The presidential stump fest has officially begun, but thus far the primaries seem to be muddying the waters instead of thinning the field. With the sound bites flying fast and furious, it's easy to forget the candidates' positions on, well, just about everything. So who among the front-runners for both parties has Americans' fiscal interests at heart? A quick visit to SelectSmart.com's Presidential Candidate Selector turned up some interesting results.
Eight of the 26 questions on SelectSmart's Survey are aimed directly or indirectly at voters' wallets, on the topics of Social Security, trade, taxes, the deficit, unions, minimum wage hikes, universal health care and prescription drugs. Once you've revealed how tight or loose you'd like the federal government to be with your tax dollars, you're paired with your "Theoretical Ideal Candidate" based on his or her campaign statements and, when applicable, voting record.
So who should you vote for if you'd rather the deficit increase as opposed to your taxes? Fresh from his much-needed win in the Michigan primary, Mitt Romney leads the pack of Republican front-runners in fiscal conservatism. John McCain is second among Reps who've come out on top in a primary but fourth overall among all the candidates, possibly because of his balanced-budget leanings. Iowa winner Mike Huckabee is at the bottom of the list, thanks to his insistence on reforming Social Security and health care.
Fellow Iowa victor Barack Obama is the closest thing to a theoretically ideal candidate for those who are all about "tax and spend." As went Iowa, so goes the survey, with John Edwards placing and Hillary Clinton showing. While Obama and Edwards are running neck-and-neck, Clinton's supporting free trade and eschewing a balanced budget leaves her trailing.
While clearly demarcating the candidates still in the running, the survey lists all 29 wags who had given any lip service at all to throwing their hat in the ring as of last August, as well as one former VP whose inconvenient truth was that he's happier in the private sector. The list also includes Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. Colbert, who halted his campaign, is nonetheless the No. 1 fiscal conservative in the bunch, assuming we take seriously his position that Social Security should be abolished because "if old people can play bridge, they can work as typists."