The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

An unimportant president

Photo of Theo Caldwell
Theo Caldwell
Investor and Broadcaster

Rick Perry wants to be unimportant. The Texas governor has famously promised that, if he is elected president of the United States, he will “work hard every day to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as [he] can.” In Austin recently, he gave a few of us some details as to how that shakes out.

Freedom is the watchword of the unimportant president. Perry relates how, in a recent visit to Gaffney, South Carolina, a woman who runs a small business asked him to say something that would give her hope. Perry replied that he would “take the boot of regulation and taxation off her neck.” The woman was moved to visible emotion.

The pledge resonates in a country where all but the ideologically blinded recognize that government micromanagement, overspending and confiscatory taxation stand in the way of economic growth. And it is getting worse — as Pete du Pont notes in The Wall Street Journal, 369 new federal business regulations came into effect in July alone.

But would any politician spend the time and money required to get himself elected to the most powerful office in the world, only to turn around and dismantle its influence? Candidates of both parties make such promises, but would Perry actually deliver? An unimportant president would certainly be a step up from what America has now — a self-important president. Everything you do is some of his business. And this compulsion to control your life, coupled with his preening self-regard, makes America’s current leader ridiculous.

To be clear, it is ridiculous that Barack Obama is president of the United States. And as Perry’s prospects and those of his Republican rivals are contemplated, it is worth noting that just about anyone would be a better fit for the job.

That’s right — anyone. Wherever you find yourself reading this column, take a quick look to your left and right. Now, a case can be made that whomever you might have seen would make a better president than Barack Obama. If you are on the New York subway, for example, even that crazy shirtless guy, coming at you while giving you the finger with both hands, might be a better bet to lead America than its 44th commander in chief. Or, if you are reading in some bucolic meadow and there are no other humans about, that tree stump or rabid gopher you spied would be a superior choice to occupy the Oval Office.

If nothing else, while the gopher was posing for its presidential portrait, America would save a trillion wasted “stimulus” dollars and purchasing health insurance would remain a matter of personal choice, rather than a government diktat.

But back to Perry. If we take the repeal of Obamacare as read, inasmuch as all Republican candidates will promise this, how else might he achieve his desired state of inconsequence? Reducing the comprehensiveness and complexity by which Washington collects taxes from its citizens is an excellent way to start. Perry is quick to volunteer that he favors the repeal of the worldwide reporting requirement, and resultant double taxation, for U.S. companies doing business internationally, noting that this move could see as much as $4 trillion repatriated to the American economy.

  • Alanaronald

    Although I’m not as hard on “The One” as is Mr. Caldwell, I appreciate that he continues to point to the fact that the Emperor is, in fact, if not naked, than not quite as well dressed as he would have us believe. 

    Obama has many recommendable points, but he was not, as Mr. Caldwell says so very well, quite qualified to assume the hefty position he now occupies.  But that’s the point: he’s a rock star, a “phenom”, an ambitious, idealistic guy with a modest degree of experience as a labour negotiator who was the right colour blend, talked the talk, surrounded himself with a clever team of supporters and promoters, and grabbed the imagination of that part of a nation notorious for idolizing a “flavour of the month”.  As a proud Canadian, I know and have benefited from socialized medicine, without seeing that my country destroyed as is predicted from some of the fear mongers to the south. 

    To be fair, I have a soft spot for what I interpret as some rather naive good will of the American president, while still believing he wasn’t qualified to handle the job.  I admire much about him, including the fact that I see him as a sincere family guy, someone who seems to desire peace, while being hard nosed enough  deploy a team to take down Bin Laden.  I disagree with his handling of the Mideast, where is inexperience, (to be charitable), shows him entirely out of his depth, and I don’t entirely trust his attitude towards Israel.  Has he been completely candid about his real views?  I wonder.

    In any case, the essential point of this article is well taken.  We need someone at the helm of one of the most powerful and influential countries of the world who is a heavy hittter, someone equally at home taking care of national and international business, and someone who is absolutely respected, if not feared, around the world, who will make the economic recovery Job 1, while helping to restore confidence in a nation hard hit on so very many fronts. 

  • El Bobbo

    Theo, couldn’t agree more about 0-bama and Perry.

  • Newly Minted

    If you want an inconsequential Washington, we need a new conservative Congress.  The president can’t do it. 

    We need to primary out Orin Hatch, McConnell, Corker, Lugar, etc.  We need more like DeMint.  The same for the house.

    We need representatives who can imagine that Federal Triangle will be turned into a new luxury set of condos. 

