I said some hard things about President Trump during the primaries, and I’m sure I will again. Nothing he has done in office has alleviated my chief concern about him: that he regards himself as bigger than the presidency.
Still, I remain sanguine about America’s prospects. Oddly enough, my optimism contrasts vividly with the continuing fury of some of Trump’s supporters. You’d have thought that, with their guy in office, they’d be delighted. But a great many of them have simply transferred their rage from Hillary Clinton to the media. Perhaps that rage is a character trait rather than a response to specific circumstances.
Be that as it may, there are solid reasons for conservatives to be optimistic. Not since 1928 has the GOP controlled both chambers and the White House. Ninety years is a long time for a system to be clogged up with useless laws. If that great and underrated New Englander Calvin Coolidge could be transported from 1928 to our own era, he would be so horrified by the size of the state that he might manage to squawk out more than three or four consecutive words.
Opportunities like this don’t come often, and Republicans know it. Here are eight reasons why right-of-center Americans should look forward to the current session.
1.) Scrapping Obamacare
As his opponents predicted, Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms have proved byzantine, cumbersome and costly. They suck money from the private sector and discourage businesses from growing. Firms are reluctant to take on more than 49 employees. Bosses hesitate before offering a contract of more than 30 hours a week.
Replacing Obamacare with a cheaper, simpler system — ideally one based on individual healthcare accounts — will do far more to stimulate the economy than all the TARP boondoggles put together.
2.) Sacking regulators
Talking of stimulating the economy, how about getting rid of federal bureaucracies? Not just getting rid of expensive regulations; getting rid of expensive regulators. Let the 50 states set their own standards, so as to encourage benign competition. Ronald Reagan dreamed of scrapping the education and environment departments. Although total abolition is unlikely, these agencies may well face their first serious reduction in personnel since their founding.
3.) States’ rights
The principle of competition among states goes much further than regulation. The key to America’s success, down the ages, was the diversity of its constituent states. Ideas could be piloted; good practice could spread. The only truly successful reform of welfare was the one drafted by Newt Gingrich’s Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton. Its secret? To return responsibility to the states.
That same principle should apply across the board — in healthcare, education, law enforcement, taxation and the rest.
4.) Cheap energy
The United States is blessed with ample energy reserves, yet the Obama administration went out of its way to discourage their exploitation. Let people get at the treasures in America’s earth and prices will fall. Factories will become immediately more productive, transportation cheaper. More jobs will come into existence and revenues will rise as the economy grows.
5.) Lower taxes
Devolving taxation to state level, as the founders envisioned, will lead to jurisdictional competition and, in turn, downward pressure on rates. The U.S. badly needs to lower corporate taxes. There’s a global race out there, and it makes no sense to handicap yourself with the heaviest business taxes in the industrialized world.
6.) Anglosphere trade
Regular readers will know that I loathe Trump’s protectionism. Threatening a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports won’t “pay for the wall.” It won’t pay for anything. It will drive up prices, reduce economic activity and cut Treasury income. Then again, the Donald does seem serious about a free trade deal with the U.K. If this can be done quickly and cleanly, the benefits will be palpable and, with luck, the appetite for protectionism vis-a-vis Mexico and China will dissipate.
7.) Straightforward judges
How odd to watch Democrats howl with fury because Trump wants to appoint a Supreme Court judge who will interpret the law as it is written rather than seeking to advance leftist causes from the bench. A few more such appointments and America may again have judges who rule on the basis of what the law says rather than what they wish it said.
8.) Mike Pence
The vice president is a good and humble man, in politics from the best of motives. As long as his health is good, conservatives should sleep soundly.
by Dan Hannan a British Conservative MEP.