A Pale Ron Paul? Skimpy Agenda for Libertarian Bob Barr

The third-party presidential candidate is light on policy details.

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Over the weekend, the Libertarian Party chose former Rep. Bob Barr as its presidential candidate and professional sports handicapper Wayne Allyn Root as its vice presidential candidate. Now since the Barr-Root ticket has scant chance of winning—though it just might spoil John McCain's chances for victory—you would think its policy proposals would be bold ones with lots of details. Barr and Root are in the persuading business, not the victory business, for the moment, after all, so they need to fully display the power of their ideas. Yet when I hopped over to Bob Barr's campaign site, I didn't find too much of what I was looking for, at least when it comes to economic policy. What does Barr propose? Here is the gist:

The federal government must take the lead in making significant cuts in spending. Focusing on earmarks risks distracting attention from the broader problem of a government wildly wasting the money of hard-working Americans. Tens of billions of dollars in corporate welfare—essentially aid to dependent corporations—should be eliminated. Largesse for middle- and upper-income Americans, particularly so-called "entitlement" programs, must be cut. Billions in so-called defense spending, which protects America's populous, prosperous allies rather than Americans, must be eliminated.

Me: What are we talking about here, exactly? Axing all subsidies? Eliminating the R&D tax credit? What sorts of cuts in entitlement spending and how deep? Some more from Barr:

Cutting spending would allow America to implement real tax reform. Our goal should be to reduce both the tax burden on Americans and the intrusion in their lives resulting from IRS enforcement of the income tax. One of the best approaches would be to adopt some form of a consumption tax, like a national sales tax, replacing the Internal Revenue Service and all federal income taxes as well as payroll taxes.

Me: Are we talking the "fair tax" here or something like it? What would be the rate of this vague plan? There are a gazillion think tanks in D.C., including the libertarian Cato Institute, with a gazillion tax reform plans. These are the sorts of broad ideas you would offer if you were at 60 percent in the polls rather than an asterisk. (The Intrade betting market gives a third party just a 1.4 percent chance of winning the election. So far, there's no Barr-Root boomlet.) C'mon on, Libertarians, where are your calls to disband the Fed or put us back on the gold standard or allow citizens to print their own currency? (This is what Ron Paul has called for.) Dazzle us!

Barr, Bob

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