If you told someone that a former presidential candidate just spent the last three days headlining events in Davenport, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Des Moines, they probably come to the conclusion that the word “former” should be dropped and “potential” should be used instead.
If you then said that this former presidential candidate, who is 63 years old, is out touting his book entitled, “How Capitalism Will Save Us,” you would probably think this former candidate is Mitt Romney. However, it wasn’t Mitt Romney barnstorming the state and headlining events for the Iowa Christian Alliance and Polk County GOP. It was Steve Forbes.
Steve Forbes is the candidate who inspired me to get involved in politics. While I became a fan of his in 1996 when I was a freshman in college, I didn’t figure out what the caucuses were, or when they were held, until after the 1996 primary was over. Determined not to miss them again in 1999, I went to work on Forbes’ 2000 caucus campaign in June of 1999, just a few months before the Ames Straw Poll.
Having seen Forbes give his stump speech four or five times a day while campaigning in Iowa back in 1999, as part of his campaign staff, I got to know his speech really well. One of the experiences I remember best was watching his youngest daughter, who was ten at the time, stand in the entryway of Dave Heaton’s Iris Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant, and basically mouth her father’s speech word for word for the staff, while he was in the other room delivering the speech to potential supporters.
The point of that little story is that Steve Forbes was always on message. What has impressed me the most in the ten years since his presidential campaign ended is that he is still out there promoting free markets, a strong dollar, privatization of social security, and of course, the flat tax.
Yesterday, Forbes described our anemic economy as being like a case of the flu that you can’t shake. You’re not bed ridden and you can function, but you’re not operating at full capacity. He said that more often than not, free markets are unfairly blamed when the economy gets in trouble. He noted that, throughout our history, the major recessions were all caused by government intervention. For the current recession, he cited Freddie and Fanny, two government created entities that created the housing crash in the fall of 2008.
Forbes also wasn’t shy about laying the blame for our economic woes at the feet of both the Bush and Obama administrations. He criticized them both for keeping interest rates low. Forbes said, “A weak dollar means a weak recovery. You can not have these ultra low interest rates that punish savers and distorts the markets.”
After spending some time talking about the Federal Reserve, Forbes then cautioned people not to compare the dollar to other currencies across the world, but instead to look at the price of gold.
“Gold has been the best economic barometer for over 4000 years. In 2003, the price of gold was $300 to $350 dollars an ounce and had been that way for a decade and a half. The suddenly it shot up, and up and up. Today it’s over $1200. That tells you what you need to know. If you don’t know what the value of the dollar is, you don’t realize it inhibits productive investment,” Forbes said.
He also warned that, in addition to stopping the binge spending in Washington, Congress must not raise tax rates. Forbes then insisted that Congress should do the opposite and cut taxes. He then reminded people that the taxes you pay on income is the price you pay for working, the tax on profit is the price you pay for being successful, and the tax on capital gains is the price you pay for taking risks that work out. He argued that, if you lower price of work, risk-taking and success, you would get more of it.
The motto for Forbes’ 2000 campaign was “He wants you to win.” While it has now been over ten years since Forbes crisscrossed the state looking for support in the Iowa caucuses, he continues to hold true to his beliefs, and those beliefs are more relevant today than they have ever been.
Polk County GOP Continues to Impress
I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate the Polk County GOP for another outstanding event. Yesterday’s luncheon with Forbes drew a crowd of about 200 people, making this the third major fundraiser for them this year. For years, the Polk County GOP laid dormant, and it’s great to see the enthusiasm that has returned under the leadership of Chairman John Bloom, Co-Chair Will Rogers, and Darrell Kearney as Finance Director.
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