Preparing for the Challenges and Opportunities of 2017

At this time of year, it is easy to focus on endings. The end of the general election campaign in November, however, also marked a new beginning. The unexpected results have shifted the mindset of many friends. Instead of lamenting eight years gone – from TARP to the Department of Labor’s overtime rule – there is renewed optimism about the potential for policy reform. Of course, there are blinking warning lights as well.

At CEI we’ve rolled out an aggressive pair of agendas for federal officials. Earlier this month we released Free to Prosper: A Pro-Growth Agenda for the 115th Congress to an enthusiastic reception in the media and among allies on Capitol Hill, including Bill McGurn’s Wall Street Journal column quoting yours truly. We’ve also launched a series of policy memoranda titled First Steps for the Trump Administration, with a focus on the executive branch agencies.

In all of our recommendations, we emphasize that our mandate is for neither man nor party, but for liberty. CEI’s mission is to maximize the realm for individual decision-making over how we live, work, and play. We therefore focus on policies that have the broadest effect on the economy and deepest reach into people’s lives. Despite the tendency of good people to “grow in office” and to invariably advocate more government control, I’m confident as I look at the start of 2017 that we can achieve substantial and meaningful regulatory reform.

To that end, there are three strategic insights guiding our work in the first months of a new administration and Congress.

  • We will take a land rush mentality into all of our activity. The combination of a campaign light on policy details, strong nominations for key posts, and pent up demand for action from a Congress no longer operating under an Obama veto threat means that we must put every available resource into play. We are like the Oklahoma Sooners of 1889, but instead of rushing to claim prime real estate, we’re reclaiming economic freedom.
  • We will advocate for new legal constraints on the administrative state. Too much power in the executive branch is the path to tyranny, and too little oversight from the legislative branch has been the path toward regulatory sclerosis. This insight drives CEI’s research and advocacy on “regulatory dark matter” and procedural reform.
  • We will be nimble and opportunistic. To say that the Trump phenomena is novel is like saying our Founding Fathers had a few interesting ideas about government. From relations with the news media to staff selection to Twitter-driven international diplomacy, Trump is revolutionizing what we know about the exercise of modern presidential power. We need to adapt habits and strategies honed over decades to a new style of policymaking. Our goals of limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty remain the same. But if we need to update our methods of communicating and organizing in order to continue advancing them, we’re eager to do so.

Thanks to all of our supporters, readers, followers, and fans for an exciting and often surprising 2016. We look forward to a busy, challenging, and, we hope, liberating 2017.