19 December 2007

Looking at the Republican field

Although not a Republican or Democrat, the candidates with the least negatives tend to group on the R side of the aisle for foreign policy and defense issues. After that I am not a 'small government conservative' but a 'barely able to get up and do the few things it is given to do government Jacksonian'. I tend to view things through the prism handed to us from Paine, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Monroe, and a whole host of Anti-Federalists who had a beef with the way things were going, like Federal Farmer, Brutus, Robert Yates, John Lansing, John DeWitt, Cato, Centinal and George Mason. Their warnings about Federal forms of Republics and Democracies are taken with heed as their view of the historical record is, to put it mildly, straightforward. That 'Bedrock of the Republic' extends far and wide, encompasses those things that made the Western view of Nations such a lively thing.

As a Jacksonian we must not only spend to defend the Nation, but recognize the citizen basis not only for our government but for the defense of the Nation which goes far beyond the armed forces, but includes them entirely. Further I place much more stock in the Constitution than for mere government: it is a full statement by the People of the Nation on who they are and what they intend to achieve. Federal government is just one form or way to meet some of those things listed that we will do, but it is not the length, breadth or scope of them and the People highly limit what government can or should do so as to give the People the greatest leeway possible to succeed and fail. Without the risks there would be no reward worth having.

So when looking at this field I have this strange notion that some things have gone more than a bit awry and those things do not start, stop, begin or end with Ronald Wilson Reagan. I suggest that if Republicans actually venerate the man's ideas more than the man, that they actually try to carry them out. If Republicans would ever bother to actually study the history of their own party's leaders, they might have found the clarity of Lincoln to be sobering: he had defined and promulgated a way to address one of our modern ills that has been forgotten by the Nation and dithered about by both parties for 40 years. If they might have looked at what Theodore Roosevelt actually *did* when leaving office they might have found that the recent religious tumult and tempest at the bottom of a teacup isn't so very interesting and that the party's stance on religious freedom, liberty and allowing that there are differences in religion do not change that of National outlook to be something that dates back before JFK and the media brainwashing after him.

I'm not much for Big Government Conservatism and don't care if it goes by the name 'Compassionate Conservatism' or 'Quality Re-engineering Right Sizing Government' the latter by giving it more to do so as to do those things and the former sticking its nose in places it does not belong and charging the People for things that the People have heretofore done on their own.

And if a Congresscritter writes a piece of legislation that takes a law degree to explain, an economist to puzzle out and a clergyman of your choosing to scratch his head over, may I suggest it is poorly written?

I take Thomas Paine very seriously when he writes in 1776, before the Declaration was written, the following in Common Sense:

Some writers have so confounded society with government,
as to leave little or no distinction between them;
whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.
Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness;
the former promotes our POSITIVELY by uniting our affections,
the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one
encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions.
The first a patron, the last a punisher.

The moment I hear about what government is 'going to do to help' I start checking around to make sure I am still in America. It seems that the banner raised by the Left of 'more government to do more and less accountably' has been picked up by the Right so that they can give it more to do and more accountably.

I have a problem with both: by removing the direct accountability by the People and putting it with a bureaucrat, you are making things worse, not better.

So when I start reviewing report cards by various 'conservative' groups, I take into account what their outlook is and then step them downwards in my appraisal of those running for High Office. Very few I take at face value, and when I have problems with the absolute best scorer on these report cards and such, I mentally start knocking everyone *else* further down. It is a handy thing, these methodical report cards: it allows an individual to judge bias and then 'renormalize' the results to better suit one's own outlook. From that, none that I have seen rise in my estimation, but then I am a harsh judge on these things.


So, starting with Congresscritters, I will look at the American Conservative Union 2002 Ratings of Congress available at Vote Smart and copied at the Freeper site. Why 2002? It is very unlikely that after the 2000 election, 9/11 and then having Afghanistan to deal with and Iraq being discussed that very few would be 'pitching' to be considered for 2004 as President. More than likely to get a good feel for the history of an individual in less trying times to see how they have done. The ACU is biased, take that into account. There are 535 members of Congress so this position standing is from that 535 as measured by the ACU and I will use the Lifetime column as my place holder for determination. Thus all places are overall in Congress, much thanks to OpenOffice.org for the free spreadsheet software.

#2 Tom Tancredo, 99%, 4 years in Congress
#110 Duncan Hunter, 93%, 22 years in Congress
#182 Fred Thompson, 86%, 8 years in Congress
#189 Ron Paul, 84%, 12 years in Congress
#191 John McCain, 84%, 20 years in Congress

As a reference the hightest scoring Democrat was #115 Virgill Goode, 92%, 6 years in Congress and would switch parties, after that is #196 Ralph Hall, 83%, 22 years in Congress. The Democratic side of the score card running for President has a tough time making it over the #400 position.

