Steve Moore’s article yesterday does a superb job of dissecting John McCain’s economic philosophy from a market liberal perspective.
On limited government he frequently looks quite good:
“Look at my National Taxpayers Union rating. I’m near 100% every year.” (I do. He is.) Then he fumes: “I’m so disgusted with the way my party is wasting money. It’s an embarrassment.”
It is on this issue that Mr. McCain has struck the mother lode. More than any other first-tier GOP candidate in 2008, Mr. McCain has shrewdly tapped into the rage that conservatives are feeling over President Bush’s $800 billion Medicare drug bill (which he voted against), the highway bill with its 6,000 earmarked white-elephant projects (which he also voted against), and the infamous $500 million Alaska Bridge to Nowhere (which he led the crusade to defund). Mr. McCain whips out a spreadsheet detailing the legislation he drafted with Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn to cut the budget by $100 billion by canceling the highway pork, delaying the prescription drug bill, establishing a commission to end worthless government programs, and so on. Give the man his due: He has monopolized the anti-big government Reaganite message of late.
In addition he defends free trade, school choice, and a sensible immigration policy that
involves a three-step process: better border enforcement, a guest worker program, and an earned legalization program with a $2,000 fine for those who are here already. Anyone who has heard Mr. McCain on the stump lately knows that this is an issue he feels passionately about. “America must remain a beacon of hope and opportunity. The most wonderful thing about our country is that this is the one place in the world that anyone — through ambition and hard work — can get as far as their ambition will take them,” he says, in optimistic rhetoric that is somewhat reminiscent of Ronald Reagan.
Unfortunately, McCain also displays many nanny statist tendencies that are emphatically not market liberal:
He is against most tax cuts. His campaign finance “reform” demonstrates his unbelievably naive view of political process. He wants us to do something (regulate, regulate, regulate) about global warming. He wants to tax greedy profiteers. He thinks its the state’s job to regulate steroid use in sports.
Maybe, if we can teach him some more economics, we can reduce these statist tendencies and have a fine presidential contender on our hands. But I don’t want to get my hopes up. I wonder how someone who was part of the Keating Five (and seems to recognize his mistake) can have such a naive view of political process.
Update 11/28/05: Jane Galt’s take
I’m uncomfortable with a president who looks for a villain to pillory every time people are unhappy. Moreover, the senator’s evident belief that any and all ills can be fixed with a sufficiently complex law make me wonder why one would vote for him instead of the democrat saying the same thing.