The year 2016 is shaping up to be a great one for Republicans. For the first time in 15 years the party is fielding several candidates who can lead the party and the country into the future. They will define the principles of limited government and economic freedom that are the core of the GOP.
Today the Club for Growth is releasing its first white papers of the current campaign, one for each of the three candidates presently in the race. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio are among the strongest pro-growth members of the U.S. Senate, and in the entire Republican party. This time, GOP voters have not just one but three outstanding options for president — with more potentially on their way in the months ahead.
To be sure, the records of Cruz, Paul, and Rubio are not identical. Cruz has shown extraordinary determination in his opposition to the Obamacare disaster. Paul has written federal budgets that are a blueprint for limited government. Rubio has written a detailed tax-cut and tax-reform proposal that is massively pro-growth.
As pro-growth as the three candidates are, however, none is perfect. Cruz has voted to continue egregious special-interest tax breaks for things like thoroughbred horses and speedways. Paul has expressed troubling misgivings about trade-promotion authority, which is essential for expanding free trade and free enterprise. Rubio has supported indefensible subsidies for the Florida sugar industry.
Each of the three candidates also has a different take on one of the most important economic issues of the campaign: tax reform. Cruz says he wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and replace it with a simple flat tax. Paul has called for cutting taxes for everyone, simplifying the code, and downsizing the IRS, and Rubio has proposed a middle-class-family tax cut that lowers rates and increases child deductions.
The three candidates say a great deal about today’s Republican party. Rubio and Paul were elected to the Senate in 2010, with Cruz joining them two years later. They were not the preferred Senate candidates of the party establishment in Washington or in their states. In fact, all three were strongly opposed by the establishment. All three are products of the grassroots movement toward limited government that swept the country beginning in 2010 and continues to shape it today.
#related#Perhaps most notable is how Senators Cruz, Paul, and Rubio have become vision carriers for the big ideas that will lead the GOP forward. Their place, as very serious candidates for president, says a lot about the dynamism of the conservative movement and the ability of skillful candidates with compelling personal stories and strong philosophical principles to overcome the political and financial barriers that traditional party leaders often throw in their way.
Their candidacies also say much about what could become the path of the GOP on fiscal policies going forward, and that’s very exciting from an economic-growth perspective.
In the 2000s, when Republicans controlled the White House and Congress, entitlements and discretionary spending exploded, as did outrageously wasteful earmarks. In the Obama era, Republican resistance to the hyper-expansion of the federal government has, at times, flagged, and even more often failed.
Under the leadership of a presidential nominee, not to mention a president, like Cruz, Paul, or Rubio, anything other than a full-scale move in a more pro-growth, limited-government direction would be hard to imagine. It has been a very long time since the same could be said about previous GOP presidential fields.
The presidential race will take numerous twists and turns in the months ahead. The Club for Growth is not making any endorsement today, and we will have much to say about other candidates once they join the field. But one thing is clear: The first three to throw their hats into the ring offer unusually inspiring options for voters, and that’s something to celebrate.