Advice for Kerry

A problem that the Kerry campaign has been having since becoming the 'presumptive candidate', is that it seemed every time that Kerry opened his mouth, his poll numbers would drop. Conversely, when he sidelined himself for one reason or another, his numbers would rise (when Bush was the only one around making a fool of himself). Combined with the problem of "me-tooism" on the part of Kerry's camp (or, alternatively, Bush's co-opting of Kerry's planned campaign themes with regards to foreign policy), Kerry's camp has been notably bereft of big ideas. Since neither candidate has given the voters much of a reason to vote "for" them, we're left with the uninspiring choice of "I'm not Bush" vs. "I am Bush."

So to rectify the dearth of big ideas, Kerry came out with his latest, greatest idea:

Raise the federal minimum wage to $7/hr.

Predictably, those who know anything about economics[1] have been less than impressed by the proposal, and Reason's Jeff Taylor adds:

With the political landscape denuded of striking policy proposals, Sen. John Kerry last week took the opportunity to call for that proven vote-getter, the $7 minimum wage. Minimum wage. A busted, Progressive-era artifact: the surest sign yet that Kerry has absolutely no idea how to beat President George W. Bush. (emphasis added)

But, being part of the ever-helpful libertarians at Reason, Jeff offers some free advice to Kerry that would not only allow him to outflank Bush on taxes, but simultaneously maintain what little lefty cred he has, and possibly cause Karl Rove to have a heart attack.

That is, by proposing a radical junking of the current tax code (including the hated AMT; a bonus 'no class war' aspect to ward off Rovian attacks) in favor of consumptive-income taxation, exempting all savings as well as getting rid of all corporate welfare (both taxing and spending varieties). With the usual disclaimer[2], clarifying the tax code to make it simpler would certainly yield savings simply in time and effort in complying with taxation. And exempting all savings would certainly lead to a boost in the domestic savings rate (which, ceteris paribus, would lead to lower interest rates without inducing a credit boom.)

Of course, this is as likely to happen as Bush having a 'road to Damascus' epiphany and becoming a committed, Ron Paul-esque minarchist. Which means that, as Jeff Taylor dourly predicts, watch out for an $8/hr minimum wage proposal by Kerry in the fall...


fn1. ...as well as anyone whose reading on the subject of the effects of minimum wage hikes extends beyond Card and Krueger.

fn2. The argument above assumes that the reader is interested in refining the state's taxing policy to make taxation less distortionate and extrortionate, rather than alternatively smashing, obliterating, annihilating, or ignoring the state. It also assumes that the reader has not abjured politics as either a waste of time or that it "just encourages them". If these assumptions do not apply to you, then know now that the post is not addressed to you, and go forth in peace to the next article.

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