The ACU numbers for 2005 are as follows, taken from Vote Smart, for that year only:

#5 Tom Tancredo, 100%,
#132 Duncan Hunter, 92%
#194 John McCain, 80%
#198 Ron Paul, 76%

And the top Democrat in 2005 was #217 David Boren, 64%.

I hate to say it, but 2005 was a pretty lackluster year for Congress, although great stuff compared to the current lot of incompetents running the show, but no great shakes by historical standards. Truth to tell, 2006 was no great winner, either. So little was done in 2005 that there was a slew of 100% folks at the top, still there is an apparent demarcation between those that are more strictly conservative and those that are more loosely so, but that is only a general guideline and a first one at that.

The Republican Liberty Caucus aims to find more liberty minded, small government folks to run for office and support them, so it is worth checking out their rankings for 2002. They do not use a full suite of the House and Senate, so the numbers are biased by their internal system, which is not transparent and have only 372 members rated for 2002. A note: Ron Paul hosts weekly Liberty Caucus (Liberty Committee) meetings.

#6 Ron Paul, 90%
#76 Tom Tancredo, 84%
#153 John McCain, 73%
#169 Duncan Huntern, 64%

Fred Thompson - not on the listing in any of the Vote Smart materials for the RLC.
Top Democrat that year was #172 Gene Taylor, 59%.

And the 2005 numbers come out as follows the RLC at Vote Smart, which has a longer listing of 467 members of Congress:

#62 Tom Tancredo, 90%
#81 Ron Paul, 85%
#107 John McCain, 80%
#205 Duncan Hunter, 65%

Top Democrat is #218 David Boren, 60%.

Take those as you will, but there are some interesting divisions showing up not only on the general 'conservative' concept, but also the 'liberty' one.

Now for the two Governors, and for them I will look at the Cato Institute's Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors: 2006. As both Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee cycle out during this report, they both get 'final grades' for their time in office plus some overview.

On the Overall Grade for 2006 Mitt Romney gets a 55% or 'C' grade and Mike Huckabee gets a 46% or 'F' grade (and this is on a curve with the top score and solo 'A' grade going to Roy Blunt (R-MI) at 63%.

Here are the Grade break-outs for the 'C' and then, after that, 'F' grades with an asterisk (*) a mid-term grade only:
Georgia Sonny Perdue (R) 56 C
New Mexico Bill Richardson (D) 56 C
Oklahoma Brad Henry (D) 56 C
Iowa Tom Vilsack (D) 56 C
Massachusetts Mitt Romney (R) 55 C
Minnesota Tim Pawlenty (R) 55 C
Nebraska Dave Heineman (R) 55 C
Pennsylvania Edward Rendell (D) 55 C
Mississippi Haley Barbour (R)* 54 C
Rhode Island Don Carcieri (R) 54 C
Florida Jeb Bush (R) 54 C
North Dakota John Hoeven (R) 54 C


Montana Brian Schweitzer (D)* 47 F
Alabama Bob Riley (R) 47 F
Washington Christine Gregoire (D)* 47 F
Arkansas Mike Huckabee (R) 46 F
Nevada Kenny Guinn (R) 46 F
Delaware Ruth Ann Minner (D)* 44 F
North Carolina Michael Easley (D)* 44 F
Arizona Janet Napolitano (D) 43 F
Louisiana Kathleen Blanco (D)* 43 F
Ohio Bob Taft (R) 53 C
Kentucky Ernie Fletcher (R) 53 C
Maryland Robert Ehrlich (R) 53 C
Vermont James Douglas (R) 53 C
Michigan Jennifer Granholm (D) 53 C

Following that here are the out-process analyses for the two Governors in question:
Mitt Romney, Republican Legislature: Democratic

Final Overall Grade: C

As Mitt Romney launches his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, his fiscal record as governor should be scrutinized. Romney likes to advance the image of himself as a governor who has fought a liberal Democratic legislature on various fronts. That’s mostly true on spending: he proposed modest increases to the budget and line-item vetoed millions of dollars each year only to have most of those vetoes overridden. But Romney will likely also be eager to push the message that he was a governor who stood by a no-new-taxes pledge. That’s mostly a myth. His first budget included no general tax increases but did include a $500 million increase in various fees. He later proposed $140 in business tax hikes through the closing of “loopholes” in the tax code. He announced in May 2004 that he wanted to cut the top income tax rate from 5.3 to 5 percent, but that was hardly an audacious stand. Voters had already passed a plan to do just that before Romney even took office. In his budget for 2006, he proposed $170 million more in business tax hikes, almost completely neutralizing the proposed income tax cut. If you consider the massive costs to taxpayers that his universal health care plan will inflict once he’s left office, Romney’s tenure is clearly not a triumph of small-government activism.
Highlighting is mine for things I find of interest. While he did wield he line-item veto, he can't get that as President without an Amendment to the Constitution: the SCOTUS has ruled on that under the Clinton Administration. Apparently there isn't much 'there' for those not wanting to ensure that government has less power, seeks less money and is responsible in its outlays.

