The Wall Street Journal is featuring Jon Huntsman for their weekend interview and while there are a number of points worth quoting I consider the following among the strongest:
One model he has in mind is Utah under Gov. Huntsman. “I’m not running from my record,” he says, letting his interlocutor figure out who in the race he thinks is. The record he cites is a new, 5% flat income tax (“We took 30% out of the income tax”), a lowered sales tax and a robust, high-growth state economy. Anticipating the inevitable observation that governing Utah isn’t the same as running, say, Texas, the governor offers an analogy: “Sure it’s a state with only three million people, but Singapore is a country of only five million people and it tops the world’s best over and over again in terms of how to compete.”
Over the next few months, Mr. Huntsman is going to try a national version of the problem-solving approach he used in Utah: “Gather together stakeholders who have something invested in our economic well-being, whether small business people, bankers, traditional investors. I want to gather them together as I did in the election of 2004 when I ran for governor. Our economy was OK, but it was tired, and our entrepreneurs weren’t deploying their capital in our market. We went through a very rigorous exercise in 2004 before the election and did a very specific 10-point plan, and after the campaign I said, ‘This is our bible. Don’t try to sidetrack me; it’s the most important thing for the state.’ We went through all 10 points.”
He wants to move that approach “to the national stage, with businesses West Coast to East Coast. I want to know in specific terms what needs to be done on day one, so there is no misgiving about how we revive this economy and get it moving forward in a sustainable direction.”
Mr. Huntsman says, “Our priorities need to revolve around ensuring that we have a competitive environment that speaks to the attraction and aggregation of capital, the deployment of capital.” To that end, he cites three policy goals: tax reform, regulatory reform, “and I want to mention a third I think is going to be extremely important for our economy long-term, and that’s energy independence. It’s a low hanging fruit.” What comes next isn’t quite what one expects. He’s talking about natural gas.
I was curious as to Governor Huntsman’s 10-point plan which he detailed in a Deseret News questionnaire before the 2004 election:
Economic development is the critical link that will allow Utah to pay for education by raising overall revenues — not by raising taxes. In conjunction with many of Utah’s best and brightest private sector leaders, I have developed a plan to revitalize Utah’s economic base and provide the long-term funding required to educate our children. This plan centers on creating an environment that will allow Utah to sustain, attract, nurture and retain good businesses.
My 10-point economic plan — when implemented in a timely, effective and coordinated manner — will dramatically strengthen Utah’s economy for the years ahead. The 10 points are as follows: (1) Revamp Utah’s tax structure (2) Improve the competitive environment for small- and medium-size companies (3) Recruit businesses to our state (4) Attract more capital (5) Promote growth in target industries (6) Enhance Utah’s national and international image (7) Capture global opportunities for Utah companies (8) Promote tourism (9) Energize economic development in rural communities (10) Make state government more efficient.
That certainly sounds like a 10-point plan America as a whole could use, and I’m hopeful that Governor Huntsman will come forward with a similar plan for the country.