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Prominent Conservatives Fight Over Future Tax And Spending Policy

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NEW: EPPC, the venerable Washington think tank, recently published its 2023 report. EPPC has recently undergone some changes under its new president Ryan T. Anderson and we were glad to interview him about his year and his experiences running a DC think tank.

#TaxPolicy – We apologize for the sensationalism, but in this particular case we cannot help ourselves. Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, and Oren Cass, founder of American Compass, engaged in a spat via X dot com and press release about the future tax policy of the GOP. Norquist, of course, is the famous tax cutter and government-shrinker and promoter of the Tax Pledge. Cass, policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has made a name as the crafter of a “national conservative”-oriented economic policy, goring right-wing sacred cows such as free trade and opposition to unions.

Here’s what Cass xeeted: “On Wednesday, [American Compass] will release a major new project, Return of the Fiscal Conservatives. To be clear, we believe major spending cuts are necessary. But “spending cuts and yet more tax cuts” is obviously a dead-end, politically and substantively. You’ll want to tune in.”

Norquist responded: “On Wednesday a former Mitt Romney ‘policy’ staffer will (again) try to undermine the Trump presidential campaign and Republican’s everywhere by proposing the return of Rockefeller Republicanism– higher taxes to pay for Democrat spending.”

Club For Growth even sent out a press release bashing Cass by name.

We wish these two sides could be made to talk more productively. Beneath the fireworks, the issues involved are important. Cass is right to point out that given the numbers involved, balancing the budget by cutting taxes and bringing spending back to 1950’s levels seems, to put it mildly, very hard to achieve, both substantively and politically. That said, Norquist is also right to point out that Republicans spent 50 years building a brand on tax cuts and tax restraint, and that there is much risk involved in abandoning that brand equity to embrace policies that many will view, rightly or wrongly, as “Democrat lite.”

We will certainly follow American Compass’s announcement tomorrow with interest and cover it, as well as cover this topic in depth. But because we are weak, we are also making popcorn.

Incidentally: a very reasonable voice on this American Action Forum’s Douglas Holz-Eakin whom we interviewed on this set of issues and more.

#Energy – R Street’s excellent energy analyst Josiah Neeley has an important post on an underrated issue: the politicization of energy policy scorekeepers. They are supposed to be neutral bean-counters, but green NGOs are bullying them to do otherwise.

#Natalism – Important think tank news. The Institute for Family Studies, which has produced consistently excellent and relevant sociological work on family and family policy, is launching a new Pronatalism Initiative with demographer Lyman Stone at the helm. Birth rates are collapsing around the world. More research on this crucial issue is definitely needed.

#TheEconomy – At American Compass, Mark DiPlacido with an important reminder on the macroeconomic link between trade deficits and budget deficits: “as a matter of accounting, our trade deficit must be balanced by a combination of public and private deficits. This means that if we were to hypothetically eliminate the budget deficit while holding the trade deficit constant, private sector debt or dissaving would have to rise to make up the difference. Put another way, our government and private sectors cannot both run surpluses unless our economy is running a trade surplus.”

#Immigration – More essential reporting from the Post on the Biden Administration’s stealth amnesty: “Since President Biden took office, more than 3.3 million migrants have been given a Employment Authorization Document (EAD), commonly known as the federal work permit, even though many didn’t even legally have the right to be America. And as of February of this year, pending EAD applications stood at an another 1.4 million. In many cases, migrants are given the right to work before they are even given asylum, a green card or other legal documentation that allows them to stay.”

#AI – In many ways, the “secret sauce” in making AI models work is “model weights.” Think of the model as the formula that is used to produce the model’s output, and the “model weights” as the content of the variables that go into the formula. The model itself can be open sourced, as many are, without the right model weights, it will be vastly inferior. Model weights, therefore, are a key strategic asset in the global AI race, which is why it is welcome that RAND has a new report out on how to secure these model weights from ill-intentioned adversaries. “This report can help security teams in frontier AI organizations update their threat models and inform their security plans, as well as aid policymakers engaging with AI organizations in better understanding how to engage on security-related topics.” Indeed.

#DEI – Nice, symbolic win in the war on DEI: Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences has eliminated mandatory DEI statements in hiring. Via Chris Rufo.

#Education – Brookings’ Center for Universal Education has a big new report out built on interviews with “hundreds of students, families, school educators, and researchers” in several countries. This is an interesting angle, looking not just at the school but at the intersection of the school and the rest of the community as the focus of policy to improve education. Brookings scholars believe they have found “six powerful lessons” that “stand out across geographies and contexts.” Read on.

#Reg – If you have been reading the Morning Briefing, you know we have been following the Biden Administration’s regulatory mania, striking even by the standards of Democratic administrations. American Action Forum’s Dan Goldbeck has a rundown of what happened on that front in the end of May.

#BigTech – Joel Thayer of the Digital Progress Institute with a WSJ op-ed: “Enlist the App Stores to Protect Kids Online

Chart of the Day

From The Missing Data Depot: “Twenty years ago, Republican & Democratic high schoolers expressed similar levels of interest in attending college. Not anymore. Since 2010, the % of Republican boys uninterested in college has increased 16% & the % of Republican girls uninterested in college has increased 9%.”

Meme of the Day

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