Pa ve “Ho dt w he the FR W 21 ED ay st U fo Ce PT rt he ntu ON CO ry C VI ur D- es 19 Va Act cc in es ”
Peter Meijer discusses his military service and his service on Capitol Hill “We have to take seriously the oaths that are sworn.”
July 2021 Volume 55, No. 3
DEMOCRACY BUREAUCRACY VS.
The Most Important Battle in Washington Over the Next Four Years by PHILIP K. HOWARD
Plus: To Eliminate Government Waste, Shine a Light on the Bureaucracy - by James Lankford And: If Everything is Infrastructure, Common Ground will be Hard to Find - by Jay Cost
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“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ Volume 55, Number 3
Politics and Perspective
Democracy vs. Bureaucracy: The Most Important Battle in Washington Over the Next Four Years By Philip K. Howard Two-thirds of Americans favor “major structural changes” in government. What’s missing in the current debate is a coherent vision for a new public operating system.
How the 21st Century Cures Act Paved the Way for the COVID-19 Vaccine By Fred Upton The legislation has helped accelerate the approval and delivery of not only critical treatments, cures, and medical devices, but of vaccines that have saved a countless number of lives this year.
To Eliminate Government Waste, Shine a Light on the Bureaucracy By James Lankford Thanks to the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act, there will now be a searchable list of every federal program, how many people work on it, how much it costs, and how it is evaluated – if at all.
Say No to the Biden Broadband Plan for Government Subsidies and Price Controls By Seth Cooper Congress should stick to the free market approach that has been successful in promoting private investment and accelerated deployments of gigabit and 5G services to all Americans.
If Everything is Infrastructure, Common Ground will be Hard to Find By Jay Cost Because Democrats view infrastructure spending in part as a way to transfer wealth from the rich to the poor, they have no problem raising taxes to finance such projects.
The Path Toward Commonsense Election Reform By Matthew Weil Elections will never be viewed as fair if the winning side is victorious because they were better positioned to write the rules to their advantage.
When it Comes to Leading on Infrastructure, Biden should be Like Ike By Lee Lacy Eisenhower was the driving force behind what would become not only the largest public works project ever constructed in the United States, but a project that would ultimately bear his name.
Debate: “Do Deficits Matter?” 12
Yes, and Republicans should Use Process Reform to Tackle Them. By Marc Joffe The Grand Old Party should rediscover its fiscally responsible heritage.
It’s Complicated... By Farrokh Langdana Massive monetary infusions only produce inflation when the money is injected into the economy. Publisher The Ripon Society Jim Conzelman, President Editor Lou Zickar Deputy Editor Kyle Chance Advertising Coordinator Autumn Reed Editorial Intern Caitlin Johnson
Editorial Board Thomas Tauke Michael Castle Erik Paulsen Billy Pitts Pamela Sederholm Judy Van Rest Jim Murtha John Feehery
Sections 3 25 28
© Copyright 2021 By The Ripon Society All Rights Reserved
In this Edition News & Events Ripon Profile - U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer
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THE RIPON SOCIETY HONORARY CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY BOARD U.S. Senators: Shelley Moore Capito - Senate Co-Chair Todd Young – Senate Co-Chair Marsha Blackburn Roy Blunt Richard Burr Bill Cassidy, M.D. Susan M. Collins Steve Daines Joni Ernst Deb Fischer John Hoeven Jerry Moran Mike Rounds Thom Tillis Roger Wicker U.S. Representatives: Rodney Davis - House Co-Chair Jackie Walorski - House Co-Chair Darin LaHood - Vice Chair, Midwest Mike Kelly - Vice Chair, Northeast Dan Newhouse - Vice Chair, West Frank Lucas - Vice Chair, Southwest Ann Wagner - Vice Chair, South Mark Amodei Kelly Armstrong Don Bacon Troy Balderson Andy Barr Stephanie Bice Mike Bost Vern Buchanan Larry Bucshon, M.D. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Ken Calvert Buddy Carter Tom Cole John Curtis Tom Emmer Ron Estes Brian Fitzpatrick Andrew Garbarino Anthony Gonzalez Kay Granger Garret Graves Sam Graves Jaime Herrera Beutler French Hill Trey Hollingsworth Bill Huizenga Bill Johnson Dusty Johnson Dave Joyce John Joyce, M.D. John Katko Young Kim Adam Kinzinger Bob Latta Billy Long Nancy Mace Brian Mast Kevin McCarthy Michael McCaul Peter Meijer Carol Miller John Moolenaar Blake Moore Guy Reschenthaler Tom Rice Cathy McMorris Rodgers Steve Scalise Lloyd Smucker Pete Stauber Bryan Steil Glenn “GT” Thompson Mike Turner Fred Upton David Valadao Brad Wenstrup Steve Womack
In this Edition
When Donald Rumsfeld passed away at the age of 88 last month, most of the news coverage focused on his tenure as Defense Secretary in the last Bush Administration. What received less attention was the fact that Rumsfeld led a long and impressive career in both public and private life. He was a Congressman, Cabinet Secretary, and White House Chief of Staff. He was the CEO of several companies, as well. In short, he was a man who knew about organizations, knew about leadership, and had well-formed opinions about both. Rumsfeld shared some of those opinions in a speech to The Ripon Society on June 1, 2011, nearly 10 years to the day before his death. In his remarks, he called for a sweeping reorganization of the federal bureaucracy, saying that “our government is still basically functioning in the structures that date back to the Truman Administration.” Rumsfeld further noted that the last time such a reorganization had occurred was in the years following World War II, when a bipartisan commission headed by former President Herbert Hoover examined the issue of government reform in greater depth. The commission issued hundreds of recommendations, over 60 percent of which were implemented. The recommendations included the elimination of outdated programs, the consolidation of duplicative agencies, and the creation of a new cabinet department focused on public health. These recommendations created the basic bureaucratic framework which shapes the direction and performance of the federal government today. Given all the changes that had occurred in the years since the recommendations were implemented, Rumsfeld observed, it was time to examine the issue of government reform in greater depth again. In this latest edition of The Ripon Forum, we do just that. Leading our coverage is an essay by a man who, if the modern day-equivalent of the Hoover Commission were to be formed, would be a good candidate to either lead the panel or be the first witness to testify about why the federal bureaucracy needs to be reorganized today. His name is Philip K. Howard, and he is not only one of the leading experts on government reform, but one of the most eloquent writers and speakers on a subject that receives far less attention than it should. He shares his expertise and eloquence in this edition, writing that the current dysfunction plaguing our government has less to do with the people in charge than the rules that govern – and, more often than not, restrict – their actions every day. “Democracy isn’t working because bureaucracy is in charge, not the leaders elected by voters,” Howard writes. “Government is like a runaway train, beyond democratic control. The steady accretion of regulatory dictates — at this point, 150 million words of federal law and regulation — has preempted human leadership. This is not mainly a problem of the scope of government — say, providing health insurance — but of regulatory rigidity. While there’s plenty of government overreach to complain about, the reason nothing much works sensibly is a different flaw — no one has the authority to use common sense at the point of implementation.” Howard goes on to propose a series of recommendations to “reboot the bureaucracy,” as he puts it, from simplifying federal codes to reforming the civil service to establishing boundaries on legal claims. These recommendations are perhaps some of the most important we have featured in our pages in recent years, and are one of the reasons why we view the focus of Howard’s essay – “Democracy vs. Bureaucracy” – as being “the most important battle in Washington over the next four years.” Of course, one important part of this battle is shining a light on the federal bureaucracy itself. To examine that issue in greater depth, this edition also features an essay by Oklahoma Senator James Lankford about the effort he is leading to not only expose “federal fumbles,” as he calls them, but create an inventory of federal programs so the American people can find out for themselves how their tax dollars are being spent. With Congress and the President trying to reach agreement on a plan to modernize America’s infrastructure, Jay Cost of the American Enterprise Institute looks at the state of negotiations and why the push by progressives to “redefine ‘infrastructure’ as a catchall term for their entire agenda” will make it more difficult for Republicans and Democrats to find common ground. In other topics in this edition, veteran Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan looks at the legislation he authored in 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act, and how the landmark measure helped pave the way for the COVID-19 vaccines that are saving countless lives today. And in our latest Ripon Profile, another Michigan lawmaker, first-term Congressman Peter Meijer, discusses his service in the military, his service in the House, and why the oaths he took for both are so sacred. As always, we hope you enjoy these and other pieces featured in this latest edition of The Ripon Forum, and welcome any thoughts or comments you may have. Lou Zickar, Editor email@example.com RIPON FORUM July 2021
