(Originally written for The Star-Exponent)
There was a time when Republicans believed in the reduction of the size of government, or at least said they did. In the wake of 40 years of an expanding welfare state Thatcher and Reagan came to divert us from the “Road to Serfdom” as F. A. Hayek called it. Thing is, the revolution never happened.
In the 80s government still expanded, it wasn’t rolled back. In an effort to spend the Soviet Union into the ground Reagan compromised and built jets, and submarines, and nukes. In the end the cost may have been worth it to take the Soviets down. But it was only worth it if after the destruction of Marxist statism we returned to our roots and allowed the market to flourish and the welfare state to fade away. Freedom won. Let freedom reign, again.
But we didn’t choose that route. We chose instead to let the government grow larger with each passing year. If we didn’t have the money, no problem. We’d just borrow it. And that is what we’ve done with abandon.
It’s not solely the fault of the Democrats. It’s not solely the fault of the GOP. It is the fault of both houses. It is Washington’s fault. It is the political establishment’s fault. This is because borrowing massive amounts from China and now directly from the Federal Reserve allows our “leaders” to continue on providing services (which make many voters happy) without raising taxes. By the time the bill is due they are long gone with a stretch of highway in their home district named after them.
It is the next generation who must pay. How we are to do this will be the most important question of my political life. It will define the next decades and may potentially transform this country for the worse if we are too paralyzed by political tribalism to address it.
The fact is that for this country to flourish in the 21st century we must recognize now as the high water mark for the expansion of government. There is no time to play around. We must cut deeply and we must begin now.
What am I talking about? Obamacare repealed. Department of Education, gone. Department of Homeland Security cut by 70%. Defense cut by 50% (which would put it back at 2000 levels oh no!). EPA cut 50%. Department of Energy cut by 90%. And so on.
Don’t forget moving the Social Security eligibility age to 74. That is vital.
We have been led to believe that the world would end if we started cutting like this. It won’t. For most of America there will be little impact. For Washington, DC however there will be a great impact. People will lose their jobs and will have to find a place in the private sector where things are a little tougher. People will have to move, just as people in any company town must when the main industry cuts back.
For the country overall, it will be a boon. As red tape is lessoned and the army of regulators is reduced America will again find that the business of America is business. We are not Europe. We are a free people who have built a society on risk taking. With a smaller government this deep American nature can again emerge, and make no mistake the world will take notice.
Of course this may surprise many people but most of the world doesn’t want us to get lean and mean. Much of the world would prefer that we remain saddled with debt and an unwieldy welfare state. When we are sharp, nothing can stop us. When we are like this, getting bogged down in unending wars, indebting ourselves to our rivals, we are much easier to handle.
The cuts I suggest may appear to many as extreme to some, beyond the pale. I don’t advocate these things just because I want a much smaller government. I advocate these things because we can either begin an orderly unwinding of the welfare state now or we will experience a disorderly unraveling of the welfare state in the future. It’s our choice and I admit it is a hard one. But debt is a nasty devil, and it always comes for its due.