After reading the text of DeSantis’ “Declaration of Economic Independence,” the obvious takeaway is that if elected, DeSantis would focus on taking back control of the economy from China, incentivizing investment and growth, unleashing American energy independence, and opposing environmental and social governance standards. He also wants to restore merit and respect for individuals, reform the education system, secure the border, and enforce our laws while reining in the Federal Reserve. As if that weren’t enough, he’s also going to hold bad economic actors responsible and fight against reckless federal spending. Oh, and in Trumpian fashion, as president, DeSantis will aim to prioritize American interests and protect American workers and businesses. Hmm… All right, that sounds fine for the most part. I could do without leaning in on protectionism that borders on the bellicose.
And as much as I hate to agree with my old pal Larry Kudlow, who is basically a pom-pom boy for Trump (he moonlights as an adviser to an organization that exists primarily to staff a future Trump administration, something that I believe he should disclose whenever DeSantis is the topic on his daily Fox News program); nevertheless, I too had a less than enthusiastic reaction to the Governor’s economic speech. And it’s not hard to impress me, or Kudlow, for that matter. All you need to do is mention lowering tax rates more than once.
The DeSantis speech, to put it simply, lacked urgency. It is a laundry list of things one might include if they had to write a third-year term paper for an Economics class at UCLA. Too academic, even bordering on polemic. It lacked a sense of the big, the vital: “We can’t grow, we won’t grow, we’ll never grow without my vision or plan!” It misses the sense that “ONLY I am offering the following!”
The roughly 1400-word preamble to his roughly 1200-word “Declaration of Economic Independence,” which was intended to set the table for the speech’s nitty-gritty, was essentially an expression of his already well-known views and concerns about the decline of America. It highlighted the struggles faced by American families due to high prices, weak economic growth, and rising national debt. He called for an economic policy that prioritizes affordability for working families while challenging the influence of the ruling class. It criticized the reliance on Wall Street and big corporations and the negative impact of China’s economic dominance. It also addressed issues such as the decline of the American Dream, the effects of mass illegal immigration, the problems with the education system, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a good speech for a Republican to deliver to a National Governor’s Association meeting. But it was unworthy of a transformational American political figure looking for a role to play on the world stage.
On the extremely important subject of tax policy, DeSantis gets close but no cigar. For example, he says he aims to achieve three percent economic growth by implementing several strategies. Great! Tell us about it.
First, he wants to incentivize investment through tax and regulatory reforms to support American production and increase productivity. Oh yeah, and he wants to assist families, workers, and small businesses. Additionally, he intends to reverse President Biden’s regulations and executive orders that hinder job creation. What Republican doesn’t? Or wouldn’t? Furthermore, he aims to eliminate the fourth branch of government and put an end to extreme ideological attempts to regulate the American economy. Terrific, but we’ve sort of already heard that from him.
He also plans to simplify the tax code. Outstanding! Now we’re talking. But how exactly? He said he’s also going to extend individual tax rates and make them permanent. What does that mean? Is he talking about making the Trump tax cuts permanent? I’m all for that too. But wait, extend individual tax rates? Why not collapse the seven individual tax rates into a single, flatter, lower, and fairer tax rate?
Moreover, he seeks to create a more competitive tax system that encourages long-term domestic investment and eliminates loopholes. Yeah, of course, but how do we make a tax system with seven individual rates more competitive? Will that allow us to eliminate the four-million-word, eleven-thousand-page abomination that is the U.S. tax code? I don’t know; I love the guy, but color this bleeding-heart Jack Kemp conservative skeptical.
I am a strong supporter of the Florida Governor. I want him to win this primary. I think he would make an outstanding president and fantastic leader of the free world. He’s smart and bold and has demonstrated almost unparalleled leadership for America over the past three and a half years. Unfortunately, as far as his economic speech this week, while DeSantis’ “Declaration of Economic Independence” addresses various issues worth addressing, including incentivizing investment and growth, which needs to be done, it lacks boldness on the issue of tax policy and urgency overall. And it definitely fell short of showcasing a transformative vision for America.
Frankly, and I don’t say this with any glee, It leads me to wonder who is advising him on economic issues. Because whoever that individual or group of individuals is, the Governor can and must do better. A lot better.