Right now it looks like a two-man contest between Jeb Bush, the establishment choice, and Donald Trump, the wildest Wild Card of All Time.
How does the Donald's Excellent Adventure end? I'm convinced no one knows, least of all Mr. Trump himself. But I still think it's a safe bet that he won't be at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016. In the immortal words of the first Mayor Daley, "We don't want nobody nobody sent." And nobody in the Republican Party sent for Mr. Trump.
So is that it, then, Jeb wins the nomination? (Only to lose the general to Hillary?) That's what the betting markets are saying.
But just to reassure the top .01 percent of Americans who may be getting nervous about their $100 million "investment" in Jeb's campaign, the candidate released a tax plan yesterday that is the most breathtaking wet kiss to the rich since the days of Marie Antoinette. (I think even Dick Cheney would blush.)
From an article in the Times titled -- seriously! -- "Jeb Bush Tax Plan Makes Forays Into Populism" (my emphasis):
But the effect of Mr. Bush’s proposals on the wealthy would be muted by his proposal to cut the number of individual tax brackets from seven to three, taxing income at 28 percent, 25 percent and 10 percent. Currently, the top marginal income tax rate is 39.6 percent.
His proposals would double the standard tax deduction that most filers take, end what Republicans call the “death tax” on estates of the deceased and seek to make marriage more beneficial for tax purposes.
Mr. Bush also proposed cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent and giving incentives to invest domestically as he seeks to spur economic growth to 4 percent annually, an objective that has been met with skepticism by economists.
Mr. Bush also said he wanted to discourage “corporate inversions” in which American companies use cross-border mergers to take advantage of lower tax rates abroad; he would do so by ending the practice of taxing the corporations’ international profits. He would also assess a one-time tax on corporate money stashed overseas and eliminate the interest deductions companies take when they borrow, in addition to setting his sights on the issue of carried interest.
Why not just cut to the chase and lower taxes on the rich to zero? Sheesh!
And that's pretty much it. Seriously. Oh, sure, Ted Cruz is still around in case Trump gets bored and drops out, but that's looking more and more unlikely. In fact, I'd wager that Cruz leaves the scene long before the Donald.
Ben Carson? The conservative kook du jour. (Think Michele Bachmann with a medical degree.)
Carly Fiorina? Running hard for vice president. (Are Republicans stupid enough to think if they just put someone on the ticket with two X chromosomes they'll attract women voters? Yes -- yes they are.)
As for the others: Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore? They might all just as well fold their tents and go home. It's over for these guys. (Their names aren't even worth putting in bold.)