- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

Karl Rove appeared the fourth time Friday before a federal grand jury, as prosecutors try to find out who said what to whom and when in “outing” Valerie Plame as a CIA “operative.” The neck of the president’s top adviser is again on the line, with many in Washington calling for his resignation before all the facts are known.

Media reports all seem to agree forcing Mr. Rove to step down would be a huge blow to the Bush administration. Not only would are Mr. Bush’s approval ratings at an all-time low, but Mr. Rove has been very important to the White House political apparatus. I maintain removing the deputy chief of staff would be detrimental to pro-growth economic policies and, conceivably, the stock market and overall economy.

The mainstream media have missed the fact this influential man is not simply a political adviser: Karl Rove is a key supply-side economic voice within the administration. In fact, many believe Mr. Rove is President Bush’s top economic adviser.

Most political insiders believe Mr. Rove was instrumental in persuading Mr. Bush to stay with personal-saving-account-type Social Security reform in both the 2000 and 2004 election races. In my interview with Mr. Rove last winter, he was the first senior Bush official to come out against raising the Social Security tax wage cap. He also referred to the U.S. as an IRA/investor-class nation that will never look back.

Mr. Rove knows full well roughly three-fifths of all voters come from the investor class. That is why in 2003 he strongly supported reducing tax rates on investor dividends and capital gains, a strategy that helped propel the U.S. economy at a 4 percent annual rate over the last two years.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Rove is a long-time admirer of Ronald Reagan. Earlier this year, during a speech at the Reagan Library in California, he praised the Gipper as a champion of free markets and entrepreneurship. He particularly noted Reagan’s view “that government’s duty is to remove roadblocks to economic growth … end regressive taxation and regulatory policies that penalize hard working men and women… and help encourage small business and enterprise to flourish.”

Rove quoted the great classical free-market thinker Ludwig von Mises, who said “capitalism has raised the standard of living among the masses to a level which our ancestors could not have imagined.” Mr. Rove also said that because of Ronald Reagan, the debate over capitalism versus a command-and-control economy has been settled, the free market won in a rout and economic growth and prosperity have followed.

This is weighty stuff for someone generally considered simply a political organizer.

In a hard-hitting speech to the New York Conservative Party a few months back, Mr. Rove said: “Conservatives believe in lower taxes; liberals believe in higher taxes. We want few regulations; they want more. We believe in curbing the size of government; they believe in expanding the size of government.” He emphasized the conservative reform agenda where ownership replaces entitlement, welfare reform supersedes government dependence and Social Security reform benefits ordinary working people by tapping into markets. He said conservatives must always and everywhere oppose job-killing tax increases.

In the hurlyburly of Washington politics and punditry, Mr. Rove’s supply-side investor-class approach to economic policy is nearly always overlooked. While media mavens constantly search for “gotcha” political points, they seldom take the time to read the words that truly reveal our major figures’ underlying philosophies and policies. Anyone who combs through Mr. Rove’s work will discover a deep policy thinker who has consistently given the president sound advice based on an optimistic worldview of growth and prosperity.

Indeed, Mr. Rove is the rare political adviser who understands good pro-growth policies lead to successful politics. There’s no question he is a brilliant political strategist but also an uncommon thinker who understands the economic underpinning of winning elections.

I don’t think there’s anything to the case against Mr. Rove, but that must be left to the special prosecutor and the grand jury. My point is the economic content in this controversy. Let’s hope we don’t lose Karl Rove as a strong pro-growth advocate.

Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC’s “Kudlow & Company” and is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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