DEMOCRACY VS. BUREAUCRACY The Most Important Battle in Washington Over the Next Four Years by PHILIP K. HOWARD Since the 1960s, the main political dividing line in the United States has been over the scope of government. Democrats have called for more public services and more regulation to address current challenges. Republicans have called for de-regulation and fewer services, backed by ample evidence of public failures, inefficiencies, and overreach. But government keeps getting bigger and generally more inefficient, without dealing with past and present needs. The public’s frustration with government has also grown. In the early 1960s, 75% of Americans trusted government to generally do the right thing. Today, less than 25% trust government. Indeed, every successful presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter has plucked the chord of voter discontent and promised to fix government. “Change we can believe in.” “Drain the swamp.” But nothing much changes. How do we square this 4
circle? Why isn’t democracy responsive to voter demands? Democracy isn’t working because bureaucracy is in charge, not the leaders elected by voters. Government is like a runaway train, beyond democratic control. The steady accretion of regulatory dictates — at this point, 150 million words of federal law and regulation — has preempted human leadership. This is not mainly a problem of the scope of government — say, providing health insurance — but of regulatory rigidity. While there’s plenty of government overreach to complain about, the reason nothing much works sensibly is a different flaw — no one has the authority to use common sense at the point of implementation. Bureaucratic rigidity has supplanted human responsibility. This is a foundational flaw in the operating system of modern democracy. The hierarchy of democratic authority – from the voters to the elected policymakers
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to the unelected officials – exists only on paper. Ask environment by prolonging polluting bottlenecks. They why something isn’t working sensibly, and the answer is also more than double the cost of infrastructure projects. typically this: “The rule made me do it.” Ask why the The solution is not to get rid of environmental reviews, but rules need to be so rigid, and the answer is that, otherwise, do what countries like Germany do — empower officials “someone will claim a decision violates their rights.” to make the decisions needed to stick to a one to two year Better leadership cannot solve this flaw, because new permitting process. ideas and values sink in the legal quicksand. As paper - Small business cannot possibly keep track of, much covers rock, law supplants leadership. The cure is not less comply with, thousands of requirements. One report (mainly) de-regulation, but re-regulation. It’s time to press found that an apple farm in New York State was subject the reset button. Dense bureaucracies must be replaced to 5,000 rules from 17 different regulatory programs. The by simpler frameworks that focus on goals. Bureaucratic solution is not to eliminate protection of, say, clean apples, detail must be replaced by but to create a simpler oversight clear lines of authority and mechanism that focuses on accountability. public goals. Reboot Washington. - Revamping police forces Pruning the red tape jungle, is all but impossible. Because as we’ve learned in the last of union collective bargaining 50 years, will achieve almost agreements, the Chief of Police nothing. The paralytic in Minneapolis had no authority bureaucracies built since the to terminate, or even reassign, 1960s must be replaced by Derek Chauvin, despite laws that people can actually numerous complaints about his understand, implemented abuse of power. The protesters by officials whom citizens who took to the streets after can identify and hold the killing of George Floyd accountable. Law can provide seem to think that some official the goals and framework for is refusing to push the right decisions, but people on the buttons. But bureaucracy has spot must have the freedom made officials powerless. Ditto to roll up their sleeves and for almost all public agencies. Philip K. Howard take responsibility. Remaking government Public demand is there. on a human scale, leaving Two-thirds of Americans room for responsibility and Democracy isn’t working favor “major structural accountability, will honor core changes” in government, precepts of good government. because bureaucracy is in according to a 2019 Law will regain its role of charge, not the leaders University of Chicago poll. protecting an open field of elected by voters. What’s missing in the current freedom, not supplanting political debate is a coherent freedom with detailed dictates vision for a new public of how to make daily decisions. operating system. Filling Simpler goal-oriented codes that vacuum holds the promise of uniting most Americans. will promote practical solutions and allow officials Every segment of society is dragged down by and citizens to honor, as Friedrich Hayek put it, “the bureaucratic rigidity: circumstances of time and place.” Instead of dictating rote - Upwards of 30% of the healthcare dollar goes to compliance, codes that focus on outcomes will empower administration. That’s a trillion dollars, or $1 million per communities to provide services in their own ways. doctor. Doctors spend two hours on desk work for every Americans can make a difference again. Americans can one hour with patients. innovate again. - Schools are choking on a tangle of red tape and Rebooting legacy bureaucracies will require legal entitlements. Almost half the states have more non- overcoming powerful forces of the status quo, however. instructional personnel than teachers, many trying to keep Instead of broadly attacking government — which track of bureaucratic requirements. Teachers have lost guarantees stalemate and polarization — a platform to the authority to maintain order. Principals have lost the reboot Washington can focus public demand on three authority to manage teachers. concrete reforms: - Lengthy environmental reviews often harm the 1. Create “spring cleaning commissions.” Nonpartisan RIPON FORUM July 2021
commissions, similar to base-closing commissions, should rights. Instead of a shield to protect freedom, these propose simpler codes that leave room for officials and new rights are a sword against the freedoms of other citizens to use their common sense in most situations. No citizens. The cacophony of people pounding the table to one designed the red tape tangle that stifles teachers, doctors, get something for themselves — “Give Me My Rights!” small business, social service providers, and infrastructure — also puts government in the impossible position of projects. Scrapping the thick rulebooks and replacing them trying to govern by the lowest common denominator. with goal-oriented codes will allow Americans to take All public choices involve tradeoffs. A new power line responsibility and get things done. The 1956 Interstate can bring power from renewable sources, but requires Highway Act was 29 pages long, and within a decade 21,000 building towers on pristine landscapes. Officials must miles of road had been built. Today, that project is subject to have the ability to act for the common good, not satisfy thousands of pages of detailed rules, and it can take a decade every squeaky wheel. just to get a permit. Legal rights are supposed to protect our freedoms. 2. Overhaul civil service to restore democratic No one should have rights superior to anyone else. accountability. Government today is largely unmanageable America needs a new set of principles defining and because of impregnable limiting legal claims legal protections imposed — to affirmatively by civil service rules and protect the reasonable collective bargaining freedoms of citizens contracts. There’s and the reasonable zero accountability in responsibilities of government — 99% of officials. Instead federal civil servants of bending over get a “fully successful” backward to rating. This is a fatal accommodate defect of government every claimant’s since, as Joe Biden once self-interest, courts said, “Democracy runs on must be given the accountability.” mandate to protect Accountability everyone’s freedom. reform gets no traction Here as well, a (photo credit: Architect of the Capitol) because politicallyspecial commission powerful unions seem should be charged as impregnable as the with proposing a jobs they protect. The new framework to solution is constitutional. restore order and Two-thirds of Americans favor Requiring collective predictability to legal “major structural changes” bargaining in the boundaries. in government … What’s missing federal government Polarization is is almost certainly tearing at our social in the current political debate is an unconstitutional fabric. The anger a coherent vision for a new infringement of executive and extremism stem authority under Article II in large part from public operating system. of the Constitution. The frustration over the stranglehold of union unresponsiveness of contracts on state and local government suffers a different democracy to citizen goals and values. Broad public constitutional flaw. By making governors and mayors largely support will galvanize around leaders who present a powerless to run schools and local government, collective governing vision that will empower democracy and bargaining in states may run afoul of the “Guarantee Clause” rebuild the framework for a free society. RF in Article IV, which guarantees a “republican form of government” in the states. Democracy doesn’t mean much Philip K. Howard is the Founder and Chairman of the if union contracts have disempowered elected officials from Board of Common Good, a nonpartisan reform coalition managing schools and public agencies. with one basic goal — to restore the freedom of officials 3. Put boundaries on legal claims. The land of the free and citizens to use common sense. His latest book is “Try has become a legal minefield. Anything you do or say — Common Sense: Replacing the Failed Ideologies of Right even your ancestry — can be claimed to violate someone’s and Left (W.W. Norton & Company, January 2019)” 6
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To Eliminate Government Waste, Shine a Light on the Bureaucracy Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act will create an inventory of every federal program by J A M E S L A N K F O R D
