01.02.2014 0

2014: How to achieve Obama’s ‘breakthrough’ year

Barack ObamaBy Nathan Mehrens 

Prior to departing on a two-week Hawaiian vacation, a reflective President Obama paused to offer a rather rosy prediction for the coming year.

“I firmly believe 2014 will be a breakthrough year for America,” he said.

Let’s hope he’s right.  Regardless of our ideological or partisan stripes, we should all root for his prediction to pan out.  Similarly every member of the U.S. Congress should heed the call for 2014 to be “a year of action.”

Yet while sharing optimism — and his sense of urgency — policymakers must honestly assess how this desired “breakthrough” is to be achieved.  Because in almost every instance the proper course involves a 180-degree departure from the policies Obama has implemented.

First, Congress should address Obamacare which is as fatally flawed as the false promises repeatedly made by its Promoter-in-Chief.  Even the President has recognized this to some extent — resulting in his administration’s constitutionally dubious efforts to defer certain Obamacare taxes and mandates until after the coming midterm elections.  But not all the pernicious effects of this new law have been delayed.  Numerous new Obamacare fees and regulations will increase the cost of health care plans beginning in 2014 — and the imposition of a new medical device tax and a pair of new Medicare taxes will siphon even more money from the economy.

Of course repealing this monstrosity — and restoring market principles to America’s health care system — is just one of the many steps Congress should take if it wants 2014 to truly be the “breakthrough” year this country so desperately needs.

What else should it do?  Among other things Congress should eliminate the 135 provisions of the federal tax code that enabled a handful of well-heeled corporations to receive $154 billion in special interest tax breaks in 2013.  In fact, it should follow the lead of U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and do away with the IRS altogether — replacing this discriminatory bureaucracy and its repressive tax code with a fairer, flatter and more competitive system.

Congress should also stop incentivizing dependency in 2014 and reinstate the bipartisan Clinton-era welfare reforms that were gutted by Obama’s failed “stimulus.”  Moreover it should end extended unemployment benefits and restore the 27-week eligibility period.  And rather than spending billions of dollars to add new dependents to our bloated and unsustainable welfare rolls — it should target these resources toward identifying and eliminating tens of billions of dollars in entitlement fraud.

“The United States spends more than $2.5 trillion on health care annually, and rough estimates indicate that anywhere from 3 to 10 percent of all health care expenditures are attributed to fraud,” a 2012 FBI report revealed.

That translates into $75-250 billion in fraudulent payments each year — of which officials typically recover less than $5 billion.

Looking at the structure of the federal government, Congress should immediately privatize NASA, Amtrak, the U.S. Post Office, the Tennessee Valley Authority, America’s air traffic control network, its port system, Interstate network and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Meanwhile it should completely eliminate the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Education, Housing and Urban Development and the Interior — as well as the U.S. Export-Import Bank, National Labor Relations Board and a host of other anti-competitive government agencies.  Funding to the National Security Agency’s domestic spy machine should be cut.

Congress should accompany these big-ticket privatizations, closings and consolidations with a ten percent reduction in the remaining federal workforce — while establishing reasonable salary and benefit limits for those employees who are actually performing core government functions.

Affecting these and many other limited government reforms would reduce the size of the federal government by hundreds of billions of dollars each year — and begin the process of putting our entitlement programs on a path to sustainability.  More importantly they would usher in a new American era of empowerment, productivity and prosperity for all citizens.

Obama’s “breakthrough” year is within Congress’ power to achieve — all that’s required is the repudiation of his agenda and a reversal of the conventional “bipartisan” wisdom that’s dominated D.C. policymaking for decades.

The author is president of Americans for Limited Government.

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