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Jim DeMint / February 1, 2016

Progressivism Throws Money at Problems. Conservatism Solves Them.

To “throw money at the problem” is usually understood as a bad thing everywhere but in progressive circles. And for all intents and purposes, the Washington Beltway is one of them. Recognizing the underlying pathology of a problem, or debating whether it is best addressed at a federal, state, or local level — even asking whether it is an issue best left to private citizens — is entirely the domain of conservative policymaking. This is a far cry from so-called progressive policy, which tends to shoot both spending and decision-making straight to the top of the ladder, no questions asked. Simply judging both schools by their problem-solving capabilities, one would assume that the mostly empty toolbox of progressivism isn’t nearly as versatile.

To “throw money at the problem” is usually understood as a bad thing everywhere but in progressive circles. And for all intents and purposes, the Washington Beltway is one of them.

Recognizing the underlying pathology of a problem, or debating whether it is best addressed at a federal, state, or local level — even asking whether it is an issue best left to private citizens — is entirely the domain of conservative policymaking.

This is a far cry from so-called progressive policy, which tends to shoot both spending and decision-making straight to the top of the ladder, no questions asked. Simply judging both schools by their problem-solving capabilities, one would assume that the mostly empty toolbox of progressivism isn’t nearly as versatile.

But we don’t have to rely on speculation. We have hard evidence: 50 years of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” social programs hasn’t worked. Trillion-dollar stimulus packages haven’t worked. Takeover of the nation’s health care and insurance industries hasn’t worked. Centrally controlling education and spending over $100,000 per student hasn’t worked.

Winston Churchill once said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.” Maybe it’s time we listened to the old prime minister, because we’ve been trying the “everything else” for decades.

Fortunately, the world just got the right thing in writing. The Heritage Foundation has released “Solutions 2016,” a compendium of more than 275 conservative policy recommendations for political candidates.

The core idea motivating these policies is that the federal government’s first job is to protect America from external threats, and its second is to manage only those issues the states are incapable of or forbidden from doing themselves, in accordance with limits of the Constitution.

Truly conservative solutions address issues the progressive establishment ineptly tackles at the federal level, like generational poverty and education. These issues demand local understanding of local problems — and also require letting people and their states keep their own money. Some areas, like economic downturn or a bad job market, can be traced to interference that shouldn’t have happened in the first place — at any level of government.

There are also societal problems the progressive establishment doesn’t even recognize, such as the breakup of the American family and casual attitudes toward human life. Recognized by Washington or not, these issues have an impact on all of us and demand a renewed commitment to a moral civil society, strong religious institutions, and policies that promote, instead of denigrate, family bonds.

At the end of the day, the final goal of conservative policymaking is to build a society where all Americans are afforded the same opportunities, and none experience roadblocks to prosperity or fulfillment through the careless actions of their government. We want not just freedom from tyranny; we want every family in America free to pursue whatever dreams they’ve planted for themselves.

If you agree with these goals, I hope you’ll give “Solutions 2016” a look. And if you think any of your elected leaders would find it informative — from town councilman to state senator to your member of Congress — I hope you’ll recommend it to him.

That’s what I’ll be doing!


Republished from The Daily Signal.

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