Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Tue, 22 May 2018 23:47:39 -0700 Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate 7ac54187052cec9ecd238d8b13cccec0 The Seattle Head Tax Is Idiotic for 05/17/2018 Thu, 17 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The tyranny of local government was on full display this week. The culprits are some greedy members of the Seattle City Council. Backed by their union friends, they just voted to impose a "head tax" on large employers, such as Amazon and Starbucks. The real victims, of course, will be the companies' employees.</p> <p>Thanks to Seattle's many thriving businesses, its revenue base has been growing much faster than its population. Unfortunately, the City Council is doing what it does best and, rather than look into streamlining and cutting its ineffective spending programs in order to combat Seattle's homeless problem, is looking for fresh cash. Seeing as large companies have it, the council set out to take it.<p>Updated: Thu May 17, 2018</p> 4c9d6c4adbea75657739db19b7dcf4a0 Taming the Tyranny of the Agency for 05/10/2018 Thu, 10 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The tyranny of the administrative state is real and hard to tame. Americans would be horrified if they knew how much power thousands of unelected bureaucrats employed by federal agencies wield. These members of the "government within the government," as The New York Times' John Tierney describes them, produce one freedom-restricting, economy-hindering rule after another without much oversight. These rules take many forms, and few even realize they're in the making &#8212; until, that is, they hit you square in the face.</p> <p>Take the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's rule that effectively banned car dealers from giving auto loan discounts to customers on the claim that they might lead to racial discrimination (a dubious conclusion reached using flawed statistical models). Dodd-Frank, the legislation that created the CFPB, prohibited it from regulating auto dealers &#8212; so the CFPB quietly put out a "guidance" document to circumvent due process and congressional oversight.<p>Updated: Thu May 10, 2018</p> 2087f6dac1f52c96f8890afc4158e777 Is Ethanol Cronyism on the Ropes? for 05/03/2018 Thu, 03 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>While then-candidate Donald Trump did participate in the usual campaign ritual of bending knee to Iowa farmers with a promise to protect the renewable fuel standard, there was reason to hope his pledge to drain the swamp would extend to ending or reforming the beleaguered mandate that requires most gasoline to be blended with ethanol. After all, the once seemingly unstoppable political clout of Iowa's agricultural interests was notably weakened when Ted Cruz defied convention by openly opposing the renewable fuel standard and won the Republican Iowa caucuses anyway.</p> <p>Perhaps Hawkeye State voters are no longer as into cronyism as the cronies and their representatives, which fuels hope that Trump may yet push for RFS reform.<p>Updated: Thu May 03, 2018</p> db65c6e066475470e6ed2c77c5da7461 Kelo's Demolished 'Little Pink House' Stands as a Monument to Injustice for 04/26/2018 Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The United States is supposed to be the "land of the free," a country where individualism and private property are sacrosanct. Yet it's difficult to maintain this belief while watching Courtney Moorehead Balaker's newly released movie, "Little Pink House."</p> <p>The film portrays the real-life story of the determined families who fought to protect their homes in New London, Connecticut, during and after city officials' shameful attempts to evict them starting in 1998. Shockingly, in 2005, it was the Supreme Court that inflicted the ultimate defeat to the homeowners, who lost everything in the process.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 26, 2018</p> 44462a79e9ec451591d888548fdc7bb8 Are the Supremes Ready to Rule on Online Sales Taxes (Again)? for 04/19/2018 Thu, 19 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If you think internet companies aren't paying any taxes for online sales and that's killing bricks-and-mortar retailers and states' budgets, you, my friend, have been duped. Nothing could be further from the truth. The internet isn't a tax-free zone, nor is the lack of revenue the issue with state budgets. There is, however, a battle about whether state and local governments should be allowed to collect taxes from out-of-state companies.</p> <p>A 1992 Supreme Court decision (Quill Corp. v. North Dakota) reaffirmed a previous decision that a business must have a significant presence in a state before that state can require it to collect sales taxes. That means a mother selling handcrafted goods on Etsy doesn't have to collect sales taxes from her consumers unless they are physically located in her state. However, Amazon collects sales taxes from customers in all 45 states that have a statewide sales tax because of its vast distribution network.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 19, 2018</p> f2e65e87d311bb8861aacffea5a6e92e To Infinity and Beyond: Are Trillion-Dollar Deficits the New Norm? for 04/12/2018 Thu, 12 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Trillion-dollar deficits are coming back faster than originally projected. Though it's fair to complain about the impact of the recently enacted tax cuts on our red ink, the ultimate culprits for our upcoming debt crisis are lawmakers who continually refuse to reform entitlement programs.</p> <p>Consider the numbers. According to the Congressional Budget Office's newly released report titled "The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2018 to 2028," the U.S. deficit will reach $1 trillion by next year. That's three years sooner than projected last year. This year's deficit projection was also revised, increased to $804 billion, or about $300 billion more than projected last year. By 2028, the deficit will be north of $1.5 trillion. Ouch.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 12, 2018</p> df60f90d495d13f8ef1f030743a1283a Trump's Tit-for-Tat Trade Policy Could Leave the Economy in Tatters for 04/05/2018 Thu, 05 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump claimed in a tweet that "trade wars are good, and easy to win." Unfortunately, the Chinese government's swift response to his administration's decision to impose tariffs on 1,300 Chinese goods with its own set of tariffs on U.S. goods sent to China tells us that his claim may be put to the test sooner than we think. The reality, I'm afraid, is that trade wars are always costly, and the pain is magnified when trade wars are waged against authoritarian regimes, such as the one in China.