Now that Ted Cruz seems to have a slim chance of winning the Republican Party presidential nomination, a couple of British commentators have said that he seems even worse than Trump. I do not care for his positions on gay marriage or abortion, and his immigration policy is absolutely terrible, but on many other issues he is actually rather good. It’s often the case that there is a bigger difference between policy wonks and politicians than there is within within those professions, even across ideological divides. On a surprising number of issues, Ted Cruz appears to have sided with the wonks:
- He opposes ethanol subsidies, and still won Iowa, where corn is king. In doing so he may have broken a path for future presidential candidates to drop their support for this piece of corporate welfare.
- He (correctly) blames tight money for the Great Recession, not greedy bankers or loans to poor people. He once flirted with a gold standard, but it looks like he's gotten over that, fortunately. (Update: Perhaps not. Darn.)
- He wants a broad-based VAT to replace payroll and capital taxes, which according to the Tax Foundation would lead to a 13.9 percent higher GDP over the long term, a 43.9 percent larger capital stock, 12.2 percent higher wages, and 4.8 million more full-time equivalent jobs. VATs are relatively efficient taxes, and shifting taxation to them from capital taxes is agreed by most economists to be a good idea.
- He wants to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, a cash transfer to the working poor, by 20 percent.
- He has introduced a bill in the US Senate that would allow for drugs and medical instruments approved by other developed countries to be used in the US, bypassing the expensive and time-consuming FDA approvals process.
- He supports states’ rights to legalise marijuana.
- He attacked other Republicans who demanded more mass surveillance of American citizens after the San Bernardinho massacre.
Like all politicians he is a mixed bag, but many of these are truly smart policies that most politicians wouldn't touch with a ten-foot bargepole. My opinion is of course irrelevant, but if he would soften his crazy immigration restrictionism I think he would be the outstanding candidate to policy wonks.