Monday, September 6, 2010

The Platform for November

The conventional wisdom has the Republicans taking majorities in the Senate and House this November. I am not so sure, but to be sure that they govern with a purpose, rather than re-engage in the porkapoolaza of the Bush era, they need a serious agenda. I have heard that Republicans are preparing a sequel to the "Contract with America" from the 1994 campaign. Keeping in mind that sometimes less is more, I propose the following emphases from the Freedom Coalition Agenda:

  1. Repeal Obamacare. There are so many reasons to make this a priority, Dean has cataloged many of them. One more issue detailed in this month's Reason is the budget busting nature of Obamacare mandates on state budgets, which comes at a particularly bad time. More details here.
  2. The Deficit or Reduce Spending. Republicans have campaigned many times on reducing taxes. That's easy, figuring out how to reduce spending is hard and necessary, or we will just end up raising taxes later or igniting inflation. The Bush tax cuts should remain in place, but if you are going to govern, you need to explain what you are going to cut. I would start by de-funding the vast new bureaucracy needed for Obamacare. Returning all unused stimulus money to the Treasury would also be a nice start.
  3. The Economy. High unemployment and no growth can be laid at the footsteps of the Democrats. But what policy prescriptions do we advocate? This is where we can make the case for the tax cuts. But excessive regulation is also killing American business and destroying our freedom. (From the link: "People who don't know if their day-to-day behavior will trigger prosecution are not truly free.") Unfortunately, the cozy relationships between regulators and the regulated have given regulation a bad name. We should be calling for simpler forms of regulation across government. Obamacare's regulatory regime makes the most obvious target, because it has yet to be implemented. In the financial sector, simpler rules that would shift risks to stockholders and away from government are all that is really required. For example, to prevent the "Too Big Too Fail" scenario, we need to increase capital reserve requirements as firms gain market share. This will increase the cost of capital for firms that grow too quickly by taking on excess risk.
  4. Culture of Corruption. (Or process, as Dean puts it.) The staggering ways in which both the Democrats in Congress as well as the Obama administration have disobeyed their own promises and ethical rules is an easy target. But the whole process is foul. A pledge to end earmarks would be a good start. Reducing the size of government is a good way to also reduce the corruption that taints the process, illegal and otherwise. This also sets up the Presidential race in 2012, by attacking what was once seen as Obama's strength.
  5. The Border. Republicans need to pledge they will keep faith with the American people and enforce the border before they tinker with other aspects of immigration policy. "Comprehensive reform" may be necessary, but we need the government to establish trust with the people first.
Issues like flag burning, prayer in school, creationism, and strengthening wiretapping laws will sap my enthusiasm immediately. The Democrats will come at the Republicans with two lines of attack. First, they will suggest that the Republicans are tied to the financial establishment, health insurers, and assorted fat cats, no matter how much Goldman Sachs donates to Obama. Second, they will claim that the Republicans are "the ones who got us into this mess." To counter these claims, the Republicans need to explain the nature of regulation and how "regulatory capture" is creating a false sense of security that is not supported by the actual outcomes we see. It is a fact that Republicans did help get us into the mess, starting with the first stimulus. But the Republican argument should go like this; we learned our lesson, and decided that stimulus and debt are no longer good ideas. This puts the Democrats in the awkward position of admitting they are just continuing the "failed Bush policies" of the past.

The most difficult conversation will be over the nature of regulation, but if the Party is going to do the hard work needed to govern effectively, regulatory failure must be explained.


  1. how about we line up the alphabet agencies in alphabetical order and remove them one by one? people can self-regulate, they're not inherently evil.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. B-Daddy, gets hit-up by an escort agency? Awesome. It was a fine post that I was probably going to link to anyway, but now, just consider "probably" chucked right out that window.

  4. Dean, comment deleted.
    Shane, nice. People are however, inherently opportunistic, so a minimalist regulatory framework seems required to ameliorate bad behavior.

  5. Yours is probably going to be better than the one the GOP-elites come up with for November. It will be interesting to compare and contrast what the polito-crats do generate with yours! I will try and link to this well-thought-out piece! :)