Bereft of Ideas, Democrats Looking to Dean for Leadership

The “Stop Howard Dean” movement in the Democratic Party has apparently failed, as the former Vermont Governor is now considered a lock to be elected as the next Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Many party operatives and supporters were worried that his vocal advocacy of a very left-wing foreign policy will not be smart politics for a party in desperate need of reclaiming voters in the center. But Dean’s domestic agenda should also worry “New Democrats.”

A year ago, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) used our BillTally program to analyze Presidential candidate Dean’s platform for America. We looked at every policy idea or initiative that the Dean campaign offered and asked the simple question “how much will all this cost taxpayers?” The startling answer was $222.9 billion in new spending per year ($2.2 trillion over ten years). That figure outstrips by 65 percent the cost of the legislative agenda proposed by Ted Kennedy in NTUF’s most recent study of Congress. It seems pretty clear that when Dean said America couldn’t “afford” President Bush’s tax cuts, what he really meant was that Washington bureaucracies and the spending programs he envisioned couldn’t afford the tax cuts.

Some of the specifics of Dean’s proposals reveal even more about his political philosophy. He backed $105 billion in annual increases in government health care spending. He proposed a two-year $100 billion job creation fund, making it quite clear how he believes jobs are created in America.

So next week’s meeting of the Democratic National Committee’s 447 members will apparently be a coronation of Dean and his ideas for much bigger government. This is bad news for party centrists and for those who had hoped to steer the Democrats toward the middle in 2008.