Friday, July 28, 2017

"Trump's Not Getting Anything Done"

I had lunch recently with a liberal friend who declared that Trump wasn't getting anything done.

So I had the option of silence or disagreement.

I decided not to disturb this New York Times reader. After all, why argue the point? As far as I know, President Trump is doing a pretty good job of reversing tons of regulations pushed through by the phone-and-pen Obama administration. He seems to be cleaning up ISIS in Syria; he is putting the brakes on full-bore green energy. He seems to be putting the kibosh on "net neutrality." His Education Secretary  seems to be moving forward on a conservative agenda, maybe introducing a smidgen of choice.

Trump has not, of course, repealed and replaced Obamacare, and I don't know if that is good or bad. I'd say that the time to fix Obamacare will be when Democrats are shouting the house down that Something Has to be Done, because their voters are being hurt. Obviously we have not reached that point, and meanwhile Democrats are enjoying the fun of making Republicans squirm and look foolish.

All in all, I am not sure if Trump  is an idiot, as his opponents insist, or that he just plays one on TV.

What I would like to see is tax reform, simply a bill to reduce deductions and carve-outs and replace them with lower tax rates. Especially for corporations.

Recently, I read an article arguing for the return of "regular order" to Congress, where bills would be introduced in committee and marked up and then brought before the full houses of Congress. Instead of the current system where bills like Obamacare and Obamacare replacement are cooked up by the leaders of Congress in congress with the special interests and then submitted for up on down votes by the members. And where appropriation bills are replaced by year-end "reconciliation" omnibus bills.

Yes, but. The problem is that government is so big that it is meddling in too many things to allow each issue to be worked out in subcommittees and committees. Even the big omnibus bills can't do the job. That's why they stuffed Obamacare full  of directives for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop regulations for this and that. And why Obama bypassed the legislative process with his phone-and-pen executive order policy.

Only, it is a century since Ludwig von Mises argued that socialism could not work because it could not compute prices. And the same applies to all centralized administrative systems. But it hasn't stopped the merchants of power, because people come to government precisely to use its force to dodge the directions of the market and the price system.

That is why all the big government programs are a mess; that is why omnibus bills and reconciliation are a monstrosity; that is why it is not possible for Congress to legislate using "regular order." All these  approached to social cooperation are trying to substitute the force of government for the give and take of the price system and the natural instinct of humans to resolve their differences peacefully. And these cheap resorts to force are all doomed to fail, at the cost of much human suffering: hello Venezuela.

Meanwhile Trump is dodging and weaving, trying to get something done, and the readers of The New York Times are being taught that he is not getting anything done.

Someone is going to be wrong about that one. I just hope it isn't me.

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