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Another Beltway Conservative Plan

I have read the latest Heritage Foundation plan so you don’t have to.

The Place

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank located in Washington, D.C., claims to be “America’s leading conservative policy organization” and “the world’s leading think tank for policy impact.” We know this must be true because, as Sean Hannity says, “No organization on earth is a better supplier of innovative, conservative ideas grounded in founding principles than Heritage.”

The mission of the Heritage Foundation “is to formulate and promote public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” Its seven “strategic priorities” for 2022-2025 are:

  1. Empower Parents to Make Education Choices
  2. Secure America’s Borders and Reduce Crime
  3. Ensure Free and Fair Elections
  4. Reverse the Growth of Regulations, Spending, and Inflation
  5. Counter the Threat of Communist China
  6. Hold Big Tech Accountable
  7. Protect Unborn Life and Family Formation

But the Heritage Foundation is “much more than a think tank.” Every day, “Heritage works in our nation’s capital to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.” Its expert staff—“with years of experience in business, government, communications, and on Capitol Hill—develops and communicates unmatched conservative policy research to Congress, the Executive Branch, and the American people.” In 2021, the Heritage Foundation had:

  • 400+ meetings with congressional staff
  • 120+ meetings with members of Congress
  • 47 candidate briefings
  • 168 working group events on Capitol Hill
  • 80 Heritage alumni serving on Capitol Hill
  • 30 congressional testimonies

The Heritage Foundation is “fighting to save America” by “providing solutions,” “mobilizing conservatives,” and “training leaders.”

The Plan

To fulfill its mission, the Heritage Foundation is always issuing some sort of plan or policy proposals. The latest plan, “which includes recommendations for policies to implement during fiscal years 2023 through 2032,” is Budget Blueprint for Fiscal Year 2023. It “provides legislators with a wide array of policy recommendations to return to the limited and responsible government the Constitution envisions.” If followed, the plan’s 229 policy recommendations will

  • Reverse the growth of spending and inflation
  • Protect natural rights
  • Restore federalism and decentralization
  • Reform
  • Enable private initiative
  • Improve oversight and accountability
  • Promote the common good and general welfare

Many of the policy recommendations are certainly worthwhile.

Regarding taxes, the Heritage plan recommends lowering the corporate income tax, eliminating the Obamacare tax on investment income, repealing the estate tax, ensuring that the individual tax relief from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is made permanent, and consolidating seven individual tax rates into three, reducing the top rate to 35 percent, and raising the standard deduction. However, several of the policy recommendations call for eliminating certain tax credits.

The Heritage plan calls for the elimination of a number of programs and agencies like the community development block grant, the low-income home energy assistance program, the Small Business Administration, the USDA’s Conservation Technical Assistance Program, the Violence against Women Act programs and grants, the Legal Services Corporation, the National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, subsidies for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the Title X family planning program, taxpayer Funding for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the USDA Sugar Program, and the United Nations Population Fund.

The Heritage plan also proposes to phase out grants to Amtrak, repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, repeal the USDA Catfish Inspection Program, and privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

So what could possibly be the problem with the plan?

The Problem

The first problem with the plan is that it allows for the federal budget to increase every year up to $6.2 trillion in 2032. A balanced budget is only achieved in 10 years.

The second problem with the plan is that it only calls for the reform or reduction in funding of clearly unconstitutional programs and agencies instead of their elimination. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should be “refocused on its core mission” and streamlined by “reducing or eliminating funding in areas that address non-medical or non-domestic problems,” and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should be reformed by “eliminating wasteful and inappropriate spending.” The plan “winds down the federal Department of Education, eliminating unnecessary programs and transferring retained functions to appropriate agencies” instead of eliminating all of its functions.

The third problem with the plan is that it “strengthens Social Security” and “modernizes Medicare” instead of charting a course for the elimination of these socialistic programs that are the two largest parts of the federal government’s “mandatory spending.”

The fourth problem with the plan is that it increases defense spending every year to over $1 trillion by 2032. The Air Force needs to be rebalanced toward increased relevant capabilities. The capacity and capabilities of the Army need to be increased. And the Navy needs to be prepared for great power competition. The China boogeyman is put forth to justify all of this. We know, of course, that defense spending is really offense spending that enriches the merchants of death that call themselves defense contractors. The Heritage Foundation never met a defense budget that was adequate enough.

The worthwhile policy recommendations put forth by the Heritage Foundation will result in miniscule reductions in the federal budget. It is spending on Social Security, Medicare, and defense that must be reined in. Heritage’s Budget Blueprint is a Budget Blueprint for the Welfare/Warfare State.