The federal government is an expert at spending but unfortunately deficit spending is the norm in other people’s money. March of this year made Washington. In 2015, I began putting together a that clear. Congress responded to the pandemic regular report to Oklahomans of federal waste throughout 2020 with “rainy day” debt spending and duplication — Federal Fumbles: Ways the during a very “rainy” year. government dropped the But when the economy was ball. At that time, our recovering and it was time national debt was a “measly” to pull back spending and $18 trillion, and that was start paying down the deficit, scary. In the six years since, Democrats opened the flood we’ve added $10 trillion, gates to spending under the bringing our debt to $28 umbrella of “COVID,” which trillion currently. That level has added trillions to our of debt is unsustainable, debt. and everyone knows it. In the first week of Over the years, we March, congressional have published hundreds Democrats pushed through of ways the federal a $1.9 trillion spending bill government has dropped that gave money to people the ball. In 2016, Federal for not working, created a Fumbles uncovered that new entitlement program, the Department of Defense and sent $350 billion to Task Force for Business and cities and states after the Stability Operations spent pandemic was nearly over. $43 million to build an Only about one percent of unused compressed natural Soon, there will be a the bill went to vaccines, and gas station in Afghanistan. searchable list of every five percent went to public In 2017, Federal Fumbles health. California received highlighted a $30,000 program in the federal $27 billion from the bill, National Endowment for government, how many despite the fact that its 2020 the Arts (a frequent Federal employees are dedicated tax revenue — like many Fumbles offender) grant state revenues — actually supporting the production to that task, how much we went up during the pandemic of “Doggie Hamlet,” an spend on the program, and thanks to booming local sales adaptation conducted taxes. outdoors in a 30-by-50-foot how it is evaluated – if it is Federal pandemic field in New Hampshire evaluated at all. overspending this year with mostly humans yelling has pushed inflation up, or running toward confused unemployment up, and supply-chain reliability sheep and dogs. down. If debt and deficit spending only happened While Russia threatened the security of the during the pandemic, we could recover faster, free world, U.S. taxpayers doled out $1.7 million to RIPON FORUM July 2021
understand Russian sea lions and $121,250 to study every program in the federal government, how many the history of Russian cigarettes. employees are dedicated to that task, how much we We have exposed the waste, but budget spend on the program, and how it is evaluated -gimmicks, duplicative programs across multiple if it is evaluated at all. It is sunshine and sortable agencies, and government waste are only fixable information for our tax dollars. if Congress and the American people can see them. Once our federal inventory is in place, every Until now, Congress and the American people had no American can be a budget hawk. In fact, I invite way to track spending, you to take a look duplication, and waste. at it yourself and Once our federal inventory After a decade of see exactly how pushing, my solution, your money is being is in place, every American can the Taxpayers Right-tospent. If you find this be a budget hawk. Know Act, became law. year’s equivalent to We now have a process “Doggie Hamlet,” to allow people to see call it out, so we can the waste and know what we spend on every federal work together to find ways to save our money and program. In Congress, persistence is key. get rid of the ticking time bomb that is our federal The Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act calls for the deficit. RF creation of a functional federal program inventory that can be used as a tool for oversight of federal James Lankford represents Oklahoma in the United spending. Soon, there will be a searchable list of States Senate.
60 MILLION Americans live in remote areas
and have less access
to health care FILLING THE RURAL HEALTH CARE GAP, FOR THE HEALTH OF AMERICASM
RIPON FORUM July 2021
If Everything is Infrastructure, Common Ground will be Hard to Find by JAY COST The Biden Administration has made infrastructure vision of the central state. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal spending a top priority of its first-year agenda, and prospects enacted massive expenditures on infrastructure, but then again seem surprisingly good for a bipartisan deal. It actually seems it enacted massive expenditures on virtually every imaginable possible, even in this age of hyperpolarization, that the two policy program. Importantly, Democratic motivation for sides might come together on some kind of agreement. But infrastructure spending was (and is) different than the GOP’s. what sort of package should Republican lawmakers accept? While the party has historically touted infrastructure spending While both sides generally support to promote economic development, infrastructure spending, they have the social welfare aspect is at least strikingly different reasons for doing as important. The New Deal was so. And Republicans should insist on not simply about building roads and a package that facilitate the party’s top buildings and clearing forests, it was priority of economic development. about putting unemployed men to The GOP’s commitment to work to accomplish those tasks. infrastructure spending goes back The difference in party motives to the very origins of the party. The remains to this day and is evident Lincolnian Republicans were at on several specific political debates. first a hodgepodge collection of A good example is the continued disparate groups opposed to the divide over the Davis-Bacon Act of spread of slavery, but the dominant 1931, which mandated that projects force within that early coalition was on public works that receive federal the remnant of northern Whigs. A funds must pay workers the local cornerstone of Whig policy was “prevailing wage.” Democrats, spending on what they often called spurred on by their allies in the “internal improvements,” which construction unions, strongly favor the party viewed as essential to the act, while Republicans generally regional integration and economic Jay Cost believe it should be repealed. development. In the 19th century, The former see it as a form of it was the Republicans who redistributive public policy while Because Democrats view spearheaded federal support of the latter see it as interfering with the railroad development, including infrastructure spending in efficiency of federal spending. the transcontinental railroad. In the An even more substantial part as a way to transfer 20th century, Republican President point of division between the two Dwight Eisenhower initiated the parties is how to pay for such wealth from the rich to Interstate Highway System. Though programs. Because Democrats view the poor, they have no the GOP has evolved a great deal infrastructure spending in part as a problem raising taxes to since its beginnings, infrastructure way to transfer wealth from the rich has remained a Republican priority to the poor, they have no problem finance such projects. because the party still stands for raising taxes to finance such projects. those 19th century ideas of promoting But because most Republicans private sector development and linking disparate parts of the primarily see infrastructure as a means to economic country together. development, they see tax increases as a self-defeating form The Democratic path toward support for infrastructure of financing, as it takes capital out of the private sector, where was markedly different. Generally opposed to such programs it is best directed for growth. Instead, Republicans usually prior to the Civil War, in their Jacksonian belief that the prefer to finance infrastructure through spending cuts, which Constitution prohibited them, the party only embraced it in the are anathema to the Democratic agenda. 20th century as part of its reorientation toward an expansive So as an issue, infrastructure is one where the devil is RIPON FORUM July 2021
most definitely in the details. There seems in general to be on what policies states who accept federal dollars can common ground between the two sides, but philosophically actually accomplish. Destroying federalism is apparently now the parties have notably different reasons for supporting infrastructure in the Democratic mind. As bipartisan negotiations over an infrastructure package increased spending. If anything, the divide between the parties has only continue this summer, Republicans should be mindful of their bottom line as a grown greater in the last coalition. Any bill that few years, as the Democrats hopes to have Republican have moved substantially But because most Republicans support has to focus on to the left. Moderate primarily see infrastructure as a physical infrastructure Democrats are fewer and that facilitates regional farther between, while means to economic development, integration and above all socialist Bernie Sanders is they see tax increases as a selfeconomic development. That the chairman of the Senate is why the party supports Budget Committee, an defeating form of financing, as it spending, and it should important perch from which takes capital out of the private sector, such be its sine qua non in any to influence domestic policy. where it is best directed for growth. negotiations. If Democrats Many in the party now seek insist on redefining the term to redefine “infrastructure” “infrastructure” to include as a catchall term for their entire agenda. The expansion of a cradle-to-grave welfare state, their redistributive agenda, Republicans should walk away from new programs on childcare to an expansion of Medicare, from the bargaining table and instead take the issue to the RF is now “human infrastructure.” The Green New Deal, with voters in 2022. its massive transfer of wealth based on magical notions of a carbon-free economy, is likewise now “infrastructure.” And Jay Cost is the Gerald R. Ford nonresident senior fellow at buried deep within the Biden Administration’s infrastructure the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he focuses on plan are all kinds of goodies for labor unions and restrictions elections, politics, and public opinion.
