Dec 21, 2018

Our Successes In 2018 — and the Challenges Ahead  

Post by Freedom Partners

A host of 2018 successes at the federal and state levels demonstrated how policymakers can break down barriers to opportunity, one roadblock at a time. Here’s a look at 2018 progress — and what we can do in 2019 to advance the goals of freedom.

Health Care

The Trump administration’s expansion of short-term, limited-duration insurance plans increased choice and competition, while also providing access to quality, affordable care.

Ditto for relaxed rules for association health plans.

Right-to-try legislation, which allows terminally ill patients to access potentially lifesaving drugs that haven’t yet received final FDA approval, is the law of the land. Nevertheless, challenges remain in fully implementing the law.

Going into 2019, some politicians prefer a top-down, federal approach. While single-payer health care faces long odds, its supporters are growing louder. The same is true of proponents of Medicaid expansion.

A far better approach to improving health care in our country is to focus on supply-side reforms, including reforms to scope-of-practice and certificate-of-need laws, which restrict competition, limit care and increase its costs in most states.

Criminal Justice Reform

At the federal level, Congress enacted the First Step Act to better treat and prepare incarcerated individuals to re-enter society, all while making Americans safer.

At the state level, Pennsylvania enacted “clean-slate” legislation, easing some individuals’ transition into employment and housing to restart their lives. Tennessee reformed its broken civil asset forfeiture program, adding transparency and accountability to law enforcement practices and better protecting citizens’ constitutional rights. Florida lawmakers provided more transparency to the public on the state’s criminal justice system, while Sunshine State voters approved voting rights for roughly 1.4 million individuals with felony records. (Now attention turns to proper implementation of that ballot initiative.)

While several states have clean slate legislation on the agenda, some policymakers mistakenly cling to so-called “tough on crime” measures that, in reality, aren’t proven to make us any safer.

We hope more states and the federal government will continue working to improve our justice policies.

Trade

Congress allowed renewal of Trade Promotion Authority (formerly known as “fast track”) to expedite trade deals. And a higher, 25 percent tariff on many Chinese goods scheduled for New Year’s Day was delayed.

Yet we have a long way to go to reach zero-tariff, free trade. Reducing tariffs across-the-board would benefit American consumers and businesses, many of which have been harmed and even shuttered as a result of protectionism.

Spending

Government handouts to favored industries keep our system rigged for the well-connected at the expense of everyone else – and while the subsidies recently provided to Amazon for their new headquarters in Virginia and New York are a clear example of that cronyism, we’re encouraged by growing public opposition to corporate welfare in all forms.

Lastly, the federal government spent over $4 trillion this year. This is not sustainable or healthy. We must work to cut spending.

Regulation

Critical reforms to Dodd-Frank will make access to capital easier and will spur economic growth. Additionally, changes in the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel efficiency standards, which significantly increase the cost of production for manufactures, and rulemaking are successes to celebrate. But we also have many challenges ahead.

Tech

The drive by both parties to regulate the content of tech and social media companies is a huge threat to the First Amendment. Federal privacy concerns will prove an enduring issue, too.

We may also have to grapple with regulatory approaches to the emerging field of drone technology.

We hope you’ll stay tuned to our work in the coming year. There will be many issues to work on — including, very likely, a few we haven’t covered here.

Have a wonderful new year!