6. Healthcare “1,2,3”
1-Medical savings accounts for every American – Give every American the option to divert part or all of their Medicare portion of payroll taxes to a medical savings account (aka HSA). These interest-gaining accounts can be used for out-of-pocket medical care and high deductibles. Mitigates the expense account effect running up the costs of healthcare and pulls us back from the cliff (See Singapore).
2-Refundable Tax Credits for the poor (straight into your MSA). Perhaps we can “afford” to help the poor, but not the way we’re doing it. Means-test people and give poor folks refundable tax credits on a sliding scale. They put these resources into their HSAs and choose where their healthcare dollars go.
3-Kill State Monopolies - Let people buy less expensive insurance across state lines. If I can cut my insurance premium in half by buying in Idaho, I should be able to. The only thing that prevents me from doing so is government. Let’s end that bullshit.
7. Dollar-for-Dollar Schools – Create the conditions for the emergence of creative new private, non-profit schools by allowing people to deduct a portion of the tuition to place their kids in these innovative schools. (Then, perhaps this will happen.) If you’re taking a full pupil out of the DMV-style school but leaving a large portion of the tax money for said pupil, no one can credibly argue that it “takes resources from the public schools.” Add refundable tax credits for the very poor and you’ve got a viable alternative to the mediocre-at-best public schools system. Universal primary school is maintained. Competition and iterative innovation radically improves our kids’ education. Everybody’s happy (except the teachers’ cartel, uh, union).
8. Congressional Crowdsourcing - Public solutions for public problems means big-dollar contests and public suggestion-box-type efforts can get the best ideas out of the American people. Bureaucrats have terrible incentives. And seriously, there are no Steve Jobs(s) in Congress. Congresspeople and their staffers should find ways to let the "wisdom of crowds" – even ideas futures markets - solve genuine public problems. Who ever heard of an innovative populist meritocracy? Well, now you have.
9. 1% Rule – For every dollar a federal department saves taxpayers relative to a reasonable budget baseline, those employees get 1 percent of that savings directly in their paychecks (according to pay grade). This would encourage bottom-up departmental efforts to tighten up. To prevent artificially bloating budgets the following years in order falsely to reward these functionaries, you’d have to set up the baseline to avoid political gaming of the system. Such may only be possible with a TABOR-like provision. I agree that the devil would be in the details. Just tossin' it out there.
10. Toleration – I have written elsewhere that the GOP should replace the social conservative policy leg of their tripod with a leg of toleration. Toleration is the cultural institution that means conservatives have their own private social conservatism and let others have their own lifestyles, religious beliefs, or whatever as they see fit. The kids today are much more tolerant and you won’t get anywhere with them unless you let go of all the stuff that smacks of theocracy or social engineering a la Falwell. Persuasion and privacy on social issues is preferable to power.
While a little messier than his first five reccomendations, Max still offers some substantive ideas that deserve further exploration. Health care, education, and government beurocracy are incredibly messy issues, so one can't expect the solutions to be easy. I do like #10, but that should come as no surprise.