Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Is Ted Cruz Unelectable?

I have had many react with revulsion to Ted Cruz's win in the Iowa caucuses and the man in general.  Cruz is proving to be precisely the type of lying sleaze bag that goes hand in hand with those who constantly profess their religiosity as demonstrated by the directive sent out to his minions to spread the lie before the caucus voting began that Ben Carson would be dropping out of the presidential race.  The good news about Cruz is this: more than 2/3 of Republicans did not support him.  Better yet, as a piece in Vox lays out, he is likely un-electable - he's sort of a national level Ken Cuccinelli who is loved by the foulest elements of the GOP base and viewed with horror by everyone else.  Here are highlights from Vox:
The Republican Party establishment has a bad case of Trump-Induced Terror these days, but there's an even more plausible candidate in the race who's running on an even more unelectable agenda.  May I introduce to you Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

People know that Cruz is extreme. But few people fully recognize exactly how unpopular the Cruz policy agenda is likely to be once it is exposed to the light of day.

In an era when no politician of either party wants to cut retirement benefits for current seniors or raise taxes on the middle class, Cruz has quietly stumbled into proposing a gigantic tax increase on middle-class retirees. The media hasn't noticed yet, and liberal groups don't seem all that eager to point it out — perhaps because they're hoping to save their ammunition until after Cruz is actually the nominee. Cruz's appeal is rooted in his deep understanding of the GOP base and sophisticated grasp of the modern media landscape. But he's never run in a meaningfully contested general election of any kind, and trying to do so on an anti–middle class, anti-elderly policy agenda is extraordinarily unlikely to succeed.

If you're not paying close attention, Cruz's tax plan can just look like a more extreme version of every other Republican tax plan — a big, budget-busting tax cut for the wealthy. But in reality, it contains an idea so obviously politically toxic that his entire agenda for selling it seems to be to obscure the fact that he's proposing it.

But let's be clear: Cruz is calling for a 19 percent federal sales tax that would apply to all purchases of goods and services made in the United States. This is possibly the single least voter-friendly idea one could imagine.

His "business flat tax" is a sales tax, not a corporate income. And it's a 19 percent sales tax, not a 16 percent one.

Replacing large swaths of the existing tax code with a high national sales tax is so politically ridiculous that most people are probably completely unaware of the argument for doing it.

To liberals, this is a terrible idea, because it means that the lion's share of the benefits of Cruz's plan would flow to the small number of people rich enough to be deriving a significant share of their income from investments. Ten percent of the population owns almost 85 percent of the financial assets in the United States, while the bottom 75 percent of the population owns less than 4 percent.

Cruz's sales tax would, on its own, be a devastating blow to the finances of poor and middle-class Americans. But Cruz largely neutralized that by eliminating payroll taxes and endorsing a significant boost to the earned income tax credit.

The downside is this will leave a $3.7 trillion hole in the federal budget over 10 years.

But the true political disaster of the Cruz plan is its impact on the elderly. Retired people, by definition, don't work. They are not paying payroll tax, and they will not gain any money from an increase in the EITC.

On average, the elderly pay less than 9 percent of their income in taxes, and they spend more than 100 percent of their after-tax income. Cruz's proposed 19 percent tax on that consumption would hammer this group, especially its lower-income members. No politician in American history has ever been so crazy as to propose a 19 percent cut in Social Security benefits, but Cruz's tax plan would have an even more adverse impact on retirees' living standards.
[G]iven the modern-day Republican Party's reliance on the elderly vote, it's a total disaster. Cruz deserves kudos, to an extent, for following his ideological commitments where they lead him regardless of the political implications. But it's a completely unworkable electoral strategy.

Trump as nominee would certainly be a risky (and probably disastrous) leap into the unknown. But Cruz as nominee would be a leap into something we've actually seen quite clearly before in 1964 and 1972 — a factional candidacy by a senator from the fringe of his own party caucus who gets drubbed on Election Day.   

Read the entire piece.

No comments: