Chatting with Stephen Moore, senior economics writer at the Wall Street Journal
“That’s the thing that’s so interesting about the Left, is they think they’re populists, but they’re really elitists. So all of these elitists, you know, say, ‘Oh, individuals can’t make decisions about healthcare. These are too complicated for people.’ Well, yes, they can!” — Stephen Moore
There are many issues swirling around Capitol Hill these days, many of which could great impact the every day lives of Americans.
Earlier this week, United Liberty stopped by the Washington, DC offices of the Wall Street Journal to chat with Stephen Moore, a member of the paper’s editorial board and senior economics writer, to talk about tax reform and the push inside Congress to defund ObamaCare.
Moore is no stranger to the conservative movement. In 1999, he founded the Club for Growth, an advocacy organization that promotes free market policies, and served as its president until 2004. Moore joined the Wall Street Journal in 2005 and is the author of six books, the most recent of which is Who’s The Fairest of Them All: The Truth About Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America.
There has been a lot of discussion about tax reform recently in Congress. Moore has long-been an advocate of pro-growth tax reform and explained that the current tax code serves as a “deterrent” to our success in the global economy.
“The tax system is a real negative for the economy. It leads to outsourcing of jobs to other countries, it reduces the amount of entrepreneurship and capital investment,” Moore told United Liberty. “So if you were trying to devise a worse tax system than we have now, you’d be hard pressed to do it. And so it’s just so obvious, from an economic competitiveness point of view, if you’re an American, you want America to be able to compete on a global stage. And this tax system is really a deterrent to that.”
Unfortunately, Moore doesn’t see much happening on the issue right now because President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats don’t really have any interest in reform unless it brings in substantially more revenue to the federal government.
“I’m not so sure [tax reform is] possible under this President, quite frankly. I just don’t think Barack Obama has really any interest in this. It’s possible we might be able to do some reforms on the corporate side,” said Moore. “You know, the grand bargain that Ronald Reagan made the last time we reformed the tax system in ‘86, is we will give up a lot of these loopholes for investing in windmills and bull sperm, and we’re going to use that money to lower the rate to make it a more efficient system. And it did; it accomplished that.”
“The Democrats aren’t really interested in that grand bargain anymore. They just want to raise as much money as they can to fund government programs.” he added. “So just last week, you may have seen Harry Reid, who is the Senate Majority Leader, saying, ‘We’ll do tax reform, but the price is you have to raise a trillion dollars from revenues.’”
“Well, sorry, no deal,” Moore stated.
When asked about President Obama’s widely panned economic speech last week, during which he heavily played the class warfare card, Moore acknowledged that the middle class is struggling, but noted that the administration’s policies have contributed heavily to that.
“Barack Obama’s speech the other week — which was a horrid speech really, one of his worst, and that’s saying a lot — it was totally oriented towards class warfare,” said Moore. “And he was basically saying the reason the middle class can’t get ahead is because the rich have all of this money. If we could just adopt a Robin Hood economic model of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, everything would be fine. Of course, that’s never worked anywhere where it’s ever been tried.”
“And it is true, by the way — the middle class is really struggling right now. But that’s because of Obama’s own policies. The last four or five years — and I would say the end of the Bush years, to be fair — the last five years have been just horrific for the middle class,” he continued. “The middle class has lost over $3,000 of income since this recession began. And they’re not recovering that money.”
Moore also conceded that President Obama has been able to touch a nerve when it comes to the economy by making rich people out to be the enemy and he noted that Republicans have performed poorly in combating the rhetoric, suggesting that they use Detroit as an example of a liberal playground that has economically collapsed.
“The truth is [Detroit] has been a command-and-control structure for half a century and lousy school, corrupt politicians, laws that favor one group over another, high taxes, and all those things have had a real detrimental effect,” noted Moore. “The truth is, when you talk to liberals in this town of Washington, DC, where we’re sitting in right now, they do want to do for the country what they’ve done for Detroit.”
While he is strongly opposed to ObamaCare, Moore dismissed the push inside Congress to defund the law, calling it a “political loser.”
“I think that it is well-intentioned, but I don’t think it’s going to have a happy ending,” surmised Moore. “And I think the last thing you want to do when you’re the general in an army is to say, ‘Go take that hill, and go three-quarters of the way up the hill and then retreat.’ And I just don’t think they’re going to win this time.”
“ObamaCare is a massive negative for the economy, and it’s going to hurt our healthcare and have negative repercussions down the line. It’s an atrocious piece of legislation,” he explained. “My view is that wheels are just coming off of this thing on their own. It doesn’t even need a push from Republicans. Just let the events unfold.”
“We had a piece in our paper today which was by Howard Dean. Howard Dean was the former Democratic National Committee Chairman; he’s saying this law isn’t gonna work! So you’re seeing even Democrats now starting to admit the whole thing is just a farce. It’s non-workable,” he added. “And it’s gonna collapse when Democrats who are up for reelection have to go to their constituents. The unions don’t even like ObamaCare anymore! So who’s left?”
Moore did express his sense that the healthcare debate will be revisited at some point in the next five years. But he explained that Republicans have to get serious about offering free market healthcare alternatives and articulating them to Americans.
“What we need is a system that provides catastrophic coverage for people who really do get — you know, if they have cancer or break their leg and have major surgeries. That’s what the reason you have — it’s like, why do you have insurance on your home? If it burns down!” emphasized Moore. “But we don’t have health insurance today in America, we have pre-paid healthcare. And that leads to rampant costs, inefficient services, and if you had a free market system in healthcare the costs would decline rapidly, you’d get more innovation, and you would have a lot more people who could afford the coverage and the care that they want.”
He also explained that, the Left are elitists, despite their belief that they are populists looking out for ordinary Americans. He pointed to the ObamaCare, which expanded government’s already heavy regulation of insurance, as an example of that.
“It’s really a question of do you want the individual to make these kinds of healthcare decision or do you want someone else to make it. A government board, or a group of doctors, or an insurance company,” noted Moore. “And I come down on the side of the individual.”
“And it’s interesting, too, because all these leftists are essentially elitists. That’s the thing that’s so interesting about the Left, is they think they’re populists, but they’re really elitists,” he explained. “So all of these elitists, you know, say, ‘Oh, individuals can’t make decisions about healthcare. These are too complicated for people.’”
Well, yes, they can!” Moore proclaimed.
There was a lot more to this interview, including discussions about the Farm Bill and agricultural policy as well as the immigration bill that is currently stalled in the House of Representatives. You can listen to the full, unedited audio above.