Immunization rates for teens and adults have fallen dramatically during the pandemic...
We must act quickly to stop the spread of vaccine preventable diseases. Avalere Health compared adolescent and adult vaccine billing patterns in commercial, Medicaid managed care (due to variability across states in billing requirements for vaccines provided through the Vaccines for Children program, this analysis may not fully capture adolescent vaccine utilization in the Managed Medicaid market), Medicare FFS, and MA markets from January-August 2019 to vaccine billing patterns during the same months in 2020 (e.g., March 2019 to March 2020), represented as a percent change between years. Between 2019-2020, aggregate vaccine claims submitted between March-August decreased by 53% (Commercial), 41% (Managed Medicaid), 42% (Medicare Advantage) and 48% (Medicare FFS).
Source: Avalere Health. Aggregate Changes for All Vaccine Products Across Markets. Adolescents and Adults, 2019-2020. © 2001-2021 GlaxoSmithKline plc. All rights reserved. Trade marks are owned by or licensed to the GSK group of companies.
GSK is proud to support the Ripon Society Funding for this research was provided by GlaxoSmithKline. Avalere Health retained full editorial control.
RIPON FORUM July 2021
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Do Deficits Matter?
Yes, and Republicans should use process reform to tackle them. by M A R C J O F F E Although fiscal austerity has been dismissed as “old- double-digit inflation followed. After fiscal and price stability returned in the school” in recent years, history shows that the alternative— Eisenhower and Kennedy years, President Lyndon fiscal profligacy—brings dangers, which often manifest Johnson’s guns and butter budgeting spiked federal themselves years or even decades later. Rather than deficits and touched off an inflationary spiral that became tempt fate, Republicans should rediscover their fiscally especially pronounced during the 1970s. Federal Reserve responsible heritage and develop modern policies to limit Chairman Paul Volcker, with the support of President waste and reduce the risk of future financial calamity. Reagan, greatly reduced inflationary pressure by sharply Under Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, raising interest rates, triggering a deep recession in the the national debt ballooned from $3 billion in 1913 early 1980s. to $26 billion ahead of the 1920 Unfortunately, some recent Presidential election. Fed up with Republican leaders have lost touch war, recession, tax increases, and with the party’s fiscally conservative government mismanagement under legacy. President George W. Bush Wilson, voters gave Republicans a did not match tax cuts with spending landslide victory in that election. reductions, while placing two armed A major Republican reform th conflicts and a Medicare prescription enacted by the 67 Congress was drug entitlement on the nation’s the Budget and Accounting Act of credit card. Under President Donald 1921 – the successor to a bill vetoed Trump, deficits were rising even by Wilson in 1920. This measure before COVID-19 struck, despite a created what is now the Office of strong economy. Management and Budget and the Today, we are in a situation Government Accountability Office, that has some parallels to the early implementing the annual budget th 20 century. We once again have a process and centralizing federal Marc Joffe potentially crushing debt burden. auditing. The only reason that debt service Better financial management is not crowding out other spending and a strong economy led to a steep priorities is that interest rates are reduction in the national debt during Republicans should being held well below historical the 1920s, but the residual debt rediscover their fiscally norms. To avoid the normalization limited federal fiscal flexibility at responsible heritage and of interest rates, the Federal Reserve the outset of the Great Depression. By the early 1930s, interest on the develop modern policies is obliged to monetize federal debt thereby exacerbating inflation. debt consumed about 30% of federal to limit waste and Although we do not know revenues, crowding out other types whether the rapid consumer price of spending and acting as a barrier reduce the risk of future increases of recent months will to tax reductions. Franklin Delano financial calamity. continue, we do know that inflation Roosevelt restored America’s fiscal in some form has remained with us flexibility through default: devaluing even after the Volcker tightening. the dollar and denying Treasury Instead of consumer goods registering steady price bondholders the option to receive payment in gold. th increases, inflation has continued to be an issue in Later in the 20 century, growing federal debt led education, healthcare, home prices and other asset to further disruptions. Debt monetization during World valuations. So, despite CPI changes of 2% or less in most War II was suppressed through federal price controls, recent years, many costs have continued to escalate faster, exacerbating shortages of many consumer goods. When (cont’d on p. 14) the price controls were finally released, a short period of 12
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Do Deficits Matter? It’s complicated… by FARROKH LANGDANA A sustainable Federal budget deficit used to be defined as case of the Weimar Republic (Germany post-WWI), and the 41.9 being less than about 5% of GDP.1 Today, the budget deficit/GDP x 1015 % rate for the last month of the Hungarian Hyperinflation is over 13%! Disaster, right? Should we expect hyperinflation (1946), were due to the fact that the money that was printed to be coming? The short answer is no. Keep in mind we were in was already thrown into circulation – they were finally paying the same ballpark during the subprime mortgage crisis (10-12% teachers, troops, farmers, suppliers, government workers, etc., for the budget deficit/GDP ratio) and the sky did not fall on our who had not been paid for months.3 The money was rapidly injected into the economy; in fact it was “already spent.” Ditto heads. Why not? Back in the day with large deficits and the massive printing for Zimbabwe, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and others. Those inflation rates are staggering and are possible of money, sure, hyperinflation was a real concern and possibility. because injecting money into But in the subprime mortgage crisis the economy is comparable to a we had a unique situation. During snake bite. The venom (for most this particular time of turmoil, the snake bites) is only lethal if it U.S. was still the “safest cave” 2 goes directly into the blood stream on the planet. With all global (or soft tissue). If it does not, economies “huddling in their you live. (Please do not test this respective caves” in the global example, I am not a global expert housing crisis, we were in the best on venoms, but you get the point.) position. Consequently, massive The same is true with monetary global capital poured in and, to creation and hyperinflation. If the some extent, helped fund our massive infusion of money does budget deficit. not slip into the economy, then no This inflow of foreign capital hyperinflation. was not enough to get us through With today’s greater than 13% the subprime mortgage crisis. But deficit/GDP ratio, and the federal we also printed grotesque amounts government’s huge infusion of of money, known as Quantitative Farrokh Langdana money of over $3 trillion so far Easing (QE). In fact, initially the (perhaps going to maybe $8-10 Fed injected $48 billion per month, Massive monetary infusions trillion or more), is there reason and later, $24 billion a month from for concern? Not at all. Same 2007-15! ONLY erupt into mindstory, larger numbers. But this time But, despite all this, there was numbing hyperinflations we have a name for it: Modern no notable change in inflation. Here Monetary Theory (MMT). is a very important point: Massive when the money is actually MMT basically works like monetary infusions ONLY erupt injected into the economy. this: In the subprime mortgage into mind-numbing hyperinflations crisis, the massive printing of when the money is actually injected money did not bring about hyperinflation, as explained above. into the economy. If it just “sits there” within lending institutions, (cont’d on p. 14) then...no inflation! For example, the 5,500% inflation rate in the
 Macroeconomic Policy: Demystifying Monetary and Fiscal Policy, Springer Press, Edition 3, Farrokh Langdana, page 35, for a description of the Dornbusch Model of Sustainability.  Visit my blog page (including videos) for several blogs on this subject. https://www.business.rutgers.edu/faculty/farrokhlangdana and then scroll down for the blogs.
