David Tucker has asked us to address the question of what the administration’s strategy should be during the second Bush term. It’s worth noting that this is the first time since FDR that we have a second-term president who also enjoys a friendly majority in both Houses of Congress. This means that there has never been a more opportune time to clean up some of the mess the New Deal created. If by “big government conservatism” one means a certain amount of federal action aimed at finding market-based solutions to such problems, then I suppose I’m for it. The most pernicious aspect of the New Deal was that it has created expectations that no political party can ignore. It’s not, therefore, a simple question of slashing budgets and canceling programs a la Barry Goldwater. If Bush fails to take advantage of this historic moment, Ill be the first to admit that he wasnt the man I thought he was.
The greatest contribution I can see Bush making in the next four years is overhauling social security. Sure, there are problems with his proposal to allow Americans to invest a part of their contributions themselves, but its a solid first step. The beauty of it is that although it begins small (20 percent of contributions), once people begin to see the difference in what they make from that part of their social security, there will be a hue and cry to allow people to invest more of it themselves.
Something also needs to be done to index retirement age to average life expectancy, so we dont have retirees drawing money from the system for 25+ years, as often happens now.