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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