 The German rate is the annualized inflation rate, while that for Hungary is the rate JUST for the very last month of the hyperinflation (August, 1946)! Please see pages 134-48 of Macroeconomic Policy: Demystifying Monetary and Fiscal Policy, by Farrokh Langdana, Springer Press, Edition 3, for lots on this subject.
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(Langdana, cont’d) So Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) and Bernie Sanders have run with this MMT theory. Their reasoning: Just print money! Print it for green jobs and for free college tuition. And now print it for the Biden stimulus plan. According to them, we printed money like crazy last time to bail out all the institutions that were “stuck” holding the rotten mortgagebacked securities, and the sky did not fall on our heads. The role of money should simply be to ‘get printed’ and pay for the massive government spending. So, doing this is not a problem. Print away! The previously accepted ratio of 5% is gone. In a world where the U.S. is the “safest cave” and where there are NO other alternatives for scared global capital to be “parked” until the storms wear off, we can pull this off. There is no “ratio.” The upper limit? Gone! Is there any risk to this? Yes, plenty! I call this kind of monetization, “Circumstantial Macroeconomics.” Just because it worked last time, we are assuming that we can pull it off every time. Imagine this: Some guy rakes all his fall leaves and stacks them in his back yard right by his neighbor’s fence. Then this genius lights a fire to burn off the dry leaves. Very dangerous! The neighbor is holding her breath, one hand on her phone, the other holding her water hose. But the wind is in the “right” direction, and the flames do not hurt her house. Now, lo and behold, this guy then tries
(Joffe, cont’d) and this price escalation is likely traceable to Federal Reserve accommodation of loose fiscal policy. Further, the budgetary process established in 1921 has now broken down. In most years, the federal government operates on continuing resolutions, which largely amounts to keeping spending on autopilot irrespective of whether that spending produces worthwhile policy outcomes. Taxpayer money could be used more effectively if we had a functioning budgetary process in which elected officials are obligated to determine at regular intervals which expenditures are necessary and at what level. If annual spending reviews are no longer feasible, the federal government could follow the lead of several states by adopting biennial budgeting. Whether reviews occur every one or two years, they are most effective when appropriators are working under some sort of budgetary ceiling, compelling them to make hard trade-offs. We normally think of that expenditure ceiling as total revenues, with the result being a balanced (operating) budget as we have in almost all states. Unfortunately, balancing the federal budget now seems beyond the realm of political feasibility, especially over the next two decades when the large Baby Boom generation makes peak use of federal entitlements. But an annually balanced budget is not the only 14
this again every year, hoping that the wind will always blow in the “right” direction! “Circumstantial” behavior indeed! The question is, will the wind always be in the “safe” direction? The bottom line is, do budget deficits matter or not? This cannot be a simple yes or no answer. Given the “perfect storm” of the confluence of all the macro factors since the subprime mortgage crisis and then since COVID-19, we have this phenomenon called MMT. As discussed, it is 100% “circumstantial macro.” If things change, that is, if confidence returns, if companies and households stop sitting on their savings and go on a splurge, and if capital investment takes off, then the inflation genie will be out of the bottle — once again. The early warning sign will be a quick rise in long-term interest rates, thanks to the Fisher effect 4. Keep your eye on the yield curve! RF Prof. Farrokh Langdana is the Director of the Executive MBA Program at Rutgers Business School and Author of five books on macroeconomic policy analysis. Langdana@ business.Rutgers.edu.
 From the Fisher Effect, r = i – (expected inflation), where i = nominal interest rate. If expected inflation is < 0, then real rates r are > 0.
possible form of spending discipline. We could target a less ambitious goal such as stabilizing the nation’s Debtto-GDP ratio, which is now near its all-time peak. Under this approach, the Congressional Budget Office would calculate a federal spending cap based on its forecast of GDP growth and federal revenues. Congress would not be able to appropriate more than the total of anticipated revenues plus the product of the national debt and anticipated GDP growth. This approach would require that all programs, including entitlements, be subject to appropriation limits. Bringing Medicare and Social Security into the budgetary discussion might open the window to reforming these programs—a task that has eluded Congress for too long. In 2021—as in 1921—federal budgetary processes are broken, and excessive debt burdens are being hoisted onto future generations. The large national debt inhibits the ability of future leaders to address major emergencies without increasing inflation, which destroys the savings of hardworking Americans. Republicans should respond to this moment by offering budgetary process reforms that restrain both wasteful spending and the growth of the national debt. RF Marc Joffe is a senior policy analyst at Reason Foundation.
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Politics & Perspective
How the 21st Century Cures Act Paved the Way for the COVID-19 Vaccine by FRED UPTON
Since last December, at the peak of one of the worst cures to some of the world’s cruelest diseases – including public health and economic crises we have faced in more cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, Sickle Cell Disease, and so than a century, the eyes of the world turned to Southwest many others. We’ve also seen a record number of new drugs Michigan to watch as the first shipments of Pfizer’s life- approved, including new generics, which have helped lower saving COVID-19 vaccine were packaged into trucks healthcare costs and improve health outcomes for millions and sent across the country. of Americans. Now, more than seven months From day one, we aimed later, several safe and effective to advance medical research, vaccines have been developed and foster a new era of medical deployed in record time thanks innovation, and make real to the successful collaboration reforms to FDA processes between Operation Warp Speed and procedures that would and America’s innovative private help expedite the approval of sector. groundbreaking cures. Our However, the timely approval focus was – and continues to of the first COVID vaccine be – entirely on renewing hope can also be traced back to my for patients and their families landmark 21st Century Cures because we know that far too Act, which I spearheaded with many folks have lost loved ones my colleague Rep. Diana DeGette to vicious ailments. With that in (D-CO), and was signed into law mind, we wanted to be sure that by President Obama in 2016. the revolutionary discoveries This bipartisan legislation has made by some of our nation’s helped accelerate the approval and brightest scientific minds could delivery of life-saving treatments, be approved as quickly as cures, medical devices, and yes, possible while still adhering Because of our bipartisan vaccines – bringing them to to the highest scientific and work, more than 150 market faster and more efficiently medical standards. For this million Americans are than ever before. Most notably, reason, we made it a top priority 21st Century Cures increased to increase access to enhanced fully vaccinated against the National Institutes of Health clinical trial designs and, most COVID-19 (NIH) budget by some $45 billion, importantly, the use of realincluding $1.8 billion for the Beau world evidence at the FDA Biden “Cancer Moonshot” to better prevent and screen for when developing new treatments. As we now know, the use cancer, $1.5 billion for the BRAIN initiative to improve of real-world evidence – data regarding the potential benefits our understanding of diseases like Alzheimer’s, and $500 or risks of a drug derived from sources other than traditional million for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clinical trials – has played an increasingly important role in spur stem cell research. expanding access to cures and cutting-edge innovation. While we were hopeful that 21st Century Cures Now, we need to roll up our sleeves, replicate our would make a significant impact, we never expected it successful 10-month mission to manufacture, approve, to play such an outsized role so quickly. Because of our distribute, and inject millions of vaccines nationwide, and bipartisan work, more than 150 million Americans are apply this process to other tragic illnesses and diseases. fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – a milestone that once There are still too many patients who face real uncertainty seemed insurmountable – and we’re on the cusp of finding and fear with no treatments in sight, and that’s why we must 16
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continue to do everything in our power to help them. fosters a new era of medical miracles. Fortunately, Rep. DeGette and I have joined forces As we finally turn the corner on this awful pandemic, again to continue that important work with the introduction we cannot sufficiently express our gratitude for all the of our Cures 2.0 bill, which builds upon the tremendous scientists, healthcare workers, and innovators who success we had with 21st Century Cures and will help worked in record time to find a vaccine for the devastating pave the way for more COVID-19 virus. Our job innovation and more cures. now is to take what we Our legislation – among a learned the past year and Our job now is to take what we number of provisions – a half and apply it to the learned the past year and half would continue to help hundreds of thousands of and apply it to the hundreds of modernize the FDA, diseases that still afflict so streamline its regulatory many Americans and their thousands of diseases that still framework, and encourage families. From defeating afflict so many Americans innovative clinical trial cancer to curing diabetes, design and patient-focused developing and delivering and their families. drug development. We new lifesaving cures is a know that personalized mission that must unite us care – instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare all. And it is one that we can achieve – together. RF – prioritizes the wellbeing of patients and their families, thus improving health outcomes and, in many cases, saving Fred Upton represents the 6th District of Michigan in the lives. Those are exactly the results we can achieve when we U.S. House of Representatives and served as Chairman safely and rightfully cut burdensome red tape that prevents of the Committee on Energy and Commerce from 2011 to the development of new drugs and treatments, and instead 2017.
