Five policies for the new administration that we can all agree on

MI scholars present ideas that can appeal to both sides of the aisle.

After a sweeping victory on Tuesday night, President-elect Donald J. Trump called for all Americans to “come together as one united people” on a plan for the nation’s future. His opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, echoed the sentiment in her concession speech on Wednesday, telling a room of her supporters that, “We owe [Trump] an open mind and a chance to lead.”

Admittedly, after years of government in Washington seeming nearly adversarial, finding bipartisan policy solutions has proved difficult. Yet as all sides call for unity, there seems to be a real chance for the incoming Trump administration to pursue significant reforms.

Scholars at the Manhattan Institute have offered five policy ideas that everyone should be able to agree on:

On healthcare and medical innovation

Paul Howard, Director of Health Policy

After a bruising election season, the next administration should focus on bipartisan reforms to build good will across the aisle, especially in the area of healthcare. Here, the last administration, the Obama administration, has given them a running start.

Vice President Biden rallied the nation around the cancer moonshot, delivering faster cures to patients over the next five years. Leaders in Congress, including Chairman Fred Upton and Diana Degette, worked together on the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Bill.

If they can continue this work, focusing on ways to get better treatments to patients faster, we can both improve options for deadly diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression and heart disease, and lower the total cost of cures by keeping people out of the most expensive places in our healthcare system, nursing homes and hospitals.

So here’s where we start: Supercharge innovation, deliver better cures to patients and faster than ever before. That is the best way this administration can build bridges and work to tackle our most pressing challenges.

On simplifying federal student aid

Beth Akers, Senior Fellow

The process for financing college is one that is overwhelming and lengthy for many students. There is one idea in the higher-ed space that has seen support on both sides of the aisle, and that is this notion of simplification in the process of federal financial aid.

Right now, when students engage with federal financial aid, they have to complete a very lengthy and unnecessarily complex financial aid application. Once they get through that, they are facing a menu of different types of programs and subsidies to participate in — different types of loans, Pell grants and tax benefits.

This menu of options makes it difficult to know whether or not college is affordable to them. And on the back end, we’ve got an unnecessary complexity as well.

So we have a set of different repayment programs, all of which, cobbled together, make it difficult for students to navigate the system and take advantage of safety nets available to them.

What I would like to see is a single grant, a single loan and a single repayment system that makes it easy for students to navigate the system and ensure that, particularly, low-income students have access to higher education.

On crime and policing

Heather Mac Donald, Thomas W. Smith Fellow

The most important criminal justice reform for the next administration actually has nothing to do with policy and everything to do with rhetoric.

We have to stop the false narrative that the police are endemically racist and that we’re living through an epidemic of racially biased police shootings of blacks. That narrative is false, but as long as it continues, police are going to back off of proactive policing in high-crime inner city areas, resulting in more black lives being taken.

Policing above all is a local phenomenon. The feds have very little to do with it. But there is an important federal bully pulpit. And as well as supporting cops and telling the truth about policing, the next administration should tackle what is really the true root cause of high levels of crime, and that is the breakdown of the family.

We need to start talking about the importance of fathers to young males growing up and the need that young males have for a good source of authority. Without that, we are going to see more crime and more lives lost.

On better anti-poverty programs

Oren Cass, Senior Fellow

Everybody wants less-skilled workers to be earning more money. The question is how to do it. One option is a wage subsidy. If somebody is only earning $8 an hour, but the government also puts $2 an hour into their paycheck, then they get to take home $10 an hour for their family, and they’re more likely to work in the job in the first place.

In some ways it’s like raising the minimum wage, but if you raise the minimum wage, the employer has to pay the additional amount, and that’s going to lead to less hiring in general. If you use a wage subsidy, it’s the government that spends the extra money — and there’s actually a lot of money available to spend.

There are so many anti-poverty programs that add up to more than a trillion dollars of spending each year, and a lot of them do very little. If we take some of that money, and move it toward a wage subsidy, we’ll encourage more people to work, we’ll give less-skilled workers more money for their families and we’ll end up doing a much better job fighting poverty.

That’s something Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree on.

On overcriminalization

James R. Copland, Director of Legal Policy

Even after this divisive election, Democrats and Republicans in Washington ought to be able to come together to address overcriminalization.

What is overcriminalization? We’re really talking about the size and complexity of the federal criminal law. First, it’s important to understand there are more than 300,000 federal crimes, including federal regulatory crimes.

That’s more than any individual or family farmer or business owner could possibly understand and process. And the average person out there might be guilty of as many as three felonies a day without even knowing it.

And that leads to the second point. Many of these crimes don’t specify criminal intent, so that if you’re failing to comply with a federal regulation that is not intuitively wrong, like just filling out the wrong paperwork, you could wind up in jail.

I hope the Democrats and Republicans can follow the lead of the 15 state legislatures that have enacted a standard that requires criminal intent unless the legislature expressly says something else. What that means is, you can’t wind up in prison merely for accidentally violating a federal rule.

The Manhattan Institute is a New York-based think tank. Comments are excerpted from a video series launched as part of its Issues 2016 project. This piece originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.