David Brooks recently outlined his view of competing visions of economic growth and vitality. He named them the Moon Shot Approach and the Unleash America Approach, the former being of the “industrial policy” persuasion, with government induced and directed enabling of economic development through infrastructure, tax credits, and subsidies, and the latter being more a project driven by American entrepreneurial spirit as outlined by Arthur C. Brooks in his book, The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future. Surely it will surprise none of my regular readers that I strongly favor the latter approach, and no one currently in a meaningful policy-making position in public life has articulated this approach better than Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Those who believe that there are no alternative ideas being offered by Republicans should read at least the executive summary of Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future, initially introduced in 2008 and updated earlier this year to reflect new realities.
The three key objectives of the plan are (1) providing health and retirement security, (2) lifting the debt burden, and (3) promoting American job creation and competitiveness. Its main components are health care, Medicare, Social Security, tax reform, and job training, and the measures recommended are comprehensive, aggressive, transformative, and fact and data-driven. Each provision is represented by solid proposals and legislation vetted by the Congressional Budget Office. The beauty of it is that it represents a new vision for the role of government, a new legacy, if you will, one that we thought we were building in 1980 and 1994 before the wheels fell off.
The plan represents transformative leadership in the finest sense, but surprisingly, as reported recently by Bill Murchison in Townhall, many Republicans are avoiding it like the plague, believing a plan offering such a drastic change in the role of government in people’s lives to be politically risky and dangerous for electoral longevity. Evidently, many of Ryan’s colleagues wish that he would just “cool it” on all the aggressive reform talk. To these people, friend or foe, I say: you are not the solution; in fact, you are the problem. If you are not willing to follow such leadership, not willing to pursue meaningful transformational reforms, then don’t continue to seek office, step aside and, in particular, don’t seek a governing majority. You have already blown it too many times.