Indeed, the other candidates have also assembled stellar economic teams whose credentials are decidedly right wing -- pro-tax cut and pro-spending cuts. Romney, who was running TV ads last week in New Hampshire and Iowa on taxes and spending, has one of the strongest groups in place. It includes former Minnesota Rep. Vin Weber, the campaign's policy chairman; Glenn Hubbard, who chaired President Bush's CEA; plus Cogan and Cesar Conda, who was Vice President Cheney's domestic-policy adviser.
"Romney has proposed a spending cap on non-defense discretionary spending that would limit it to the rate of inflation minus 1 percent, and he has pledged to veto appropriations bills that exceed that overall limit," Conda told me. "On taxes, Romney favors making the Bush tax cuts permanent, but he wants to go beyond that and pass a very Reagan-style, across-the-board cut in the marginal tax rates," he said.
How deeply would Romney cut the rates? Reagan pushed the top rate down to 28 percent, compared with today's 35 percent top marginal tax rate. Insiders say Romney's goal is to make "substantial reductions," but he hasn't said how deeply he would go.
Romney has called for lowering the corporate tax rate and ending taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest for middle-income taxpayers. Heading up McCain's advisory panel is economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office who also chaired Bush's CEA. The team includes economist Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute and Hoover's John Taylor.
McCain's highest fiscal priority will be an attack on wasteful pork-barrel earmarks. "He wants to strip them out, get spending under control and keep taxes low," Holtz-Eakin said.
But McCain's tax-cut credentials are suspect. He voted against Bush's tax cuts, which are responsible for the economy's comeback and the wave of revenues that have sharply reduced the deficits.
McCain flip-flopped last year and supports making tax cuts permanent. But as far as further cuts in the rates, the maverick senator "has not said what his goal would be," Holtz-Eakin said.
Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson has not revealed what his fiscal policies would be. But he has asked former Federal Reserve Board governor Larry Lindsey, the chief architect of Bush's tax-cut plan, to advise him.
Other economic gurus are likely to join these teams in the future. However, according to the chief adviser of one of the GOP's front-runners, the big question is: Who gets Alan Greenspan?
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