Donald Trump

Here's to Making 2019 a Year for D.C. to Remember

It's time for regulatory reform, free trade, and the end of crony capitalism.

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Christmas is over, and the new year begins. Now Congress needs to go back to work and clean up the mess it left behind last year.

Looking back, 2018 reveals a sad picture of what a Republican Congress and White House have failed to accomplish. Instead of fiscal restraint, we got a spending explosion. Instead of restoring the regular budget order, we got more of the same fiscal chaos and short-term spending-bill nonsense punctuated by threats of government shutdowns. And at the end of that tunnel of disarray, only heightened uncertainty and heavier debt remain.

Instead of draining the swamp, we got more of the special-interest lobbies getting their way with elected officials who happily hand out government privileges. This lobbying by the steel industry, what economists call rent-seeking behavior, resulted in protective tariffs. That's a prime example of the rampant cronyism in Washington. We also got more tweets and impulsive comments by the president, all driving a volatile stock market and an increasingly nervous polity.

There were a few good developments, including a bit of deregulation and a decent economy fueled to some extent by the tax reform of 2017. Also, in a rare instance where bipartisanship works for the protection of individual rights against the state, Congress and the administration passed a criminal justice reform bill called the First Step Act—hopefully one of many to come.

Speaking of things to come, here are some projects that this new divided Congress and the administration could work on in 2019 to make up for 2018's dismal performance.

First and foremost, take steps to put the government on more solid financial ground. Driven by excessive spending, Uncle Sam has now accumulated nearly $22 trillion in debt. The burden of servicing this debt falls on each and every American. That's roughly $67,000 for each man, woman, and child. Some of this repayment will demand future tax increases, precipitating lower growth, lower wages, and, hence, lower standards of living.

While parts of the tax cut were very pro-growth and will generate substantial economic growth, they won't be enough to fully pay for the loss in revenue. However, focusing on the effects of these tax cuts misses the bigger picture. We're in this mess because nobody wants to reform the programs that are the main drivers of our debt: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

I want to believe that many Republicans and Democrats are aware of our fiscal condition and that, deep down, they know that they must start to legislate responsibly. It would be amazing if they could, for a change, speak up and take the first steps toward finding a solution. Sadly, the incentives of politics are so biased toward fiscal irresponsibility and big government that meaningful reform will be difficult, borderline miraculous. However, I still have a little of that Christmas spirit left in me, so I'll allow myself to dream for the span of one column.

Next on my wish list for 2019 is the termination of all crony programs that benefit well-connected and large companies at the expense of everyone else. They include the U.S. Export-Import Bank, everything in the Department of Commerce (apart from the Census Bureau and the Patent and Trademark Office—the two actually mentioned in the Constitution), many of the programs in the Department of Energy, and many other programs for agricultural subsidies, special favors for small businesses, wasteful defense spending, and, of course, tariffs.

Just as important, members of Congress must provide the Dreamers with a path to living here legally. I'd prefer that they pass comprehensive immigration reform, but considering the anti-immigration sentiments of many in Congress (some of whom even want to reduce legal immigration), that's not in the cards. Months have passed since President Trump canceled the Obama-era program that protected individuals living in the country illegally whose parents brought them to this country when they were children. The threat of deportation leaves them in limbo in a country that, for all intents and purposes, has been their home since childhood. There's bipartisan support for providing them with a pathway to citizenship, and the president himself seems empathetic to their plight. So what are they waiting for?

Come on; let's do this. And let's make 2019 a better year than 2018.

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  1. Democrats in the House wont do anything to rollback government. Not that RINOs in the House did during the 115th Congress.

  2. So much for 2019. Is there any point in waiting for 2020, or shall we just go straight to 2021?

    1. Trump will still be president, just on his second term. So there’s that.

      1. Are you as confident about that as you were about Republicans holding the House?

        1. You were absolutely convinced that Trump couldn’t win in 2016. The more confident you are that Trump will lose in 2020, the more confident I am that he will win in 2020.

  3. We need to abolish SS and Medicare. Yes grandparents will have to move in with their families, but that’s actually a good and healthy thing. (If they don’t have families then yes, a social safety net is fine.) The thing with these entitlements is that parents actually alienate their own children knowing they don’t need them. So basically the generations despise each other. Old people think they need a lot more money than they do, and so they cry bloody murder if there are any cuts. The fact is, they could move in together with others to save money.

    As for DACA, I’m all for a path to citizenship if they renounce public benefits, at least food stamps and medicaid. They are young, healthy and productive and don’t need them anyway. It would be a great sign that they appreciate the country for the right reasons.

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  6. …a decent economy fueled to some extent by the tax reform of 2017.

    Heterodox views here at Reason.

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  8. I want to believe that many Republicans and Democrats are aware of our fiscal condition and that, deep down, they know that they must start to legislate responsibly.

    Yes, it’s a wish for a Christmas miracle, but…….

    Politicians are generally not leaders, they’re followers. As has been pointed out here many times regarding marijuana and gay marriage, not until there’s an obvious national consensus on the matter are politicians going to “bravely” speak out. And that’s because the skill set necessary to get elected and the skill set necessary to govern are two different things. The politicians who keep getting re-elected are very good at getting re-elected, it should be no surprise that they’re not very good at governing since it’s rare to find somebody who’s very good at two different things. Unfortunately, the ones who are good at governing aren’t good at getting elected. Everybody wants to believe in Santa Claus and free lunches, nobody wants to hear the hard truth that all those free goodies from Santa Claus were charged to Mom and Dad’s credit cards and now the credit card companies want their money.

    1. Those “bravely speaking out” are Libertarian candidates. You see how the voters embrace them. I always liked the old William Buckley campaign slogan: “He Has the Guts to Tell The Truth.” Or Goldwater’s “In Your Heart You Know He’s Right.” Losers both.

  9. There was no “loss in revenue”. The feds are taking in the most revenue they’ve ever taken in in American history.

    De Rugy doesn’t really want responsible government. She’s another person who lies for a living.

  10. I still have a little of that Christmas spirit left in me, so I’ll allow myself to dream for the span of one column.”

    Would that be a wet dream, per chance? Because it is about as likely to produce anything useful. There are no great men or women who are going to appear like Washington or Lincoln and make all the unpopular and hard choices to fix everything for you.

    1. Given that she’s a woman, a wet dream is not the most apt analogy here.

      How about having a period without an egg? Or, the ultimate dream of having sex with Welch?

      1. Are you saying the women cannot have wet dreams? Or at least a moist phantasm?

  11. We’re in this mess because nobody wants to reform the programs that are the main drivers of our debt: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

    It’s telling that even Veronique could not bring herself to use the word “cut” here, instead using the wishy-washy word “reform”.

    Sooner or later, someone’s gonna have to say it.

  12. Fakahontus 2020 !!!

    Tear down the White House!!

    Build the TP !!!

  13. Look at the bright side. There is little danger of God’s Own Prohibitionists bringing back additional Comstock Law provisions, and Coathanger Abortion Amendment 7.0 is not going to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision the Hospers-Nathan campaign handed the Suprema Corte in 1972-3 anytime soon. Instead of White House Office of Faith-Based Creation Scientists seeing Jesus in a taco stain, expect GISS Climate Scientists to see Apocalyptic Misanthropic Global Warming evidence in a puddle of cat vomit.

  14. Donald Trump came to power promising to undermine and even eviscerate our most precious constitutional protections.

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