New Year’s Resolutions for Washington, D.C.
We all experienced it: Some New Year’s Resolutions are doomed to fail from the start. Either they’re too ambitious, they’re out of touch with reality, or there’s no accountability for failure.
When it comes to Washington, D.C., we’re all used to failure. This past year was no exception, with ongoing inflation, high gas prices, runaway spending, and an economy (and workforce) stuck in neutral.
The opportunity for change is there in 2023. The voters saw to that.
With that in mind, and in the spirit of the new year, the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) has a few New Year’s Resolutions we’d like to propose for Washington, D.C.:
1. End the public health emergency.
To get the ball rolling on resolutions, let’s start with the easiest and most achievable one. Every 90 days since early 2020, regardless of rising or falling case counts, the federal government has chosen to continue the public health emergency declaration for COVID-19. It has the power to stop it, and 25 states have asked President Biden to end the emergency declaration.
The effect of this “emergency” declaration has been massive, in ways having nothing to do with our health. Work requirements for food stamps for able-bodied adults without dependents have been suspended; benefits have been supersized, and states have been handcuffed from removing ineligible Medicaid recipients.
It’s adding up. More workers have remained out of the workforce, taxpayer spending keeps going out the door on government programs, and dependence on government grows stronger every day. In 2023, let’s end the emergency declaration.
2. Tame inflation and fight excessive regulations.
We’re long past time for Congress to take inflation seriously—for the sake of millions of Americans bearing the burden of high consumer costs. One way Congress could make a real difference is adopting the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.
The REINS Act would put Congress back in the driver’s seat when it comes to making laws, rather than unelected bureaucrats. It would require any major rule change—those with an annual price tag of $100 million or more—to receive congressional approval before federal agencies could implement them. REINS would make it more difficult for agencies to spend with wild abandon on the backs of taxpayers with no checks and balances.
Florida, West Virginia, and Wisconsin all require legislative approval for major regulatory reforms. And voters overwhelmingly support the idea. REINS would “rein” in out-of-control spending by the executive branch, restoring the balance of power and protecting taxpayers.
3. Fill open jobs.
There are more than three million people missing from the workforce. Many are not working simply because there is little incentive to do so. Thanks to bloated benefits that have no work requirement, it’s often more lucrative to stay at home than to work.
The Biden administration has thrown gas on this fire, choosing in nearly every case to make it easier to stay home—including denying states’ requests to implement a work requirement for able-bodied adults enrolled in Medicaid. The federal government has also banned state work requirements for able-bodied food-stamp recipients without dependents since March 2020, and coupled that action with an unprecedented expansion of food-stamp benefits.
Bringing work requirements back to welfare, incentivizing work for all Americans, would be the first big step to reviving the workforce and filling open jobs.
Bonus: Listen to the states. While the federal government has been stuck in its old, failed ways, the states have been finding ways to improve, evolve, and fight the problems of bureaucracy in their own ways. See the “States” tab on our website for more on our state-level victories, and how we can take these victories to Washington.
Accountability: Resolutions work best when there is accountability. The voters showed their desire for change in 2022, and for our part, the Foundation for Government Accountability is going to continue to help educate policymakers in their reform efforts.