies and programs that are not in accord with the U.S. Constitution, and would greatly reduce the size of the federal government. Badnarik would also end the Iraq war and close foreign military bases. The Libertarian Party also advocates repealing federal laws prohibiting victimless acts, including drug usage, and also ending civil asset forfeiture, where property is seized without any trial or conviction.
Ralph Nader is running for president as an independent candidate and also under the rubric of the Reform Party. He says that by 'requiring equitable trade, investing in urgently needed local labor-intensive public works (infrastructure improvements), creating a new renewable energy efficiency policy; by fully funding education and redirecting large bureaucratic and fraudulent health expenditures toward preventive health care we can ... create millions of new jobs.' 'A fundamental reappraisal of our tax laws should start with a principle that taxes should apply first to behavior and conditions we favor least' ('such as the clearly addictive industries (alcohol and tobacco), pollution, speculation, gambling, extreme luxuries') rather than pinch necessities. A small tax rate 'on stock, bond, and derivative transactions can produce tens of billions of dollars a year and displace some of the taxes on work and consumer essentials.' 'The present adjustment of Henry George's celebrated land tax could also be considered.' Nader also favors the retention of the estate tax.
The Republican Party candidate, George W. Bush, says his tax relief plan enacted by Congress has promoted economic recovery and job growth. 'The President's tax relief will allow the American people to keep more of their own money to spend, save and invest; encourage individuals and businesses to make new investments that will lead to economic growth and job creation; and deliver critical help to unemployed citizens.' He seeks to make the tax cuts, including the reduction of estate taxes, permanent. The Bush administration has also increased domestic spending on health care, education, agricultural subsidies, and homeland security, in addition to military expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a current budget deficit of almost a half trillion dollars. On Social Security, Bush seeks to allow workers to put part of their payroll tax into individual accounts.
None of the parties or candidates advocates the policy that would lead to maximum prosperity, the elimination of all taxes on wages, sales, and produced wealth, replacing them with pollution charges, user fees, and tapping the rent of natural resources, including the locational value of land. But the Democrats and Republicans, the establishment parties, are much closer to the status quo than to such fundamental change. So to promote the best policies rather than settle for the lesser evil, vote for the non-establishment candidate of your choice.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2004 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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