  • Jayhill1947

    I am on board with Perry – an unimportant President is just fine with me.  And tell Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC that his stateroom on the Obama-Titanic is ready and will be departing in Jan 2013!!

    • Seanmeister007

      And tell that faux conservative whiner Joe Scarborough that he might as well jump on that Obama Titanic with O’donnell

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes nothing is a real cool hand.

  • Gridmark

    While something is said about less regulation and taxation, it is not what I am experiencing in a small town in the Midwest. You cannot have a small business if the factories are closed in a community. You need employed clientele to visit your business. No one is talking about globalization and the loss of 57,000 factories or 6 million jobs lost in a decade. It is 2 billion cheap laborers, automation and the loss of jobs, lean principles and the loss of jobs, and mergers and consolidation and the loss of jobs. After years of tax cuts, which was borrowed and spent money, today, we are being told now it is the corporate tax rate. We wasted all these years on an ideology of trickle down and being told we did not need manufacturing. Perry, Bachmann, Palin, and the rest of the bunch have proven nothing. They are just as big government, as ideological, and as theocratical as Bush was and worse. Again, I am looking at closed factories and I just wonder when someone is going to speak about that and the middle class. You can talk about taxes and regulation forever, but that still ignores the 2 billion cheap laborers who want jobs out there. No, I want an important president who shows leadership. We don’t want more of the same of tax cuts and laissez-faire. Take the lead and tell us how we are going to have economic growth when we lost so many jobs over the years. Just what widget will be made in our country and not some other country. No one has proven anything. Yeah, you can create jobs, just don’t pay any taxes, have no regulation, and pay a dollar an hour. In the process you will ruin the middle class and the ideology will fail. We have been on tax cuts and pumping money for years, but if you are sending jobs overseas, you cannot have a recovery. 

    • Dee_Mac

      Gridmark, I give you kudos for message consistency. It’s just that it’s wrong. There are lots of businesses and lots of ideas that could be unleashed on the marketplace if the gov’t gets out of the way and clears out the regulations that impede business, reduce tax rates, and quit giving our money away to other countries and entitlements in America. I’m also a Midwesterner and I’ve seen the devestation of job losses when companies close, but I also know that taxing those who remain working and re-distributing does not work. Companies don’t want to pay a dollar an hour – the free market system is so ingenious that it wants to reward good behavior with high wages, benefits, bonuses, and treating its people at a higher standard. That’s what competition does. But it can’t when the big gov’t system interferes. I’m not saying gov’t doesn’t have a role, it’s just that it has become the central point before a company in the US can do anything, and getting through the bureaucracy is complicated and costly.

      A company in a free market system will do the right thing based on supply and demand without a union or the gov’t telling them how to do that. Besides, if a person is willing to work for a dollar an hour, who are you to deny them that opportunity? Sure, we’d all rather make more, but if that’s the amount your job skill is worth to an employer, then you need to be re-trained for a higher-paying job if you want to make more. Don’t make an employer pay more if you don’t have the skill. Last, your rebuke of automation shows a complete lack of economic understanding.

      If you had a choice between making money and being able to keep most of it, or making money and having over one-third taken off the top without any return on investment, which option would you choose?

      • Gridmark

        The fact remains that the ignorance keeps going on in the free markets. You have to add 2 billion cheap laborers, automation, lean principles, and mergers and consolidation the likes we have not seen in our lifetimes. There is nothing going to fill in or replace the factories that I see that are closed. Yes, companies will do the right thing in time, that may take 20 years.  I have been waiting since at least 2004 when Bush came through my state and said “free trade is good” and we lost the jobs. Bush pulled a “guns and butter” economics and that by itself has ruined the economy for some 10 to 20 years. The tax cuts was borrowed and spent, it was a wasted trillion dollars while ignoring the problems and globalization. We have to deal with all those problems that piled up and it will take time. Also, the housing market is in a slump and that will take years to get out of, and that would normally be millions of jobs. But the end result is that we closed some 57,000 factories and gave away 6 million jobs. And like, cutting off your right arm, you don’t get that back again.

        Whatever happens in this world, China is the big guy, and with their enormous numbers, will dictate how free markets work. Their sheer numbers will and is dictating our wages and jobs. There are only so many products and services to be made, and even new areas of employment requires less people.

        I am not against the free market, what I am saying is that 2 billion cheap laborers are dictating the free market. While we should have low taxes as you say and we should cut spending, that is not what we done and we are now behind the eight ball. Bush wasted his time on his ideologies of trickle down, but that only goes so far if you don’t fix the problems. Likewise, we spent money defending the world and neglect our infrastructure, and we watched our jobs go overseas. Yes, they don’t call the oughts the lost decade for nothing. We watched it and no one did anything about it. We lost all our stimulus as the tax cuts was overused and also the fed printing money. 

