Steamboat Springs It's hard to say whether economist Stephen Moore is actually afraid - or just thinks you should be.
After all, Moore said, Americans will make the right choice in the November presidential election. In his view, that choice is his friend John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona.
The Democratic candidates, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, are the frightening ones.
Moore, who is on the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, spoke Monday morning at an event sponsored by the conservative Leadership Program of the Rockies at the Steamboat Yacht Club. The talk focused on the election and economic policies, and Moore had plenty to say about both.
"This is the most amazing election season that probably any of us have ever experienced," he told about 40 people who attended.
Moore said this might appear to be a year for the Democrats because of President Bush's low approval ratings and dissatisfaction about the Iraq war. But he said McCain has a solid chance.
"Whichever candidate is seen as the agent of change, in my opinion, that candidate is going to win," he said.
Moore criticized Clinton's and Obama's economic plans, saying they want to limit international trade, which would push up prices of goods. Increasing taxes also would harm the economy, he said.
"Ending the Bush tax cuts would be catastrophic," Moore said.
The two worst things for a troubled economy are inflation and high taxes, he said.
Moore rebutted claims that the wealthiest people don't shoulder enough of the tax burden. He showed a chart indicating that the top 1 percent of earners in the U.S. make 21 percent of the income and pay 39 percent of the income taxes. The bottom 50 percent of earners make 13 percent of the income and pay 3 percent of the income taxes.
Part of the problem with public perception of the economy is that the U.S. has grown accustomed to prosperity and takes it for granted, Moore said. After a couple of brutal decades for the stock market - the 1960s and '70s - the economy has soared, he said, citing President Reagan's economic policies as the starting point.
"We're in the greatest period of prosperity in the history of civilization," he said.
But the policies Democrats are pushing pose a danger to that prosperity, Moore said.
He said the Republican Party must be the party of limited government spending. Spending has increased under Bush, which Moore cited as "one of the reasons Republicans got their clocks cleaned" in the 2006 elections. McCain's task, Moore said, will be convincing voters that he'll change that.
"One thing we have going for us is it's still a conservative country," Moore said. "People want taxes low; they don't want runaway entitlement programs."
Jennifer Schubert-Akin, who helped organize the event, said she hopes participants think about what Moore said and whom they plan to vote for.
"There's a whole lot at stake in this election," she said.
Moore expressed similar sentiments.
"If we get these policies wrong : I do think we're in for a rough time," he said. "I think it's important in the next six months that we work our butts off to make sure (Clinton) doesn't get elected and Obama doesn't get elected."