So-called “12-step” programs are intended to help people addicted to alcohol or drugs break the grip of their addictions.
Similarly, with the imminent departure of President Obama, who was regrettably addicted to growing the size and reach of the federal government, America now has the opportunity to reclaim the personal liberties and financial freedoms diminished by his liberal policies over the past eight years.
With a Republican in the White House, congressional Republicans no longer have excuses for inaction. Here’s a 12-step freedom agenda for Congress that would help President-elect Donald Trump make America great again
1) Repeal Obamacare and replace it with a patient-centered alternative that promotes health care freedom. It’s disconcerting that after vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act for five years, and even holding repeated show votes in the House, congressional Republicans still haven’t agreed upon and submitted a replacement. Politics, like nature, abhor a vacuum. You can’t beat something with nothing
2) Enact pro-growth tax reform that simplifies the tax code and promotes fairness. We should start by lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate, which is, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation, at 39 percent, the third-highest in the world after Chad and the United Arab Emirates. Lowering the corporate tax rate to, say, 15 percent, would result in those profits being repatriated and generate $150 billion or more in tax revenues that could go toward balancing the budget.
3) Abandon the so-called “Chevron deference” doctrine, the Supreme Court precedent that since 1984 requires courts to defer to the interpretations of statutes made by federal agencies in the absence of clear legislation from Congress.
Courts should decide cases that challenge federal agency regulations based on their merits, not in a way designed to protect this shadow fourth branch of government. Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, has put forward legislation, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2016, that would end the Chevron deference.
4) Return control of education to the states. Reducing the role of the federal government in education is consistent with the 10th Amendment, which delegates to the states and people powers that aren’t delegated to the federal government in the Constitution.
Candidate Donald Trump promised to abandon Common Core and champion school choice. His nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, is a longtime proponent of charter schools.
5) Protect free speech by stopping the Internal Revenue Service from releasing information about donors to tax-exempt organizations, as it did on Mr. Obama’s watch when the names of contributors to groups opposed to gay marriage were leaked to LGBTQ organizations.
6) Restore Americans’ confidence in the Federal Reserve by requiring regular audits. The Senate should pass legislation to that effect put forward by Rep. Thomas Massie and Sen. Rand Paul, both Kentucky Republicans. There is no reason why the Fed, or any other agency, should be above the law or operate with such little oversight.
7) In the same vein, repeal the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, better known as Dodd-Frank, and the harmful regulations enacted by its unaccountable bureaucracy. As enacted by Democrats in 2010, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is financed off the books by the Fed and virtually impervious to congressional scrutiny. That’s just plain wrong, to say nothing of anti-democratic.
8) Rein in the executive branch and regulatory agencies by requiring that any rule or regulation with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more be subject to an up-or-down vote by Congress before taking effect. This would restore Article I of the Constitution, which delegates lawmaking power solely to the legislative branch.
9) Return transportation and infrastructure decisions to the states through block grants, per the 10th Amendment. Localities are in a better position to set spending priorities in this regard than Washington paper-pushers.
10) End federal bailouts and subsidies for politically connected industries. That means no more Solyndra-style boondoggles. Let competition in the marketplace determine the winners and losers.
11) Restore the work requirements for welfare and provide training and job-search assistance to welfare recipients to help them find employment. The Obama administration effectively gutted such requirements from the Clinton-era welfare reform law.
12) Reduce federal spending by adopting a Swiss-style “debt brake” law that caps spending as a percentage of potential gross domestic product. Congress must have a conversation about budget deficits and the national debt. The Maximizing America’s Prosperity Act, introduced in previous congresses by House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, Texas Republican, is an excellent way to start.
The prerequisite for success of any 12-step program is an acknowledgment beforehand that you have a problem. Voters acknowledged as much by electing Mr. Trump in November.
The 12 steps outlined above can help restore freedom and prosperity, and resuscitate the spirit of entrepreneurship that made our nation an economic powerhouse and the envy of the world.
• Adam Brandon is president and CEO of FreedomWorks.