The economic agenda for Republicans for the rest of the Obama presidency should be blocking bad policy and sketching out an alternative for the future, says Stephen Moore, the Heritage Foundation's new chief economist.
Moore, previously a member of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, started at the influential conservative think tank on Wednesday (he said he will keep writing columns for the Journal). From that perch, the 53-year-old supply-sider thinks his role is to help Republicans foster economic growth. For now, that means limiting the damage that he sees President Obama's policies doing to the country.
The GOP is actually doing a good job on that score, says Moore, citing the 2011 debt ceiling deal that led to the broad-based sequester cuts as an example of the party's success in limiting spending. But his hopes for working with the president are low.
"I don’t see Obama moving at all in our direction on anything," Moore told the Washington Examiner. "So we could get two to three more years of policy gridlock, but I’d argue that’s not too bad. Given that we just re-elected Woodrow Wilson, that’s not too bad.”
Republicans instead should work on articulating how they want to replace Obamacare and get to 4 percent economic growth, Moore said. He criticized the GOP for being too focused on deficits, noting that faster growth means more tax revenue and consequently lower deficits.
As for how to get back to growth, Moore's prescription includes a flat tax, replacing Obamacare with a "pro-choice, pro-market" system and general deregulation.
Another part of the mix is "sound money," according to Moore, who is critical of the Federal Reserve's "herky-jerky" efforts to ease monetary conditions. The Fed's stimulus programs undermine economic stability, he said.
"Maybe Janet Yellen can do it," said Moore of the incoming Fed chairwoman, "but I'm skeptical that we unwind and taper away from this in a way that doesn't spike prices.” Moore said he would be happy if inflation stayed in the range of 1-3 percent, but is skeptical the Fed will be able to manage leaving its easing programs smoothly.
As for other projects, Moore says he is working on a book about the "new economic war" between red states and blue states over taxes, labor unions and other issues. Currently, according to Moore, "red states are doing Reaganomics and the blue states are doing Obamanomics."