Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress

76 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2019

Date Written: February 4, 2015

Abstract

Pundits have lately been declaring the 112th and 113th Congresses the “least productive” in recent history. Why, they passed fewer than 600 laws between them! One leading writer even called the 113th “by just about every measure, the worst Congress ever,” surely overlooking the Congresses that passed, for instance, the Fugitive Slave Act, the Indian Removal Act, the internment of the Japanese Americans, Prohibition, conscription, or indeed the income tax.

At the Cato Institute we take a different view. We propose that passing more laws — that is, more mandates, bans, regulations, taxes, subsidies, boondoggles, transfer programs, and proclamations — is at best a dubious accomplishment. In fact, given that the American people pondered the “least productive Congress ever” twice, and twice kept the government divided between the two parties, it just might be that most Americans are fine with a Congress that passes fewer laws.

Sometimes, indeed, the wisest course for Congress is to repeal a law, or to refrain from passing a proposed law. In part, that view reflects one major theme of this agenda: that even many vitally important things in American society are not the province of the federal government. We stand firmly on the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, on the bedrock American values of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. And throughout our 38 years we have been willing to criticize officials of both parties when they sought to take the country in another direction. But we have also been pleased to work with officials of both parties when they seek to expand freedom or limit government.

In this document, Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress, we outline modest and practical steps Congress and the administration could take in the next two years in that direction — reforms of health care, financial regulation, taxes, surveillance, marijuana policy, civil asset forfeiture, war powers, immigration, transportation, and more.

Keywords: public policy reform, health care, financial regulation, taxes, surveillance, marijuana policy, civil asset forfeiture, war powers, immigration, transportation

JEL Classification: I00, I10, I18, I2, I20, I28, I3, I30, I38, K1, K14, K3, H00, H1, H5, H6

Suggested Citation

Institute, Cato, Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress (February 4, 2015). Cato Institute White Paper, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2700901

Cato Institute (Contact Author)

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