Source: American Action Forum
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Say No to the Biden Broadband Plan for Government Subsidies and Price Controls by SETH COOPER The Biden Administration is preparing to reverse in rural areas lacking access to 25/3 Mbps service has free market policies that have helped millions of fallen more than 46%.” Americans gain access to broadband Internet services. Fiber passed 6.5 million new unique homes The Biden broadband plan prioritizes government- in 2019, a single year record increase. And owned broadband networks with subsidies over and upgrades have continued, as Ookla reports average against private networks. To boot, the plan appears fixed broadband speeds of 194.88/68.23 Mbps for to favor saddling privatelyMay 2021. Also, over 97% of owned networks with price Americans gained access to controls. 4G LTE mobile services with This unhealthy mix median speeds of 10/3 Mbps of subsidy privileges for or better by the end of 2019. government-owned networks Mobile broadband coverage and price controls on privatelyand speeds are even better owned networks would reduce today. Ookla reports average the incentives of private mobile speeds of 84.37/13.01 market providers to reinvest in Mbps for May 2021. infrastructure. In consequence, Significantly, 5G the Biden broadband plan wireless networks are being risks slowing broadband swiftly rolled out by three deployments to unserved national wireless providers Americans, particularly in rural as well as smaller providers. areas. Congress should stick And Americans are adopting to the free market approach 5G services at a faster rate that has been successful in than they did for 4G. This promoting private investment progress is stunning given and accelerated deployments that no commercial 5G Seth Cooper of gigabit and 5G services to networks operated in early all Americans. 2018. Optimized 5G can By a number of reach speeds 10 times faster The Biden broadband plan measures, Americans have than 4G, with peak speeds benefitted from the marketrisks slowing broadband 100 times faster. friendly broadband policies Importantly, these deployments to unserved that have been in place next generation broadband Americans, particularly in since early 2018. deployments were backed by According to the FCC’s strong private investment. rural areas. 2021 Broadband Deployment According to U.S. Telecom, Report, the number of wireline broadband providers Americans living in areas without access to service invested $80 billion in network infrastructure in 2018 capable of at least 25 megabit-per-second (Mbps) and $78.1 billion in 2019. Those are the two highest upload speed and 3 Mbps download speed decreased annual investment totals in the last decade. And more than 3.5 million, or more than 20%, between the according to CTIA, wireless industry investment for end of 2018 and the end of 2019. And between the end 2019 increased to $29.1 billion, up from $27.4 billion of 2016 and 2019, “the number of Americans living in 2018 and $25.6 billion in 2017. 18
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The Biden broadband plan turns its back on these spend billions on local government businesses that free market successes. A White House fact sheet touts likely will be permanently dependent on subsidies for prioritized subsidy support for government-owned survival. networks. It misguidedly implies that governmentBringing broadband services to Americans owned networks are superior because they care in less populated rural and remote areas is a less about profit-making. In reality, their lack of challenge because those areas can be extraordinarily profitability is a serious concern. expensive to reach. Congress can help overcome Government-owned networks are financially risky that challenge with market-based approaches that for would-be broadband subscribers and for local target subsidies to unserved areas. Using reverse taxpayers. Several such ventures have run into steep auctions, broadband providers that offer the lowest financial troubles. During the last decade, cities such bid amount “win” subsidy support to build facilities as Bristol, Virginia and Groton, Connecticut have had in designated areas. This lowest-cost, market-based to sell their debt-ridden networks in order to cut their approach has been used by the FCC, including in its multi-million dollar shortfalls. Government-owned recent Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction. networks in Provo, Utah and Burlington, Vermont also The American Broadband Act, unveiled on May have been sold at firesale prices to private providers. 20 of this year by Representatives Cathy McMorris In some instances, local citizens have been saddled Rodgers and Bob Latta, also takes a market-based with tax increases or service rate hikes to pay the approach to bringing broadband to unserved areas. The debts of government-owned networks. For example, Act would establish a grant program with the National Longmont, Colorado and Clarksville, Tennessee have Telecommunications and Information Administration used their energy utility customers to subsidize their (NTIA) that would dedicate up to $20 billion over broadband networks. five years to support Tacoma, Washington broadband infrastructure also used electric utility buildout to unserved areas. Congress should stick to the free NTIA would rely on updated revenues to prop up market approach that has been its failing broadband broadband coverage maps network – before selling and direct the grants to successful in promoting private the network at a heavy unserved rural areas. A $3 investment and accelerated deloss in 2020. billion grant program for The Biden plan expanding rural access to ployments of gigabit and 5G appears unmoved by wireless broadband services services to all Americans. the poor track record would also be administered of government-owned by NTIA. networks. Furthermore, Maintaining a prothe Biden plan appears to myopically treat profits investment environment also will help extend network as an effect of high prices. Yet profits are as much a buildout to Americans who still lack broadband result of operating efficiencies and innovations that access. However, the White House’s statement reduce production costs. that its plan would “reduce internet prices for all Additionally, government-owned networks deter Americans” implies that the government will impose private investment. Private market competitors rate regulation on broadband services. Rate regulation are less likely to compete against the governments would restrict broadband providers’ ability to seek that also regulate them. Local governments that returns on their investments. The effect of imposing own broadband networks have an inherent conflict price controls would be reduced incentives to reinvest of interest. They can privilege their own networks in in network infrastructure and slower deployments to rights-of-way and other permit processing, imposing unserved Americans. higher fees and longer wait times on their market Congress should say “no” to priority subsidies rivals. And local governments can charge high rates to for government-owned networks. And it should reject private market providers seeking to attach fiber cables price controls on private broadband Internet services. to municipally-owned utility poles. Promoting private investment in competing wireless, It is not wise policy to priority subsidize wireline, and satellite networks offers the best way to government-owned networks with questionable increase access and keep prices in check. RF long-term financial viability and no experience running businesses in markets characterized by Seth L. Cooper is Director of Policy Studies and a high capitalization, cross-platform competition, and Senior Fellow of the Free State Foundation, a free continuous technological change. Congress should not market-oriented think tank in Rockville, MD. RIPON FORUM July 2021
The Path Toward Commonsense Election Reform by MATTHEW WEIL Every game has rules that provide guardrails to keep a constituents demand it. Recent polling has shown that 55% contest fair and to allow the better competitor to win. Rules of Republican voters still do not believe that the election was should evolve when the conditions call for it. Baseball, for legitimately decided. example, seems in constant rules flux during the offseason and While hundreds of bills have been filed in state legislatures now even during play. For a game to maintain integrity, though, to address almost every aspect of the voting process, a few the changes must not intentionally disadvantage one side or bias themes have emerged. First, legislators are doubling down on the referees. Election reform is no different. election security measures. They have proposed and enacted There is no doubt that the 2020 election saw numerous laws to require additional identification to request and return rules changes, including deep into the election season. While mail-in ballots, which have become Exhibit A for anyone a number of these changes continue looking to undermine the results of the to be controversial, these new laws, 2020 election. Whether the changes directives, and rulings were by and will yield a more secure process is large meant to address the unique debatable. circumstances of a global pandemic Second, proposed legislation that made large in-person gatherings clearly favors in-person options inadvisable. for voting, but even more heavily The changes in 2020, mostly on Election Day. In several states, to increase access to remote voting proposed legislation included curtailing options like mail-in ballots or to some of the availability of early voting. provide drop boxes for ballots as This change can be justified in some opposed to sending them through an instances where states have already overburdened United States Postal provided a significant window for this Service, were not invented in the convenience option. However, some moment. The clear trend in election of the proposals specifically targeted administration over the past two the Sunday before Election Day, which decades has been toward more voting has become almost an informal holiday by mail, which increased from 17.4% or custom for many Black voters. of ballots cast in 2008 to 25.3% of Third, legislators are making it Matthew