Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A Vision I Can Live With

Tyler Cowen lays out his vision of what a worthwhile agenda for a second Bush term might look like.

1. Eliminate all farm subsidies, tariffs, quotas and price supports.

2. Tell Western Europe it is paying for its own defense from now on.

3. Admit that the Medicare drug prescription bill was a mistake. Repeal it, and consider a revenue-neutral benefit that does not discriminate against prescription drugs. Introduce means-testing for Medicare to stop that program from bankrupting us. I would rather cut this benefit than repeal the tax cuts [tax shifts, correctly, though spending discipline could turn them into real tax cuts.] The long-run benefits of greater capital accumulation remain significant.

4. Negotiate bilateral free trade agreements as rapidly as possible. Start with Japan, the second largest economy in the world.

5. Strengthen America's commitment to science. This will have implications for educational policy, immigration policy, and regulatory policy. Don't restrict stem cell research. Hope that science comes up with affordable and politically sustainable solutions for global warming and clean energy independence. You might have libertarian objections to science subsidies, but the realistic alternative today is more government intervention.

6. Strengthen early warning systems against infectious diseases. Increase research into cures, vaccines, immunity, and the like. We don't want the world to lose fifty million people to avian flu or some other malady.

7. Take in more immigrants, but demand higher levels of skills and education. At the very least, take in any revenue-positive immigrant.

8. Abolish the Department of Education.

9. Abolish the Department of Energy.

10. Repeal all corporate welfare.

11. Repeal the corporate income tax. Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax. Admittedly these are "ifs," depending on fiscal considerations.

12. Get on TV and tell the nation that a free economy is a critical source of our strength. Tell them you mean it, and then mean it. Economic growth is the greatest long-run gift we can give to the world.
I think these are rather good proposals; too bad the Republican Party has about as much chance of adopting them as the Dodo has of coming back from the grave. No, what we're likely to get with a second Bush term is more of the same old "God and Gays" claptrap, along with mighty helpings of subsidies, tariffs and other goodies for politically favored companies.

I really don't see anything worth looking forward to in a second Bush term, and it looks to me as if the Bush campaign doesn't either, as the sole thrust of its electioneering has been to say "look how much worse off you'd be under the other guy." To those tempted to say that the same is true of Kerry, my only response is, yes, and what of it? I'm not a social democrat, so the less ambitious Kerry's agenda appears to be, the more comfortable I'm going to be with it; what I cannot abide is that a party that claims to stand for the freedom of the individual should do absolutely nothing to further that goal despite holding all the reins of power.