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Jeb Bush is back in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages this morning, explaining “How I’ll Slash the Regulation Tax.” Similar to his tax plan, there’s both rhetoric here to warm a conservative’s heart — whatever that means — and details that demonstrate how Bush simply doesn’t get the the expectations of the right wing of what should be his base (disclosure: I am a card-carrying member of the far right wing of what should be his base).
Bush starts by quoting important statistics from various think tanks and agencies: the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s 2015 finding that the federal regulation imposes a $1.88T silent tax on the economy each year ($15,000 for each American family) and the World Bank’s ranking of the United States’ 46th in terms of ease starting a business. He then does a very nice job characterizing the crony capitalist nature of the regulatory state:
These rules create a moat around America’s wealthiest and well-connected. They can afford to comply and absorb the costs. The burden of meeting the new rules’ requirements falls heaviest on everyone else though higher prices. And if a business can’t pass on the cost of the new rules to consumers, it just cuts wages or jobs.
This is sound reasoning and Bush deserves props for recognizing how the regulatory state helps his primary donor base to the detriment of others.
But he then makes some wild assertions about how his reforms will add three percentage points to our GDP by 2025. Combine that with Paul Ryan’s pie-in-the-sky 4%+ growth projections and all problems can (apparently) be solved while figuring out how to service national debt in excess of GDP.
So what isn’t to like? Bush’s prescription for dealing with the problem:
My administration will create a commission charged with reviewing regulations from the perspective of the regulated and shifting more power from Congress back to the states.
The solution for too much government is … more government. Quick, round up a commission! At least he hasn’t called it a blue ribbon panel yet. The quote above demonstrates Bush’s lack of understanding of the problem. It isn’t that Congress has too much power that should be devolved to the states; it’s that Congress has abdicated its responsibilities to the executive, in the form of agencies not accountable to voters or those they seek to regulate. Sen. Mike Lee does a great job summarizing this in his latest book.
Then, finally, Bush confirms what we already know about his brand of conservatism:
In my administration, every regulation, including those issued by the so-called independent agencies such as the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau [CFPB] will have to satisfy a rigorous White House review process, including cost benefit analysis.
This sums up his position nicely. The CFPB — a brain child of Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama — will have to submit its regulatory proposals to a White House commission for cost/benefit analysis. Sigh. The problem in America isn’t the lack of oversight over the CFPB and similar agencies, or that their regulations don’t pass review; the problem in America is that these agencies exist at all.
Bush confirms what the base has long suspected the Republican donor class strategy to be:
- The Democrats will build it. Warren/Obama CFPB, etc.
- The Republicans will fund it. We can’t possibly not raise the debt ceiling (insert wailing and gnashing of teeth). We must borrow from our children’s future to fund that which democrats have built.
- Republicans will subsequently ride to the rescue of the program. We will create a commission (more government) to manage the regulatory, bureaucracy, and welfare state better than the Democrats who created it, but will never repeal or eliminate anything.
Jeb Bush is a bright man of high integrity who just does not get it.