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What Would You Hope for from a Reformicon President?
Imagine it’s January 2017, and the Republican presidential candidate has triumphed while the GOP retains its congressional majorities. Upon being sworn in, the new president governs in a thoroughly ReformiCon manner. (I put it this way because everyone knows that what a candidate says on the campaign trail often bears little resemblance to how he governs.)
What do you hope for? What would count, for you, as success after four or eight years of a president Reformicon administration?
In order to avoid tying this question to any particular candidate I take the lawnmower book as a reasonable indication of a ReformiCon agenda. For example:
- A replacement for ObamaCare that provides subsidies to low-income Americans, leaves middle-class health plans substantially in place, leaves insurers unable to take into account pre-existing conditions, promotes consumer choice in the Medicare Part D sense, caps tax deductions for employer-provided insurance, and imposes less regulation on States (but requires them to integrate the new Federal tax credits with Medicaid).
- Tax reform by way of a new child tax credit to encourage/reward child-raising.
- Use the Federal education bureaucracy to promote school choice (including “course choice”), increase reporting requirements on school performance, pay Top People to research education, and allow school districts to declare bankruptcy (so they can start over).
- For higher education, require colleges to have skin in the game for student loans, allow private investors to fund students, bust the existing accreditation trust, support apprenticeships and job training, and collect and publish more statistics on college outcomes (e.g. job prospects and pay performance).
- Consolidate welfare programs into something that allows for experimentation at the State level, and/or provides some kind of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)-ish benefit, and provide vouchers for early childhood education.
- Roll back oppressive occupational licensing, help the long-term unemployed with information and travel grants, temporarily lower the minimum wage for the long term unemployed, and fix the perverse incentives of the EITC.
- Eliminate Too Big To Fail, nudge mega-banks to shrink by requiring extensive asset coverage, reform [not entirely clear how] patent and copyright protection.
- Replace Depression-era labor regulations with regulations adapted to the flexible work practices of the modern world, consolidate child-centered tax credits and spending into one tax-credit for parents, etc.
- Eliminate the “marriage penalty” in tax and benefit regulation.
Now these are policy tools for the achievement of goals. My question is really about how one would measure the success of these proposals.
How do you tell if Reformicare is better than Obamacare?
What should the marriage rate be in 2024 (it was 6.9 per thousand population in 2014, down from 8.2 in 2000)?
What should the birth rate be? (It was 62.9 for every thousand women of childbearing age in 2014.)
What should the experience of unemployment be like? (The average duration of unemployment was 28.9 weeks in January. Is this a relevant measurement?)
What should the experience of employment be?
How many young people should be in college? (The percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds enrolled in colleges was 41 percent in 2012; 2.9 million students were postgrads.)
At the end of president ReformiCon’s time in office, would you hope to care less about what was going on in DC than you do today, more, or the same?Published in Domestic Policy
Zombie apocalypse, perhaps? Or putting three more Originalists on the Supreme Court? (Whichever is more likely.)
Are there three more Originalists?
I got pretty good grades in ConLaw from a guy who was considered to be a hard professor when I was in law school. I stayed pissed off the whole time at what judges had done to the Constitution. It’s fairly easy to remember what pisses you off.
Even if there were, they’d probably grow in their jobs.
What your Justices learn on the job is, don’t be a revolutionary if the people is not with you. Sometimes, they push their luck–but very rarely–there is almost no public outcry & there are no political successes in challenging SCOTUS. That says a lot about how good they are at their job. I often hear conservatives complain about the Justices not making the sacrifices & taking the risks the Constitution requires of them. Well, most people, including most conservatives, do not take the risks either…
I’d like to see conservatives come to grasp that the Constitution offers some support to liberals, too, not only to conservatives; & that the people offer even more. Conservatives should face the music: Expecting to rule an unruly people is not freedom triumphant or filial piety toward an ancient constitution, but something closer to tyranny.
We need revolutionaries, not diplomats.
I believe, in terms of American history, you’re not referring to the Revolution, but to the Civil War.
Needs must. The pre-emptive surrender option is comfortable, but does no favours for the “unruly people”.
If the argument is that the enlightenment is inherently bourgeois, and a bourgeois society is inherently technocratic, so that a conservatism based on individual responsibility in the face of uncertainty is inherently anti-modern – well, so be it.
I don’t think so, but respect your opinion. The civil war was a divide of a nation primarily over sovereignty and slavery.
The revolution was motivated against a tyrannical central government.
I personally feel our present situation is more akin the latter, but respect others may differ.
I’m glad you’re taking my opinion seriously, not to say respectfully. I meant primarily that now, America is up for civil war. It has to be brother against brother, like in 1860. It has to be people who all believe in one version or another of the constitution under which all live.
In 1774, it was different–Englishmen were strangers to your Founders. Had it been a different kind of war–had England stayed out primarily, & only Patriot had fought Loyalist, then it would be similar to what you see in the future.
I don’t know if we are there yet, but the tension is building.
The Republicans in Washington are strangers to me.
Downloading responsibility for as many programs as possible to the states, and replacing targeting federal funding with no-strings-attached block grants.
Is that a realistic thing to hope for from Reformicons?
I think it’s a completely apolitical opinion or idea, so no, not a reformicon thing to do or say-
Unlike, say, most of your countrymen?
