Blueprint for Reform: A Comprehensive Policy Agenda for a New Administration in 2017

The next President of the United States and Congress will face significant challenges in restoring to public life the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. They can begin by pursuing the following proposals:

Pro-growth tax reform. The tax system should raise the revenue necessary to fund a limited government at the lowest level possible for constitutionally appropriate activities, but the current U.S. system is outdated and extracts too much from the private economy. The tax system should apply the least economically destructive forms of taxation, have low rates on a broad base, minimize interference with the operation of the free market and free enterprise, and minimize the cost of compliance for taxpayers. It should also minimize adverse impact on the core institutions of civil society.

Balance the Budget. The federal budget absorbs enormous resources from the economy, both in money taken in from taxpayers and in money borrowed. The budget should be balanced by driving down federal spending, including through entitlement reforms, while maintaining a strong national defense and not raising taxes.

Reduce Regulatory Burden. In a post-Obama era, the need for reform of the regulatory system will be greater than ever before. Immediate reforms should include the requirement that legislation undergo an impact analysis before a floor vote in Congress, as well as a requirement that every major regulation obtain congressional approval before taking effect. Sunset deadlines should be required for all major rules, and independent agencies should be subject to the same White House regulatory review as executive branch agencies.

Repeal Harmful Laws such as Obamacare and Dodd–Frank. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare) and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd–Frank) greatly expanded federal control of the health care and financial sectors. Obamacare is unpopular, unaffordable, and unworkable.

Congress should repeal Obamacare in its entirety and replace it with patient-centered, market-based reforms. Dodd–Frank should also be repealed. Additional reforms should include removing the federal government from housing finance, ending the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending power, and ending federal loan and security guarantees.

Rebuild the Military Capabilities of the United States. The military capabilities of the United States to protect America and its interests abroad have been significantly reduced. The risk to Americans everywhere posed by global terrorism, the eruption of conflicts in many regions of the world, and American retreat in the face of challenges have begun to show the American people what a world without America looks like. The ability of the United States to exercise leadership and protect its interests depends substantially on the strength of the U.S. armed forces. The new President and Congress need to allocate the necessary resources to strengthen U.S. military capabilities.

Reform Welfare. The current U.S. means-tested welfare system has failed the poor. It fails to improve self-sufficiency and the cost of the welfare system is unsustainable. Total federal and state government spending on means-tested welfare now reaches over $1 trillion annually. Welfare reform should encourage work, a proven formula for reducing dependence and controlling costs. Furthermore, the vast majority of means-tested welfare spending is federal. Because states are not fiscally responsible for welfare programs, they have little incentive to curb dependence or rein in costs. States should gradually assume greater revenue responsibility for welfare programs; that is, they should pay for and administer the programs with state resources. Additionally, leaders should work to strengthen marriage. The absence of fathers in the home is one of the greatest drivers of child poverty. Policymakers should reduce marriage penalties in the current welfare system and find ways to promote marriage in low-income communities.

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