More on Baby Bucks

Richard Stengel proposed the idea in a Time magazine article a few weeks ago:

Every time an American baby is born, the Federal Government would invest $5,000 in that child’s name in a 529-type fund – the kind many Americans are already using for college savings. At a rate of return of 7% – the historic return for equities – that money would total roughly $19,000 by the time that baby reaches age 20. That money could be accessed between the ages of 18 and 25 on one condition: that he or she commits to at least one year of national or military service. Like the old GI Bill, the money must be used to fund education, start a business or make a down payment on a home. The bond would preserve the voluntary nature of the service but offer a strong incentive for young people to sign up for it. Says City Year CEO and co-founder Michael Brown: “It’s a new kind of government philosophy about reciprocity. If you invest in your country, your country will invest in you.”

In her speech today, Clinton didn’t mention whether she would impose a national service requirement.

McCain Blogger Call

Speaking to bloggers moments ago, John McCain called for tough action against Burma (which he said he refuses to call Myanmar).

“It’s time for firm, decisive, effective action against these thugs that are running that country,” McCain said. By firm action, he meant increased economic sanctions, and pushing China and other Asian countries to put more pressure on Burma.

He also said that the testimony of Gen. Petraeus helped make sure that wavering Republicans would continue to support the war, and it took some of the fight out of the Democrats.

I asked him what he thought about Hillary’s baby bucks proposal. “I’d be very interested to know how she’d pay for that,” McCain said. “Is that an increase in taxes or she anticipates a revenue windfall? In all due respect, I think it’s a worthy cause, I’d like to give everyone, every baby born, $100,000. I just want to know how to pay for it.”

Re: Hillary

Jennifer, I don’t disagree that it’s important to acknowledge that she’ll be difficult to beat. However, that’s been established already, and I think that the balance has tilted too far in the opposite direction. Conservatives find it necessary to keep bending over backwards to point out how skilled she looks every chance they get. Much of the criticism of HillaryCare, for instance, was blunted by all of the qualifying statements about how much she’s learned since 1993. Yes, conservatives shouldn’t assume that Hillary will be easy to beat, but enough is enough. It’s time to focus on the damage she would do to this country.

Hillary’s Baby Bucks

I just got back from Hillary Clinton’s panderfest at the the Congressional Black Caucus’s Annual Legislative Conference. She took questions from audience members on topics such as voter suppression, economic justice, and “environmental racism” (i.e. when environmental policies disproportionately harm blacks).

But the most alarming point was when she said, “I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time so that when that young person turns 18, if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college, or maybe they will be able to put a down payment on their first home, or go into business.”

She later referred to the proposal as “baby bonds.”

This would represent a startling expansion of the role of government, not only in terms of the cost in dollars, but in the way it would literally instill dependency on the state in every American from the moment of birth.

Then later, when criticizing the idea of Social Security private accounts, she said, “Investing your future in the stock market is not a great return for everybody at every point in history.” This statement not only reveals her contempt for the capitalist system, but it is utterly inaccurate.

These numbers need updating, but this basic idea that I conveyed in an article I wrote during the Social Security debate still holds:

Critics cite the U.S. stock market’s performance in the early part of this decade as evidence of the risks associated with personal accounts. It is true that if you invested in the broader market five years ago, before the Internet bubble burst and corporate scandals shook Wall Street, you would have lost money. That is why it would be less advisable for a 60-year-old to be heavily concentrated in stocks.

But over, say, a 40-year time frame, short-term market fluctuations are rendered irrelevant. Since 1965, the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index has enjoyed average annual returns, including dividends, of nearly 12 percent. And this is a 40-year period that included Vietnam, Watergate, two oil crises, two wars in Iraq, the Sept. 11 attacks, five recessions and seven bear markets.

Investing in private enterprise is not some risky Republican scheme, it’s the American way.

Let me just say that I’ve officially reached my breaking point with conservative commentators fawning over Hillary Clinton for how polished she is, how great she is doing in the debates, and how formidable of a candidate she will be. While it’s important to acknowledge her political skills, I think at this stage conservatives need to be focusing on her draconian measures to augment the size of the state to the point at which it is involved in every aspect of our lives, from birth to death.

UPDATE: I did some quick math. There were 4,115,590 births in 2004, according to the most recent data I could find from the National Center for Health Statistics. If Hillary were to give each of those babies $5,000, it would represent $20.6 billion in new annual spending. To put that in perspective, that is nearly equivelent to to the budget of the entire Department of Justice, which was $23.4 billion in 2006.

Re: Iowa

Marc Ambinder reports on the likely primary calendar scenario:

Jan. 5: Iowa caucuses (both parties)

Jan. 8: New Hampshire primary (both parties)

Jan. 12: Nevada caucuses (both parties)

Jan. 15 Michigan GOP primary; Dem beauty contest

Jan. 19: South Carolina primary (both parties)

Jan. 29: Florida GOP primary; Dem beauty contest

That puts Iowa on a Saturday and New Hampshire the following Tuesday. With just a few days seperating Iowa and NH, one could argue either that it makes a win in Iowa even more important, or that it gets deemphasized. I won’t hazard a guess.

