March 30, 2007


Waiting for Magoo: Is Rudy Giuliani the next Steve Forbes? (Bruce Reed, Mar. 30, 2007, Slate)

Always Look on the Supply Side of Life: No matter what else comes out about Rudy Giuliani's three marriages, it's hard to imagine a stranger union than the one he announced this week, with multimillionaire conservative presidential wannabe Steve Forbes. [...]

Like Forbes, Giuliani is a one-note candidate - but they're completely different notes. The Onion teased Giuliani for running for president of Sept. 11th; Forbes ran for president of April 15th, the national day of remembrance for taxes.

As a candidate, Forbes had one idée fixe - the flat tax. Over the years, that has been his economic policy, his social policy, and at times, his foreign policy. Steve Forbes viewed the flat tax the way George W. Bush views Iraq: You're either for it or against me.

Until this week, Giuliani was one of the flat tax's most outspoken Republican opponents. Back in 1996, as the New York Times pointed out yesterday, Giuliani took to the airwaves to attack the Forbes flat tax as "a disaster." This week, Giuliani stood alongside Forbes and offered up a reverse double pander, declaring that he'd rather not have a federal income tax at all, but if we must have one, it ought to be a flat tax.

Giuliani didn't even try to hide the motives behind his strange new arranged marriage. In conjunction with the Forbes endorsement, his campaign started running ads on conservative talk radio touting his support for "supply-side policies." He told Larry Kudlow, "I regard myself as a supply sider for sure."

Never mind that in eight years, Giuliani's supply-side revolution managed to reduce the top personal income tax rate in New York City by nine-tenths of 1%. The campaign's theory is obvious: Giuliani can't win the nomination as a social liberal, and Mitt Romney is already running as the social flip-flopper. So Hizzoner will run as an economic flip-flopper instead.

The trouble with this theory is that even Steve Forbes doesn't believe in it. In 1996, Forbes ran a campaign like Giuliani's - as a pro-choice supply-sider. He lost everywhere but Delaware and Arizona. When he ran the next time, Forbes turned himself into such a pro-life enthusiast he accused Bush of hedging on whether abortion would be a litmus test for judges and his running mate. (He lost again, anyway.)

There's going to be way stranger.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 30, 2007 9:04 PM
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