Weil ballots cast in 2018. The sweeping easier to work the umpire. Legislators changes made in 2020 continued this are criminalizing simple errors that expansion, with 46% of ballots being occur during election administration cast by mail in the November election. The late alterations to with huge fines for election officials, States had been experimenting with who are already underpaid relative the voting process were alternative return options for several to similarly situated government unfamiliar to many cycles. The 2020 options were broadly employees. Even worse, changes to available and did not advantage one voters, which contributed who has final authority to remove party at the expense of another. local election officials from office to misinformation and The late alterations to the voting and who will certify results threaten process were unfamiliar to many voters, disinformation. to make election officials beholden which contributed to misinformation to legislators, many of whom will be and disinformation. When you don’t on the ballots in question. One doesn’t win on the merits, you move to work the umpires. Throughout have to work the umpire when the umpire reports directly to the post-election period and continuing into today with the rules- them. free “audit” in Arizona, candidates and campaigns attacked the There has been legislation enacted this year that expands election officials who count and certify the vote. access, improves security, and has bipartisan support even if It is no surprise then that legislators at the state and federal most of the focus has been on the high-profile partisan fights. level move to fix a perceived problem, especially when their In Kentucky, the Republican legislature and secretary of state 20
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worked with the Democratic governor to ensure a short window There is a better way forward on federal election reform. of in-person early voting, streamlined the mail voting process, Congress could adopt basic criteria for the availability of voter added a signature curing provision, and made it easier to keep registration, access to and security of mail-in ballots and early voter rolls accurate when there is clear evidence that a voter no voting, and rules for when counting can begin and timelines for longer lives within a jurisdiction. The bills were passed through completion, among other standards. For states that meet these the state House and Senate nearly unanimously. new standards of voting, significant federal financial resources On a parallel track, Congress moved massive democracy would be made available to reimburse states for administering bills—H.R. 1 in the House of the rules of the game. The Representatives and S. 1 in the federal government’s free ride Senate—meant to drastically on the states when it comes to Elections will never be viewed as expand voting opportunities elections needs to end, but the fair if the winning side is victorious compromise requires states to all voters. On voting issues, Congress does have the because they were better positioned to provide this achievable authority to make changes to level of access and to write the rules to their advantage. baseline how Americans vote during a integrity. federal election, irrespective It won’t be easy. Both of the cries of federalism and parties have every reason states’ rights. That Congress has largely chosen to abdicate its not to agree to commonsense reforms that improve the voting role in elections over much of the past 200 years is why the experience. Only fighting over the rules of the game and pushback has been amplified this year. attacking the umpires without sound intentions is good politics H.R. 1 and S. 1 touched almost all aspects of voting. There - but it’s bad for democracy. Elections will never be viewed as are many good provisions that have proven their efficacy in fair if the winning side is victorious because they were better red and blue states, such as automatic voter registration, ballot positioned to write the rules to their advantage. RF envelope curing and drop boxes; there are also provisions that neuter voter identification rules in states and make keeping Matthew Weil is the director of the Elections Project at the accurate voter rolls more difficult. Bipartisan Policy Center.
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When it Comes to Leading on Infrastructure, Biden should be Like Ike by LEE LACY At a time when President Joe Biden is trying to cobble The report included a letter from the President himself, which together a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to support stated in part: “Our unity as a nation is sustained by free communication a plan to invest in America’s aging infrastructure, it is worth of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods. noting how one of his predecessors did just that more than six The ceaseless flow of information throughout the Republic is decades earlier. matched by individual and commercial movement over a vast President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the driving force system of interconnected highways crisscrossing the country behind what would become not only the largest public works and joining at our national borders with friendly neighbors to project ever constructed in the United States, but a project that the north and south. would ultimately bear his name — The Dwight D. Eisenhower “Together, the united forces of our communication and National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (EIHS). transportation systems are dynamic elements in the very In the two decades preceding the EIHS, there was no name we bear — United States. consensus about how to fund — Without them, we would be a much less construct — a national mere alliance of many separate highway system. The lack of parts.” consensus was in part the result Despite public support, the of the federal government’s plan was met with criticism from failure to present a plan that was both political parties, mostly agreeable to both the private and having to do with financing. Clay public sectors. Beyond that, state remained steadfast and shifted governments also wanted primary emphasis to the importance of a control of roadbuilding and standardized highway system to maintenance. national security. While the plan To help break the deadlock, was ultimately defeated, it did lay Eisenhower created a blue-ribbon the groundwork for what was to committee comprised of leaders come. representing both private industry In his State of the Union and organized labor. Formally Address the following January, called the President’s Advisory President Eisenhower renewed Committee on a National his push for an interstate Highway Program, the panel was highway system. Both houses led by retired General Lucius Eisenhower was the of Congress were controlled by D. Clay. The son of a Georgia driving force behind the Democrats, but Ike’s dream Senator and West Point-trained remained popular throughout the engineer, Clay was a renowned what would become country, and his administration troubleshooter and respected the largest public works redoubled their efforts to win figure on Capitol Hill because of bipartisan support on Capitol project ever constructed his efforts heading up New Deal Hill. Once again, the biggest public works projects and defense in the United States. obstacle was financing the projects at the start of World War project. The debate over whether II. to issue bonds or raise taxes remained especially contentious. Over a period of a few months in 1954, the Clay Committee, Ultimately, a special trust fund was created to fund surface as it became informally known, concluded America’s system transportation with a fuel tax. With the financing mechanism of roadways and bridges was outdated, obsolete, and unable worked out, the Senate passed the final version of the bill by to keep up with expected societal and economic growth and an overwhelming vote of 89-1 and the House quickly followed developed a plan to invest in and modernize the nation’s suit, approving the bill by a voice vote on the same day. infrastructure. President Eisenhower formally presented the Eisenhower signed the measure into law three days later. Clay Committee’s report to Congress in February of 1955. 22
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Today, the highway system has about 48,000 miles of roads, tie girder. The closure resulted in an estimated $70 million in 10 transcontinental routes, 70 primary interstate highways, losses for the trucking industry, and a major inconvenience 590,000 highway bridges, countless supporting infrastructure, for motorists who use the bridge as a main artery. The bridge and an annual budget of $20 billion. Unfortunately, this great reopened with a temporary repair. But like so many other parts feat of engineering — perhaps, worthy enough to be a Wonder of our nation’s infrastructure, its future remains uncertain with an agreement on Capitol Hill of the World — is now in a in doubt. state of disrepair. Earlier this Unfortunately, this great feat of It took presidential year, the American Society leadership to bring all of Civil Engineers issued it’s engineering — perhaps, worthy interested parties together to annual report on the nation’s enough to be a Wonder of the build the national highway infrastructure, giving it a C-. system in the 1950s, and it will Among other things, the report World — is now in a state of take presidential leadership to found that 42% of the 617,000 disrepair. bring all parties together to bridges in the U.S. are more rebuild and modernize this than 50 years old, and more system today. Fortunately, in Dwight Eisenhower, Joe Biden than 46,000 of them are rated as structurally deficient. RF This bleak report was accentuated by the recent emergency has the perfect example to follow in that regard. closure of the Hernando de Soto Bridge, which was built in 1973 and spans the Mississippi River between West Memphis, U.S. Army Lt. Col. (Ret.), Lee Lacy is a teacher and historian in Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee. The bridge was hastily Kansas City, Mo. The views expressed in this article are those closed last month when a major crack was discovered in a of the author and do not reflect any official organization.
