Principles of Reform

Richard Nixon’s VAT

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 Problem and the Solution

The solution to this giant mess

is this reform plan.

Budget Deal Undermines Tax Reform

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.”

The New Budget Deal

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.”

End of Fiscal Responsibility in Canada?

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.

Kasich Aims to Revive Federalism

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.

EITC Costs $60 Billion a Year

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.

Federal Government Pay Exceeds Most Industries

New data show that worker compensation is rising faster in the federal government than in the private sector. After rapid growth in federal pay during the George W. Bush years, growth slowed from 2011 to 2013 after policymakers enacted a partial freeze on federal wages.

Government Failure: The Role of Congress

In a romantic view of democracy, legislators act with the interests of the general public in mind. They grapple with policy issues, work toward a broad consensus, and pass legislation that has strong support. They frequently reevaluate existing programs and prune the low-value and harmful ones. They put citizens first and limit their actions to those allowable under the U.S. Constitution.

Hurricane Katrina: Remembering the Federal Failures

Ten years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast and generated a huge disaster. The storm flooded New Orleans, killed more than 1,800 people, and caused $100 billion in property damage. The storm’s damage was greatly exacerbated by the failures of Congress, the Bush administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Army Corps of Engineers.


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