Welfare State Here to Stay?
Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute writes a thought-provoking piece for the fall edition of Breakthrough Journal. In it, the conservative environmental expert and presidential historian discusses how to deal with three facts of modern political life:
(1) Neither liberals nor conservatives will ever defeat the other side so decisively as to be able to govern without the consent of the other side
(2) The divisions between Left and Right are fundamental and unbridgeable because each side has conflicting modes of moral reasoning that cannot be easily synthesized or bridged
(3) The welfare state, or entitlement state, is here to stay
On this last point Hayward voices support for some of the reforms in Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget plan, and other conservative attempts to make social programs more fiscally sustainable by changing eligibility requirements. Citing Ronald Reagan’s retreat from serious entitlement reform as a prime example of how unlikely it is for modern conservatives to simply do away with entitlements, Hayward offers a cautionary analysis against perennial cost-control proposals like “starve-the-beast” and balanced budget amendments.
As the GOP presidential voting gets underway in less than 50 days, this is a piece well worth reading, considering, and applying to those who would replace President Barack Obama.