From 1956, a U.S. Department of Transportation map of the “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways” (as it was referred to at the time.)
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Goeas Discusses GOP’s Future & Offers Up a Bit of Advice for Republicans on the Ballot Next Year WASHINGTON, DC — With with less than a college education, and regain support from suburban women, Democrats controlling all levers those that claim to be conservative older women, and college graduates…. of government in Washington and Christians, we are holding our The real advantage for us will be going Republicans looking ahead to the next strength with all those groups. I see back and getting some of those voters midterm election, The Ripon Society some softening among the women back.” held a luncheon discussion on July 13 that are married to the men that are “Having a hardcore 60% focusing on the current mindset of voters conservative Christians, for example. of Republicans with very few across the country, the performance of They are beginning to slightly soften independents and no Democrats is not the Biden Administration thus far, and their hardcore of positions against us something to build a party back on,” the future of the Goeas explained. Republican Party. “We have to start The discussion reaching out to these was led by veteran various groups. pollster Ed Goeas, Unfortunately, that’s President & CEO where Trump keeps of The Tarrance sticking his nose in. Group. He began his He is not doing what remarks by talking a president usually about the internal does, which is go away struggles of the for a period of time, Democratic Party let things quiet down, and the current and not seem critical Republican base of of his replacement support. in the White House. “The progIt’s making it very ressive wing is difficult for us to behaving for the rebuild. But, one of Democrats just the things I think like the Tea Party Republicans need to “Voters need to hear what we’re for, did for us in 2010 understand that I wish not what we’re against.” and 2012,” Goeas Trump, or at least stated. “They have the people around Ed Goeas - Remarks to discovered in the him, understood is if The Ripon Society last two elections Trump ran again in July 13, 2021 that it’s better to two years, he would beat an old time win the Republican Democrat in a nomination. He would Democratic district and keep it than that formed during the Trump years. win the Republican nomination, but it win in a Republican district that will be Their demographic cohorts will be would be almost impossible to win the taken away in the next election. They fruitful for us, I believe.” general election.” are going to be doing more and more According to Goeas, expanding The veteran strategist also had of that inside of the Democratic Party the tent of the GOP should not only some advice for Republicans who are and I think you’re going to see it in this be a top priority today, but it is critical running to be on the ballot next year. next cycle. to maintain a competitive Republican “Don’t get caught in the trap of “And when you look at rural Party going forward. going after what the Democrats are voters, older men, white men, those “We have to go back to trying to doing,” he counseled. “Voters need to RIPON FORUM July 2021
hear what we’re for, not what we’re against, and that we are focused on fixing the problems they face every day and making their lives better.” Goeas then took a number of questions from the crowd in attendance, including if he thought President Biden’s proposed tax plan will erode some of his support among more centrist and independent voters. “I think we have two major problems coming out of the Trump Administration,” he observed. “One is that because of the way he handled the pandemic, we lost something that we, as a party, had been living on ever since Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan wasn’t about having no government. He was about having a leaner, more efficient, more effective government. It was about how we can make government do a better job. “The other problem is that Trump spent money like a drunken sailor – something we used to say about
the Democrats. So he took away not only the image that we manage government better, but he also took away our ability to bring the money part of it into the equation – in terms of spending it on the right things and spending it effectively. That is going to make our tax argument that much tougher.” Finally, Goeas was asked about Trump’s “America First” primary candidates for Congress and their likelihood of success at the ballot box next spring and summer given that their strategy seems to neglect civil political discourse and instead prioritizes aggressive and inflammatory rhetoric. “I worked with Michelle Bachmann and her presidential campaign,” he stated. “I had no relationship with her before then and I was just astounded with the conversations I had with her early on, by how smart she was. But what I later found out was that she had learned all
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the wrong lessons in her congressional years of how to act out there and she didn’t check facts. She said whatever she felt in her gut was the right thing to be saying to get attention. She had built her whole Washington presence on Fox News where she was never contested. You always have to look at these guys and say ‘In a different arena, how are they going to do?’ “I think if they end up being a bunch of candidates that feed on each other, trying to come out on top the way that Trump did, I think they’re just going to cannibalize each other and be in deep trouble. The only one that seems to be moving more in the right direction is the Governor of Florida. He seems to have softened his rhetoric and softened his anger that he showed in the early days. Maybe he’s got it, but I would say he seems to be the only one showing any signs of kind of tracking in the right direction.” RF
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Name: Peter Meijer Occupation: Representative for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District Previous positions held: I was an noncommissioned officer and Human Intelligence Collector in the Army where I conducted interrogations and source operations. I was also a Conflict Analyst for a non-governmental organization in Afghanistan that specialized in safety and security operations for aid workers. Additionally, I served as the chairman of the board of directors of Student Veterans of America—one of the largest post-9/11 veteran service organizations. Individual who inspired me as a child: I would say Gerald Ford. Obviously he is our hometown president in Grand Rapids, but our family was also closely involved with the Gerald R. Ford Museum and the Ford Presidential Foundation. It was humbling to not only have a chance to meet President Ford, but also I began to understand and appreciate how he had served and how he arrived at the position that he did – especially with regard to Watergate and the Nixon pardon – and how vital it is to have thoughtful, decent leadership in periods of turmoil. It is something that really left a mark. Issue facing America that no one is talking about: The ways in which our cyber vulnerabilities can easily be exploited that would fundamentally undermine our national security. We think of cyber security as ransomware attacks, but there is also the possibility of the crippling of our electrical grid that could be used to turn back American forces or dissuade us from involvement in a conflict. That would be detrimental. How does your time in the Army reserves and your previous deployment to Iraq shape the way you approach serving in Congress? It really shaped my understanding that what the government does and then what the government does not do lies hanging in the balance. Our country has gotten to where it is because of hard work, because of sacrifice, and we must appreciate that. At the same time, we have to take seriously the oaths that are sworn. One thing that unites members of Congress and members of the military is having to swear an oath to the Constitution. There are a lot of things that are easy to take for granted or easily to not fully appreciate, but our country exists because we collectively believe in it. We believe in this ideal and this shared notion as Americans. Finally, finish this sentence: “If I could change one thing about American politics today, it would be…”: … to make sure that we collapse the distance between decision and consequence. To have more accountability. To have a system where our government is not some abstract entity where tax dollars come in and go out, but to better connect the people to what is being done in their name and to have them understand what is going well, what is going poorly, and why. 28
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