DEAR MR. REPUBLICAN: We are spending far, far too much time talking about executive orders, whether temporary travel bans are legal, who the Secretary of the Army should be, and so forth. I’m ready to hear policy discussion about some of the truly major issues facing our country. If Republicans are going to make dramatic changes in areas of truly fundamental consequences, then time is not on our side.
Among these issues are…
(1) THE NATIONAL DEBT
Our debt load now exceeds the size of our entire economy and is, for all intents and purposes, not possible to pay off. It is still possible to manage, though, again, time is definitely not on our side on this one. In my opinion, this is the most important and urgent issue facing the United States: our national debt is weeks away from topping $20 trillion BEFORE interest–an amount that no human being can truly wrap his mind around. This still is not being addressed, but the tangible impacts of it are already being felt, especially in Federal Reserve rate planning.
Obamacare should be repealed and replaced–not just repealed. You cannot repeal legislation like Obamacare without a plan for replacing it, and you MUST ensure that those who’ve spent their own hard-earned dollars purchasing insurance through the exchanges are taken care of. This is now the most expensive sector of our economy, and its costs have accelerated in the wake of the Affordable Care Act’s passage in 2010. We keep hearing that action will be taken. The only problem is that we still have no evidence of this action or even a rough idea as to the strategy.
(3) JOBS AND WAGES.
Work force participation remains at near-record lows. Millions of people simply are not looking for jobs. Part of this problem is wages: They started to rise somewhat two or three years ago, but the rate of increase was always too slow. Now wage growth appears to have slowed once again. There are solutions to this problem, and Republicans have good ideas here. What is the hold-up?
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(4) TAXES AND REGULATION.
Our corporate tax code is the most noncompetitive on the entire planet. Our individual tax code, though not quite as noncompetitive, is insanely complex, extremely expensive to comply with, and impossible for any one person to understand in its entirety. The number of regulations is absolutely ballooning and is now having a negative material impact on entrepreneurialism–the very bedrock of our economy and the number 1 pillar underlying “the American Dream.” Campaign promises by both Trump and GOP members of Congress to enact reform in these two areas were frequent and loud. What’s happened? Trump signed an executive order requiring two regulations to be eliminated for every new one enacted–an order so vague and ham-handed that it probably will have no effect at all. Arbitrary executive orders won’t solve this problem. It’s time for Congress to wake up from its continuing decade-long slumber and send true reform legislation to the Oval Office for a signature.
(5) GENERAL GOVERNMENT INEFFICIENCY.
It remains far too difficult to fire federal employees who underperform. (To my federal employee friends, in no way do I intend to imply that most federal employees under-perform, though when it happens, we all know that not much can be done about it.) There remains far too much redundancy; a Congressional study found that hundreds of agencies were doing the same jobs as other agencies. Changing policies can take many years. Government technology and software is always out of date–sometimes decades so. In short: we are not efficient, and we are not nimble. That wasn’t a major problem in the pre-high-tech world. In the dynamic, fast-paced, high-tech world of the 21st Century, however, that is absolutely debilitating. Where’s the reform?
Perhaps rather than the national debt, I should have said that this issue is the most urgent one. Why? Well, it prevents our being able to solve these other issues–including the national debt. Trump and Congressional members of the GOP said that they would govern “for everyone” and that they wanted “unity.” I’ve seen no evidence of this in practice. By the same token, Democrats have been almost impossible to work with during confirmation hearings (the only area in which they’ve had much impact so far). It’s not clear that if the GOP extended an olive branch to them now, they’d take it. Bipartisanship is a two-way street, though it was to start somewhere. I’m happy to have it start with Republicans. Unfortunately, I can’t even say that this is a stillborn hope because it doesn’t appear to even have been conceived.
This post is not an attack on Donald Trump. In reality, most of these are issues on which Congress must take action. In order to truly solve any of them, Congress is indispensable. Where are they? At this point, it seems as though Congress is like government, only with frequent nap times, copious recess, and interminable bloviating. It is, however, incumbent on Trump to help set a policy direction, and it is important that Democrats engage themselves constructively as well. In short, blame can be cast all around–on both sides of the aisle and on all three branches of the federal government.
I’m tired of partisan bickering over minor, short-term issues though. I’m ready to tackle major issues. I’m ready to tackle long-term issues. I’m ready to work together. After all, a government that works well works for all. A government that doesn’t work well, works only for a precious few entrenched interests. Let’s make it work well.
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