Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

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Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

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The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Whether it's a 'War on Christmas' or just progressivism run amok, the song 'Baby It's Cold Outside' has been firmly in the crosshairs this holiday season. Here are just a few of the headlines making the rounds:

Should radio stations stop playing 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'?

They range from the previous as questioning and then roll right into the following and assume facts not in evidence.

'Baby, It's Cold Outside,' Seen As Sexist, Frozen Out by Radio Stations

It may be seen as sexist but according to one radio stations polling, only about 5% do. Then they go from saying it's sexist to straight up claiming it as a rape song.

Radio Bans 'Baby It's Cold Outside' Over Claims It's A Rape Song, English Teacher Explains Its Real Meaning

And then they just flat out call for its retirement.

Is it time to retire 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'?

The left might think they are woke and on the right side of history in the wake of the #MeToo movement — but how shocked do you think they'd be if they knew Glenn beat them to the punch over a decade ago? Don't believe me? Take a listen to this clip from our audio vault from 2008.

How long until we follow in Europe's footsteps?

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Christmas should be a time of happiness and celebration the world over. But in Europe, it is now the season of terror. The sounds at Europe's famous Christmas Markets of "Merry Christmas!" and laughter are rapidly being replaced with the sounds of "Allahu Ackbar!" and gunfire. Two years ago ISIS attacked a Christmas Market in Berlin, killing twelve and injuring another forty-eight. And tragically, the sound of automatic gunfire and the chant of "Allahu Ackbar!" was heard at another Christmas Market in Europe yesterday afternoon… this time in France.

Two people are dead and thirteen are battling for their lives right now in Strasbourg, France. The attacker walked into the city's Christmas Market shortly after 8pm, shouted "Allahu Ackbar" and began shooting indiscriminately. He then proceeded to battle the police in four separate locations while he fled the scene. As of this moment, he still hasn't been caught. The city of Strasbourg is on full lockdown, and France's terror level has been elevated.

RELATED: Paris pandemonium: Here's what happens when people feel ignored

A man of Middle Eastern descent has been identified as the suspect. He was already on a terror watchlist and had been deported from Germany recently with twenty criminal convictions. He's well known in Islamist circles and was reportedly radicalized after spending time in prison. Apparently he was too radical for the Germans… but not for France.

What is it going to take for progressive governments like France to wake up to their failed policies? Nearly 300 people have been killed in terror attacks in France over the past three years. 300 in three years! But despite that, the French government refuses to address immigration, they continue their open border policy and - more importantly - they refuse to listen to their people when they try and tell them that they're scared to death over this issue. Instead they get a lecture on Islamophobia… "that's the real problem."

Outrage has replaced baseball as our national pastime.

This is one of the reasons why the Yellow Vests are tearing the country apart. The government refuses to listen to their fears on terrorism, unchecked immigration, open borders, the failing economy, high taxes and out of control spending. Wow... do these issues sound at all familiar? How many years behind France are we? Just listen to ourselves.

Outrage has replaced baseball as our national pastime. People have lost the ability to engage in peaceful protest. Street demonstrations have turned into street brawls. Have you seen the images from places like Portland lately? European governments are losing the social contract with their people. After years of broken promises and outright lies from Washington, how long before that happens here?

The Congressional reckoning for the giants of Silicon Valley continued yesterday. This time it was finally Google CEO Sundar Pichai's [Soon-dar Pa-shy] turn in the hot seat. There were protesters. There was Alex Jones and Roger Stone sitting beside each other. Good times were had by all. Pichai remained soft-spoken and calm throughout the grilling. It was his first time testifying before Congress. And you know what they say about your first time – that you should never admit to having even a hint of anti-conservative bias. We start there right now…

In his opening statement, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said:

I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way. To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests.

RELATED: Still want to believe Google isn't evil? Then don't listen to THIS interview

Congressmen from both parties were not convinced of Google's innocence. For three and a half hours, they let Pichai have it from all angles. Republican Iowa Representative Steve King asked Pichai to disclose the names of over 1,000 Google employees that work on Google's search algorithm, so that their social media accounts could be examined for liberal bias. Pichai did not hand over the list.

Meanwhile, at least one Democrat, Tennessee's Steve Cohen, feels Google has the opposite problem. He complained to Pichai that Google overuses conservative news organizations in their search results. Pichai insisted that Google employees do not favor certain news outlets over others.

Pichai saved his most artful question-dodging for the China issue. Lawmakers wanted to know about "Project Dragonfly," the communist-friendly version of Google's search engine that the company has been working on in collaboration with the Chinese government. Pichai said:

It's a limited effort internally currently.

When asked whether Google is in current discussions with the Chinese government about Project Dragonfly, Pichai replied:

…I'm happy to be transparent to the extent we take steps toward launching a product in China." Which sounds like a definite maybe.

But then, Democrats got back to the much more urgent Google issues at hand. Like Zoe Lofgren of California who asked why Donald Trump's photo pops up when you Google the word "idiot."

And to think your tax dollars helped subsidize this enlightening Q & A.