Bush does not approach these issues as a moderate, or even as a Jack Kemp-like bleeding-heart conservative. "Expanding government to empower people? I haven't been in favor of that. Forty percent of GDP (consumed by government) is the most I can take." His primary focus is the reform of institutions, particularly the immigration system, public education and Medicare. "Government is mired in the 1970s," he says, "with huge cost structures and poor outcomes. Every other institution has gone through a transformation. Government hasn't."
This approach has its limits. The GOP not only has a policy gap, it has an empathy gap, which will not be closed merely by talking about modernizing antiquated structures. But empathy means little without effective policy — an argument in favor of Bush's bracing, reformist rigor.
Michael Gerson's email address is email@example.com.
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