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GOP Hawks and Doves

This week brings another entry in my ongoing look at where the GOP presidential candidates – and potential candidates – stand on the issues. My latest column for National Review Online looks at the candidates on foreign policy, defense, and homeland security. Rand Paul, of course, is the most dovish of the candidates, though nowhere near as noninterventionist as his father (or as he’s often portrayed in the media). After Paul, its various shades of hawk, but there are surprising nuances among the candidates. Marco Rubio, for instance, seems to take the pure neocon line, intervention everywhere, while Ted Cruz falls somewhere between Paul and Rubio.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416609/early-look-gop-candidates-positions-foreign-policy-michael-tanner

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The Republicans on Health Reform — After Obamacare, What?

As part of my ongoing look at where the Republican presidential candidates stand on the issues, my latest column for National Review Online examines their proposals for health care reform. Of course they want to repeal Obamacare. Who doesn’t? But what do they want to replace it with. Most favor some form of tax break for individually purchased insurance and permitting the sale of insurance across state lines. But a few have much more detailed platforms. And, there are some big surprises (That would be you, Dr. Carson).

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416253/replacing-obamacare-michael-tanner

The GOP Candidates on Crime

As part of my ongoing look at where potential 2016 presidential candidates stand on the issue, my latest column for National Review Online examines Republican hopefuls and criminal justice reform. Surprisingly, most of the leading candidates are in favor of sentencing reform, ending-mandatory minimums, and making it easier for non-violent felons to expunge their records. While Rand Paul has been the candidate most identified with the issue, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, and even Jeb Bush have all bought in to the need for reform to some degree. The conspicuous exceptions are Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, who are sticking with the old “tough on crime” message.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/415557/republican-2016ers-are-rethinking-tough-crime-michael-tanner

The Pandering Begins

Saying that politicians pander is like saying that water is wet. But some pandering is more egregious than other. This is especially true when candidates who ostensibly believe in smaller government genuflect at the altar of a big-government program simply because it is supported by an important voting block. A classic example is Republicans who want to cut spending on public broadcasting or planned parenthood but shrink from reforming Social Security or Medicare. After all, seniors vote. I shouldn’t be disappointed, but I am.

The latest example of fair-weather principles, is the renewable fuel standard, a government mandate that benefits corn farmers in the Mid-West, while driving up the cost of gas and food, and actually harming the environment. But the first step on the road to president is the Iowa Caucus next January. Therefore, we are treated to the spectacle of supposedly free-market GOP candidates trekking to the Iowa Agricultural Summit and pledging their eternal fidelity to ethanol (with the notable exceptions of Ted Cruz and RandPaul).

I write about it in this week’s column for National Review Online:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/415211/iowa-agricultural-panderfest-michael-tanner

One note: After the column was published, I was contacted by Marco Rubio’s office. He does indeed have a position on the RFS. He thinks it should be phased out someday, but not now. So add Sen. Rubio to the list of panderers.

Hillary – The Stealth Candidate

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column for National Review Online looking at where the leading Republican 2016 candidates stand on key economic issues. This week, I took a look at Hillary Clinton. Admittedly, it is very early. Few candidates have laid out a truly detailed platform. For the most part, at this stage, we are still dealing with bromides and crowd pleasing generalities. (As I write that, I realize things may not change a whole lot throughout the campaign). But Hillary seems to be taking non-specificity to a whole new level. Beyond the fact that she is a woman–and a grandmother—it is pretty hard to figure out why she wants to be president.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/414365/hillary-stealth-candidate-michael-tanner

My thoughts on King v. Burwell

On March 4, just two weeks from today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, which supporters of Obamacare have called an “existential threat” to the health care law. It is probably not quite that, but it could force congress and the president to the negotiating table to find a new and better alternative. My colleague, Michael Cannon, is the real expert on this case, but for what it’s worth, my column this week for National Review Online offers my analysis.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/398790/testing-obamacare-michael-tanner

The GOP candidates on Debt, Spending, and Entitlement Reform

Throughout the coming months, I will be looking at where the various would-be presidential candidates stand on the vital issues of the day. Today, in my weekly column for National Review Online, I look at how they would cut spending, reduce the debt, and reform entitlements. As I point out, it is very early in the campaign, and most candidates have now yet laid out detailed proposals. So, mostly this is an exercise in tea leaf reading, based on congressional votes or state budget performance, plus a statement here or there. Still, at this point, it seems reasonable to say that it looks like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are the biggest fiscal hawks, trailed to some degree by Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, and Scott Walker, with other candidates bringing up the rear.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/398361/debt-and-gop-michael-tanner