Republicans

Steve Forbes: My advice for 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls: If you want to win, here's how

Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul take the stage before the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul take the stage before the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Americans are in an anxious, frustrated mood. Most people on both the left and right feel we have lost our way.

Since 2009, wage earners have suffered declines in their real incomes, with those who make the least suffering the largest percentage drop.

Our national security is threatened by terrorists and dictators who lethally exploit the vacuum created by President Obama's abandonment of international leadership. The failed policies of a president who promised to give us "hope and change" have instead created public anger and uncertainty resulting in a level of demonstrations and riots not seen in over 40 years.

This is why dramatic reforms are necessary. My new book, "Reviving America," shows how implementing big reforms in three critical areas--health care, taxes and monetary policy--would ignite a spectacular economic resurgence in the US that would astound the world.

Implementing big reforms in three critical areas--health care, taxes and monetary policy--would ignite a spectacular economic resurgence in the U.S. that would astound the world.

We start with health care for the first Big Reform because it is uniquely personal and constitutes almost 20 percent of our economy.

Repealing the abomination of Obamacare is essential, but not enough.

We must address the fundamental problems that led to that failed policy. Decades of government regulation have all but destroyed normal markets in both healthcare and insurance.

What drives rising health care prices is our government-dominated "third-party payer" system, whereby employers, government, private insurers--but not the patient--are the ones that pay for most of health care.

The market is therefore tailored to their needs and not to yours as the health care consumer. While the left pins the blame on greed and free markets, the real problem is just the opposite--too much regulation and a lack of true, free markets.

The key is putting patients in charge of healthcare, not third-party payers. That's why in addition to ObamaCare's repeal, critical changes would include: Require that health care providers, particularly hospitals and clinics, post prices for all procedures and services; create a national market for insurance by allowing consumers to shop for coverage across state lines; require that hospitals post each month how many patients have died from hospital-based infections; and eliminate costly coverage mandates for health insurance. We should also encourage the growth of tax-free health savings accounts and let states make their own decisions about how to best allocate Medicaid funds.

The next Big Reform crying out to be implemented is junking the entire Federal income tax code, a corruption-laden, incomprehensible, multi-million word nightmare that is doing immense harm to the economy and our standard of living.

It has enabled the IRS to become an immensely powerful and abusive agency. Going a simple flat tax that is also a tax cut would reduce the burden on productive work, risk-taking and success, stimulating a genuine boom of historic proportions. Individuals and businesses could literally file their returns on a single sheet of paper or with a few computer keystrokes. The inflated influence of lobbyists would end. The IRS as we know and fear it today would end.

We spend over 6 billion hours a year filling out tax forms and over $300 billion to comply with the code. Imagine if over the years all that brainpower and all those billions of hours and trillions of dollars had gone to producing new products and services, new medical devices and new cures for diseases, how much better our lives would be today.

The flat tax already exists in more than 30 countries around the world. It really works.

The third Big Reform would drastically overhaul the Federal Reserve System. The Fed's fluctuating dollar policy has produced a marked increase in major financial crises--including the 2008 financial meltdown. It has seriously hurt economic growth.

Money is like a claim check for your coat at a restaurant. It is not wealth. It is a claim on products and services. Money has no value. It measures value like a clock measures time or a scale measures weight.

What if the Fed did to clocks what it does to the dollar: 60 minutes in an hour one day, 43 minutes the next, and so on? Life would be chaotic. Imagine a cake recipe calling for baking the batter for 30 minutes. Are those nominal minutes? Inflation adjusted minutes?

Similar to clocks, rulers and scales, money works best when it has a fixed value. The best route to dollar stability is to restore its link to gold. Ultimately we must create a new gold standard, which served this country well from the time of George Washington's presidency to the early 1970s.

While these Three Big Reforms focus on the economy, they have fundamental importance for our security. An economically weak America--which always drags down the rest of the world--is like fetid water for mosquitos: extremists thrive.

The grisliest example was the Great Depression, which originated from catastrophic economic mistakes in Washington.

If there had been no Depression, there would have been no Nazi revolution (in 1928, on the eve of the Depression, Hitler's party got little more than 2 percent of the vote). Without the Nazi revolution, there would have been no Second World War.

Returning to our roots as a nation based on free people, free markets, equal opportunity (not equal outcomes), property rights is essential if we are to remain the greatest country in the world, that shining city on the hill.

Ronald Reagan understood that. His implementation of sound, pro-growth economic policies revitalized our economy and defeated our totalitarian enemies. By embracing the Three Big Reforms laid out in a "Reviving America," we can do the same.

Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media. His latest book, "Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code, and Reforming the Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity" (McGraw-Hill Education, December 10, 2015).

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