Next up, Mike Huckabee:
Mike Huckabee, Republican Legislature: Democratic
Final-Term Grade: F
Final Overall Grade: D

Thanks to a final term grade of F, Huckabee earns an overall grade of D for his entire governorship. Like many Republicans, his grades dropped the longer he stayed in office. In his first few years, he fought hard for a sweeping $70 million tax cut package that was the first broad-based tax cut in the state in more than 20 years. He even signed a bill to cut the state’s 6 percent capital gains tax—a significant progrowth accomplishment. But nine days after being reelected in 2002, he proposed a sales tax increase to cover a budget deficit caused partly by large spending increases that he proposed and approved, including an expansion in Medicare eligibility that Huckabee made a centerpiece of his 1997 agenda. He agreed to a 3 percent income tax “surcharge” and a 25-cent cigarette tax increase. In response to a court order to increase spending on education, Huckabee proposed another sales tax increase. Huckabee wants to run for the GOP presidential nomination next year. He’s already been hailed as a viable big-government conservative candidate by some. That seems about right: Huckabee’s leadership has left taxpayers in Arkansas much worse off.
Apparently the good folks in Arkansas had a rough time of it with Mike Huckabee: Big Government Conservative.

So that leaves Rudy Giuliani!

Do you know that its a bit difficult to find organizations that cross-rate mayors?

That said, after digging up a couple of sites, I can see that NYC had no end of advice coming into it. Take this web-cache page from 2000 at the Center for an Urban Future, where we see the need for: broad based changes, small scale changes, the need for a 'plan', lots of data coming in that one mayor gathers and then has it held to the hostage of bad timing... or you could follow any of the case studies listed... only to find out how unique NYC is and why those don't apply... and then the City University wants to help out lots and lots.... the folks at the Brookings Institute are more than happy to point out the economic draw of cities.

And then there is the whole scale phenomena with NYC: the city is larger than some States. In point of fact that has been something of a sticking point in NY State, with Upstate NY having a different overall demographic and voting outlook than NYC, but due to its size NYC swamps Upstate. Coming from the other side of NY State, that being the environs of Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier, I do remember a semi-serious article about dividing the State into NY State, that being NYC and its immediate suburbs, plus Long Island, and Upper York, which was everything else. Humorous or not it is a fair point so to try and get a grasp on what NYC is, and putting aside my Upstate bias as best as I can, let me take a look at NYC as a State. I will, however, leave out Long Island although that would need to go along with such a State due to geography.

Going by the Census data at the Quickfacts page I get the following:

New York City
Population - 8.085 million
Land - 303 sq. mi.
Housing units - 3.2 million
Households - 3.02 million
Median Income - $38,293
Counties: 5 - Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, Richmond

To compare let me take Mike Huckabee's state, Arkansas:

Population - 2.81 million
Land - 2,000 sq. mi.
Housing units - 1.25 million
Households - 1.042 million
Median Income - $35,295
Counties: 75

Now, Arkansas has a pretty varied income tax rate, and everyone pays that 3% surcharge, and the exemptions for things like Social Security and the first few thousand of military pay make actually figuring out what the average folks carry in the way of tax payments. There is also a sales tax and estate tax, making it worthy of trying to compete with NYC! The NY rates are also varied by income level for income tax, and the sales tax of 7% is without any add-ons, unlike Arkansas and both have varied property tax laws, thus making things a bit difficult to figure out.
Luckily the Census Bureau has pages for that, at least for Arkansas, so a rough estimate for comparison can be done.

Total Revenue: $18 billion
- Federal Contribution: $4.27 billion
Net State and Local Revenue: $14.74 billion
Population taken from this table: 2.75 million
Avg. Contribution per person (Net/Pop): $5,360/person
As a percent of median income (granted different years, 2006 v 2004): 15%

And then using NY, and I will take the fraction of NYC to the entire NY State population:

Total Revenue: $224 billion
- Federal Contribution: $45.7 billion
Net State and Local Revenue: $179 billion
Population for State: 19.28 million
Avg. Contribution per person (Net/Pop): $9,284
As a percent of median income in NYC (granted different years, 2006 v 2004): 24%

That is a WAG for NYC, as the actual amount of taxes also shifts to NYC due to higher income, but it does serve as a rough approximation. To get an idea of what this would look like just for NYC itself, there is the CUNY Baruch College breakout for NYC income and expenses, covering 2001-2005 ($ in thousands):







Total revenues






Total expenses






Excess (Debt)






Contribution per person on Revenues (Revenues/Population): 2001 - $5,180/person to 2005 - $6,707 ($6,081 in 2001 dollars).

