Edited by former US secretary of state George Shultz, Blueprint for America showcases center-right policy ideas from economists like John Cochrane and Michael Boskin, and foreign-policy bigwigs like Gen. James Mattis and Kori Schake. Besides national security and energy issues, federal debt and entitlement reform are discussed at length, as well as monetary policy, financial reform, health care, immigration, trade, and education.
Some selections regurgitate center-right positions too easily without enough critical specificity. Boskin’s “The Domestic Landscape,” for instance, breezes through comfortable, market-friendly clichés like “incentives for innovation” and cutting “red tape.” It’s also hard to take seriously any interventionist foreign-policy discussion in later essays without an adequate accounting of the human costs of the Iraq War and the greater destabilization which that war caused.
In contrast, the best essays offer more nonpartisan perspectives and proactive solutions. Cochrane makes some important points about the dangers of short-term debt, in his essay on financial reform. He also blasts right-wing xenophobia and, while not quite calling for open borders, makes a strong case that free trade and immigration benefit the United States and developing countries alike. Also noteworthy is Admiral James Ellis Jr.’s proposed carbon tax, which, he argues, would incorporate the environmental costs of pollution and climate change into the economic costs of doing business.
Reactions to Blueprint for America will likely vary, but the essays offer enough substantive policy discussion to stimulate the intellect and, at the very least, open dialogue between opposing parties.
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