Candidate Art Rhodes, of Cleveland, the CEO of a pension plan with $250 million in assets, also wants to control “runaway spending,” but he has a far better sense of how to grapple with the issue and how it has developed. He served for 10 years as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Mike Parker, R-Miss., until he left Washington in 1998. He expresses disappointment in both parties, but he at least is honest enough to acknowledge what he calls “the utter failure” of fiscal discipline by George W. Bush and Republicans in Mr. Bush’s second term.
His breakdown of the current $3.8 trillion federal budget suggests that mandatory spending (mainly on entitlements and debt service) will rise from the current 60 percent of the budget, to 80 percent in 10 years, and 100 percent in 20 years. But given the uncertainty of ordinary investment returns, he does not advocate privatizing Social Security. He has more informed views than any other Republican candidate in the race on everything from financial reform to excessive partisanship to the IRS tax code.
Mr. Rhodes is clearly conservative, but he articulates a rational reason for every position he takes. He also recognizes the need to find more consensus about what the country needs, rather than the political parties.
He wisely says that the problem with most people in Congress is that they think it’s “the best job they ever had, so they’ll do anything to keep it.” For himself, he says, “it would be the highest honor, but not the best job I’ve ever had.” His goal would be to do something good to deserve the honor. That’s the sort of sensible approach that makes him the best candidate in the Republican field.
He is the only candidate with real, live Washington experience. Although many will consider that a disadvantage, those who do not understand Washington’s ways will ultimately be rolled by them, as we have found out the hard way time and time again.