There is some Federal and State money coming in, needless to say, but its not much directly to the NYC government.

So when dealing with NYC compared to Arkansas:

NYC is larger in population by 2.88 times that of Arkansas.
NYC government is about 3 times that of Arkansas.
Arkansas is over 6 times larger in area than NYC.
Arkansas has a lower tax burden per person compared to NYC ($5,360 vs $6,707).

I've never done this for NYC before and really needed to understand the size and scale issues in comparing Giuliani to Huckabee or even Romney. One hears about how the largest city is, in some ways, larger than some States, but actually putting numbers on that helps to get a handle on the situation. Claims on savings in taxes and fees and such may seem out of place, but when considering the size and limited scope of what can be done at a city level, things come into focus with the scale added in.

So, let me see if I get this right about this field:

1) There is one relatively reliable conservative Congressman who cares about personal liberty,
2) There are three Congresscritters that vary in their reliability on conservatism and personal liberty issues,
3) There is a middling governor of a liberal State that can be classed in the Big Government Conservative mold due to the ballooning cost of State backed health insurance requirements,
4) There is a mayor of a big liberal city that was able to slow the overall increase in tax burden even in a State that goes gonzo for that,
5) There is a social conservative, fiscal liberal who loves to tax and get legislation through to go after every possible ill his State had, thus layering on lots of burden for such programs.

Does that about sum it up?


One question...

Could someone let the real Republican party loose? It is obviously being held captive someplace...


Reliapundit said...




A Jacksonian said...

Reliapundit - My thanks!

I note, with interest, having 'someone who can win and manage'...

I believe that is coming close to Patterico's concept of a 'Dog Trainer'... I know it is someone who can manage the office of POTUS, but there is the idea that whoever gets in will satisfy nearly no one in the Republican party beyond a 30% level. An individual will get the nomination and be the nominee and the party will 'unite' behind that person... but that person will be a problem beyond their core voters in the Republican party if they win the Presidency.

As I looked at earlier, the D party is shifting over towards de-nationalizing and Transnationalizing the US... the R party has a solid business core for funding that adheres to that on the 'free trade' side and is also for illegal aliens taking jobs by removing the legal barriers of having borders. That is why the US Chamber of Commerce is on the NAU committe: to 'regularize' laws between the US and Mexico and Canada.

If HRC is in the general, I will be an ABC voter: Anyone But Clinton.

If, however, an individual other than HRC is in the race, thus weakening turnout, and the R party has someone wedded to 'free trade' and a dodgy immigration record, then I will see that individual as coming from the Transnational Right. I will not see my vote going to anyone looking to dissolve the fabric that makes this Nation a Nation. As a Jacksonian and Nationalist I am running out of individuals to support for high office.

The D party is close to splintering and this may be the election cycle that does that if HRC is the candidate. Even without her, the entire basis for the party is in near dissolution: the old fashioned liberal Nationalists are seeing their party turn to Transnationalism, which most call under its older name of International Socialism. That is a split between numbers (the old fashioned liberal Nationalist) and the money backing the Transnationalists.

The R party has a similar internal split based on funding, where the majority of individuals are Nationalist, but the bulk of funding is coming from Transnational supporting groups on the business side.

Money has lasting power in modern politics, and it is those two large donor factions that will seek to outlast the Nationalists in both parties. There is no one running on the concept of being a Nationalist to appeal to the old line liberal, moderate and conservative individuals who see less government as freedom and more as tyranny. There are disagreements after that, of course, but the concept of having a Nation first, supporting our National needs, supporting a robust view to combat those waging Private War and to keep trade accountable to the People and not the Nation beholden to trade, these are uniting concepts which no one in either party represents even in part.

I cannot support that save on the grounds of keeping the Nation out of the hands of a sociopath: anything is better than that, even voting for Cthulhu.

From what I have seen we are going to have a near 50% or even sub-50% turnout for the next election cycle... then the minority government that has been the case since the 1970's will turn into a full and complete minority government unable to support democracy and even get the majority to vote that *either* of these parties is the way forward of the Nation. That is not a cause for celebration or excusing it in 'only the interested vote'... that is dictatorship by the minority over the majority by being unable to interest the citizenry in the Nation.

Nations that have had that soon no longer have democracy... or much liberty... and that is the exact, same path we are now on.