SOTU reflections from Yuval Levin:
Simply put, the foremost problem to which the country now wants a solution from Washington is the problem of slow economic growth, and the Democrats are in a very bad position to advance solutions to that problem.
As the president suggested, and Rubio said outright, slow growth is the key barrier to upward mobility and a key source of pressure on middle-class families, and only robust growth offers a plausible way out of our economic and fiscal problems. The core of Rubio’s speech was basically an outline of how he thinks growth could be achieved now. It suggested an implicit assumption that the reason the economy is not growing is the inefficiency or unproductivity of our economy today—and especially of the public sector and those portions of the public sector most dominated by the government—and it proposed entitlement reform (to induce greater efficiency in health care and to reduce federal spending), education reform (to improve the quality of our labor force and provide greater opportunities for mobility), tax reform (to reduce needless drag on the economy by raising revenue more efficiently), immigration reform (to improve the quality of our labor force), and energy exploration (to make the fossil fuels that power today’s economy much cheaper). I think that’s a pretty plausible list (though I would add real health-care reform beyond the entitlements to vastly improve productivity and reduce costs, and regulatory reform to ensure open competition rather than further advantage large established players throughout the economy). And when you look over that list, you realize the Democrats’ dilemma. They are prevented by the politics of their electoral coalition from seriously advancing most of these ideas.
Yes. they can’t do what’s right, because all of the rent seekers in their base won’t allow it.
[Update a few minutes later]
Some useful advice for the president, that he will never take:
In a reductionist sense, if the president would just take his first draft of these speeches, and then pencil in the opposite of each talking point, the economy might take off.
There’s no “might” about it.