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This University’s Problems are a Microcosm of Washington, DC’s (Washington Examiner) May 31, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds, Politics.
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One of the nation’s most successful university presidents, C.L. Max Nikias of the University of Southern California, recently shocked the Trojan community with his abrupt resignation. Although Nikias had been highly successful in raising money and, with it, USC’s profile and reputation, he had also presided over the university’s mishandling of scandals and crises.

USC faculty member William G. Tierney, who is also an expert on higher education, describedthe president’s leadership failure as one of speed and action over deliberation and reason. “Instead of reflection and reasoned debate,” Tierney has written, “the university sprinted toward growth.” There were few “checks and balances” on the president, Tierney said, as he raced headlong toward financial and reputational goals.

Nikias’ leadership style and problems are, unfortunately, a microcosm of our political leadership in Washington, D.C. Rather than engaging the Congress in meaningful deliberation, presidents increasingly seek what President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered the nation during the crisis of the Great Depression: “action and action now.”

Everything has become a crisis or emergency in Washington, mandating action over reasoned reflection. President Lyndon B. Johnson launched a “War on Poverty,” soon followed by later presidents with a “War on Crime,” a “War on Drugs,” and a never-ending “War on Terror.” All of these domestic wars result in heightened presidential power and a diminished oversight role by the Congress. At the same time, we live under 28 official “national emergencies” declared by presidents, some as old as Jimmy Carter’s presidency in the 1970s.

If the president cannot get Congress to support his agenda, he goes it alone by means of executive orders and agency actions. President Barack Obama was sufficiently frustrated by Congress that he famously said he had a “pen and a phone” and he would start taking unilateral action rather than deliberate with Congress. He undertook unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act, while also initiating new gun control and immigration policies, stretching the application of executive orders.

Congress has also moved to action over deliberation. Instead of putting major legislation through committee hearings, with their debates and amendments, legislative leaders now hold a bill in secret until they have the necessary votes and then spring them on the Senate for a quick, usually party-line vote. The most important legislation of the Obama era, healthcare reform, was passed on a straight party-line vote of Democrats. Tax reform, the biggest legislative accomplishment of the Trump era, similarly passed on a party-line vote of Republicans.

One problem with choosing “action and action now” over deliberation and debate is that those actions lack deep bipartisan support and are easily overturned. President Trump signed several executive orders in his first hundred days that directly overturned executive orders of the Obama era. Congress came very close to repealing Obamacare on a party-line vote, just as it had originally passed with limited party-line support. Rather than deliberating over long-term policy, the sailboat of federal governance tacks first one way and then the opposite direction when new presidents and congresses take office.

Just as checks and balances had been weakened at USC, there are attempts to do so in Washington. The National Popular Vote Bill, for example, seeks to overturn one such check by replacing our current electoral system with a national popular vote, and without going through the constitutional amendment process. Progressives constantly attack various checks and balances and separations of power as attempts to thwart the democratic voice of the people. However, what they really do is allow for, indeed require, careful and reasoned deliberation.

The USC experience should be a cautionary tale for leadership broadly, including our political leaders in Washington. Especially in large public institutions, the goal is not simply to take action, but to engage a broad representation of the community in its processes, to foster a culture of reasoned deliberation. A failure to do so invites the crashing and burning of both the institution and its leaders.

David Davenport is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

 

To read the column at the Washington Examiner:https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/university-of-southern-california-problems-microcosm-washington-d-c-s

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Connecticut Joins the Quiet Campaign to Undermine Constitutional Presidential Elections (Washington Examiner) May 21, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds, Politics.
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Both houses of the Connecticut legislature recently passed the National Popular Vote Bill, which now sits on the desk of Gov. Dannel Malloy, who is expected to sign it. With his approval, Connecticut will join a quiet campaign to undo the Electoral College by means of a clever end run rather than a proper constitutional amendment.

Four times in our history (fewer than 10 percent of presidential elections), the winner of the popular vote lost the presidency in the Electoral College. The issue is on many minds these days, since two of the four were in this century: George W. Bush’s win over Al Gore in 2000 and Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

Rather than take the straightforward and transparent approach of changing the electoral process by constitutional amendment, proponents of change want to travel an easier incremental path: asking state legislatures to approve the National Popular Vote Bill. The bill, when adopted by enough states to constitute 270 electoral votes, triggers a requirement that each state signing onto the compact cast its electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote. Very clever, indeed.

