Hans' News and Politics Blog

A Blog of Conservative News, Politics, and Foreign Affairs

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What President Bush needs to do to regain momentum.

Ever since the defeat of his Social Security reform President Bush's administration seems to have fallen into a deep funk and given up all initiative. Only in the last week has the White House begun to fight back by pointing out the false narrative created by the MSM, and the attempts to rewrite history by the Democrats (check out this video). It seems there is finally a concerted effort underway by this administration to defend itself. Now if the White House could only get an assertive press secretary ...

However, this is only the first step on the path back. The administration and the GOP needs to regain the initiative on policy. To do that they have to realize first why Social Security reform failed: The administration relied on a bipartisan outside panel of former politicians to come up with a compromise solution which was complicated and difficulty to understand. The White House further compromised to liberal criticism in the final proposal it delivered to Congress. The plan was coolly received by the GOP, and Democrats who had taken a completely obstructionist position towards everything coming out of the White House weren't swayed by the concessions granted to them. The plan also created a lot more uncertainty within the population as to their benefits. In the end, the plan had no natural constituency, since the private accounts were too limited to gain any public support. Nobody would've been left better off, while plenty of uncertainty was created.

President Bush has wandered too far off his base and failed to inspire the GOP base and rally the country as a whole to his side. Besides, most of his original agenda, except the failed Social Security reform, has already been enacted, leaving little to do for the future. Thus, after successfully defending himself against the slanderous charges by the mediacrats he has to lay out a new agenda at the next State of the Union address. This is what he should propose:

1. Immigration reform: Although politicians don't like to talk about it there is a real public clamor for fixing the dysfunctional immigration system. The President needs to lay out a specific proposal to reform or replace a system that has resulted in over 10 million illegal immigrants. In the past he has talked about the need to reform in vague terms and let the Senate take the lead on it. He needs to take full ownership of the issue and actually lead the reform movement.

2. Tax reform: On this issue the President has so far followed the same defective path that brought him his failure on Social Security reform. He should ditch the bipartisan panel because their proposals would be DOA anyway. The only way to get serious tax reform passed is by creating popular support for the reform. Only a really serious simplification, such as a flat tax, could capture the public imagination. It is easy to understand, appeals to the public's sense of fairness, and economically stimulating.

3. Health care reform: Our current health care system is dysfunctional and heading for a breakdown. If the GOP doesn't get a handle on this we might end up with a socialist health care system, long sought by the democrats. Expand the current Health Savings Accounts thru the use of refundable tax credits, and make health insurance mandatory. Over time, this individual-based health care system will replace the patch work of inefficient semi-socialist third party systems. Market mechanisms will be allowed to do their work, resulting in large gains in efficiency, while giving consumers more choice and control over their healthcare. Instead of limping along with our current system until it collapses under its own weight (as it already happened in the airline and steel industry, with the car industry not far behind) the public will slowly shift over to the new system due to its inherent superiority. One great source of public fear, the potential loss of healthcare coverage, would be addressed, while also resolving a long-term crisis to the federal budget.

With these three measures the administration could regain the initiative, seize control of the public debate, and substantially reform the public sector.


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