by Lil Tuttle
In a special 2016 post-election Conservative Women’s Network discussion on December 2, four experts looked ahead to the many reasons conservatives have to celebrate the New Year.
Primary among these is the opportunity offered by the election results to implement public policies that unleash and grow our stagnant economy, restore the Rule of Law, shrink the crushing federal regulatory burden on individuals and businesses, and reestablish the constitutional balance of power between state and federal governments.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and Director of its Economics21 Program — ECONOMIC GROWTH
It is wonderful, Diana noted, that Donald Trump got elected on a platform of low taxes and low regulations. Anyone familiar with his 2015 book, Crippled America, understood his full economic platform. Consequently, it should not have been a surprise to see the stock market jump the day following his election in anticipation of the economic growth policies he advocated.
Federal agency regulations can be rolled back, Diana noted, but conservatives have a big role to play in exerting the necessary pressure to ensure support for, and implementation of, the economic policies and principles he outlined, among them:
- Repeal and replacement of Obamacare, which Congress is already working on.
- Tax code reform to lower the top personal tax rate to 33% and the corporate tax rate to 15% (down from its current 39%).
- Legal immigration reform that prioritizes the nation’s, and its citizens’, economic interests.
- Education reform.
Jennifer Marshall, Vice-President for the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at the Heritage Foundation — OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
Jennifer reminded the audience that a major theme in this campaign was ‘opportunity for all’. She highlighted three areas where conservative principles can be made to work better for everyone immediately.
- Healthcare reform—Congress can immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act, while providing coverage until a better healthcare replacement is in place.
- Education and welfare reform—In education today, 10% of local schools’ funding comes from the federal government, yet the federal government drives about 50% of the rules and regulations that govern local schools.
The goal of the next administration and Congress should be to reduce Washington’s footprint in local school systems and to encourage officials to move to make education funding both student-centered and portable, as outlined in Heritage’s A-PLUS education reform proposal. In welfare today, dozens of means-tested federal programs provide assistance to the poor, and virtually all of them undermine work and marriage. The goal here should be to methodically eliminate these disincentives across the board, in all programs from food stamps to public housing.
- Regulatory reform—The goal in this area should be to undo unilateral Obama Administration actions that resulted in forcing its progressive agenda and values on everyone in America. One example she cited is the Transgender Bathroom mandate that currently has left the nation—and the nation’s school children—in turmoil.
Cleta Mitchell, Partner and Political Law Attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP — RESTORE THE RULE OF LAW
The most important, overarching action President-elect Trump can take, argued Cleta, is to restore the Rule of Law in America. The phrase, “American is a nation of laws, not of men,” has long defined our nation, “but what we’ve seen in the last eight years is a president with a cell phone and a pen who has made law as though he were an emperor.”
The Transgender Bathroom mandate mentioned earlier by Jennifer was not a “law,” said Cleta. It was a federal agency “Guidance Letter.” Yet it had the effect of law in radically altering the day-to-day operations of thousands of public schools across the nation.
Restoring the Rule of Law means a two-fold agenda. First, it means repealing regulations along with creating safeguards against federal regulatory excesses and overreach in the future. Second, it means changing legal doctrines that arbitrarily give deference to government agencies in regulatory decision-making.
Finally, Cleta noted that conservative are facing a media, a government public union sector, and left-wing academics that will be hostile to the proposed policies we advocate. We can’t just promote policies, she said. We must also fight back in process ways. One example she cited was legislatively depriving government public sector unions of taxpayer dollars that use to block genuine government reforms.
Tracie Sharp, President and CEO of the State Policy Network — STATE REFORMS
The State Policy Network is an incubator and connector of state policies across the nation. Voters didn’t just reject progressive candidates nationally, she said. Voters rejected progressive candidates in states as well.
This is a time of great churn, and it presents us with a window of opportunity. The tendency is always toward the status quo, so there is a lot of work to be done at the state level to complement efforts at the federal level.
States are natural laboratories of American public policy, but the federal government has blocked many of the policy proposals states have wanted to test in recent year. States should take this opportunity to flex the Constitutional muscles afforded them to review and revise all policy areas, from health care to tax codes. Tax codes, for example should be reviewed through the prism of job creation: does the code bring jobs to the state, or does it push jobs out of the state?
Conservatives have momentum, and we need to drive good policies through this window of opportunity.
Panelists took questions following their opening remarks. We invite you to view the full video of this event: