JONATHAN CHAIT FEBRUARY 9, 2010
Former Dick Cheney aid Cesar Conda has a post at National Review announcing that he has switched his loyalties in the Florida Senate race from Charlie Crist, once seen as the prohibitive favorite, to Marco Rubio, conservative darling and now all-but-inevitable Republican nominee:
Last May, I wrote about why I thought Florida governor Charlie Crist was an acceptable fiscal conservative (the Cato Institute had given him an "A" on its Fiscal Policy Report Card) and why I believed he gave Republicans the best chance to retain Florida's U.S. Senate seat. Even though I was chided by fellow conservatives for saying something favorable about the governor, who had embraced Obama's nearly $1 trillion stimulus package (which by the way has failed to reduce unemployment), I believed that a more important goal was to stop the Democrats from strengthening their filibuster-proof Senate majority. I subsequently donated to Crist's Senate campaign and even met with him once to discuss tax- and budget-policy ideas.
But since then, I've changed my mind and made the switch to Marco Rubio. For one thing, Governor Crist's fiscal-responsibility score has fallen. According to Cato's Chris Edwards in an October e-mail to the St. Petersburg Times: "But as the report's author, I am concerned that the governor has fallen off the fiscal responsibility horse since the report was written in mid-2008. In particular, Crist approved a huge $2.2 billion tax increase for the fiscal 2010 budget, even though he had promised that $12 billion in federal 'stimulus' money showered on Florida over three years would obviate the need for tax increases." But more important, I had a chance to meet with Rubio right before Christmas. He struck me as someone who was geniunely interested in nitty-gritty of public policy; a true policy wonk who had championed 100 reform ideas when he was the Speaker of the Florida house.
Charlie Crist is not going to have a lot of Republican friends left. My favorite part of this post, aside from the rank opportunism -- does anybody think they'd be reading this if Crist still led by fifty points? -- is the description of Rubio as a "true policy wonk." Here's an example of the true wonk applying his great intellect to one of the issues of the day:
Earlier this week, I spoke out against President Obama’s wrongheaded decision to place an onerous and punitive new tax on the financial institutions Americans rely on to loan them money to buy homes, safeguard their money, and fund their businesses. Since then, I have been subjected to vicious attacks from Democratic party operatives, liberal bloggers, and even some in the media. Tired old stories long ago proven meritless were rehashed with new sinister headlines. Even the bank that gave me a line of credit on my home was dragged into this.
This is life in Obama, Reid, and Pelosi’s America, where not only is free enterprise attacked, but so too is anyone who dares to defend it. ...
President Obama’s bank tax is about finding new ways for the Democrats who control Congress to confiscate more money to pay for their big-government takeover. It won’t recoup money for the taxpayer because taxpayers will ultimately pay for this tax in the form of higher costs of banking, lost jobs, and a freeze of economic activity. This tax is a cynical and intellectually lazy attempt at pitting the American people against American enterprise in the hopes that we will all forget about this president’s and this Congress’s failures in addressing job losses, reckless spending, and soaring debt.
What a policy wonk! It's such a loss for the world that he's running for public office rather than devising brilliant new insights as chairman of the Harvard Economics department or something.