Check this out: The Club for Growth announced yesterday that beginning today, it would be airing ads showing “Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean’s abysmal record on taxes.” “Handing over the economy to Howard Dean,” says Stephen Moore, “would give him a license to pick our pockets.” The ads, which will run in Des Moines, Iowa and Manchester, New Hampshire, are budgeted at $100,000. (Watch the ad: RealVideo | Windows Media)
They sure don’t like Howard Dean.
Wait a minute — didn’t Howard Dean speak to the Cato Institute several years ago? Sure enough — as this article points out, he sure did:
Dean charmed nearly everyone in the boardroom. He came across as erudite, policy savvy, and, believe it or not, a friend of free markets—at least by the standards of the Tom Daschle-Dick Gephardt axis of the Democratic party. Even when challenged on issues like environmentalism, where he favored a large centralized mass of intrusive regulations, Dean remained affable.
“You folks at Cato,” he told us, “should really like my views because I’m economically conservative and socially laissez-faire.” Then he continued: “Believe me, I’m no big-government liberal. I believe in balanced budgets, markets, and deregulation. Look at my record in Vermont.” He was scathing in his indictment of the “hyper-enthusiasm for taxes” among Democrats in Washington.
He left—and I will never forget the nearly hypnotic reaction. The charismatic doctor had made believers of several hardened cynics. Nearly everyone agreed that we had finally found a Democrat we could work with. Since then, I’ve watched Dean’s career with more than a little interest and we chat from time to time on the phone.
The writer ended his article by concluding, “Howard Dean could be George W. Bush’s worst nightmare.” Who wrote about this hypnotic Democrat who could give the Republicans nightmares? None other than Stephen Moore, president of The Club for Growth.
In fact, in a 1998 Cato report co-authored by Moore, titled A Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors, you see Howard Dean getting a B, higher than Republicans Pete Wilson, Terry Branstad, Arne Carlson, Marc Racicot, Jim Edgar, and George Voinovich. (To be fair, Dean scored better than a score of Democrats, too.) From the report: “The governors tied with the best budget restraint record were Weld (Massachusetts), Engler (Michigan), and Dean (Vermont).”
But actually admitting that this debate isn’t just about taxes wouldn’t be sporting, would it? Much easier to take this goofy ad and throw up a few pictures of past losers (Mondale, Dukakis), scream TAXES in all caps, and ask sarcastically at the end of the ad “Will Howard Dean ever learn?”
It’s clear that Moore is capable of taking principled arguments on taxes and applying them to both parties; he’s a fan of low taxes and is suspicious of any liberal-leaning policies that rely on tax revenue.
Fair enough. But there’s a big difference between principled arguments and carrying the water for the party who’s showing increasing signs of realizing a nightmare’s a comin’…