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The Fight Over The Future Of Conservative Fiscal Policy Continues

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NEW: We interviewed Avik Roy of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity on what it’s like to start your own think tank.

#TaxPolicy – Yesterday we covered the public beef between Oren Cass of American Compass, a standard bearer of the “new right” approach to economic policy, and tax-cutting lion Grover Norquist of ATR, on the future of conservative fiscal policy. Cass believes that given the size of the deficit an approach focused purely on tax and spending cuts is not realistic either substantively or politically.

Today American Compass has come out with a new dossier, titled “Return of the Fiscal Conservatives,” fleshing out the argument.

As per usual, the argument comes wrapped in feisty rhetoric. If you believe in a purely tax-and-spending-cut approach, you’re not a real “conservative.” Hard to blame him for giving as good as he gets: Cass is accused often enough of not being a “real conservative” for believing in greater government involvement in the economy than doctrinaire libertarians.

That being said, we have been of the opinion since 2016 (at least) that discussions about who is a “real conservative” and the precise definition of “real conservatism” are a waste of time.

Underneath the rhetoric, the American Compass dossier does make two very welcome contributions to the debate.

The first is an exclusive survey of Americans on public opinion on how to fix the deficit, which finds that not only most Americans but most Republicans favor the kind of approach championed by American Compass. The point is well taken and the survey results are interesting, but we find that budget policy is one of the areas where voters’ theoretical views and their actual views when the policy is implemented in real life differ. Everyone is in favor of “cutting the deficit”–until they are personally affected by it.

The second, much more valuable, is a new budget model. As the authors write, quite correctly: “Ten-year budgets have become exercises in wishful thinking that bear no relation to either fiscal or political realities. Democratic budgets make emergency spending permanent and leave trillions in deficits as far as the eye can see, while Republican budgets rely upon spending cuts that not even Republicans support or rely upon economic growth to close gaps.” The model provides both a “moderate case” and an “aggressive case” to see what the future of budget policy might look like. It is very welcome work overall.

If you’re interested in the overall issues, you can also look at this debate between Cass and Club for Growth President David McIntosh on the question, “Is the Republican Party’s Refusal to Raise Taxes Fiscally Irresponsible?

This is a very important debate we look forward to covering more. The deficit and debt numbers, as well as (especially) rising interest rates and interest payments, mean that soon something will Have To Be Done. Meanwhile, as we have often noted, the TCJA includes expiration dates on some provisions which mean that Congress will have to take up taxes and spending next year.

#TaxPolicy Speaking of: “House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith recently announced the creation of 10 “Tax Teams” to prepare for negotiations over the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) expiring in 2025, as well as other tax reforms. These tax teams will cover most aspects of the tax code, meaning the Ways and Means Committee will not be limited by the changes that were agreed to in 2017.”

#Immigration – The other big policy news today is the Biden Administration’s new EO on the Southern border. We have extensively covered the Biden Administration’s de facto open borders policies. The consensus of intelligent, informed people is that the EO is an election-year nothingburger that doesn’t even really close the border.

Bill Melugin, one of the best reporters specializing on the border, puts it this way: “In no way can Biden’s executive order be described as ‘shutting down’ the border. It bans asylum to some illegal crossers, with some exceptions. It does not stop or slow the up to 1,500 migrants per day released into the U.S. via CBP One app at ports of entry, and does not stop or slow the up to 30,000 migrants per month flying directly into the U.S. and being released into the country via Biden’s controversial mass parole program […] Unaccompanied children/minors are exempt from the order – which will lead to concerns about child trafficking”

The National Immigration Center for Enforcement points out that “agents are explicitly told not to question illegal aliens who cross the southern border and are processed for expedited removal if they ‘fear’ returning home or want to apply for asylum.” “Fear” is a key phrase here, as migrants expressing so-called “credible fear” of being sent home has been used by the Biden Administration as a giant loophole to make essentially anyone who shows up and says they are afraid of going home de facto eligible for asylum.

Meanwhile, the Washington Free Beacon has obtained internal documents that confirm the fact that the EOs were deliberately stuffed full of loopholes to make them ineffective.

MORE: We recently interviewed the best immigration expert we know of, Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, on the Biden Administration’s policies and many other topics. It is a long interview but we highly recommend it, if we may say so ourselves. Click here.

#EconomicPolicy – Courageous stance from AEI’s Michael Strain, one of the smartest economic policy experts we know: a full-throated defense of neoliberalism, against the economic populism of both Trump and Biden administrations. Agree or disagree, Strain is honest and straightforward about what he believes and not afraid to argue it. More of this, please.

#LGBTQ – “How does it affect you, bigot?” Well, here is one way: “Book publisher Scholastic announced a ‘Read with Pride’ campaign, providing educators a list of ‘LGBTQIA+ stories’ for ‘kids and teens’ and vowed to use company resources to fight efforts by local school districts and parents to determine what content is appropriate for students. In its section on ‘why it’s essential to support LGBTQIA+ youth,’ Scholastic states that almost 10 percent of teens in the United States are ‘lesbian, gay, bi, or trans'” This is hardly “live and let live” and one does not have to oppose gay rights to oppose exposure of children to this type of material… As the centrist commentator Wesley Yang put it: “There is zero daylight between the most extreme gender radicals and the most mainstream children’s publishers.”

#Education – Speaking of kids and gender silliness, this is an important note from Tom Sarrouf, Jr. of the Institute for Family Studies: different themes and activities appeal more to boys or girls. The problem is the overwhelming majority of material in school is of the type that appeals more to girls. “Improving outcomes for boys means utilizing interventions that appeal to boys as boys.” Seems like common sense, and yet…

#Infrastructure – American Mind, a publication of the Claremont Institute, has a good article reminding us of all the red tape and political favor-trading that prevents actual infrastructure being built.

#EVsNew report from Rhodium Group: “The Biden administration’s recent decision to raise tariffs on imports of electric vehicles and batteries from China raises the question of how the levels of projected domestic EV and battery manufacturing capacity compare to projected demand.”

#FreeSpeech – R Street recently held an “Idea-thon” about “misinformation and disinformation.” Don’t laugh. The results are actually interesting.

#DEI – “21 attorneys general fight race-based American Bar Association rule

Chart of the Day

One of many interesting charts from American Compass’s survey of Americans’ attitudes on how to fix the deficit:

Meme of the Day

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