Last week, Super Tuesday saw 11 states go to the polls over who they wanted as the Republican presidential candidate. Here at Nouse business, our analyst Luke Rix-Standing takes an irreverent look at the three candidates who are most likely to gain the Republican nomination.
It's hard to start with anyone other than that Charlie Sheen of US politics, Donald Trump. It's possible I'm doing him a favour - it is widely-accepted that, however scathing the rebuke, the oxygen of publicity always leaves The Donald sitting pretty - but it's now become fashionable for journalists to acknowledge this fact before diving straight in just the same. I'm not only flying in the face of my own moral scruples, but also those of my Editor, who has enacted a one-issue ban on all things Trump after he saturated our last edition. Perhaps I do have one thing in common with Trump's votership; he makes me feel so deliciously rebellious and naughty.
Sadly, one look at 'Trumponomics' and it's difficult to see where his business successes have come from. Setting his stall out early for 'balancing the budgets', Trump claims he will 'cut spending big league' without elaborating on where these cuts might fall. He has occasionally mentioned 'the education budget' and 'the environment agency', but abolishing both in their entirety would wipe out under a fifth of the deficit. Given the vast size of his proposed tax cut, economists estimate he would need either a 21% reduction in public spending or a reliable growth rate of 7% per year to achieve his aims. There are more realistic Michael Bay movies.
On top of this, there are huge financial question marks over many of his other policies. What about the $12 billion Mexican wall which Mexico is *cough* totally going to pay for? How would consumer prices react if Donald does slap the promised 'giant import tariffs' on China, Canada and Mexico? How would the workforce handle the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants? As with most things Trump, no one knows.
Do say: 'Make America great again!' Don't say: 'How?'
We now move on to Iowa's favourite Evangelical: Ted Cruz. An ultra-ultra-Conservative that in any other race would be the protest vote, Cruz has made waves with his proposal for a 10% flat rate income tax and the abolition of the IRS. Critics, and there are a lot of them, claim this will hurt America's poor (many of whom currently pay no income tax), while providing a massive tax break for the mega-rich. His buzzphrase is that he wants 'all Americans to fill out their taxes on a postcard', although without the IRS it is as yet unclear where all these postcards would be going.
Like Trump, he's on the button about 'balancing the budget', but, like Trump, he's made little effort to propose practical ways of doing this. His flat tax would blow a giant hole in government revenue ($11 trillion over ten years, and that's from his own statisticians) so cuts in public spending would have to be vast. His assertions that America has a 'job problem' show a man desperate to justify his own radicalism (2015 actually saw America's highest job growth since 1999). His claim to work for the poor belies a man whose belief in the free market rivals only his faith in the Baptist Church.
A common phrase used by his supporters is that you 'know what you're getting'. The same could be said of the Marquis de Sade.
Do say: 'there are more words in the IRS tax code than there are in the Bible, and not one of them is as good!' Don't say: 'Obamacare'.
Finally, we have Marco Rubio, a man so young and slick that the oil in his hair could probably heat the Florida statehouse for a week. A picture-perfect poster boy for conservative suburbia, complete with ex-cheerleader wife, 4 beautiful children and an upbringing soaked in the American Dream, one can only assume he quietly hosts debauched Eyes-Wide-Shut style orgies to offset the extreme repression of his public image. One look at his smugly attractive college photos, and you instantly envisage a successful football player bullying hordes of freshmen in a frat house basement, while high-fiving his little bros over that MTV event they did on Spring Break. Ok, I admit it. I'm a little jealous.
Sadly, this obsessive perfection hasn't translated to his polling statistics or to his economic policies. As with his competitors, reducing the deficit is his key aim, but once again this contradicts his policy goals. The Rubio tax plan is projected to hit federal revenue by $414 billion p.a. (under half those of Cruz or Trump but still pretty damn big), while one of his flagship motions is to vastly increase the already enormous defence budget. These are patently incompatible; his only targeted cut so far is 'nondefense discretionary spending' (payouts determined by annual budgets rather than legislation; mostly centred on low-income welfare). Even if this were completely scrapped it would still leave Marco firmly in the red.
When Trump savaged him recently for repeating himself on live TV, it was easy to feel sympathy for poor little Marco, but overall beware. He's not nearly as moderate as you think he is.
Do say: 'He's the Republican Barack Obama!' Don't say: the same thing twice. Ever again.
As for Ben Carson and John Kasich, no-one outside Vermont really cares.
Do say: 'I'm still here'. Don't say: 'Why?'