        Again, free markets are fine, but you have to make them work. Ignoring the problems has put us into this situation. You have competition and it can be a good thing, but it does not work when you lose the jobs and classification of jobs and when you have cheap labor and automation going against the middle class. We lost that upward movement. Again, Bush had his roaring 20′s and now we face a possible recession or depression. 

        You say “a company will do the right thing” but what they are doing is going to Mexico and China for cheap labor. Now, some regulation is good and some are not so good. Of course, you can go with labor laws in China and maybe you will see an increase of suicides. But it all about the dollar, I know. And fine, it is just we gave up our jobs and there are no jobs to go to. 

        And so, a dollar an hour is okay for you after years of uplifting the middle class we should go backwords. Some system we have. Still waiting for that trickle down. 

  • Mr Sugarland

    Best article I’ve read in weeks.  Well done.

  • Common Sense Revolutionary

    This is a great article.  Caldwell does an excellent job breaking this down and articulating it for the reader.  Campaigns on quiet pragmatism have always been a hard sell.  They tend to lack the drama and excitement of the snake-oil sales pitches so characteristic of campaigns by the Dems and many of those Republican banner-surfers who had co-opted the party for so long.

    Let’s hope that what Caldwell is heralding is a return to the Common Sense Revolution.  It’s time America leads herself and the rest of the free world out of the suicidal spending that Obama has led us all into.  Thus far Perry seems to be the only man for the job.  Keep us posted, Theo.

    • 16th amendment

      For the record, Bush also got us into “suicidal spending”.  Remember, he increased federal education spending over 50%, got us medicare part D, increased food stamps.

      I don’t see how you can say Perry seems to be “the only main for the job”.

      • Common Sense Revolutionary

        For the record, I speak to those habits in the mainstreams of each party.

        How can I suggest Perry is the only man for the job?  Easily, he’s the best combination of economic commone sense and electability so far.  That could change though, another reason I hope Theo keeps us posted.  If Paul (or anyone willing to take the debt crisis seriously) is as electable as Perry this time next week, I’d like to know that too.

  • 16th amendment

    > it is worth noting that just about anyone [other than Obama] would be a better fit for the job.Definitely not true.  Sanders senator of Vermont, Ed Shultz of MSNBC, Dodd Frank, etc would clearly be worse.

    You point out about the worldwide reporting requirement.  Basically you calculate the tax you owe to the US on that income, subtract out the amount of tax you paid on this income to the foreign country, and the result, if any, is how much tax you owe to the US.  You do get a tax credit on your foreign salary up to about $90,000 (meaning you don’t have to include it in your income).  The calculations happen on form 1116 and 2555 and are pretty complicated.

    When Obamacare goes into effect, you will have to pay a new medicare tax on salary income (0.9%) and investment income (3.8%) above $200,000 if single and $250,000 if married.  Talk about marriage penalty!  Furthermore, if you live outside the US, you get none of the benefits of Obamacare.

    And don’t forget the expatriation tax, which was signed by Bush in 2008.  If your net worth is over $2 million, or you paid like over $140,000 per year in tax in the previous few years, then you have to pay tax when you renounce your US citizenship.

    I hope Perry, Bachman, or whoever becomes the next president deliver on the promise of lowering taxes and cutting spending.

  • 16th amendment

    > it is worth noting that just about anyone [other than Obama] would be a better fit for the job.Definitely not true.  Sanders senator of Vermont, Ed Shultz of MSNBC, Dodd Frank, etc would clearly be worse.

    You point out about the worldwide reporting requirement.  Basically you calculate the tax you owe to the US on that income, subtract out the amount of tax you paid on this income to the foreign country, and the result, if any, is how much tax you owe to the US.  You do get a tax credit on your foreign salary up to about $90,000 (meaning you don’t have to include it in your income).  The calculations happen on form 1116 and 2555 and are pretty complicated.

    When Obamacare goes into effect, you will have to pay a new medicare tax on salary income (0.9%) and investment income (3.8%) above $200,000 if single and $250,000 if married.  Talk about marriage penalty!  Furthermore, if you live outside the US, you get none of the benefits of Obamacare.

    And don’t forget the expatriation tax, which was signed by Bush in 2008.  If your net worth is over $2 million, or you paid like over $140,000 per year in tax in the previous few years, then you have to pay tax when you renounce your US citizenship.

    I hope Perry, Bachman, or whoever becomes the next president deliver on the promise of lowering taxes and cutting spending.