Connecticut will become the 12th state (including the District of Columbia) to sign on, with a cumulative total of 172 electoral votes, only 98 shy of the goal. Of course, politics are always at play in voting bills, and not coincidentally all of the states approving so far are liberal — for example, all were states carried by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. The bill has been introduced in 11 other state legislatures, and with the Trump win still stinging Democrats, it may gain further momentum from Connecticut’s recent approval.

There is both an historic case and a current argument for the elector system established in Article II and the 12th Amendment of the Constitution. The Founders sought all manner of checks and balances along with separations of power in what they clearly understood to be a federal republic, not a direct democracy. So there would be two chambers of Congress, one for the people (the House of Representatives) and one for the states (the Senate). Likewise, both the people, through the popular vote, and the states, with the electoral vote, would play a role in choosing a president. Tinkering with federalism in favor of more direct democracy has become trendy, but if you are going to do it, at least be big enough to follow the Constitution’s own process for change and pass an amendment.

But even today, there is a practical role for the elector system.

Have you noticed what the candidates do in the last couple of weeks of a campaign? They crisscross the country, stopping in key battleground states, arguing the issues of special importance there in order to win the requisite electoral votes. And how would they campaign if there were only a national popular vote? They would go to the big cities and states and appear on popular media. It is hard to say that this is a preferable campaign. In addition, votes must be counted at some level and, under the present elector system, if there are recounts, these are only in one or two states. Imagine the specter of a national recount with the popular vote and even the possibility of not being able to seat a president by inauguration day.

If you want to change the electoral system, there would be an easier and more fair way to do it by eliminating winner-take-all electoral rules in the states. These are not constitutionally mandated, and each state controls that decision. In fact, Nebraska and Maine already allocate electoral votes by congressional district, rather than winner-take-all. This would eliminate some of the unfairness the pro-democracy people see while not beginning to undo the constitutional system of the republic.

Connecticut’s vote should be a wake-up call, not a call to a clever end run around the Constitution.

David Davenport is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

To view the column at the Washington Examiner:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/connecticut-joins-the-quiet-campaign-to-undermine-constitutional-presidential-elections

I have left Forbes.com for the Washington Examiner: “Don’t Let 16-Year Olds Rock the Vote” (Washington Examiner) May 3, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds, Politics.
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Since the “March for Our Lives” student demonstrations over gun violence on school campuses, the question of lowering the voting age to 16 has come to the fore. The Washington city council is now considering a proposal to do just that, and similar bills have recently been introduced in Georgia and Minnesota. The city of Tacoma, Md., was the first to allow 16-year old voting in 2013, and since then a few other cities (most notably Berkeley, Calif.) have followed suit.

It is not clear why student willingness to demonstrate now qualifies them for new adult-level responsibilities of citizenship. The last time the voting age was changed, it was lowered from 21 to 18 by the 26th Amendment to the Constitution during the Vietnam War. The argument was that if 18-year-olds could fight and die in a war, they should be able to vote for their national leaders.

But it is difficult to find a comparably compelling reason for further change now. Would we also want 16-year-olds serving on juries or signing up for the military? I think not. And if 16, why not 13, when they enter the teen years and those hormones start up?

The more we learn about the human brain and how it develops, society has increased the age of responsibility in other areas, not lowered it. Researchers generally agree that the brain is still developing until the mid-20s, with moral reasoning and abstract thought coming later than we once thought. So the drinking age has gone up to 21, and the age when kids may drive a car without any conditions has now increased to 17 or 18 under most state laws, not 16.  Simply put, the law has been moving toward greater maturity before responsibility, not less.

Advocates argue that we need greater civic engagement, and younger voting would help. Younger voters, however, have been notoriously weak about showing up at the polls. In the 2016 election, for example, only half of younger voters turned out to vote, compared with two-thirds of older voters. Growing the pool of younger voters hardly seems like a solution to the civic engagement problem. Besides, if you look at students’ civic knowledge, you would hardly deem them highly qualified to start running the republic. In the last round of national civics tests (unfortunately now only administered to eighth graders), a mere 23 percent scored as “proficient” or above. What we should be promoting among the young is better civic education before greater civic engagement.

The question is whether 16-year-old voting is likely to become a new political bandwagon. So far, only cities have moved on this and they can only make decisions about voting in their own municipal elections. States, however, including the District of Columbia, control both state and federal voting, so D.C. could decide to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote for president in the next election and beyond. The likelihood of another constitutional amendment changing the voting age nationally is not high, since it would require a two-thirds vote of both chambers of Congress and three-fourths of state legislatures to approve it. However, the possibility of the District of Columbia, or a liberal state, making the change is much higher.

