By John Stang
Many people I know who like Jon Huntsman find him to be the most reasonable Republican in the race with strong, moderate stances. His 3rd place finish with 17% of the vote in New Hampshire last night will undoubtedly continue this myth. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I wrote a post about Huntsman’s conservative record as Governor of Utah. This morning, Ezra Klein compares Huntsman and Romney’s tax plans:
Huntsman’s tax plan is more radical than Romney’s. It wipes out every deduction and exemption and then uses the savings to cut the tax on capital gains and dividends to zero. That amounts to a massive tax cut for the wealthy — and it comes at the expense of benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, which go to the poorest Americans, and the mortgage-interest tax deduction and the exclusion for employer-based health insurance, which go to many middle-income Americans. Romney’s plan, by contrast, only cuts the rate on capital gains and dividends for those making less than $250,000. The two candidates have mostly the same position on corporate taxation — drop the rate from 35% to 25% — but Huntsman adds a temporary tax holiday for overseas profits.
Similarly, Huntsman’s spending cuts are more radical than Romney’s. Though his entitlement reforms remain vague, he promises they will be “based on the Ryan Plan.” Romney, meanwhile, broke with the Ryan plan to preserve traditional fee-for-service Medicare as an option in his entitlement reforms…
Yes, on a few issues Huntsman does appear to be more moderate than other GOP candidates, he supports civil unions and is not as hawkish on defense. However, the moderate label that Huntsman has received, as has Mitt Romney, masquerades his real positions. It was a narrative that was suitable for the media and acceptable for some liberals. To top it all off, Huntsman presents his ideas in a nice, disarming voice that is less combative than some of the other candidates, giving him the airbrush look of being this GOP moderate. It just takes some investigative work to realize how much, to borrow a phrase, “pious baloney” that really is.