Why Jon Huntsman Is More Dangerous Than You Think

If you’ve been reading this blog over the last couple days, you have a good idea what Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman stand for. We hope to continue that series throughout the campaign, if only because most Americans go to the polls without the faintest clue of where the candidates stand on the issues. You now know, for instance, that Bachmann is a delusional bigot with little interest in public policy other than to turn America into a quasi-theocracy. You might think she’s the one you should be afraid of. You’d be wrong.

Bachmann is too extreme to be elected president. Even if the Republican primary voters completely lost their minds and nominated her, she’d lose the general election by a landslide, even in her home state of Minnesota.

Huntsman, on the other hand, is a very good match for President Obama. He’s moderate, handsome, polished, and well-spoken. His positions on Afghanistan, Libya, climate change, gun rights, the national debt, and gay marriage line up directly with the public’s opinions. (It’s almost as if he’s just saying what the public wants to hear. Naw, politicians don’t do that…) If he can overcome the powerful extremists in his party, you might consider voting for him.

That’s what makes him dangerous.   Before you pull that lever: Isn’t something missing? In the 6,000-word Esquire article, did he forget to mention anything?

Among the words not included in those 6,000: recession, unemployment, financial, Wall Street, profit, wage, labor, and inflation. All he could muster on the economy was an observation that we’re “on the brink of economic collapse, crushed by debt and overregulation and taxes.” Granted, he’s pandering to the base, and the reporter didn’t include Huntsman’s speech word-for-word. But he delivered the same message to George Stephanopoulos on ABC: cut payroll taxes, repeal the Affordable Care Act, pass Paul Ryan’s budget, and cut spending. Not so moderate after all.
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At least we know what his priorities are. 13.9 million unemployed Americans are not on the list. Nor are the 47 million Medicare beneficiaries or 58 million Medicaid enrollees who would pay significantly more for health insurance under RyanCare. And since the Affordable Care Act will reduce the projected national debt, we can surmise that he doesn’t really care about the debt — which means he isn’t cutting spending and taxes to reduce the debt. He’s cutting spending and taxes because, apparently, Americans are “crushed by…overregulation and taxes.”

Who, exactly, is overregulated? Is it Wall Street, whose systematic erosion of financial regulations resulted in the largest financial crisis and deepest recession since the Great Depression? Is it Big Oil, whose offshore drilling resulted in the biggest environmental disaster in American history? Is it the health insurance industry, who are making record profits since Congress passed the Affordable Care Act? Is it corporate America, whose profits are at an all-time high? Is it small businesses, whose concern for “government requirements” has shrunk since the 1990s (when, by the way, the economy was booming)?

If you read Trading 8s, you know that blaming taxes is equally ridiculous. As a share of the economy, federal tax revenue is the lowest it’s been since the 1940s. The United States has lower tax revenue, as a share of the economy, than every industrialized country except Australia. The average federal income tax rate for a median-income family of four is the lowest it’s been in over five decades, as is corporate tax revenue. Small businesses are less concerned about taxes than they were in the 1990s (or in 2006, for that matter). Taxes don’t seem to be stopping corporate executives, whose compensation increased 18% in 2010, or nonresidential investment, which has long since returned to its pre-recession growth rate.

Either Jon Huntsman doesn’t know all this, or he doesn’t care. I don’t know which is more dangerous.
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