The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Different Tone

As we come to the end of 2016, I've heard more than a few liberal friends express thanks that this "horrible year" is over. Of course, they're not talking about the true humanitarian disaster that has come to pass in Syria, or the complete and dangerous collapse of Venezuela under still another failed socialist government, or the continuing rise of Iran as a Middle East hegemon, or Islamic terror attacks in the U.S. and many European cities, or the shameful Obama administration complicity in the anti-Israel vote at the U.N. Those things couldn't possibly be "horrible" because they were enabled by the inaction or the actions of Barack Obama and his vaunted Team of 2s—and they only do wonderful things—right?

Nah, the "horrible" year they're alluding to is all about the election of Donald Trump and the trouncing of the Democrats in the 2016 elections. After all, the Russians "hacked" the election or James Comey submarined Clinton or ... by now you know the list. And all of that was horrible.

In my view, 2016 was neither horrible nor wonderful. It was typical. At an individual level, Americans lived their lives, suffered joy and pain, worked hard, paid their rent or mortgage, tried not to overspend, and generally ignored the goings-on in Washington, D.C. They have learned that the mainstream media cannot be trusted to provide accurate news, that the pundit class is as clueless as the guy next door, that social media, for all its faults, allows direct communication between those who attempt to lead and those who follow, without the biased filter of the alphabet soup of media organizations.

So as progressives look backward and wring their hands over 2016, the rest of the country looks forward, hoping the Donald Trump will do some good things while knowing that he'll probably say and do some dumb things as well. If he simply works to 'make American great again' he'll fulfill the expectations of many.

Investor's Business Daily suggests a "wish list" for 2017:
  • Name a new Supreme Court justice. Trump will use former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's "nuclear option" to name a successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia — and other vacancies as they arise.
  • Repeal ObamaCare. Yes, parts of it will stay. Trump himself has said that popular pre-existing condition coverage and letting parents keep kids on their insurance until age 26 will likely remain. Democrats can block outright repeal. But by using the budget reconciliation process, major parts of ObamaCare can be defunded and replaced with market-based alternatives, such as health care savings accounts.
  • Reform Dodd-Frank. Many economists think this is the most pernicious financial regulation in decades. We agree. Trump and Congress should kill off as much of it as possible — beginning with the laughably misnamed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — and start over.
  • Reform corporate and individual taxes. The current top tax rate of over 35% will be slashed to 15% or so. Trump has advocated a one-time 10% tax on corporate earnings stashed overseas to encourage the estimated $2 trillion overseas to return to the U.S. On individual rates, the lower and flatter the better.
  • Drain that swamp. The federal government should stop subsidizing uncompetitive businesses and industries. But more important, we need civil service reform that will end the bureaucracy's current power to create nonsensical laws that we all have to live by, without any say by voters, Congress or the president. While they're at it, why not kill off the utterly useless Energy and Education Departments, which, respectively, neither make energy nor educate a single student.
  • Tame the regulatory state. Regulations, by one widely used estimate, now cost the U.S. $2 trillion a year. President Obama has added over $100 billion to that total. It's time to reinstate a simple cost-benefit rule: No regulation should be imposed with a cost exceeding its benefits. And all regulations should have a sunset period of, say, five years.
If a Trump administration accomplishes or begins to accomplish even one or two of those goals in 2017, it will have done more in one year than the Obama administration did in eight.

Looking forward to 2017, I'm hopeful that a different tone in Washington will result in different and better results for our country. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Happy New Year!