The Radicalism of “Build Back Better” Is the Crisis that Classical Liberals Must Not Let Go to Waste

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If the mantra of the day is, “Never let crisis go to waste,” then what are we to do when artificial crisis is being created by the left? President Biden and his allies are launching a series of domestic “forever wars” against businesses and households under the guise of a “Build Back Better” plan to steer private life with an array of new social policy edicts lubricated by an erased debt limit, with heightened fearmongering over the temperature outside thrown into the costly mix.

Here in FEMA Region III, policy makers and activists and all the rest of us need put our laissez faire pants on. It’s time for an Abuse of Crisis Prevention Act to directly confront the radicalism of the left. That means, along with much else, securing a nation that does not participate in global minimum taxes, allow for Internal Revenue Service spying on $600 bank transactions, or tolerate a central bank digital dollar replacing the promise of cryptocurrencies.

It is vital to recognize that the COVID-19 marked the third economic shock of the 21st century, the response to which was deficit spending and an escalation of federal regulatory powers. Republicans, each time, added to or succumbed to the “flash policy” response that has helped further entrench government.

But this time, even as the triggering crisis subsides, ambitious politicians will not let the good times roll. They insist on a slate of costly new social programs—medical, schooling, child care, energy, and infrastructure policies—to pile atop the vast mound of not-needed top-down regulations and government steering we already have.  

The nation and the very notion of limited government cannot survive these repeated debt-fueled assaults, and it is unfair to our descendants to impose our nanny state on them that they begin life underwater, without wherewithal and surplus to cope with their own inevitable crises.

At Forbes this week, I have an article describing the notion of an Abuse of Crisis Prevention Act, reiterating an earlier appeal to the remnants of statesmanship to step forward and seize upon the excesses of today’s progressives and flip the energy and agenda.

The left has created a crisis of looming national transformation into a nanny state that seems to control much of the nation’s economic activity; that crisis cannot be allowed to go to waste. This time, crisis needs to be seized upon exactly the way the left weaponizes misfortune, but in this version, to roll back the contours of the state. An Abuse of Crisis Prevention Act can allow for the expansion of intergenerational private wealth rather than intergenerational debt, along with major deregulation and rollbacks of government power embodied in emergency declarations.

Here are some headings covered in the column:  

  1. Continue Regulatory Liberalization Instead of Fiscal Stimulus.
  2. Circumscribe Emergency Declarations.
  3. Starve Government while Feeding Household Intergenerational Wealth.
  4. Strengthen Business Resilience by Shrinking the State and Leaving Funds Where They Were Earned.
  5. Clarify Distinctions Between Federal and State Purview and Roles.

Check out the full Forbes article, “The Greater Reset: An ‘Abuse-Of-Crisis Prevention Act’ To Restore Limited Government,” for more details.

Classical liberals have to take a page from the left and not let the acute crisis of a radical “reset” and “build back better” agenda go to waste ourselves

The Abuse of Crisis Prevention Act calls for an ambitious agenda to streamline and compartmentalize the federal government within rational, constitutional bounds. With it, we can solve more than one problem at once. We can address the immediate problem that Build Back Better offers no resilience with respect to the next economic shock but instead only adds more layers of government. We can also achieve an overdue restoration of a culture defined by the “silken bands of mild government” and the growth and resilience that ethos permits.

The items listed below further address the crisis readiness theme versus progressive ambitions to expand the state. CEI also has a longer paper coming offering more detail and justification for an Abuse-of-Crisis Prevention Act. But even with these, as the left often says about its ambitions for power, “there is much work to be done,” the difference is that the new work entails expanding freedom and the ambit of voluntary human interaction, not government force and oversight.