If 16-year-olds voting is the answer to some problem we have, I guess I do not understand the question.

David Davenport is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

To read the column at the Washington Examiner:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/dont-let-16-year-olds-rock-the-vote

Democrats Finally Discover Federalism (Washington Examiner) April 19, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds, Politics.
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After decades of neglect, a federalism bandwagon is rolling across the country, carrying not only conservatives who have long believed in states’ rights, but also gathering up progressives who are out of power in Washington and have rediscovered the appeal of localism. In fact, many of today’s big political battles are, at their base, a federalism tug of war pitting the federal government against state and local governments.

Take immigration, for example. As the Trump administration has tightened up immigration enforcement at the federal level, a number of states, counties, and cities have decided not to share citizenship information with the feds, with some declaring themselves sanctuary areas for immigrants. President Trump pushed back, signing an executive order pulling most federal grants from states and cities that will not divulge information about citizenship as required by federal law. Last month Attorney General Jeff Sessions turned up the heat by suing deep-blue California over its sanctuary laws. An interesting federalism nuance now sees certain conservative California counties and cities joining the federal suit against the state’s liberal sanctuary laws. A federalism fight is on.

Federalism may have found a truce on another key issue: legalized marijuana. Federal law continues to make the use of marijuana illegal, whereas 30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized its use in some way. The Obama-era solution to the conflict was to ease up on federal enforcement in states that legalized marijuana, but Sessions announced early on that the federal government would resume enforcement everywhere. When Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from marijuana-friendly Colorado, began blocking Trump’s judicial nominees, the president called and said the feds would back off enforcement in Colorado if Gardner would approve his nominees. Gardner reported this federalism victory, saying, “President Trump has assured me he would support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ issue once and for all.” For now, a federalism truce is found.

The federalism tug of war has encompassed a number of issues in Trump’s first year. California famously announced its own climate change and environmental policies when Trump pulled out of the Paris accords. State attorneys general challenged Trump’s travel ban. States are now suing over the tax reform limitation on the deductibility of state and local taxes, based on the theory that it violates the equal protection rights of more expensive blue state residents. In fact, by the end of Trump’s first year, Democratic states had brought 35 lawsuits against his administration, compared with 46 lawsuits by Republican states in President Barack Obama’s 8-year term. The federalism tug of war is spreading.

With federalism busting out all over, where might this lead? Republicans have long championed the 10th Amendment (power not delegated to the federal government is reserved to states and individuals) and states’ rights. In the era of gridlocked government and President Trump in Washington, Democrats have discovered “progressive federalism,” especially located in cities, which tend to be governed more by their party than states where Republican governors predominate. Is it possible that federalism might actually unite liberals and conservatives in a drive for greater localism? Perhaps, but it seems even more likely that federalism may simply become the latest tool in the political battle.

Just as President Richard Nixon reportedly said of economic policy, “We’re all Keynesians now,” it seems we are all becoming federalists now. After decades of power moving to Washington, it would be healthy and refreshing to see the pendulum swing back toward state and local governments. But it would be even more promising if federalism became a way of making policy more deliberative and less contentious. It remains to be seen whether this new federalism might accomplish that.

David Davenport is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

To read the column at the Washington Examiner:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/democrats-finally-discover-federalism

‘It sucks.’ The Senate, the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, No Longer Deliberates” (Washington Examiner) April 2, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds, Politics.
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Former President James Buchanan called the Senate “the greatest deliberative body in the world,” a moniker that has stuck for 150 years. But as he left Washington for the Senate’s two-week Easter recess, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., reflecting on his inability to get a vote on even one legislative amendment in his first 15 months on the job, said something quite different: “I think it sucks.”

In that “emperor has no clothes” moment, Kennedy exposed a key reality in Washington: The greatest deliberative body in the world no longer deliberates.

Kennedy’s proposed amendments are not the only ones failing to receive Senate votes these days. The Senate has voted on only six nonbudgetary amendments so far in 2018, an average of two per month. All right, so they have been busy trying to approve spending bills to keep the government open (itself an embarrassing and contentious process) and approving President Trump’s nominees, which has moved at a snail’s pace. However, according to a Politico report, the Senate has only taken 25 roll call votes on binding amendments in this two-year Congress, compared with 154 at this point in the last one.

