Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Forbes Making the Right Moves

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Forbes Making the Right Moves

Article excerpt

When Steve Forbes first announced for the presidency, I wrote a dismissive column saying that economic optimism was not enough. I now regret those words.

Watching the debate in Iowa a few weeks ago, I was struck by the fact that Forbes is proving to be an unexpectedly good candidate. When all of the prospective Republican nominees (except Bob Dole, who was absent) were asked, "What part of the federal budget should not be cut?" virtually all of the supposedly conservative Republicans answered with words that would have made Hubert Humphrey swoon: "Social Security."

Forbes was the exception. He said Social Security for current recipients and for those who have made life plans in reliance on the program should not be cut. But, he continued, a more voluntary system should be phased in for younger workers.

That is political courage.

There is far more to Forbes than money. Morry Taylor bought his way into the race as well, but he languishes, deservedly, at the bottom. Forbes, with his Reaganite message of tax cuts, parental choice in education and term limits, is surging to the top.

And so, the chin pullers are asking: Is it really possible that a magazine editor could become president?

It is. A nation that gave 19 percent of its votes to Ross Perot might be even more willing to consider a non-politician who has the nomination of a major political party.

OK, say the doubters, but isn't he too narrowly focused on economic issues? No, the tax rate is a social issue. A $5,000-a-child tax exemption (a feature of the flat tax) is a supremely powerful statement about the role of government and the importance of families. Rather than taxing away your income and then returning it to you in the form of programs, Forbes, like Ronald Reagan before him, believes profoundly that families will make better decisions about how to spend the money themselves.

It's the same with school choice. If the Forbes idea became the law of the land, we would witness an educational renaissance, with small, private schools - many of them religiously inspired - sprouting everywhere. (When Lamar Alexander was secretary of education under George Bush, he thwarted efforts to achieve true choice. …

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