Power & Market

Milei’s First One Hundred Days: An Assessment

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Javier Milei, presiding over Argentina, the first libertarian president in history – self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist- has warranted worldwide attention and cast light over libertarianism around the globe. Libertarianism has become more widespread since he entered the political scene. This comes with a definitely positive side and a more dangerous one. The positive side is obviously that libertarianism is more popular than before.

The dangerous side is that Milei as a person and his actions have become synonymous with libertarianism to people outside the movement. It is important that libertarians keep a close eye on his government and engage in critical discussion to maintain the thin line between libertarianism itself and the apparent leaders of the movement. Thus, a regular assessment of his administration can be helpful to keep on record his achievements and errors from the libertarian perspective.

The first one hundred days of his government have passed and the political theater in Argentina has been anything but silent, just to give an example, there have been almost daily protests -big and small- against his administration. The opposition has been divided into two sections, the ones willing to negotiate with Milei and the ones that are not willing to negotiate and want to get him out of power promptly. Milei is -through his officials- trying to negotiate with those willing to.

Nevertheless, until now, no piece of legislation proposed by Milei has been approved by congress. On the opposite, the law “Bases y Puntos de Partida para La Libertad de los Argentinos” (Foundations and Starting Points for the Freedom of the Argentinians) or as it was better known, “Ley Omnibus,” has been rejected by congress. The bill contained massive privatizations, deregulations, and special powers for the executive to enact his program.

Also, his executive order that for example abolished rent control (that was destroying the rent market), freed prices and put an end to many other statist legislations has been rejected by the Argentine Senate. Now the Chamber of Deputies is left with the decision to either accept or reject the executive order.

Thus, the path to repel the socialist and oppressive body of laws of Argentina is a difficult one. He will have to cut out deals with the opposition to achieve this.

He is using every tool at his hand to carry out his economic program that has had short term achievements, decelerating inflation and solving debt problems. He has had success in cutting government expenditures as well. His “Plan Motosierra” (Chainsaw plan) to cut public spending has had fortunate results given the tools at his hand. Criticism has been made that these cuts in expenditure come at the expense of pension receivers.

This is true and not surprising, the pension program for senior citizens is made from the get-go to rip them off and the only thing this government has done with regards to it is not spending too much resources on it. It’s an anomaly created by the existence of the program, better to encourage people to work than have them living from the state at the expense of the productive society.

Internationally, he has aligned with the US and Israel. For US libertarians this might be troubling but one must take into account that before Milei, Argentina’s foreign policy backed China, Russia and Iran. Decisively less free countries than the US and Israel. This alignment also comes in tune with the debt crisis Argentina suffers with the IMF. If Milei wants to have a better deal with the technocrats of the IMF then he must align foreign policy with their main supplier, the United States.

Getting out of currency control is Milei’s first objective, if this distortion in the market is eliminated, the rest of his plan will have more chances to be successful. This must be done as soon as possible, since currency control degenerates all other markets. When this is carried out, he will be able to move towards more famous pieces of his program like dollarization and abolishing the central bank. The mentioned objectives have not been given up by Milei, as pointed out by his Minister of Economics Luis Caputo in an interview.

Turning to other subjects, when it comes to culture, it is being decontaminated from state backed progressiveness by cutting subsidies and shutting down government agencies whose sole purpose was to -of course- promote statist propaganda. When it comes to the war on drugs that causes so much suffering like in many other countries, this conflict has been highly intensified by his administration.

Milei is facing setbacks in congress but with the powers at his command he is trying to implement the reforms he can. Milei is trying to move based on libertarian principles, even supporting a call to a tax rebellion in the biggest Argentine province, Buenos Aires, where the Peronist governor has made tax hikes. So, much has been done in these 100 days, and much more can be done by Milei if his administration holds up and is able to move smoothly in the political theater. If he is able to keep moving on principle and achieve moderate success, then the first libertarian president might be here for the long run.

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Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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