When he took over as majority leader of the Senate in 2015, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., vowed to do much better. After Republicans won a Senate majority in the elections of November 2014, McConnell promised “a more free-wheeling approach to problem solving” than the prior leader, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., had allowed. McConnell spoke of restoring the Senate’s “traditional role as a place where good ideas are generated, debated, and voted upon.” In particular, McConnell committed to “an open amendment process — ensuring senators on both sides a chance to weigh in on legislation.”

Oops.

Instead, what we have is little debate and even less voting in the Senate. Bills are crafted behind closed doors, held until they have the requisite 51 (or 60) votes, and then rushed to the floor for a quick vote, sometimes with handwritten notes still in the margins. If there is deliberation, it is only by members of the party in power, not in open committee hearings or debates on the Senate floor. Important pieces of legislation, from Obamacare to tax reform, are passed on straight party-line votes, with no support from the other party. Indeed, as one study has shown, party unity voting has grown from around 60 percent in the 1970s to closer to 90 percent today.

Kennedy is not the first to call out the Senate’s lack of bipartisan deliberation. When Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., famously flew back to Washington from his cancer treatments to cast a decisive repeal vote on Obamacare, he disappointed his fellow Republicans by voting “no.” But his comments afterward made an even stronger statement. McCain decried the Senate process of drafting proposed legislation “behind closed doors … then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it’s better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition.” McCain urged the Senate to “return to the correct way of legislating,” sending bills to committee, holding hearings, and ultimately crafting laws that could be passed with bipartisan support.

There is a growing sentiment that the Senate needs to return to “regular order,” to the kind of process McCain described, but it will not be easy. Legislating in Washington has become about winning, not finding the best policy solutions. Votes are taken to best position legislators for re-election, not to enact the best bills. At a time when America has an impulsive president, it seems especially important that the Senate play its full deliberative role.

David Davenport is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

To read the piece at the Washington Examiner:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/it-sucks-the-senate-the-worlds-greatest-deliberative-body-no-longer-deliberates

Will the International Criminal Court Prosecute Americans Over Afghanistan? (Forbes.com) March 26, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds.
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As if Donald Trump does not face enough lawsuits and legal wrangling, there are signs that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague may consider prosecuting Americans over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war in Afghanistan.  With the recent appointment of John Bolton, long an opponent of the ICC, as the president’s national security adviser, this could become an interesting international legal battle, indeed.

The prosecutor of the Court, Fatou Bensouda, has formally requested authority from a three-judge panel to investigate alleged crimes committed by all parties—the Taliban, ISIS, Afghan security forces, warlords, the US-led coalition and others—in the lengthy war in Afghanistan.  Indeed, the Court has received over a million allegations of abuses and atrocities from the war and it seems highly likely that an investigation will be approved, perhaps soon.

If so, this will be the first time that Americans—presumably soldiers, perhaps CIA operatives—would face the real possibility of prosecution before the ICC.  Even though the US is not a member of the Court, the ICC claims to have jurisdiction over crimes committed on the territory of a member nation such as Afghanistan.  Adding to the drama, the prosecutor also seeks permission to investigate related crimes in Poland, Romania and Lithuania, which would raise questions of detention and torture in the interrogation of prisoners there.

How would the US likely respond to such an investigation or to the possibility of actual charges against Americans?  To cooperate with an investigation might be interpreted as acknowledging that the Court has jurisdiction over Americans, something the Trump administration would be unlikely to do.  In fact, the American Service-Members Protection Act of 2002—sometimes referred to as The Hague Invasion Act—actually prohibits the US from cooperating with the ICC.  Beyond that, however, there is also an important jurisdictional question since Afghanistan signed a bilateral Status of Forces Agreement with the US in which it agreed not to turn over American soldiers to the ICC.  The US could argue that this agreement precludes action against US soldiers before the Court.

The appointment of John Bolton as national security adviser adds a real wild card to this deck.  Bolton has long been a critic of the ICC, calling his delivery, as US Ambassador to the U.N., of a letter “unsigning” the ICC treaty the “happiest moment” of his career.  In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece in the fall, Bolton said accepting the ICC’s jurisdiction “would be toxic to democratic sovereignty” and proposed that, as Winston Churchill said about Bolshevism, “America should welcome the opportunity…to strangle the ICC in its cradle.”

