Forbes promises tax, health care reform

Ryan May

DES MOINES, Iowa — Putting more money into the hands of Americans is billionaire Steve Forbes’ idea for solving the nation’s problems.
The 51-year-old New Jersey native is seeking the Republican party’s presidential nomination again, after losing to Bob Dole in 1996. Since losing, he has traveled to all 50 states in a grass-roots effort to win the nomination in 2000.
Today, the Iowa Precinct Caucuses will be the first in a series of important hurdles for Forbes’ campaign.
Although he remains a long shot for the Republican nomination, the magazine mogul is expected to take second place in the Iowa caucus. In 1996, Forbes boasted he had spent more time in Iowa than any other Republican candidate, but left Iowa with only 10 percent of the vote.
Known as a one-issue candidate for his flat-tax program in 1996, Forbes has integrated his tax reform plan to include solutions to Social Security, health care and poverty. His $648 billion tax-cut proposal and stumping to shut down the Internal Revenue Service has gained the attention of many.
Forbes said a flat tax will end “corruption” by the federal government, eliminate special-interest groups looking for tax favors and save the taxpayers more than $200 billion, the amount people spend complying with the tax code.
“Under my plan, each adult would have a generous personal exemption of $13,000. Each child would have an exemption of $5,000. That means a family of four earning $36,000 would pay no federal income tax,” Forbes wrote in his book, “A New Birth of Freedom.”
Forbes’ platform includes tax reform, the reorganization of America’s health care system, environmental stewardship and his belief in the moral basis of a free society.
Under Forbes’ tax plan, a single person making $26,000 per year would pay $2,210 in taxes. If the same person filed under the current system today they would pay $2,839. The Forbes plan would save that individual $630.
In an election where many of the candidates are pushing for tax reform, Forbes issued a statement last week distinguishing his plan from the rest.
“My flat tax plan immediately and completely abolishes the unfair death-tax and marriage-tax penalty,” the release said.
Forbes has been married for 27 years and has five daughters. He is opposed to abortion and said as president he would challenge the ruling of Roe v. Wade. The next president could appoint three or more Supreme Court justices.
“George W. Bush should explain to the voters of Iowa why he remains uncommitted to choosing a pro-life running mate,” Forbes said this week.
Most of Forbes’ policies are based on giving freedom back to the American people. From taxes to health care, his policies strive to put money in the hands of the Americans so they can make their own decisions.
With Monday’s caucuses, the polls show Forbes trailing front-runner Texas Gov. George W. Bush. But Forbes keeps it all in perspective.
“Polls are like a global positioning satellite reference check, not a map,” he writes in his book.
Forbes’ grandfather started Forbes magazine in 1917 and his father Malcolm turned it into a multimillion-dollar dynasty. Forbes graduated from Princeton University in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in history and served for six years in the New Jersey National Guard.
When Forbes was appointed chief executive of Forbes Inc. and editor in chief of Forbes magazine in 1990, his critics were skeptical of his ability to run a business. Since then, he has launched three new magazines including Forbes ASAP, Forbes Digital Tool and American Legacy.
As an international business leader, Forbes has conducted business in more than 60 countries. President Reagan named him chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting, a bipartisan group created to communicate the importance of a free-market economy. He was reappointed by Bush and served until 1993.
Forbes says he is not a typical Washington politician and his simplistic economic policies appeal to many. But in a period of strong economic growth, fringe candidates like Forbes are finding it more difficult to gain voter interest and participation. Forbes’ ability or lack of ability to attract voters in Iowa will set the stage for the remainder of his campaign.
Forbes’ campaign is unique, said Mike Riley, Forbes’ Iowa press secretary.
“We operate on a different strategy of taking the message directly to the people.”