During the Reagan years, when I served the president in the White House Office of Policy Development, the conservative maxim was “People are policy.” What was meant by that was that if you want conservative policies, you need to appoint conservative people to office.
President-Elect Donald Trump is already demonstrating that he is following exactly that maxim through his first rate conservative appointments so far. That was already transparent in Mr. Trump’s very first pick – Indiana Governor Mike Pence for Vice-President, who many conservatives had favored for president for years.
Trump heightened the role of Pence in his Administration by turning over the transition to him when that first sputtered. Pence’s transition team has served up one gold standard conservative after another.
Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) was an inspired pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Price has long taken the lead in developing the Republican alternative to repeal and replace Obamacare, as reflected in his role in developing the excellent, comprehensive, final report last summer of Speaker Paul Ryan’s Health Reform Task Force.
Also truly excellent, conservative picks have been General Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for Attorney General, Marine General James Mattis for Secretary of Defense, Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA, Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, and the fact that Trump has NOT chosen Mitt Romney for Secretary of State. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin understands booming economic growth, and the role of tax reform in producing it.
A critical remaining Cabinet slot is Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The ideal person for that office would be Mike Pence’s former House colleague, Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC).
Mulvaney is perfectly suited in that office to shepherd through all the components of Reagan’s economic recovery program to restore booming economic growth, already supported by President-Elect Trump. That includes Trump’s tax reform plan to sharply reduce tax rates, especially the critical corporate tax rate.
OMB includes OIRA, the White House office that oversees all regulatory changes, which under President Trump will mean deregulatory changes. OMB also prepares the president’s annual budget proposal, which means setting spending levels for all federal agencies. Mulvaney knows how to implement spending restraint across the entire federal government to balance the budget before Trump leaves office.
That can be done while still accommodating the need to fulfill President Trump’s pledge to modernize America’s lagging national defenses, and Trump the builder’s proposal to leave a legacy of renewed, modernized, national infrastructure.
Watch for Trump the builder, working with Carson, to show how to renew, revitalize and rebuild America’s inner cities. That will require also Trump the Liberator, showing how liberty is the foundation to prosperity, even more so in America’s inner cities. Liberty from poverty requires liberation from dependency on welfare, with work, family and education.
One key way the federal budget can be balanced while serving all of these goals is to expand the enormously successful, 1996 block grant reforms of just one federal welfare program, the old AFDC program, to all federal, means-tested welfare programs, which was originally Reagan’s vision. Another innovative path to balancing the budget is to maximize leases and permits for maximum American energy production on federal lands and waters, generating lease and permit fee revenues, along with growing tax revenues from the increased production, which can be trillions over the next 10 years given America’s modern energy bounties.
Further trillions in revenues over the next 10 years can be raised by orderly auctioning off of non-environmentally sensitive, excess federal land and properties in the western states, where the federal government anachronistically holds far too much land in what are supposed to be sovereign, self-governing states.
The remaining component of President Reagan’s plan for booming growth is restrained monetary policy for a strong and stable dollar. That and other pro-growth roles can be served by further conservatives who still can be appointmented, such as Newt Gingrich, Art Laffer, Larry Kudlow, David Malpass, Steve Moore, and many others.