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The folks at Reason have a list of ten suggested reforms the 114th should pass. Though the it has few surprises — most of Reason’s hobby-horses make an appearance — the list struck me as (comparatively) modest and (almost) realistic. It focuses more on reforming existing institutions and programs in ways that at least conceivably could get past senate Democrats and President Obama’s veto pen, than on sweeping changes that would be awesome, but would never happen.
Definitely read the whole thing — each is given just a few paragraphs’ outline, including a brief summary of recent efforts to pass similar legislation — but the list is:
- Restore “fast track” trade promotion authority;
- End blanket NSA surveillance;
- Curtail civil asset forfeiture;
- Kill the renewable fuels mandate;
- Lower the drinking age;
- Audit the Fed;
- Fix government worker pensions;
- Implement sentencing reform;
- Let federal education funds follow kids; and
- Respect marijuana federalism
Obviously, some of these are highly unlikely to see the light of day — lowering the federal drinking age, for instance, strikes me as sensible-but-impossible and many of the others run into the time-honored problem of asking the Federal government to willing curb itself — but others might stand a fighting chance. Fast-track promotion gives the president more power (though, ironically, the power to do less); asset forfeiture has something approaching bi-partisan support; the specific pension reforms Reason recommends shouldn’t get too much opposition; and some kind of federal accommodation on marijuana seems almost inevitable.
So what’s missing? The obvious candidate is ObamaCare, though it’s equally easily dismissed as not being realistic so long as its namesake resides on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Some other suggestions:
- The War Powers Resolution is clearly not working for anyone. Hawks generally think it’s overly-restrictive on the presidency, while intervention skeptics think it’s overly-lax, and both sides can cite the constitution in their defense. Given how consistently we seem to run into problems on this matter, some kind of tinkering seems in order, preferably before the court has to get involved. This is probably over-ambitious, but even baby-steps would be a welcome change.
- Find some way to let the president sign-off on Keystone, even if that means letting him steal the credit. That’s what happened with welfare reform under Clinton, and — on net — it was probably worth it.
- A nationalized liberation on organ donations would be ideal, but but simply allowing states to experiment with various regimes would be a huge improvement. Don’t ask me; ask Richard Epstein.