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.
- Tax Reform
- Expanding Free Trade
- Expanding Legal Immigration
- Sell or Give Away Federal Lands
- Spending Reduction & “Entitlement” Reform
- Tax Reduction
- Licensing More Energy Production Facilities
- School Choice or Reducing the Federal Role in Education
- Repealing McCain-Feingold
- 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.