Sunday, January 27, 2008

White House 101

My review of Lawrence Lindsey's What A President Should Know: An Insider's View on How to Succeed in the Oval Office is up at the New York Post.

There are various points I didn't have space to discuss in the review. Just a few:

1. Lindsey wants to use the end-2010 expiration of the Bush tax cuts as a moment for broad tax reform. He likes the idea of a VAT combined with a flat tax on income above a high threshold. Lindsey makes tax simplification a high priority, noting that he had trouble doing his own taxes last year even though “I have a PhD from Harvard that is related to this sort of stuff.”

2. He writes favorably about a carbon tax, and emphasizes letting the market choose among non-carbon energy sources like nuclear, solar or ethanol. “Note that this is the opposite of our current discombobulated policy,” he writes, “which subsidizes everything from oil to corn.”

3. There's a passage about a White House aide--whom Lindsey doesn't identify but says was staffer at the National Security Council and key witness before the 9/11 Commission--who (besides showing up with a gun after 9/11) did the following, according to Lindsey:
He attempted to use the event as a way of gaining bureaucratic power. He circulated a draft executive order for the president that contained a provision delegating to himself the president's wartime authorities to take control of the communications infrastructure, including the Internet, during a crisis. He also tried to give himself the same title as Karl Rove. It was just one document in a period of massive organizational change, but one of my staffers caught it and lined up other agencies to join us in trying to block his efforts. Later he attacked the NEC, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy as being part of an Axis of Evil for blocking his power grab.

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