Forbes Columnist Credits Candidate Riley for “Pro-Growth” Message, Calls Nixon “The Worst President” of His Lifetime


Complex economic questions were boiled down into a simple message Tuesday night in East Greenwich.

“Mike Riley=Economic Growth”

Instead of pursuing weak dollar policies and European tax rates that scuttle opportunity and diminish investment, Riley, Republican candidate for Congrees, told audience members gathered at the Meritage restaurant he would push for a “fair tax” that would replace all income taxes with a consumption tax on retail sales and advance regulatory reforms to create incentive for business and spur job creation.

Louis Woodhill, a columnist with Forbes Magazine, noted for his unconventional views, was the featured speaker. He praised Riley for promoting a pro-growth agenda that is very much at odds with the current political establishment. An abrupt shift in policymaking is needed, if the United States is to achieve its full economic potential, Woodhill said during his talk.

The U.S. economy grew at an ever slower pace during the period of 2000 to 2011 than it did during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Woodhill observed.

If the United States had grown at such a lackluster pace since time of the American founding, “we would have the per capita income of Zimbabwe,” Woodhill said. “I’m old enough to remember what prosperity is supposed to look like.”

Unfortunately, top government officials are resigned to the idea that a two percent growth rate is normal, but it is not, Woodhill argued. “America’s character is shaped by a four percent growth rate,” he said.

If the economy were growing at a fast enough clip, it would go a long way toward resolving the fiscal challenges of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, Woodhill suggested. Like Riley, he also favors a “fair tax” because he opposes taxes on saving and investment.

“It’s [President] Obama’s fantasy to have European tax rates and American growth rates. You can’t,” Woodhill said.

But the Forbes columnist did not limit his criticisms to Democrats. President Obama and President Bush (43) both favor “weak dollar policies” to the detriment of the economy, he said.

Woodhill also described Richard Nixon as “the worst president of my lifetime.” Nixon’s decision to devalue the dollar had severe long-term ramifications, he explained.

U.S. presidents are viewed as being successful or unsuccessful based in large part on what the “real Dow” does, Woodhill said, during their time in office.

President Eisenhower, for example, who presided over an era of peace and prosperity in the 1950s, while the Dow was strong, is widely recognized as a successful president, Woodhill pointed out.

The strong performance of the Dow during the 1990s also explains why “Clinton got away with murder,” he said.

However, the sharpest turnaround and highest percentage increase in the Dow occurred under President Reagan, the Forbes columnist, noted during his talk.

“People forget that during this time of the presidential campaign in 1980 Reagan was actually behind [President] Jimmy Carter,” Woodhill said. “At that time, nobody realized what American hero he would turn out to be.”

Given where the economy is right now, “Obama is in no great shape” and could lose the election if history is any guide, Woodhill said.

Riley, who is a Narragansett resident and business owner, with expertise in money management, has made economic renewal a major focus of his campaign.

“We can foster economic growth by removing regulation that derails it,” he said. “Removing uncertainty over taxes and reducing government spending levels are fundamental to a sound economy. We should also increase the use of enterprise zones to target areas for growth. We also need to protect and defend the fishing industry and then rebuild it to its former influence in Rhode Island. This is an area where government intervention has gone too far and demonstrably affected the lives of thousands. But first we must stabilize our nation’s economy.”

Riley has been sharply critical of the Obama administration.

“We have created structural impediments to growth that must be corrected in order to place us on a path to stability,” he said. “This administration instead seems intent on leading our nation down a path toward insolvency; it has grown our national debt from $10 trillion to $15 trillion in just the past three years, resulting in a $48,000 debt for every person in America. This nation cannot expect to regain its financial footing until we get our debt under control.”

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