Adkins: It’s time for some new ideas


The public demand for major government reforms is now at 60% while those who think we need only minor reforms has fallen to 28%. Here are some potentially great ideas.

Personally, I think we should create a mandatory Federal Service program. Every high school graduate or dropout would join the military or serve 12-18 months in programs designed by the government for national improvements. I would recommend that at least half the rural youth would serve in urban areas and vice-versa. If nothing else, these individuals would receive a better understanding of the issues and problems that concern the other half of America. Such would go a long way to lessen the animosity and geographic divide in our politics.

One of the best ideas I have heard is to eliminate the federal debt limit. It is unnecessary. A debt limit only impacts our ability to pay the debts already incurred. It has zilch to do with future expenditures. As one economist pointed out, someone receives some good out of every debt. For instance, when the deficit helps pay for economic growth, the average Joe gains from the debt. When the 18 largest donors to the 2016 Trump campaign gave a total of $205 million, they were eligible for $68 billion in tax savings. Where else can you get a 33,000% return on your investment.

There is much concern about covering the upcoming shortfall in Social Security. Republican Senator Bill Cassidy offers up an intriguing proposal: place $1.5 trillion, over the next five years, into an investment fund separate from the Social Security Trust Fund and hold it in escrow for 70 to 75 years. At an estimated average annual growth rate of 8.5%, this would cover 75% of the projected shortfall. Should the growth rate fall short, the difference can be made up by increasing both the maximum taxable income and the payroll-tax rate.

Compare Cassidy’s idea to those of raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting benefits. How about a combination of all three? Cassidy’s idea coupled with Biden’s would mean McCarthy would not have to offer up such Draconian spending cuts affecting America’s young and poor.

Recent events reveal the need for the Supreme Court to have a code of ethics, same as all federal judges below them. Furthermore, the number of justices is not set in constitutional stone, and nine old people have far too much power in denying the American people what they want. Pete Buttigieg announced a plan to increase the number of justices to 15, with the president responsible for nine of the total and a bi-partisan commission, perhaps from the American Bar Association, responsible for the rest. With the Supreme Courts favorable ratings at an all-time low, these two moves would help restore confidence in the Court.

Veronique De Rugy wrote of three reform proposals in the August 2022 issue of Reason magazine. While I am not in complete agreement with her suggestions, they are certainly worth entertaining. First, she proposes ending all forms of government granted privileges: subsidies, guaranteed loans, tax credits and bailouts. She points out they typically go to big successful enterprises that don’t need the help. Second of her proposals is to reform the tax code so that two people earning the same income not be treated differently because of kids or mortgages. Lastly, and I think she has a point, move away from age-based eligibility requirements used for Social Security and Medicare. These made sense when being old meant certain poverty. That is no longer the case. Thanks to FDR and LBJ, the elderly “occupy the top income quintile.”

Rather than politics as usual, our leaders need to put away political partisanship and consider the potential good that might result from such reforms. After all, we are in the 21st Century. It is time for new ideas.

Michael Adkins is a former Chair of the Hancock County Democratic Party.