In other words, this could become the moment when America, which said “no” to joining the Court, says an even louder “no” to cooperating with the ICC in any way.  Since it is not a state party to the Court, the US would have no legal obligation to comply with an investigation.  The US could ask the U.N. Security Council to stop the investigation for a year (renewable annually), but that does not seem like the Trump-Bolton style.  “America first” suggests they will “just say no,” and, in effect, dare the ICC, which has no police force, to do something about it.

When Bolton speaks of “the opportunity…to strangle the ICC in its cradle,” he no doubt points to the possibility of refusing to cooperate and thereby further undermine the already shaky credibility and strength of the Court.  In its 15-year history, the Court has spent well over $1 billion and has only four criminal convictions to show for its work.  Until recently, virtually all of its cases were in Africa, which has strained the Court’s political base.  In fact, part of the reason for the Afghanistan case may well be to demonstrate action outside the African continent.

We may face a significant showdown between an international court and Donald Trump’s “America first” doctrine and his hawkish new national security adviser.  Stay tuned.

 

To view the column at Forbes.com:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddavenport/2018/03/26/will-the-international-criminal-court-prosecute-americans-over-afghanistan/#101cbd0a10a5

Area 45: Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generation Z And The Power Of The Vote (Podcast, Area 45) March 25, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds.
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By the 2020 election, America’s “millennial” class will replace Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest age-bloc of voters. David Davenport, a Hoover Institution research fellow specializing in constitution federalism and Americans politics and law, discusses what it will take to get a cynical under-35 crowd to the polls and, in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, whether the even younger “Generation Z” will emerge as a political force.

To listen:

https://hoover.org/research/area-45-baby-boomers-millennials-generation-z-and-power-vote

Something There Is That Doesn’t Love A Tariff Wall (Forbes.com) March 8, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds, Politics.
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Donald Trump is enamored of walls.  First he wants to build a physical wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.  Now he wants to erect tariff walls, imposing a 25% tax on steel and 10% on aluminum coming into the country from abroad in order to protect higher priced American products and jobs.

But as Robert Frost wrote in his poem Mending Wall:  “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”  Frost added this further word of caution:  “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was likely to give offence.”  These are important questions that President Trump would do well to consider.

Trump’s philosophy seems to be that globalization is the problem and building walls is the solution.  If globalization has robbed Americans of jobs—and his strong showing in key rust belt and industrial states helped elect Trump—then we will prevent products from coming into America at a lesser cost and competing with American manufacturing.  His answer to Frost’s first question is that cheap products are what we want to keep out.  But to whom will he give offense?  Key allies and world powers that manufacture these products, but also American consumers who like to buy them and save money.  Building walls can be complicated.

History is not on the side of walls.  In one of the great speeches of the 20th century, President Ronald Reagan stood near the Berlin Wall, a key part of the Iron Curtain surrounding communist Eastern Europe, and famously said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”  Gorbachev did and the result was the beginning of the end of the Cold War and the reign of communism.  Other walls around the world, including the Great Wall of China or Hadrian’s Wall in England, are relics of history.  They no longer function to keep people in or out.

Nor has history judged economic walls kindly.  In fact, you would think Republicans might remember their own troubled history building trade walls during the Great Depression.  Senator Reed Smoot and Congressman Willis C. Hawley decided that adopting protectionist trade policies—placing tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods—would help protect the vulnerable American economy, and President Herbert Hoover agreed.  The net result:  other nations retaliated, more banks closed, and both the U.S. and global economies suffered further losses, exacerbating the Great Depression.

Today the global economy is highly interdependent, making trade walls even less likely to succeed.  People used to say that when the U.S. sneezes, the world economy catches a cold, but now with the hyperspeed of technology and communication, an economic event almost anywhere may trigger waves around the globe.  Already China and the European Union have said they will respond in kind to any trade war Mr. Trump chooses to launch.  The days of building an economic wall around any country are long past.

Not only are history and economics not on the side of Trump’s protectionist tariffs, but the U.S. Constitution is not either.  Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the “Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises,” which includes the power to establish tariffs.  In this case, President Trump is relying on a highly suspect delegation to the president from a 1962 Cold War law in cases of “national security.”  Clearly, President Trump’s assertion of this power is over something less than national security, as he wheels and deals with countries over tariffs and trade agreements.  This is yet one more case of the president overreaching through executive orders and powers to assert his will over Congress, several of whose leaders (even from his own party) have spoken out against the tariffs.

