Retirement and Social Security Reform
A Manual For New-Style Republicans
Investor's Business Daily
January 5, 2011
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins
History records that we Americans are exceptional
- a nation of out-of-the-box thinkers who are can-do in spirit,
superior in ability and indefatigable in defense of our "don't
tread on me" liberties. But despite our strengths, here
we are in the winter of 2011, in the suffocating grip of a
failed federal government that has pushed us to the brink
of financial disaster.
Unless the planned rescue attempt by the new Republican majority
in the House is successful and quick, we will be forced over
the edge by the combination of Barack Obama's radicalism and
Harry Reid's tawdry shenanigans in the Senate.
And don't forget Ben Bernanke at the Fed and his irrational
exuberance for printing cheap money.
"Quantitative easing is a dangerous game with only a
small potential upside," says Harvard's Martin Feldstein.
Washington has done so much dumb stuff for so long that many
Americans have almost come to think that it is normal - even
inevitable - for our government to pick our pockets, insult
our intelligence, suppress our freedoms and impair our economy.
But the recent destructiveness of Obama and the Democrats
in Congress has been so outrageous that even the most government-tolerant
people are ready to revolt.
In the midterm elections, the voters punished the Democratic
exemplars of bad governance for being abusive (ObamaCare),
profligate (more than $1 trillion wasted in the false name
of stimulus) and inept (killing jobs instead of creating them).
The next step for the voters in 2012 is to replace the regrettable
Obama and his remaining henchmen in Congress with people who
are examples of American Exceptionalism.
No longer will Washington push and plunder America. Rather,
when the genius and good character of the American people
are again applied to our governance, Washington will be transformed.
Our would-be master will instead become our obedient servant,
quietly and efficiently going about the people's business,
pinching every penny and staying out of the way.
A "how-to" manual of good governance is available
to the newly elected Republicans coming to Congress with a
mandate to restore competence and integrity to the Capitol.
It is called "A Roadmap for America's Future." It
was pioneered by Congressman Paul Ryan - the new Chairman
of the House Budget Committee. He is now being joined by a
large group of other new-style Republicans.
The "Roadmap" explains in the simple elegance of
superior logic how the failed federal government can be rebuilt
in a way that makes everyone better off. Social Security can
be improved and made financially sound. Health care can be
plentiful, reasonable in price and strictly between the doctor
and the patient.
Taxes can be fair, low and understandable. The economy can
grow, creating jobs and boosting incomes. And government can
serve America's other needs with much less money.
Government frugality is a case where less equals more. A dollar
put to work in the private sector enlarges the economic pie
(jobs and incomes) by far more than a dollar - but a dollar
spent by government typically does not.
Thus - to minimize the economic loss - a well-run government
will tax and spend as little as possible. It will seek the
most bang for every buck and will solve problems with smarts
instead of futilely throwing money at them.
A recent internal government study (discontinued by Obama)
reveals that, even by federal bureaucrats' own self-assessments,
about 50% of Washington's high-cost programs received failing
grades of "D" or lower for effectiveness. The combined
budgets of just these failed programs alone were in amount
equal to about half of last year's federal deficit.
The new Congress should immediately reassess all existing
federal programs on a strict cost-benefit basis and apply
the same "is it really worth it" test to all future
enactments. The first question is whether the public benefit
of the program (even if efficiently performed) is sufficient
to justify its true cost, which includes the job-killing effects
of taxes to pay for it. Typically, an additional $1 of tax
does about $3 of collateral damage, mostly to wage earners.
Through the Internet and otherwise, the public must be involved
in cost-benefit budgeting. When the voters see the true cost
of government on an item-by-item basis, weigh the costs against
the benefits and are given a choice, they will become enthusiastic
Good governance requires a truth-based partnership between
the voters and Washington. This used to be the norm and was
known as "representative government." Perhaps it
can begin anew under the banner of "Americans for the
Christian, an attorney, was a deputy assistant
secretary of the Treasury in the Ford administration. Robbins,
an economist, served at the Treasury Department in the Reagan