Obvious, But Needs to Be Said

It's Time to Update Reaganomics

Two must read columns on Republican renewal. First, James Pethokoukis who writes at National Review that the GOP must drop the flat tax, balanced budget amendment, and the gold standard as policy objectives. The other is by Ramesh Ponnuru, who writes in the New York Times that Reaganomics must be updated to meet the 21st century.

The Republican economic program of the 1980s also fought against government-imposed restrictions on economic activity: decontrolling energy prices, for example. Today we should target different restrictions. Software patents have become a source of unproductive litigation that entrenches large tech companies and inhibits creativity. Republicans shouldn’t support those patents. Economic growth has to trump corporate executives’ campaign donations.

Conservatives should retain their skepticism about government intervention, the preference for letting markets direct economic resources and the zeal for ending government-created barriers to economic growth that they inherited from Reagan. In his first Inaugural Address, Reagan famously said that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” The less famous yet crucial beginning of that sentence was “in our present crisis.” The question is whether conservatism revives by attending to today’s conditions, or becomes something withered and dead.