Diary

I prefer Kasich, but urge Wisconsin to vote Cruz

I’ll say two things that I assume won’t be popular here, and one that will be:

(1) I like Kasich, (2) I don’t like Cruz, but (3) I urge Wisconsin voters to vote for Cruz.

Why I like Kasich:

I like Kasich because his experience prepares him exceptionally well for the presidency, he has a good track record, and he seems to have the attitude and the skills to actually get things done that move the federal government and the country in a positive direction. Kasich would bring substantial experience as a congressman (so he knows how Washington works), experience and success as the budget chairman who fought with Gingrich for spending reform and greater fiscal responsibility, experience on the Armed Services Committee (bringing at least some working knowledge of military and national security / foreign policy issues), then worked in the private sector (yes, it was Lehman, but I doubt he had anything to do with that mess), and has since served as an effective, very popular governor (of a key swing state, by the way) with an excellent record in terms of tax cuts, balanced budgets, credit rating, job growth, and policies that seem to have been smart ways to achieve efficiency gains while also helping people.

The only criticism I’ve heard of him (other than from the left) is that he accepted Medicaid money connected to Obamacare. Well, I really don’t know if one can blame a governor for accepting a lot of money for the people of his state when his taxpayers are sending money for that program to Washington, and in any case, even if one considers it a transgression, it hardly seems a disqualifier.

Why I don’t like Cruz:

Eight years ago I told everyone who would listen that, even if one prefers candidate Obama over McCain (and before that, over Hillary Clinton), it is very risky to give the most complex, most important CEO position in our nation and in the world to someone who has zero executive experience, and it is wholly irresponsible to give that job to someone who not only lacks executive experience, but is also a mere freshman senator who cannot even bring with him substantial experience and knowledge of national and international issues and policies as well as deep experience and knowledge of how Washington works. How can I now do a 180 in the case of Cruz? The only argument I can think of is that Cruz is, by all accounts, extraordinarily intelligent, so perhaps has learned much more in a short period of time than would someone who is above average but not at his elite level of intellect, and perhaps he’d learn more quickly how to be an executive. But that’s a stretch as far as making up for actual experience, and I’d also note that there are different kinds of experience: even a brilliant law student and litigating attorney may not be particularly strong (or could be weak) on common sense, emotional intelligence, etc.

My other problem with Cruz is probably what most people here like most about him: his unwillingness to compromise. Actually, my criticism is not just his unwillingness to compromise, but also what he’s unwilling to compromise on. If he had shut down the government to insist on a plan that were actually fiscally responsible — lower taxes combined with specific, sufficient, reliable spending cuts such that long-term projected debt-to-GDP ratios were lowered to responsible levels — I wouldn’t be quite as hard on him, although I would still find it inappropriate to insist on his preferred fiscal policy if there were alternative proposals that existed or could potentially be worked out that would provide similar projected debt-to-GDP ratios and had broader appeal. But Cruz is part of BOTH problems we have in Washington related to fiscal irresponsibility: Neither party is willing (so far) to compromise to reach a grand bargain to steer the nation away from a future fiscal and economic mess/disaster because they don’t want to alienate supporters who are unwilling to compromise, and neither party is even willing to present a plan that would be fiscally responsible even per its own policy preferences (instead, Dems want to spend so much that even higher taxes wouldn’t keep debt-to-GDP under control, and Republicans want to cut taxes so much that even the spending restraint they would bring wouldn’t keep debt-to-GDP under control…except on paper, per unrealistic assumptions of GDP growth).

Cruz was willing to shut down the government over his side’s fiscal policy preference (meaning the levels and composition of spending and taxation, mainly per ideological preference) as opposed to fiscal responsibility vs. irresponsibility in terms of deficits), and was also willing to shock the economy into very deep recession by opposing the increase in the debt limit (and yes, there is no question, there would be a terrible recession if the federal government suddenly stopped all deficit spending). The point being: Cruz is alarmingly irresponsible, and takes positions that serve his political ambition, but about which the best that can be said is that he knows his more responsible colleagues will take the political heat of responsible action (e.g., raising the debt limit) to spare the nation the disaster his ostensible preference would surely bring. If Cruz’s approach works to advance his career, it will be an extremely detrimental example for all other current and future members of Congress as well as presidential candidates, because our nation needs a “grand bargain” on long-term fiscal policy, and every year the politicians on both sides continue posturing just to look good and avoid criticism from their “side”, the sacrifices we’ll eventually need to make in terms of both tax cuts and spending cuts will be more and more severe, and perhaps will hit with one heck of a financial and economic crisis.

Why I urge Wisconsin voters to vote for Cruz:

It says a lot about how unfit I view Trump (see my previous comment about his fundamental lack of fitness for the presidency, and elsewhere I’ve noted his leftist protectionism) for me to say that, despite all I’ve said above about Cruz, the most important thing here is to prevent Trump from being our next president — even if that means Cruz instead — and right now it is paramount that we deny Trump a majority of delegates at the convention. Although I don’t know if there’s any polling on a congressional district level (so I don’t know if Kasich has a better shot than Cruz in some districts), I assume based on statewide polls that votes for Cruz in Wisconsin would better serve the end of stopping Trump than would votes for Kasich.