Republicans control the governorship, senate, and house in 25 states. Here’s what they should do with that power.
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If the government bureaucrat unions prevent such reasonable pension reforms, the answer is just to sharply slash the number of government workers, cutting unfunded liabilities to the same degree. States and localities can contract out services to private companies, which has a long, highly successful record in American government. The ultimate example is Sandy Springs, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, which has successfully contracted out all city services except the police and courts. Privatizing in this way would eliminate virtually all state and local unfunded pension liabilities.
• Cut Counterproductive Overregulation
Laffer, Moore, and Williams identify excessive, counterproductive state and local government overregulation and associated costs as another major factor retarding state economic growth. A major program of deregulation, similar to what President Reagan pursued at the federal level in the 1980s, should be adopted by every state that Republicans control.
Particularly harmful, Laffer et al. found, are state mandates that health insurance cover benefits favored by special interests, such as acupuncturists. Such mandates sharply raise the cost of health insurance and are effectively yet another tax on employment, further reducing such employment.
• School Choice
School choice shifts power from the public school bureaucracy to parents, students, and families, which is why the bureaucracy and unions oppose it so strongly. Such reform creates a competitive market in education, replacing the current government monopoly. Parents and students have the power to determine where school funding goes, so schools, teachers, administrators, and the bureaucracy must be maximally responsive to their concerns and preferences, to win the market competition.
The reforms recently adopted in Louisiana under Governor Bobby Jindal are a model for such reform. Caps and barriers to charter schools should be eliminated. School choice tax credits should be adopted, at least for the poor and disadvantaged to start. This issue can help Republicans appeal to poor minority voters, who are rightly concerned about the poor quality of public schools hampering their children’s futures.
These reforms hold the promise of remaking the economic and political map in America, as pro-growth states rise to replace the over-the-hill, declining ones that pursue the defunct redistribution policies of the past. Moreover, people — and the resulting political power that comes with them — follow economic growth.
This is already happening. The South, from Texas to Florida, is rising as the new industrial base of the nation. The Northeast is in long-term decline and will be left behind the rest of the country. If upstate New York were its own state, it would be the poorest one in the union.
As Laffer, Moore, and Williams write:
With respect to the economic importance of the Northeast, all the data point to one conclusion: it is dying. The Atlantic states are suffering from a slow motion version of the economic paralysis now affecting much of Europe, particularly France and Sweden with their state-of-the-art, massive welfare systems. In 2007, the Northeast was home to a smaller share of the U.S. population than ever before; it had a smaller industrial base and produced a smaller percentage of America’s total value added than at any time in the nation’s history. For the rest of the United States — which has impressively restructured its economy for the challenges of the productivity-driven information age — the Northeast is not so much unnecessary as it is irrelevant. Today, most of America — competitive, capitalist and confident — observes the Northeast through its rearview mirror.
These fundamental economic realities will translate into fundamental political realities more and more over time as economic patterns translate into population patterns. Florida now has as many electoral votes as New York. Georgia has as many as Michigan, and almost as many as political powerhouse Ohio. Barry Goldwater’s Arizona has as many electors as George McGovern’s Massachusetts. Winning Texas alone nearly offsets losing Pennsylvania and Illinois combined. California did not gain any electoral votes after the 2010 Census, the first time its power did not increase since it became a state in 1850.
Liberal northeast media outlets can shelter their populations from competing points of view, as they have been so successful in doing for so long. But they cannot shelter their populations from reality. The Northeast intellectual elites are locked in a brain freeze circa the 1930s. If that freeze does not thaw, the rest of America, and even economically emerging nations abroad, will pass them by.
Photo: WisPolitics.com (Creative Commons 2.0).
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?