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America-as-Europe Argument Might Resonate

And it would make sense for the federal government to launch an infrastructure-building stimulus program if it were designed as a public-private enterprise and if projects were freed (by repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act) from paying prevailing union wages.

The best recent overall analysis I’ve seen of how America needs to reform itself for a healthy future was written by Yuval Levin, editor of the journal National Affairs, in the Weekly Standard in late May.

Levin is right to say voters are anxious about their children’s prospects because they fear economic and social stagnation — a failure of the traditional American growth and opportunity machine.

The next president’s focus, he argues, should be on making America productive again by making the public sector leaner and more efficient and encouraging the private sector to innovate and grow.

The specifics include:

• Health care (including Medicare) reform based on a “premium support” model — government subsidies for people to buy their own health insurance — and tax reform that eliminates breaks and loopholes, lowers rates and encourages investment for maximum return, not tax-avoidance.

• Immigration reform that attracts highly skilled foreigners and education reform that rewards excellent teaching, makes higher education more efficient and affordable and offers apprenticeships and continuous training opportunities for the non-college-bound.

• Regulatory reform requiring Congress to approve all regulations with more than a $100 million effect on the economy and encouragement of a do-it-all energy policy, especially for exploitation of natural gas reserves.

“The problem is that America is unprepared for the future,” Levin writes, and that Obama, dedicated as he is to an old welfare-state model, “is not so much the cause of the problem as the embodiment of it.”

Levin argues that Romney has proposed some elements of the necessary reform agenda but has not come close to making the case for it.

My question would be: Does he even “get” what ails America and have a comprehensive plan for reform?

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