Political Gridlock in D.C. Could be the Gift Nevadans Need
By Michael Schaus
Communications Director for the Nevada Policy Research Institute
Certainly, the 116th Congress will have its share of political theatrics.
An already-fatigued American populace will likely find the next session exhausting, as reality-TV style politics play out on endless cable news programs and Twitter feeds.
However, despite the preponderance of political showmanship consuming the news cycle for the coming months, there remains an outside chance that lawmakers in both chambers are actually going to take a stab at governing as well.
This, of course, means whipping up votes for certain policies, and (theoretically) putting a bill on President Trump’s desk for a signature.
For most Nevadans, the real question is, given the political realities of the next congress, what might those policies look like?
More importantly, what policies should we be cheering for from our home in the Silver State ? Truthfully, the political realities—both nationally and locally—make the list rather short.
For Nevada , like much of the rest of the West, there is a long wish-list of policies the federal government could adopt to give life to local economies.
Unfortunately, even in simpler political times—let alone the modern era of political bitterness—such wish lists are routinely ignored by the political class in our nation’s capital.
With the distractions of Democrats’ war on President Trump, the odds decrease even more.
Federal control over nearly 85 percent of Nevada ’s land, for example, has been an issue since the state’s birth. While freeing some of this land up to local communities would produce substantial economic rewards for local economies, such a policy has unfortunately been shuffled even further from reality in the next congress, as the topic is likely at the bottom of the priority list for politicians who are obsessed with scoring cheap political points on cable news networks.
Yet, there remains some rather simple steps the feds can take to ensure Nevadans—and all Americans—continue to profit off recent economic growth.
And it’s the likelihood of gridlock that actually makes it possible.
The GOP tax reform plan, for example, was much maligned by many of the Democrats who will now be leading the House. However, the odds of Democrats successfully repealing the reform remains a pipedream.
As it should.
The instant paycheck increase Americans saw, thanks to the reform, was a shot of adrenaline for consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs. It’s not the only reason for the recent economic growth, but it is certainly a contributing factor.
And yet, this economic growth will not continue indefinitely.
Locally, Nevada ’s economic future is somewhat uncertain.
The last election might not have brought about the “blue wave” pundits had predicted nationally, but a tsunami of Democrats managed to materialize locally—leaving Nevadans with a future that, at least according to campaign rhetoric, will include higher taxes, greater state spending and increased levels of government interference in private business.
Nationally, the economic uncertainty is real as well.
Already, investors are beginning to show signs of trepidation over the longest running bull market in history. The result is a fragile economy that won’t require too much central planning from DC to derail.
As we’ve seen in recent (painful) economic downturns, the direction of the American economy is often the direction of Nevada —and this time is likely the same.
With increased local-government spending, potentially higher taxes and an over-inflated housing environment (again), Nevada is poised to either benefit dramatically from ongoing economic growth, or suffer substantially in the event of a downturn.
The state may have enjoyed years of growth as it pawed its way out of the last recession, but fundamentals remain fragile as local governments begin to get greedy for their “share” of the newfound prosperity.
Nationally, however, things have improved. Americans have had the opportunity to keep more of their hard-earned money—and, as a result, Nevada has benefited.
Put simply, the single most important thing for Nevada in the 116th Congress, is that lawmakers don’t stubbornly hijack the economic conditions that have resulted in the nation’s recent boom.
Luckily, a “hands-off” approach to taxes and regulation might actually be achievable, given the partisan gridlock that is expected. In fact, doing nothing tends to be a specialty of a divided congress—and in today’s fragile economic environment, it might just about be the best thing for Americans who are hungry for more growth.