From time to time over its history, the U.S. has shown tendencies toward isolationism and Trump’s tariff wall is one more example of this.  As a commercial republic in a complex world economy, however, such tariffs no longer make sense, if they ever did.

 

To read the column at Forbes.com:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddavenport/2018/03/08/something-there-is-that-doesnt-love-a-tariff-wall/#78872e3dc684

 

Five Reasons Why You Should Worry About The Federal Debt (Forbes.com) February 28, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds, Politics.
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Let’s face it:  For most of us, the federal debt is somewhere between a snoozer and an abstraction.  There are plenty more tangible and immediate problems to worry about.  Even if we did get stirred up about it, what can we do?  Isn’t the problem at one end or the other of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC—in Congress or the White House or both?

Rather than seeking to alarm you about how large the national debt is growing—which is an easy case to make—let me instead propose five reasons why you should be worried about the national debt, and why you should insist that our political leaders do something about it or face the worst catastrophe they can imagine—failing to be reelected.

First, your Social Security and Medicare entitlements are at risk if the federal debt continues to grow.  People argue that increased defense spending is to blame for the rise in the national debt, or the recent tax cut.  While both of those are factors, Hoover Institution economist John Cogan, author of a new book about federal entitlements (The High Cost of Good Intentions), notes that essentially all the rise in the federal debt since World War 2 can be laid at the feet of entitlement programs.  Entitlement spending, Cogan argues, has risen from 4% of GDP to 14% and now accounts for nearly two-thirds of all federal spending.  Since it will be almost impossible to cut federal spending and the national debt without touching expensive entitlements, your entitlements—especially if you are younger than the Baby Boomers—are very much at risk.

Second, an economic reckoning will come from the explosive growth in federal spending and debt.  No one really knows how much federal debt is too much.  Unfortunately some kind of major economic correction will be the signal that we have gone too far.  Other countries will quit buying our debt, or will discount it heavily.  The stock and bond markets will lose confidence in our reckless fiscal policy and send prices plunging.  We are creating our own bed of instability when the government spends a lot more than it takes in (nearly $1 trillion this year), and one day the bed will begin to collapse.

Third, spending today and putting it on the tab of the next generation is immoral.   Baby Boomers have already made a huge generational transfer of the costs of college, weighing their children down with decades of student debt.  Now we are also asking them to pay for our Social Security and Medicare benefits, along with the cost of our collapsing infrastructure and our national defense.  Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover of the 1920s understood that public debt was a moral question, but today it’s just a tool of economic policy.  It’s a way to open the faucet and try to get more bounce in the economy.  But the tab goes forward to our children in a way that is simply wrong.

Fourth, the growing debt increases the risk to our national defense.  Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats recently scolded senators in a hearing, sharing his concern that our federal spending “is threatening our ability to properly defend our nation, both in the short term and especially in the long term.”  Our present situation, Coats said, is “unsustainable” and represents a threat to both economic and national security.

Fifth, you should be concerned because the politicians are not.  Donald Trump promised to balance the federal budget in his campaign, and “relatively soon,” but he just keeps proposing more spending and tax cuts.  The Republicans haven’t met a defense budget they couldn’t increase and the Democrats insist on comparable increases in domestic spending.  Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gave us the understatement of the year when he said government spending is “not an issue we’re focused on right now.”

If you think you’re too young to worry about the federal debt, you’re precisely the one who should be worried.  As President Herbert Hoover wisely said, “Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt.”

To view the column at Forbes.com:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddavenport/2018/02/28/five-reasons-why-you-should-worry-about-the-federal-debt/#46f48b224932

“The Lost Art of Political Compromise” (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) February 26, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds.
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Among many lost arts in Washington the most problematic is the lost art of compromise.

 The dictionary says compromise includes the root word “com” or together with the word promise:  We make promises by coming together.  America learned this early, with the Constitutional Convention full of compromises.

But now members of Congress vote not to find the best solution for the country but the best platform for their next election.   Democrats threatened to shut the entire government over dreamer immigrants, while Trump was willing to see a shutdown over his wall.  And so it goes, politicians standing firm on one issue or another which they believe will get them reelected, and the whole of the federal government is held hostage.

We need more politicians like Ronald Reagan, who told House Speaker Tip O’Neill, “I will take half a loaf today, but I will come back for the other half tomorrow.”

https://omny.fm/shows/townhall-review-conservative-commentary-on-todays/david-davenport-the-lost-art-of-political-compromi/embed?style=artwork

http://www.townhallreview.com