By Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen wants to means-test Medicare, get rid of farm subsidies and other corporate welfare, legalize more high-skilled immigrants, join Greg Mankiw’s Pigou Club (meaning a tax on the use of evil fossil fuels) and get rid of the corporate income tax, and implement full-scale voucher experiments.
I predict we will get a carbon tax under the next Democratic president but not sooner; capital income taxation won’t fall more than it already has.
He is equally cynical about the prospects for his other ideas.
Meanwhile, Jacob Hacker wants Medicare for the currently uninsured, universal personal retirement accounts (in addition to Social Security), more assistance for workers displaced by trade or technological change, and a pilot program of universal insurance of some sort.
While Cowen’s agenda reflects some broad libertarian-leaning economist ideas, Hacker’s is more specific to his personal hobby-horse, which is that trends are piling Big Risk onto The Little Guy, and We need to Do Something. I’m not a big Hacker fan, as we will see in the days ahead.
I think my fantasy agenda would be:
1. Solve the entitlement problem at the stroke of a pen by raising the age of eligibility.
2. Give school vouchers a real try.
3. Allow some states to experiment with radical deregulation of health care. I would like to see a state try letting anyone supply health care services, but with full disclosure of the supplier’s qualifications or lack thereof.
4. Auction spectrum in a way that allows the owners to allocate it to its most valuable use, which I suspect is not any form of over-the-air television.
5. Try a pilot program that substitutes prizes for patents as incentives to develop pharmaceuticals.