Principles of Reform
Presidential candidate Ben Carson released a three-page tax plan yesterday. Based on the limited information the plan includes, it looks like the best GOP plan so far.
The federal government owns more than one quarter of the land in the nation, about 640 million acres. The holdings are concentrated in the West, where it owns about half of the 11 westernmost states.
Congratulations to Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma for his new report “Federal Fumbles.” The senator and his staff identify 100 screw-ups in federal programs and agencies, and propose some modest fixes.
With two Republican presidential candidates embracing a value-added tax (VAT), it is worth looking back at the original federal debate over that bad policy idea. Richard Nixon appears to have been the first U.S. leader to push for a VAT, which is not surprising given that he was perhaps the most statist GOP president of the 20th century. With a three-percent VAT in mind, Nixon called for new federal financing of local schools in his 1972 State of the Union address.
The budget agreement between congressional leaders and the Obama administration would break prior budget caps and increase spending over the next two years by $80 billion. The Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2015 would theoretically offset that cost with savings down the road, but promises of future savings are worth little given that GOP leaders have shown they will break agreed-to restraints whenever the time comes. The Heritage Foundation is right that the deal is a “colossal step” in the wrong direction and “does nothing to reduce the size and scope of government.”
During the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan famously said “there you go again” when responding to one of Jimmy Carter’s attacks. Well, the Gipper’s ghost is probably looking down from Heaven at the new budget deal between congressional leaders and the Obama Administration and saying “there they go again.”
Canadian federal elections yesterday ousted the ruling Conservatives under Stephen Harper and replaced them with the Liberals under Justin Trudeau. The Liberals have promised to increase taxes on high earners, ramp up spending on government infrastructure, and purposely run deficits to supposedly stimulate the economy.
The Republican congressional leadership has failed to articulate strong themes to counter the big-government policies of President Obama and the Democrats. People don’t know what the Republican Party stands for, partly because they rarely, if ever, see leaders such as John Boehner and Mitch McConnell on television presenting a coherent vision or a specific program of cuts.
Cato has released a brief study on the earned income tax credit (EITC). The EITC is a huge program. In 2015 it will provide an estimated $69 billion in benefits to 28 million recipients.