What is the conservative plan for all entitelement programs? That is the multi-trillion dollar question that should be posed to Republicans and anyone else claiming to be conservative. How do we change a system that has come to define America since the days of Lyndon Johnson? This is no easy task and leftists throughout the country point to the GOP’s lack of clarity on the issue as proof that conservatives have no ideas and are not pragmatic. Just a couple of days ago, Paul Krugman offered his opinion of the GOP strategy in an op-ed which was, in a few words, to bankrupt entitlement programs by starving the government of revenue instead of actually cutting programs. I don’t like what he is saying… but he seems to be somewhat correct, at least with respect to the GOP’s past behavior. The Republican Party does not have a good fiscal record, that’s a sad fact. The bright side is that with the new resurgence of the conservative movement it may finally be possible to push through real change in Washington, and by “change” I do not mean more activism on the part of government but rather less government activity.
I look to people like Ron Paul, even though I disagree with the man, who advocate for spending cuts across the board and at the same time his message really resonates with the youth. This makes me realize that advocating for a rollback of government may not be as politically costly as many politicians think. So here I outline a few suggestions for those running for office to consider, nay, to actually advocate:
- Use the stimulus funds to pay down the debt and stop the bailouts. This is a concrete policy that is almost unanimously agreed upon.
- Let people keep more of the money that they earn. Common sense.
- No government issued mandates about what people must buy or pay for.
- Allow for competition of health insurers across state lines. Competition keeps prices reasonable.
- Cut waste and fight fraud in Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlements, thereby actually cutting spending.
- Tort reform.
- No more short-term, gimmicky cash-for-anything programs or stimuli that only shift future demand to the present and have little long-term benefit while costing the taxpayer.
- Eliminate government agencies and programs that cost more than they help (most of them?).
- Reform the great Ponzi scheme known as Social Security by pushing back the retirement age (Americans are living longer now than when initially passed), allow for some form of privatization (only in a non-capitalist society can we say “allow” for privatization), and reform amount of benefits people will receive.
- Stop engaging in endless nation-building around the world.
These are just some ideas that would do a great deal in helping scale back the size and cost of government. In one form or another, I have heard of many of these come from the mouths of politicians but no one has acted on them. It is high time that conservatives in public office had the courage to take on the government, not just by trimming it but by reversing course completely. The liberals of the past have saddled our current generation with an awesome burden by creating absurd programs that use today’s workers’ incomes to pay for today’s retirees and today’s sick. This has made it politically unfeasible to untangle this mess and make a system where people can actually take care of themselves in the future, as opposed to having the government do so. Taking average rates of return on investments, the money that people pay for social security if invested soundly could have left retirees with much more money than they end up receiving from social security. But no, the government and the leftists do not trust people with their own money and so they take it from them and give them their two loaves of bread. The liberal motto: let them eat cake! The only way to change all of this is to cut, cut, and cut some more. The government is becoming more and more intrusive in the daily lives of citizens, somehow believing that throughout the years each successive generation is less able to take care of themselves… this is what progressives call “progress?”
Our media and our culture has eroded our trust in the ability of the market to offer goods and services to Americans… yet somehow nearly everyone has a cell phone, and not the cheap cell phones but rather the most expensive gadgets that can balance a checkbook, print out a copy of War and Peace, and cook a steak with plans costing more than one hundred dollars. Kids have this stuff yet we worry that people can’t afford health care? The only reason that they can afford phones, cars, and big-screen, ultra-thin plasma TV’s is because the free market allows companies to offer the products without government restrictions. Why are Americans distrustful of the free market when it comes to certain products? The “track record” of free markets with respect to health care has been horribly tainted by government control… in fact, the “track record” is not that of the free market, but rather it is the track record of what happens when we allow government to interfere with the markets. This is no invisible hand argument because there is nothing invisible about my Blackberry, my IBM computer, my Xbox, and my Ford truck. Conservatives politicians would do well to remember this… for only then will they have the moral clarity to confront the real problem with our modern government: there’s too much of it.