WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2015 — The real winner of the Republican debates last week was Carly Fiorina. Although she was not on the main stage, her performance in the earlier session raised her profile. She was reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher, England’s only female prime minister and its longest serving prime minister in the 20th century.
In the mid-1970s, the U.S. and British economies suffered simultaneously from high unemployment and high inflation. This stagflation problem was difficult to solve, though both James Callahan in Britain and Jimmy Carter in the U.S. attempted to impose more government control to fix the problems.
Their successors, Prime Minister Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan, had a different solution. They both advocated smaller government, less taxation, less regulation and more freedom. In the 1980s, their policies resulted in years of solid growth, with low inflation and a huge reduction in unemployment.
Carly Fiorina wants to follow this example.
During the debate and in the many interviews that followed, Fiorina has made a clear, easy-to-understand argument for her policies. She is beginning to convince many Republicans her ideas will work and will be acceptable to mainstream America. Even the progressives are beginning to accept her.
Fiorina says progressive policies create or worsen problems like income inequality. In California and Connecticut, both very progressive states, the wealthy have been doing exceptionally well while the lower classes are falling further behind. She notes that California has the highest poverty rate in the nation.
Most polls indicate that the number one problem facing America today is the economy, which continues to be stuck in a six-year, slow-growth position. Fiorina notes that economic growth is needed to solve the economic problems. Growth would lead to more economic opportunity and more job creation, and the growth in labor demand would pull wages up.
Her plan to fix the economy follows a Thatcher-like philosophy. Calling big government the problem and not the solution, she would fix the tax code so American companies are not forced to pay the highest corporate income-tax rates of any industrialized country.
Fiorina points out about two-thirds of the new jobs are created by small business. “I started working in a nine-person firm,” she often says.
To help small business expand she would lower the tax rate, remove burdensome regulations like Obama’s new EPA laws, deregulate industries where over-regulation has stymied growth and remove other burdens like mandatory health care for small businesses employees who work at least 30 hours per week. These would get rid of the crony capitalism that results when government is too big and too intrusive.
Asked how she could possibly reduce the size of government and reduce government spending to be in line with her lower taxes, Fiorina provided a logical business-like approach. Instead of asking each government department to justify only the increase in spending for next year’s budget compared to this year’s, she would implement a zero-based budgeting technique where every dollar spent had to be justified, not merely the increase.
Jimmy Carter used this technique in Georgia when he was governor and unsuccessfully tried to use it when he became president. Fiorina would insist on it because she knows this technique would result in a dramatic decrease in government spending.
Technology is becoming more important to the economy and to proper governing. Fiorina was the head of the largest technology company in the world and certainly understands the entire process. Cyber security is beginning to become a major issue, and she knows how to deal with it.
Fiorina also says she will have weekly radio addresses so that citizens can listen to her message and vote through their smartphones on key issues. This would allow her to understand the views of Americans without having to rely on sometimes biased polls.
In the late 1970s, Britain, the U.S. and the rest of the world cried out for leadership that was forthright instead of deceptive and would offer solutions that were consistent with the principles of freedom and democracy. Margaret Thatcher in England and Ronald Reagan in the U.S. answered those calls with policies that restored economic growth and led to long periods of prosperity.
Like Thatcher, “Iron Lady” Carly Fiorina is ready to answer that call today.