Top 10 Issues

Pollsters regularly ask voters their “top issue”, often after an election. Here are the top 10 issues, more or less in order, that I’d like to see Presidential and Congressional candidates addressing in the coming campaign. My list is probably most notable for the things I didn’t consider worth putting on it.

  1. Tax Reform
  2. Expanding Free Trade
  3. Expanding Legal Immigration
  4. Sell or Give Away Federal Lands
  5. Spending Reduction & “Entitlement” Reform
  6. Tax Reduction
  7. Licensing More Energy Production Facilities
  8. School Choice or Reducing the Federal Role in Education
  9. Repealing McCain-Feingold
  10. Deploying a Serious Missile Defense

Revenue neutral pro-growth tax reform, whether it’s a flat tax or the Fair Tax, is the kind of policy that can pave the way for debt reduction and tax cuts. I prefer the Fair Tax because it immediately makes US business drastically more competitive, eliminates the incentive to take business offshore, eliminates the IRS and puts the full cost of government in the voters face everytime he buys something. But the various flat tax proposals are still miles ahead of the current mess.

Free trade. It’s a pro-growth, pro-peace policy. It’s great for consumers and it’s great for business. It’s great for the US and great for our trading partners.

Immigration. I don’t give a tinker’s dam about most of the immigration issues we’re hearing about lately. We need to massively expand legal immigration. That expansion should start with a big increase (300%, 400%, 500%?) in visas/work permits for English speaking immigrants from any country. I don’t think we can actually get too many immigrants who meet a few simple criterai: a reasonable knowledge of English, good physical and mental health, relatively young age, good work ethic, an intention to pursue citizenship and no criminal history or violent tendencies. The solution to the “problem” of too many Spanish speakers is to expand the English speaking population. Since the usual method doesn’t seem to be doing that, immigration is a good choice.

Selling or giving away federal lands. Selling is slightly preferable as it creates immediate money for debt reduction, but either is acceptable. Federal lands produce limited economic benefit and limited benefit, period. Opening up even a small percentage of federal lands to private use would put people to work and put money in state, local and federal coffers.

Tax reform, free trade, expanded immigration and privatizing federal lands are the superfecta that can create a lasting, noninflationary economic boom. This combination can render the doom and gloom scenarios that US Treasury Securities will hit junk bond status moot. Take the economic boom those four create, tack on even mild spending discipline and there won’t even be any Treasury Securities to worry about.

Spending reduction is ahead of tax reduction for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a necessary prerequisite, politically, for tax reduction, which is my real concern. Second, the best way to guarantee liberty is to cut the purse strings of government. Since we’re still on the high side of the Laffer Curve and Congress is happy to spend in deficit perpetually, tax cuts don’t do that.

Tax cuts are the number one pro-growth, pro-working man policy out there. I never met a tax cut I didn’t like.

We’ve been in an off and on state of perpetual “crisis” in energy for over 30 years. We’ve made huge strides in conservation, but the reality is that a growing economy means growing energy needs. The time for action to produce more energy, of all kinds, including alternative sources, was 30 years ago. Florida Senators that filibuster offshore drilling, envirowhackos that oppose drilling in Alaska and anti-nuke nuts that oppose the best greenhouse gas free energy out there are all doing a disservice to the nation and the world.

School choice. Despite all the reported problems Americans have continued to lead the world in technological innovation. If we got serious about improving the schools instead of appeasing the unions, the regimented educational and economic systems of Asia couldn’t hope to compete with the creative power of the US.

Reforming campaign finance reform. McCain-Feingold and its cousins are the single biggest civil liberties issue facing the nation today, bar none. The chance of being interned at Guantanamo Bay is 0.00001%. The chance if you’re an American citizen is roughly zero. On the other hand, every American who wants to engage in free political speech in the 30 to 60 days before a federal election is prevented from doing so fully. It’s time to repeal all campaign finance regulation other than requiring candidates to disclose their spending, contributions and large contributors.

Entitlement reform. The ridiculous Medicare D boondoggle needed fixing right out of the box. Further reform of other entitlements is worth pursuing. Current entitlements go well beyond a reasonable “safety net” and still cost too large a share of the federal kitty.

Missile defense. The big threats to US security in the foreseeable future are terrorism, a missile threat from a rogue state and China. The first is being dealt with pretty effectively. Some tinkering around the edges may be in order, but going after the terrorists financial and material support, taking the terrorists out when opportunities arise and undermining their recruiting by encouraging liberalization in the Middle East are working. A missile defense solves the second problem and is a vital part of dealing with China as well.

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Amnesty, Hypocrisy and Gasoline

I saw a young woman today in Joplin wearing a t-shirt that said in green letters “Sustainable…Joplin.” Sustainable Joplin is the local chapter of “the Institute of Ecolonomics,” a group that pushes things like hydrogen cars. She hopped in a Toyota 4×4 with the “V-8” badge on the grill. Al Gore writ small.

Hillary Clinton offered this opinion on the commuting of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence: “What we saw today was elevating cronyism above the rule of law.” Hmmm… in this administration when someone commits perjury in front of a grand jury in a politically motivated investigation poking around where it shouldn’t be, that person loses his job, gets a $250,000 fine, is on probation for two years and is branded a convicted felon. In the last Clinton administration when someone committed perjury in front of a grand jury in a politically motivated investigation poking around where it shouldn’t have been, that person kept his job, paid no fine, served no probation and was convicted of no crime. Senator, there’s a saying about those who live in glass houses, so I wouldn’t go throwing stones over a lack of a draconian prison sentence.

Recently, I noticed a considerable overlap between those advocating amnesty for Scooter Libby, of which I approve, and those opposing amnesty for illegal aliens, of which I also approve. Kind of reminds me of the lack of uproar by the Stop the ACLU crowd when Ollie North’s ACLU attorneys got his convictions (rightly) vacated by the appeals court on a technicality. Maybe Bush should have said, “They’ll pay a fine and be on probation. It’s not amnesty, it’s just 12 million commuted sentences.” Amnesty doesn’t mean the rule of law is forgotten in either case; the concept of amnesty is written into our most basic law. Of course….

That leaves me wondering why the President doesn’t just go ahead and issue a blanket pardon for illegal aliens, start building that wall and then push his version of “comprehensive” reform. Clemency is strictly an executive power and not an enumerated power of Congress anyway. I think there’s a bit of schizophrenia over there in the “Unitary Executive” crowd. Trash the Constitution to take powers that rightly belong to Congress (not to mention those pesky rights retained by the people), then trash the Constitution trying to get Congress to exercise powers that are expressly granted to the President.

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