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EJ ANTONI: These Non-Negotiables Should Be Top Of Mind For Every Conservative During Tonight’s Debate

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E.J. Antoni Contributor
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At this week’s first Republican debate, voters will see if the contenders are actual conservatives or wolves in sheep’s clothing. Republican primary voters want to know what candidates will do to reverse the damage President Biden has inflicted on Americans’ financial livelihoods.

Conservative voters want a true change in direction, not simply a slower pace of decline. Vague talking points, low-hanging fruit, and unextraordinary, uninspiring goals will not return prosperity to the average American family, which is effectively $6,800 poorer today than when Mr. Biden took office. Simultaneously, the federal debt and deficit are at unsustainable levels. (RELATED: DANIEL TURNER: Here Are Some Serious Energy Policy Questions For 2024’s GOP Candidates)

Both political parties have dug America into a massive fiscal hole, and the nation does not have a big enough shovel to dig her way out. That’s why 5 percent economic growth should be the starting point for any conservative candidate. It’s an easily achievable benchmark with the right policies—the late President Ronald Reagan managed 8.3 percent annualized growth for 16 months.

The winning formula was—and still is—to reduce government regulation, taxation, and wasteful spending. This would not only increase growth but also reduce inflation, which has hit 40-year highs under Mr. Biden. Prices are up 16 percent, representing a tax on the American people that has exceeded the real value collected through federal income taxes for the average American.

But another necessary ingredient in the mix of fast economic growth is clean, reliable, affordable, domestic energy, and any conservative candidate should commit to ending the government’s war on fossil fuels, nuclear, and even hydro power.

This means all energy sources must compete on a level playing field: no more massive subsidies giving unfair advantages to solar and wind, and no more excessive taxation and regulation on other energy sources.

As detailed in Alex Epstein’s well-documented book, Fossil Future, human flourishing and economic growth require an abundance of coal, oil, and natural gas. Limiting the use of fossil fuels will also limit human progress, reduce standards of living, and even cost human lives, contrary to the narrative of the “green” energy lobby.

The unscientific push towards “green” energy has become so invasive throughout the government that it has even infected regulation of financial markets with ESG (environment, social, governance) mandates. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are even trying to regulate investments and loans to fossil-fuel related industries. These impositions force businesses to betray their fiduciary duties to clients by prioritizing things not in the clients’ best financial interest, but which will appease bureaucrats.

At a bare minimum, conservative candidates should commit to eliminating all ESG mandates from all levels of government. The political pet projects of regulators shouldn’t take precedence over people’s—and the nation’s—financial wellbeing. (RELATED: PETER ROFF: Trump Looms Large As Republicans Ready For The Talkie In Milwaukee)

And defending the nation’s financial health necessarily means defending the dollar from all enemies, foreign and domestic. First on that list is the Federal Reserve, which has become the embodiment of Leviathan in Washington. The Fed’s monetary machinations are ethereal to virtually every American, but their impact on those American is devastating, confiscating 97 percent of the value of the dollar since the Fed’s creation in 1913.

The beast must be either reigned in or slain. At a bare minimum, conservative candidates should commit to ending the “dual mandate” of the Fed, a technical change that was added to the Fed’s charter to provide political cover for creating inflation. It is high time the Fed’s only goal be price stability with zero inflation.

But mandatory reforms to the Fed do not end there. Conservatives must also pledge to outlaw Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC’s). These represent the greatest threat to liberty in the digital age. A CBDC is a level of bureaucracy and control of which George Orwell could not have conceived when he wrote his dystopian novel 1984.

To avoid that dark future, America must begin reversing her current course of bloated bureaucracy. That will take truly Conservative leadership, and it remains to be seen if any politician—of either party—is willing to take up that mantle.

E.J. Antoni is a public finance economist at The Heritage Foundation and a senior fellow at Committee to Unleash Prosperity.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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