Newt Watch

Matt Lewis interviews Newt Gingrich, who says he will decide whether or not to run by October 21. The catch? He will run if he can raise $30 million in three weeks. Given that Obama rocked the world when he raised $32.5 million in the entire second quarter, this possibility seems about as likely as Ron Paul endorsing Giuliani.

While Gingrich was sure to avoid taking specific shots at the other candidates, if you read between the lines, he clearly seemed less than enthused about Fred Thompson. Newt said of the GOP field “some of them thought they would announce on Leno and Letterman,” while he would announce in a one hour speech on C-Span. Also, asked specifically about how Thompson has performed, Gingrich shifted into saying that people kept coming up to him in Mackinac urging him to run.

Rudy Campaign Responds to Club for Growth

Yesterday, I posted a letter Pat Toomey wrote to Rudy Giuliani asking him to clarify an AP story suggesting that Giuliani was not ruling out tax increases as part of a compromise on Social Security. Today, the Giuliani campaign cleverly let Steve Forbes  respond on behalf of Rudy. The  bottom line is that  Rudy would rule out tax increases.

Here's the full response:

Dear Pat,

Thank you for all of your work on behalf of American taxpayers. The Club and its members are truly fiscal champions, and with your help I hope we can continue to cut taxes and rein in wasteful Washington spending by electing Rudy Giuliani as our next president.

The actual transcript of The Associated Press interview makes it abundantly clear that Rudy Giuliani opposes all tax hikes, a point he made not once but twice. When asked by the reporter about Social Security, Rudy correctly said that this issue has been used as “a political football in the past” and proposed a bipartisan effort to make sure Social Security is there for retirees and for future generations. But when the reporter asked whether he was open to tax increases as part of the solution, Rudy said, “I am opposed to tax increases.” The reporter pressed again, asking “In terms of Social Security or across the board?” Rudy replied again, “I am opposed to tax increases.” Based on the Mayor’s record as a tax cutter and fiscal conservative — unparalleled in the Republican presidential field — we should not find this position unusual. He opposes tax increases and believes they are not the solution. There are many ways to say it, but it’s clear Rudy ruled out tax increases.

Specifically, Rudy’s record makes it clear that he is a supply-sider. He cut taxes 23 times — working with a Democratic City Council — while turning an inherited $2.3 billion dollar deficit into a multi-billion dollar surplus. This in turn spurred the private sector to create 423,000 new jobs, and helped cut the local unemployment rate in half by bringing businesses back to the center of New York City. And as the Club for Growth itself correctly assessed: “Overall, Giuliani’s record displays an intuitive appreciation for the vital role tax cuts play in growing the economy, as well as a deep-seated aversion to tax increases.”

Second, Rudy has consistently called for future tax cuts on the campaign trail — not just keeping the Bush Tax Cuts in place to stop the Democrats from imposing a $3 trillion tax increase on the American people — but additional tax relief, including reducing the corporate tax rate to keep America competitive in the global economy and giving the death tax the death penalty. That’s why one of his 12 Commitments to the American people is to “cut taxes and reform the tax code.”

Rudy was consistent in his opposition to tax hikes in the face of fiscal crisis as Mayor of New York, and he will be consistent in opposing tax hikes as President of the United States.

Sincerely,

Steve Forbes

National Campaign Co-Chair and Senior Policy Advisor

Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee

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McCain Goes on the Air

The McCain campaign has launched its first TV ads in New Hampshire, called “Live Free” and “One Man” (click on links for video). The two ads do a good job of emphasizing McCain’s greatest strengths–his courage, heroism, experience and fighting spirit. They are filled with clips and images from his time as a POW and meeting with Ronald Reagan. Also interesting is the “one man” ad included the line “one man opposed a flawed strategy in Iraq.” Clearly, McCain is counting on his record of criticizing Rumsfeld and calling for a change in strategy for years, to sway independents who propelled him to victory in the Granite State in 2000, but who may be turned off by his current support for the Iraq War.

Hillary’s Flip-Flops on Torture

The NY Daily News reports:

HANOVER, N.H. – Sen. Hillary Clinton scored with a Democratic audience last night by contradicting her husband’s belief that a terrorist could be tortured to foil an imminent plot – but what observers didn’t know is she was contradicting herself, too.

“It cannot be American policy, period,” Clinton (D-N.Y.) told debate moderator Tim Russert, who asked if there should be a presidential exemption to allow the torture of a terror chieftain if authorities knew a bomb was about to go off, but didn’t know where it was.

When Russert revealed ex-President Bill Clinton advocated such a policy on a recent NBC “Meet the Press” appearance, Hillary Clinton won huge applause from the Dartmouth College audience with a deadpan comeback:

“Well, I’ll talk to him later.”

She may have to give herself that talk, too.

Last October, Clinton told the Daily News: “If we’re going to bepreparing for the kind of improbable but possible eventuality, then it has to be done within the rule of law.”

She said then the “ticking time bomb” scenario represents a narrow exception to her opposition to torture as morally wrong, ineffective and dangerous to American soldiers.

“In the event we were ever confronted with having to interrogate a detainee with knowledge of an imminent threat to millions of Americans, then the decision to depart from standard international practices must be made by the President, and the President must be held accountable,” she said.