Executive Orders: The President’s Misguided Attempt to Appeal to Libertarians

Like in 2016, the major party candidates for President are not widely appealing to the American people. Many voters have taken to exploring third party options, a noble pursuit in my humble opinion. This exodus from the major parties havae caused not only a fair bit of tension among the President’s campaign but also a realization that Republican politics must either adapt or die. Exhausted by choosing the “lesser of two evils”, true small-government believers are migrating towards libertarianism and Dr Jo Jorgensen, who boasts a general policy of keeping government out of your life, pockets, and bedrooms. This poses a significant issue for Donald Trump and Republicans. Once considered the only, albeit disappointing, party of small government, the GOP is getting beaten up by the new kid on the block, who is willing to do it bigger, better, and faster. This new power struggle has led to an attempt by the Trump administration to appeal to moderate Libertarians, a strategy destined to fail. 

On Saturday August 9th, President Trump signed 4 Executive Orders in an attempt to ease the economic blow of the Coronavirus pandemic. Of the four, one stands as particularly bold and somewhat unexpected: the payroll tax cut. This new cut in taxes will see a deferment of Social Security and Medicare taxes for anyone who makes under $100,000 per year, or $4,000 biweekly, pretax. The executive order also permits the Secretary of the Treasury to forgive these deferred taxes in the future. 

Republicans are pro-tax cuts, how is this an appeal to Libertarians? The idea of Republican led tax breaks often get touted as helping the working man but rarely do so. More often than not, they wind up being cuts to the corporate rate, in the spirit of Trickle-down economics and Ronald Reagan. Since their inception, Libertarians have been preaching massive cuts and the eventual elimination of income and payroll taxes. These cuts put more money in the hands of the middle class and poor, giving them more opportunity to become business owners, investors, and consumers. For all intents and purposes, this executive order looks to be an adoption of Libertarian values at the highest level of government; however, the President has ignored their most important principle. 

Libertarianism is not just the party of tax and spending cuts. Evident from the name, the main concern of Libertarians is the concept of liberty from government. This party and movement does not simply care about having more cash in their paycheck; they are concerned with the constitutional structure of Federal power. For the Libertarian, Checks and Balances are essential protection against tyranny. Any divergence away from the Constitutional role of each branch of government poses a significant threat to democracy and freedom. 

This is what the President and Republicans don’t understand. They believe that results will gain them support, but that isn’t always the case. Yes, we want to see tax cuts, but we’re more concerned by the expanding power of the Executive Branch. In other words, the ends don’t justify the means. Executive Orders to this scale are unconstitutional and illegal. The Congress is the only branch of government with the power to levy taxes. The rules don’t suddenly 

change, because we aren’t getting what we want. With every executive order, the power of the legislator decreases, and the power of the President dangerously increases. In addition to violating our most sacred law, the President has created a dangerous precedent for all who follow him: if Congress doesn’t do what you want, just do it yourself.

This is what happens when you vote in politicians, who focus on results instead of values. Sure, a booming economy and more money in your pocket sounds great, but at what cost? Are we really willing to give up the structures that maintain our freedom for a temporary political win? Libertarians are not. The structures in place that keep authoritarianism at bay are far too important to risk on a failed attempt to appeal to voters.

Michael A. Romano

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