The realism comes from the inclusion of the words “as possible”.
Reform the tax code. Simplify it drastically. Make sure that everyone pays at least a little tax, to have skin in the game. Eliminate mandatory tax withholding from paychecks, to psychologically solidify in people’s minds the concept that their earnings are theirs. The automatic garnishment of wages by the government and the complexity of the tax code are insults to the American people.
Reform immigration. Enforce the laws. Treat prospective immigrants as colleges treat applicants, i.e., ask questions such as “Do we want this person here?”, “What do they have to offer?”, and “Will they be success here?” Go beyond that to also ask questions colleges wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) ask, such as, “Are this person’s values consistent with ours?”
Reform the labor market by eliminating the minimum wage. Allow interns, apprentices, and others to work for free, if they so desire.
Reform the presidential primary system. This business of placing so much import in the hands of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire is silly and has to stop. (I’m being a bit facetious here, as I know that’s not really something a president could achieve. But I do think we as a nation should come to our senses and create a better system. For example, there could be multiple “Super Tuesdays” – one for small states, one for medium-sized states, and one for large states.)
In seriousness, though, it seems to me that many Reformicon reforms presuppose they’ll take place in Washington, not the several states. They may like subsidiarity, but I’m not sure their minds are really wrapped around dispersing their pet reforms a subsidiary fashion. That’s one problem with having a pet reform: it just seems more expedient to enact it centrally, if you can.
This is the problem I have with the reformicon agenda.
Where does the federal funding come from? Citizens in the states.
Why tax individuals, collect the money in Washington, borrow some on top of it, and return it to the states? Whether it is ‘targeted federal funding’ or ‘block grants’ it still makes no sense and memorializes that it is the proper role of the federal government to do so.
Additionally, there is no such thing as ‘no-strings-attached’ on anything associated with Washington DC. That would only make the arrangement discussed in the previous 2 paragraphs more absurd.
My biggest issue with the Reformicon agenda is its compassionate conservative roots. The fruit of that tree was GOP complicity in the growth of the administrative state, with a few GOP loyalists temporarily in the political appointee slots. Simply replacing Obama agency heads with Reformicon agency heads would undermine our liberty even more.
I dislike the idea of setting goals for marriage and birth rates. These are decisions best made by free people who don’t have pleasing the government as their mission in life.
We should be setting goals for the government, not the other way around.
If you’re willing to consider an extreme application of this dislike–would you say, don’t let’s ‘set goals’ to lower suicide rates? That is to say, free people–does their freedom reach to the extreme of choosing whether life is good or death?
I also have a non-radical objections: Nobody’s setting goals for the government to achieve. People are assuming marriage & children are good & that if government makes it easier for people to pursue them, they will.
Sort of like people assuming prosperity is good & therefore if government gets out of the way, people will choose, as you might say, freely to become more prosperous. They do not mean, however, that government should be producing prosperity!
I’m all in favor of removing government imposed disincentives to things like marriage and child bearing.
As for the suicide rate, it will probably go down if and when the government stops trashing the economy.
I am generally in favor of anti-suicide and anti-assisted suicide laws imposed at the state level. That’s the status quo in most states.
You asked about an “extreme application.” Why?
Were you going to accomplish all of this, plus implement transition programs, in 4 or 8 years? You need either a switch to benevolent despotism as the form of government, or 20 years of LBJ 1964 majorities to implement even half of these.
(edited to be more constructive)
Several items are quite doable (1, 4 and 11) and others can be partially done, even in one term.
Besides, it’s a wish list. It’s ok to aim high.
To try to figure out how far you think freedom reaches.
You mean like, was the old British law right, and should suicide be a felony punishable by the deceased’s assets being forfeit to the Crown if successful, or imprisonment of the attempted suicide (and as the rumor goes, sometimes even execution) if unsuccessful?
Those laws did suggest that an Englishman has an obligation to his sovereign not to kill himself.
While I think most of us believe we have an obligation to other people not to kill ourselves, the obligation is to family and loved ones – people we know. I would find it odd if I had an obligation to every other single US citizen in my state, or across the country as a whole, to avoid killing myself. So no, I wouldn’t picture myself as having an obligation to my sovereign to avoid suicide.
I can see the argument for it – that suicide, like murder, is a breach of the sovereign’s peace – but I think there’s a reason laws criminalizing suicide become defunct.
Fair enough. I’m not a libertarian though I lean in that direction.
The government works for us and should conduct itself in a way that makes us happy with it. Not the other way around.
In areas where a law would be inappropriate, government should stay out.
For example, lot of people want the federal government to fight obesity. If you like the idea, picture your condo association taking up the same cause and nagging you about your diet. It’s equally appropriate.
If likeminded people really wanted to live together in a residential club that included only the slim and fit, well, who am I to stop them? Free association and all that.
But there’s a reason most of would be irritated by the idea of having to belong to such a residential club ourselves. I am not sure if overweight people have been censured by their own condo associations… yet. I know that overweight dogs occasionally have (if a condo association tries to forbid larger breeds of dog by a weight limit on pets, sometimes that weight limit is enforced against the obese members of smaller breeds).
It’s a different situation if one knowing moves into a Condo complex like that, and of course I realize you get that.
Maybe I should have used a plumber as the example instead of a condo association.