After Donald Trump


It looks more and more likely that Hillary Clinton will be our next President. She is almost certain to be the Democratic nominee and unlikely to be indicted for mishandling classified information.  If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, she will trounce him because his negatives are much worse than hers.  If Mr. Trump is denied the Republican nomination, he is likely to run as an independent candidate and take votes away from the Republican nominee, thereby also electing Mrs. Clinton.
Capture0What happens then?  The Republicans will regroup by broadening their base to better appeal to Mr. Trump’s constituency of disaffected white working class voters.  Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs, has visualized what policies a reconstituted conservative party might want to embrace to replace the no longer affordable progressive model:

  • Healthcare: a new approach would liberate insurers and providers to offer many different models of coverage and care and empower consumers to choose between them.
  • K-12 Education: a new approach would allow parents to make choices for their children and reshape the educational system around their preferences.
  • Welfare: a new system would empower local problem solvers to mix resources, advice, experience and moral leadership in a process of bottom-up experimentation.
  • Higher Education: a new model would no longer reinforce a cycle of rising tuition and declining value with inflationary federal loans. Rather it would open up accreditation to allow for more options and offer aid to the needy which rewards high value rather than high prices.
  • Cultural Issues: moral traditionalists should emphasize building cohesive and attractive subcultures, offering alternatives to the chaos of the mainstream permissive society.
  • Diminished Opportunity for the Working Class: Improvements to Trade Adjustment Assistance and Job Retraining programs (wage insurance?) will have to be embraced.

Conclusion. The disruption caused by Donald Trump could lead to a new and more broadly based Republican Party better equipped to address the emerging problems of the 21st century.

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Higher Ed: Higher Costs, More Inequality. What to do?


Several months ago I discussed “How the American Education System Contributes to Inequality.” It so happens that students from high-income families graduate from college in much greater numbers and also with much less debt, compared with students from low-income families.
CaptureA new study from the New York Federal Reserve has found a connection between a rapid increase in student aid in recent years and the rapid increase in college costs. In particular:

  • A $1 increase in the subsidized loan cap leads to a tuition increase of 65 cents, and
  • A $1 increase in the Pell Grant limit leads to a tuition increase of 55 cents.
  • Furthermore, private schools, both nonprofit and for-profit, are bigger offenders than public schools, even though declining state subsidies for higher education primarily affect public universities.
  • At the present time undergraduates can borrow a maximum of $57,500 from the federal government.
  • Under the decade-old Grad Plus program, graduate students can borrow any amount their school charges. In the seven years before Grad Plus, undergraduate tuition was rising faster than grad school costs. In the seven years after, the reverse occurred.
    Capture1Clearly this is an untenable situation. The solution, in my opinion, is to strictly limit the total amount of federal loans for both undergraduate and graduate students and force schools to compete on price. For example:
  • Limit the total amount borrowable by an undergraduate, from the federal government, to $30,000, the average amount borrowed today, and then let it adjust it each year for inflation.
  • Limit the total amount borrowable by a graduate student to $60,000, the average amount borrowed today, adjustable each year by inflation.
  • Students who want to borrow additional funds may do so on the private market, with no subsidies or guarantees provided by the federal government.

Such a program would provide much needed financial discipline to colleges and universities and reduce and stabilize ballooning student loan costs for the federal government.