"Big change" is an appealing new slogan. Most Americans believe that big change is needed -- 81 percent of voters believe "government in Washington is broken and needs basic overhaul," according to a recent Clarus poll. But what might "big change" involve? Here's a platform that builds on some of the proposals in Simpson-Bowles budget deficit reduction plan, but goes further and addresses systemic flaws of our paralyzed government. In general, we must simplify government to reduce the deficit and spur the private sector to create jobs.
BIG CHANGE Agenda:
- Transform Public Healthcare. Transition Medicare and Medicare to a single provider -- an accountable care organization contracting with the government to provide all a recipient's needs. The current fee-for-service system wastes $200-300 billion annually.
- Radically simplify regulation. Bureaucracy discourages jobs. End bureaucratic central planning, and refocus regulation on goals and governing principles. Make people accountable for results, not compliance. Appoint commissions in each area to recommend "spring cleanings" of accumulated regulation.
- Force Congress to set priorities. Sunset laws should put all programs up for review every 10 years. Change the rules of Congress to end partisan stalemate. It's impossible to balance the budget without rethinking old entitlements and subsidies. Obsolete programs waste at least $100 billion annually.
- Restore accountability to public service. The civil service system is broken, making sensible public management almost impossible and smothering good public servants. End the presumption of lifetime tenure. Protect against partisan personnel decisions by a neutral civil service review board.
- End benefits for the rich. Means-test public subsidies, including tax deductions.
- Simplify the tax code. Start over with a simple, transparent schedule of rates. End most corporate subsidies. Lower the corporate tax rate to match other countries and encourage repatriation of offshore capital.
- Make justice reliable. America has become the defensive society. Doctors practice defensive medicine. Entrepreneurs fear a ruinous verdict. Unreliable justice is a drag on job creation. Restore predictability as a core goal of justice, giving judges responsibility to draw boundaries of reasonable claims. Create special health courts, saving over $50-100 billion annually.
- Bulldoze school bureaucracy. What do forms and rules have to do with inspiring students? Bureaucracy can't teach. Give principals and teachers back the freedom to do their jobs.
These changes would balance the budget, end government paralysis, and begin to transform America's public culture. Americans know we need it. Are any leaders bold enough to say it?