I stopped by the National Taxpayers Conference last night for some free-market fun. Congressman Jeff Flake, Sen. Jim DeMint, and Congressman -- and 2008 presidential candidate -- Ron Paul were the main speakers.
Flake praised NTU's efforts to keep elected officials, especially Republicans, honest. He contrasted their ratings favorably with the National Journal's, saying "Ron Paul and I only get about 50 percent" in the latter's scores because they consider votes in support of the GOP leadership conservative "which isn't always the case." He made a pitch for earmark reform, arguing that it drives other bigger spending, and acknowledged that taxpayers have some tough political fights ahead of them.
DeMint seconded that verdict, delivering the most animated speech of the group. He also railed against earmarks and urged the crowd to get involved. The senator mentioned his endorsement of Mitt Romney but didn't launch into an extended sales pitch.
Paul batted clean-up and received enthusiastic applause as he took the podium. He opened with a quip: "It's good to be here with Jeff and Jim. It's a lot friendlier than some other panels I've been on lately." Paul praised the National Taxpayers Union as one of the few "inside the Beltway" groups he considers valuable, though he hoped it could go out of business after he shut down the IRS and got rid of the income tax. The crowd listened politely to his foreign-policy comments but seemed to drift as he discussed the "inflation tax." But they started applauding again when he returned to his themes of the Constitution and cutting government.
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