Note: this is the kind of half-baked post I would normally save for Tumblr, but it felt a bit long to leave there.
Is it just me, or do Republican presidential candidates tend to be a lot more exciting than Democratic ones? They throw out crazy policy proposals left and right, and every candidate has a different crazy plan! This might be my left-leaning bias, but somehow I can’t imagine a Democrat proposing something as downright weird as Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” plan from 2012.
Because of this, I think it would be a lot of fun to be a Republican presidential candidate. If I, by some miracle, ended up as the Republican governor of, say, California, I’d definitely be running for president right now, and here would be my platform:
Jeb! says he can do 4% economic growth? Okay, I’ll do 5%! And I’ll solve all our problems with the financial sustainability of Social Security and Medicare at the same time without the need to cut a dime from those programs (unless it’s to get seniors a better deal on healthcare). How?
Create a new class of guest workers visa that will be auctioned off in large numbers. All guest workers who come on the visa will need to pass rigorous background checks. Plus, a portion of the money raised in the auction will be set aside for better border enforcement, and block grants to states to spend on more police. The plan will also help ensure we have enough young workers to take care of our seniors.
Talk about how Muslims should be able to come here if they agree to “accept our values.” Promise to pass an anti-sharia law, secretly base details on a proposal by British secularists.
Of course, no good Republican platform would be complete without tax cuts. So let’s make the top tax rate on all income, regardless of source 28%–a small increase for some types of capital gains, but a big cut for short-term capital gains and labor income.
Also, we’ll massively raise contribution limits on IRAs, possibly to [old limit] or a fixed % of income, whichever is higher. Make it easier for people to take money out of their IRAs early without penalty. Promise to cut corporate tax rates while you’re at it.
How will we pay for such tax cuts? Well, if we’re lucky there will be some money left over from the visa auction, so start there. Partly, we won’t pay for the cuts entirely (I’d quietly ask some economists how much we can increase the deficit without affecting inflation). There will also be noise about closing loopholes and slashing corporate welfare. And finally, we’ll propose a value-added tax.
Of course, value-added taxes (and consumption taxes more generally) are regressive. So you’d want to give people a tax rebate roughly equal to the tax they’d likely pay in in value-added taxes on basic necessities. Speaking of tax rebates, this brings us to the third major leg of my domestic platform: refundable tax credits, and a new tax-refund scheme.
The welfare state, you see, is terribly inefficient. It’s a bureaucracy, after all. So whenever possible, ditch it, and give people refundable tax credits instead. Food stamps? Definitely replace with a refundable tax credits. Welfare? Probably. Maybe you could even replace unemployment and disability with tax credits.
And of course, it’s incredibly unfair to make people wait a whole year to get a refund if the government has overcharged them on their taxes. So start a program to let people get any likely-to-be-refunded tax credits–or refunds that they’re clearly going to be owed because of a change in their circumstances–added to their paycheck. If they’re not working, they can get their choice of a check or direct deposit twice a month.
Attack “Obamacare” as a giveaway to insurance companies. Forcing you to buy their product? C’mon! And talk about how Medicaid is evil for forcing middle-class Americans to become poor. Promise to fix both of these problems.
Promise to restrict abortion up to the maximum of what’s allowed under Roe v. Wade. Accuse competing candidates who promise more than that of lying. When talking about gay marriage, quote C.S. Lewis on divorce a lot. Tell evangelicals that they have a right not to recognize gay marriage, just as Catholics have a right not to recognize divorce.
On foreign policy, mostly talk about the threat from Russia a lot. Say Iran and ISIS are a distraction from Russia. Make lots of noise about sticking up for America’s allies, and making clear to Russia that an attack on any NATO member is an attack on America.
(Figuring out the left-wing spin on many of these positions is left as an exercise for the reader.)