Politics & Policy

It’s Time to Disband Never Trump

Donald and Melania Trump join House Speaker Paul Ryan on the Speaker’s Balcony on Capitol Hill, November 10, 2016. (Reuters photo: Joshua Roberts)
Conservatives should focus on helping the president-elect deliver on his promise of helping average Americans prosper.

David French, for whom I wanted to vote for president, offers a theory on what Never Trumpers should do now. With all due respect, I have another, simpler theory on what we Never Trumpers should do: disband, congratulate President-elect Trump, and work to help him make America great again.

Our job now is to hope we were wrong, and to work from our hopes, not our fears.

Never Trumpers had a disagreement with the Republicans who supported Trump in the primaries. That disagreement never became ideological in the general election because an independent candidate capable of defining an ideological schism worth risking a Clinton victory never emerged. Being a decent guy like Evan McMullin (who ran one of the blandest, least content-filled, most consultant-driven campaigns I’ve ever seen) is not enough. The economically libertarian, socially liberal platform of Gary Johnson earned just 3 percent of the vote, siphoning votes away more or less equally from Clinton and Trump, if pre-election polls are to be believed. 

The American people have picked a president, and we should leave the caviling and whining to the Left.

Trump had a movement. Conservatives who opposed him did not. That’s the reality. 

For better or worse, Trump now defines what the Republican party stands for, we do not. The success of the GOP for the next generation depends on whether Trump can deliver on his big promise: to restore vigorous economic growth that lifts the well-being of average American families.

Trump had a movement. Conservatives who opposed him did not. That’s the reality.

Libertarianish conservatives in Washington must recognize that Trump did not run on Ryanomics. He promised to protect Social Security and Medicare and to make sure people had health care. He also promised to borrow money and invest it in real major public-infrastructure improvements. If Trump really uses it to improve roads, bridges, and airports instead of the enviro-company boondoggles Obama funded, this is something we should support. Government cannot invest in private companies. Government “investments” end up funneling money into projects that benefit rich political supporters, not growing the economy. But government can build and rebuild the properties it actually owns in public or quasi-public forms: tunnels, bridges, highways, airports. It’s a short-term boost, not a long-term path to prosperity, but we do need tunnels, bridges, highways, and airports.

How do we restore economic growth?

Tinkering with the tax code is the most popular idea among establishment conservatives in Washington, and the corporate-tax rates we have do make us less competitive in the world market. But the real key lies in dismantling the erratic, unjust, and random regulatory structure that crushes new investments and new technologies. The environmental regulations are one half; counterproductive regulations on investments that have helped crush the IPO market are the other half.

Getting the Fed out of the business of manipulating money in order to magically make growth appear is a second necessity, as George Gilder (a fellow at American Principles Project, where I work) has written in The Scandal of Money.

Capital is not flowing to the most promising new companies. It is being redirected by monetary policy to fund Washington, unjustly enrich Wall Street, and starve Main Street. The new conservative movement should not hesitate to uncouple support for free enterprise from regulatory structures fattening Wall Street insiders.

But I believe that restoring rising wages will require dealing with our broken health-care system, lest rising costs of health care eat up the value of any wage increases. To do it right, conservatives have to get away from superficial tinkering and go to the real problem: our health-care system is a bloated bureaucracy, not a free market that delivers cost-lowering innovations, as does the rest of the economy. 

Letting people buy insurance across state lines isn’t going to change any of that. We have to recognize as well that people don’t really care about health insurance; they care about being able to afford and access health care.

Let’s consider a radically different approach, something like the following. Step one: universal health savings accounts. Let everyone deposit tax-free up to $5,000 in a health savings account. Replace Medicaid with a subsidized health savings account for the poor and near-poor, and consider matching grants for the lower middle class. Money not spent on health care or prescription drugs could be rolled over into next year’s account. Because people would pay money they controlled for basic medical care, a market in drugs, in doctors, and even in surgeries would be created. Market forces would lower the costs of routine care, just as costs for laser eye surgery collapsed when they were not covered by insurance.

Second, create a national catastrophic-health-insurance program covering the small number of families hit with truly gargantuan expenses — say, $50,000 a year or more. 

What remains is to find a way to insure unusual medical expenses, between $5,000 and $50,000. But here’s the thing: With insurers off the hook for both the first $5,000 and anything above $50,000, insurance costs would plummet. Large corporations should be encouraged or required to offer their workers a health-savings-account option, with insurance covering expenses between $5,000 and $50,000.

#related#The numbers would have to be crunched, of course, but the basic idea is threefold: 1) Create a market in health care instead of an expensive, ineffective bureaucracy. 2) Guarantee national health insurance for catastrophic medical cases. 3) Let newly cheap insurance pay for unexpected medical expenses between $5,000 and $50,000, reducing the burdens on both consumers and business. If we don’t get health care right, the leaping costs are going to swallow the gains of even vigorous economic growth as the population keeps aging.

And we would offer healthy young Americans a chance to accumulate capital, too, instead of mandating they spend for insurance they probably won’t use.

Dismantle the regulatory state crushing the economy and fix the health-care system. If we do those two things, the American people will trust the GOP to do much else.

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