The End of the Beginning

After Alexander and Montgomery turned back Rommel at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942, Churchill told his audience at the Mansion House, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” That, I think, is how we should view the debt-ceiling victory — for it is a victory. For the first time in many years we have stopped government’s remorseless advance. We must go on to win many more victories if we are to see government shrunk back to its rightful size, but the first victory is often the hardest to obtain.

There are many more battles to fight. Our first job, it seems to me, is signaled by the desperate GDP and manufacturing numbers announced in the past few days, which have been obscured by the political news, but which are keenly observed by the markets. We have to get Americans back to work and the key to that is deregulation.

Regulation currently costs us $1.75 trillion annually — so over the decade of our $1 trillion spending victory, we will see $17.5 trillion thrown away in regulatory costs. The costs are particularly burdensome on small businesses — about $10,000 annually per employee. Regulation is an important reason why most small businesses do not plan to hire anyone in the next year.

If we want to get America back to work, we have to tackle the bureaucracy itself. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has already shown what benefits taking on the public sector can bring. It is time to take that fight national and expose what bureaucrats and regulators are doing to America. Spending will be part of that battle, but only a small part. The battle is about the role of government in American life, and our victory in the battle of the debt ceiling should embolden us for a far bigger battle now.

— Iain Murray’s latest book is Stealing You Blind: How Government Fatcats Are Getting Rich Off of You.

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