Politics & Policy

Five for Freedom

(Scanrail/Dreamstime)
Bringing government spending under control.

At the last Republican presidential debate, I presented the Simple Flat Tax — which, for a family of four, exempts the first $36,000 from all income tax, and above that amount collects one low rate of 10 percent for all Americans. It eliminates the death tax, the payroll tax, the corporate income tax, and the Obamacare taxes; ends the corporate carve-outs and loopholes; and requires every business to pay the same simple business flat tax of 16 percent. That plan will unleash unprecedented growth, create millions of new jobs, raise after-tax incomes for all income levels by double-digit percentages — and abolish the IRS as we know it.

But eliminating the IRS is only the first step in my plan to break apart the federal leviathan that has ruled Washington and crept into our lives. We can’t stop there. In addition to eliminating the IRS, a Cruz administration will abolish four cabinet agencies. And we will sharply reduce the alphabet soup of government entities, beginning with the ABCs that should not exist in the first place: The Agencies, Bureaus, Commissions, and other programs that are constitutionally illegitimate and harmful to American households and businesses. It’s time to return to a federal government that abides by our constitutional framework and strips power from unelected bureaucrats.

The need is urgent. The total federal debt currently stands at $18.6 trillion, larger than our entire economy. That is up 75 percent since the current president took office, and by the end of his tenure, he is expected to have added almost as much to the national debt as all past presidents combined.

And what does the Obama administration have to show for its uncontrolled spending? A stagnant economy, lagging job creation, and the lowest labor-force participation since the Carter administration. The Obama economy has burdened each American household with the equivalent of $57,000 of federal debt. Under such stifling circumstances, it’s no wonder that 84 percent of college graduates do not have a job lined up after graduation, and 13.2 percent of young adults are out of work. The current level of spending is not only irresponsible, but immoral and unjust to future generations.

The current level of spending is not only irresponsible, but immoral and unjust to future generations.

It is time for bold change. Change that stops Washington from squandering Americans’ money; that creates jobs and restores growth with a single, fair, low rate for everyone; that reins in Washington’s costly regulations; that honors the people’s work with the dignity it deserves; and that finally gets the government out of our pockets and off our backs.

Of course, because entitlements constitute roughly two-thirds of federal spending, no government spending plan is complete without addressing entitlement reform. And in the coming months, I will be laying out a detailed plan to do just that, to strengthen and preserve Social Security and Medicare and to ensure their fiscal strength for decades to come. But we should start with federal discretionary spending.

#share#First, to begin the process of reducing the scope and cost of government, I have identified the Five for Freedom: During my first year as president, I will fight to abolish the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. To do that, I will press Congress relentlessly. And I will appoint heads of each of those agencies whose central charge will be to lead the effort to wind them down and determine whether any of their programs need to be preserved elsewhere because they fall within the proper purview of the federal government. I do not anticipate the lists to be long.

The IRS and these cabinet agencies are unnecessary and will be shuttered for the following reasons:

‐Internal Revenue Service – to dramatically simplify the tax code and enable everyone to fill out their taxes on a postcard or smartphone app.

‐Department of Education – to return education to those who know our students best: parents, teachers, local communities, and states. And to block-grant education funding to the states.

‐Department of Energy – to cut off the Washington cartel, stop picking winners and losers, and unleash the energy renaissance.

‐Department of Commerce – to close the “congressional cookie jar” and promote free enterprise and free trade for every business.

‐Department of Housing and Urban Development – to offer real solutions that lift people out of hardship, rather than trapping families in a cycle of poverty, and to empower hurting Americans by reforming most of the remaining programs, such as Section 8 housing.

Second, besides these unnecessary cabinet agencies and the IRS, we will sharply reduce the agencies, bureaus, commissions, and other programs that are harming American households and businesses — including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Together with the four departments and the IRS, our conservative estimate of the effects of these eliminations and reductions is a savings of over $500 billion over ten years. And that’s just a start. The true savings — of scaling down the scope of the federal government, of restoring to the states their rightful authority, and of unleashing the people’s ingenuity — cannot be measured by a number. We are uprooting the centralized power that we have lived under for far too long.

Third, we will bring back a proven approach from the prosperous days of the Reagan administration: a private-sector panel to assess federal spending levels and evaluate areas of waste and fraud for removal. At President Reagan’s behest, the Grace Commission recommended 2,478 “cost-cutting, revenue-enhancing” suggestions, without raising taxes, weakening defense, or harming social welfare. It was a major success among other policies that created a great economic boom, and it deserves a reprise.

Fourth, we will hold Congress accountable; it too often delegates its authority to unelected bureaucrats. We will enact a strong Balanced Budget Amendment. And, by enacting the REINS Act, we will require that a majority of members approve any major, cost-inducing regulations.

Fifth, we will put in place a hiring freeze of federal civilian employees across the executive branch. For those agencies in which it is determined that a vacant position needs to be filled, I will authorize the hiring of a maximum ratio of one person for every three who leave. And rather than automatically increasing federal workers’ pay annually, workers will have more opportunities for merit-based pay increases.

The full details of this plan can be found at www.tedcruz.org. It’s past time to dramatically reduce the size of government and restore congressional accountability to the people. Doing so, along with instituting fundamental tax reform and regulatory reform, will reignite the promise that has made this the freest and most prosperous nation in the world.

— Ted Cruz is a U.S. senator from Texas and a Republican candidate for president.

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