Thoughts for the New President


I submitted the following on the Obama Administration Change.gov Web-site (http://change.gov/).  I recommend this to anyone with an opinion on where our country needs to go in the next four years, even if it is a Conservative opinion that might be ignored.

The Economy

—Reduce tax rates, corporate and individual.  Credit is tight (and should be, it was too loose and a bubble formed).  Retained earnings are the key to business growth.  Reduced taxes are the best available source, preferable to running the printing presses.

—Reduce government spending.  Once the credit markets loosen, too much public debt will squeeze out private business borrowing, as in the late 1930s Recession.

—Loosen environmental and other regulations on the Energy industry.  “Drill here, drill now, pay less” is not your slogan, but it will work and should be implemented (especially given recent oil discoveries under the Black Hills), as should loosened restrictions on coal and natural gas exploration and development.  Tar Sands and Shale Oil need to be developed if economically feasible.

Smash regulatory barriers to the development of atomic power plants.  The priority should be replacement of remaining oil and natural gas fired power plants.

—Government grants should go to alternative energy research, but there should be a realistic appreciation that the results will be meager in the near term and that such research is better pursued in the private sector.

—Can a coast-to-coast private passenger rail system be profitably be developed?  Can AMTRAC finally be privatized?

—Consider repeal of New Deal Era Legislation, such as Federal Minimum Wage Laws that discourage employers from hiring.

—A strong SEC encouraging transparency in financial markets is critical for promoting stable, sustained growth.  There are no free markets in the absence of the rule of law and a rational (hence limited, consistent and enforceable) scheme of regulation.

Market-based universal health care coverage should be enacted.  Similar Republican Legislation in the House indicates a potential for success.  The major sticking point will likely be Heathcare Savings Accounts (“HSA”).

—Creation of a more national regulatory scheme for the practice of Medicine and for Insurance will be critical for market based reform.  (State corporate practice laws doomed Physician Practice Management Companies, like PhyCor, for example.)  Federalism will complicate the problem.

—Lots of covered lives = lower premiums and co-pays.  If they are low enough, do we need Medicaid or State Child Health Plus (“SCHIF”)?  This does not need to be employer based.  Could this be a new role for unions, as in Germany?

—Role of healthcare costs in the crisis facing American Auto makers indicates the centrality of the problem.

—I think bailouts should not be the norm.  How can we ask people of limited means to pay more in taxes to invest in businesses no banker would lend money and no venture capitalist or money manager would invest in?

—Never forget that every dollar you take out of a business is money they can’t use to hire someone or invest in Plant Property and Equipment (“PPE”).

—Never forget that every dollar you take out of some workers paycheck in taxes is money they can’t use to buy their spouse or child a Christmas present.

National Defense

—Study the British occupation of Iraq under the League of Nations Mandate in the 1920s and the difficulties that the Brits had maintaining bases there in the run up to World War II.  History does not repeat itself but it does show capabilities, motive, intent and propensities and the characteristics of the battlespace.

—Likely, the best course is to expeditiously withdraw conventional forces from Iraq, while keeping diplomatic and development efforts  and Special Operations Force support to Iraqi counter-terrorism efforts on the front burner.

—Do we need to “win” in Afghanistan or is it enough to make AQ’s Salafists (Islamic Fundamentalists) our Salafists?  The same is true of the Horn of Africa, where the current piracy problem may create both a crisis and an opportunity.

—The real threat from failed states is who restores order and on what template.

—The strength of AQ is not suicide bombers.  It is lawyers, preachers and engineers.  They are the “stem cells” of the insurgency and what we must counter.

The Supreme Court

—The ideal is not to appoint “empathetic” judges.  The ideal is to appoint judges who appreciate that the cases before them are real cases and controversies that involve real people, businesses and not-for-profit entities, rather than some Platonic abstraction.  Any judges appointed should understand, as Justice Jackson said, that “they are ‘supreme’ because they are ‘final,’ not ‘final’ because they are ‘supreme.'”

—Such a judges tend to be found among more conservative judges of state high courts, who have this experience of finality and a sense of judicial restraint.

Role Models

—While many potential role models for the new administration have been suggested, the obvious one, given our current challenges, has been ignored.

—Pres. Obama should model his administration on neither Lincoln nor Roosevelt nor Clement Attlee nor even Ronald Reagan.  Instead, he should look to England’s “Iron Lady,” Prime Minister Thatcher, who presided over a comparible crisis that affected many people’s lives with a steel spine and a sense of reality and led a dying socialist state into the light of free people and free markets.


As the lady said at the end of Primary Colors (dir. Mike Nichols, 1996), “Don’t break our hearts.”