How conservatives in California — and nationally — could turn America around

How conservatives in California — and nationally — could turn America around
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Recently, California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCalifornia leads states in lawsuit over Trump public charge rule The Hill's Morning Report - Trump moves green cards, citizenship away from poor, low-skilled New York attorney general to sue Trump administration over 'public charge' rule MORE — who makes former Gov. Jerry Brown look like a conservative — declared that the national Republican Party is headed for the “waste bin of history” because of its policies. This from one who wants universal (taxpayer-supported) health care for undocumented migrants in California and taxpayer-supported preschool for all 3-year-olds by the same public school system that is failing elementary and high school students, with no solution for the many homeless in cities of the Golden State.

California can be saved from the progressives seeking the Democratic presidential nomination by broadening the base of commonsense voters who believe in the private sector and expansion of its business base. That base includes owners and, more importantly, employees of small, community-based and family-owned businesses who have the most to lose in jobs, income and  retirement if businesses fail or move. The key for their survival is issue development, social media communication, education and training — and motivation to shape their futures.

This is not just a California phenomenon, but national in scope. If it works in California, it could work in other areas of the country. It is not unlike Faith & Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed’s recent observation about evangelicals: For them, late-term abortion is “infanticide.” Now they have a reason to turn out at the polls in 2020 that they didn’t have in 2018.

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Concurrently, we must educate people on the incredible benefits they have received from the 2017 tax reform legislation. The nation’s economy has grown. Unemployment is the lowest for all Americans in years; there are now more jobs than people to fill them. Worker productivity, the key to wage and economic growth, is up. To tell this story, we have yet to do a good job of it — and social media will be key.

Health care reform is central to the right political outcome. We must do away with ObamaCare and open the door to private-sector alternatives that invite competition and lower costs and end government control, while assuring those with pre-existing conditions that they will be covered and receive care.

Then comes deficit control and government spending restraint. We have never done this right, but now we can — and must.

Ronald Reagan believed in and sought limited government, but he had no guidelines as to what size government should be as a share of gross domestic product (GDP). Now we do: It is in the worldwide examination of the “optimal” or “right size” of government, defined as what best promotes economic growth, jobs and rising wages, and the studies and research flowing from these scholars. Once a nation exceeds a certain percentage of GDP in taxes and spending, it has gone beyond the optimal size of government (about 25 percent of GDP is the highest share recommended, with many researchers urging a ceiling of 18 to 20 percent), and the economy slows and declines.  

Before we try to constrain our debt, we must understand spending. It is no longer possible to leave it up to Congress to decide spending levels, with tradeoffs between domestic and defense spending. The total is what counts for our nation’s people and their future. So bring down total spending — as they did in Canada, Sweden, New Zealand and Ireland some years ago — and watch our economy grow further.  

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Right now, America is spending 35 to 40 percent of GDP for government (federal, state and local, with about 5 percent in the cost of complying with regulations imposed by all levels of government). So, instead of the progressives’ proposals to turn virtually everything over to government — including much of our incomes — we must embark on cutting government essentially in half, leaving people free to use their earnings and resources as they see fit.

This is not draconian when one remembers that prior to World War I and the 16th Amendment (income tax) in 1913, the federal government never taxed or spent more than 3 percent of GDP.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE is doing his best to cut the bureaucracy and regulations. But his latest effort to discipline Environmental Protection Agency bureaucrats was met with incredible venom from environmentalists and career bureaucrats. We must vigorously and vocally support him, lest the Washington insiders win.

Recognize that we are at “war” for the soul of America. California’s governor may think he and other progressives are right. We know they are wrong. Constitutionalists across the land know we are right.

Lewis K. Uhler is founder and chairman of the National Tax Limitation Committee and National Tax Limitation Foundation (NTLF). He was a contemporary and collaborator with both Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman in California and across the country.

Peter Ferrara is the Dunn Liberty Fellow in economics at The King’s College in New York, and a senior policy advisor to NTLF.  He served on the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Reagan and as associate deputy U.S. attorney general under President George H.W. Bush.