After defeating Liberal-National coalition Prime Minister John Howard in November, Rudd ended Australia's support for President Bush's positions on Iraq and global warming. However, Rudd stressed to the congressmen his desire to maintain a strong U.S.-Australian alliance.
A footnote: Hoyer and Blunt were surprised by the unlimited time given them in Hanoi by Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet, who scheduled them during his two-hour midday break.
Rudy Giuliani gets the highest rating from Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) of all Republican candidates, with a perfect score on his tax-cut intentions.
Sen. John McCain gets the worst marks of GOP candidates by refusing to take a no-tax-increase pledge, advocating a 15 percent estate tax rather than total repeal and failing to advocate an alternative system of taxation, new capital gains tax cuts and a cut in the corporate rate. Mitt Romney also fails on the alternative system and capital gains cuts, as well as not advocating total repeal of the alternative minimum tax (AMT). Mike Huckabee falls short on the AMT and capital gains and corporate rates.
A footnote: The three leading Democratic candidates -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards -- all get a goose egg from the ATR by failing on all its issues.
Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, told me this column erred last week in saying he lost a race to Rep. John Spratt, House Budget Committee chairman, to get testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Schumer said he made no such effort and was satisfied with Bernanke's recent testimony before his committee.