What Should Government Do?

The question could be restated as: What Should the New Deal Have Done?

Any effort to rethink and redesign American government must start with the New Deal's unfinished business.

Despite the great accomplishments of the New Deal and its 80-year aftermath, American government continues to fall short on many of its central goals. 

  • It has failed to provide Americans with an adequate system of economic security and equal opportunity.
  • It has not established a truly effective market.
  • Our infrastructure is out-of-date and decaying, since its maintenance is irrationally financed.
  • Compounding these problems, our tax system is a mess: unfair, complex, and excessive.

It is essential to recognize the New Deal's many extraordinary achievements. FDR and the New Dealers saved the U.S. from economic collapse, rescued millions of Americans from starvation and despair, and made the market work again.

At the same time, the New Deal accelerated two misguided policies that thwart economic security and distort the marketplace: (1) “poverty-requiring” welfare programs, and (2) massive market-manipulating subsidies for specific types of consumption and investment. 

To put our government in its place, we must revisit the New Deal "settlement."  The most urgent task is to candidly admit the New Deal's major shortcomings, and enact new policies that fix them.

Six fundamental changes are needed. Sewn together, these reforms will create a radically new--and much better--model for American government.