</p> <p>Tariffs imposed by any government are, first and foremost, penalties on its own citizens who buy imports (or import-competing domestic goods, whose producers can then freely raise their prices to just under the new price levels set by the import tax). President Trump's tariffs are therefore penalties imposed on Americans. Yes, some Chinese companies will suffer from the imposition of these import taxes. But make no mistake; this policy set by Uncle Sam will force Americans to pay higher prices for goods they choose to buy, and it will also cost American jobs.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 05, 2018</p> ea6a6095bde87c7ef337a2d2d4d076d8 Not Even Confession Is Good for the Soul of the Steel Industry for 03/29/2018 Thu, 29 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In light of President Donald Trump's announcement of new tariffs for China, I thought I'd share one thing I've learned this year about those who believe in protectionism. Don't be fooled; even though they claim that America benefits from protectionist policies, many of them know that those policies hurt us all. Occasionally, they even admit it in public.</p> <p>Here's a recent example. A few weeks ago, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expressed his opinion that everyone should relax about the Trump administration's giving a handout to its friends in the steel industry, because the tariffs will only hurt our whole nation a little. The pain, he says, will be "negligible." That's easy for him to say from the comfort of his federal government office.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 29, 2018</p> 9cddb403cef4b2af656a5a05c8af7064 Swamp Spending 101: The Omnibus Spending Bill for 03/22/2018 Thu, 22 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Republicans are once again proving why they actually deserve the label of the biggest swamp spenders. The latest gigantic omnibus spending bill would fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year &#8212; with a price tag of $1.3 trillion. That doesn't include entitlement funding or payments for the interest on our debt &#8212; which continue to grow and drive our debt higher, as Republicans have apparently given up on slowing down spending.</p> <p>Most Republicans favor the bill as a way to avoid the self-inflicted risk of another government shutdown. Never mind that members have had no time to read the 1,000-page bill and figure out what is actually in it. They just have to take Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's word. He said, "It has some things no one likes, and it has a lot of things not everybody likes but most people like. It was a fair compromise."<p>Updated: Thu Mar 22, 2018</p> bdb2c936f58ed4f751297007a4408a7f Telling the Truth on Tariffs for 03/15/2018 Thu, 15 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It was frustrating and depressing to watch President Donald Trump recently announce misguided import taxes on steel and aluminum. Aside from the bad economics behind the decision, the saddest part of the pronouncement was to hear the president promise steel- and aluminum-workers standing behind him, "We're going to have a lot of great jobs ... coming back into our country." I wouldn't count on it.</p> <p>Tariffs are import taxes. Their immediate effect will be to jack up the prices of the metals in the United States. That sounds like good news to the 140,000 steelworkers and 28,000 aluminum-workers. But it's bad news for the more than 6 million people who work in the two metal-consuming industries. Their companies will now face higher costs, which could lead to layoffs and factories moving abroad.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 15, 2018</p> 43e49985270ca29e2be435b8bb09dad7 Uncle Sam Continues to Stick His Head in the Sand on Entitlements for 03/08/2018 Thu, 08 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Social Security and Medicare are the two biggest programs driving the growth of our debt. What's more, they provide benefits for senior Americans generally, without regard to need. It's time to change the way we think about these programs.</p> <p>It's difficult to overstate how much of our budget goes toward these programs. Numbers from the Congressional Budget Office show that in the past 10 years, 70 percent of real spending increases have gone to Social Security and Medicare. In fiscal 2017, the federal government spent $4 trillion. Of that, 40 percent &#8212; $1.5 trillion, or 8 percent of our gross domestic product &#8212; went to Social Security and Medicare. These two programs will consume $3 trillion in the next decade, and that doesn't include the interest charged on Uncle Sam's credit card.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 08, 2018</p> aa90ab23500d26e594b85186426e3b10 A Peaceful, Easy and Just Prescription for Growth for 03/01/2018 Thu, 01 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Will the economy grow at 3 percent and sustain this rate over 10 years? That's the question on everyone's mind. In the swamp, answers to that question can often be predicted based on one's political affiliation.</p> <p>The original claim comes from the Trump budget released a few weeks ago. On the pro side, we have Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He makes a serious case that under President Donald Trump's policies, 3 percent annual real growth could be a floor. On the con side, you have a former chairman of the CEA under President Barack Obama saying that the economic forecast in the budget is the most absurd he's ever seen.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 01, 2018</p> 86bac9b8250835a7e62e781f87eb7cf2 Should Infrastructure Spending Be State, Local or Federal? for 02/22/2018 Thu, 22 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>With the Trump administration's proposal to add $200 billion of federal funding for transportation projects over the next decade, there's a renewed debate about whether we should raise the federal gas tax. One side makes the argument that a 25-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax is needed and long overdue; the other side says the hike would cost consumers $71 billion, or 60 percent of the expected gains from the recent tax cuts. But neither side is asking a more fundamental question: Should the federal government be involved in infrastructure spending at all?</p> <p>Yes, it is true that the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon hasn't been raised since 1993. It is also true that when adjusted for inflation, it has less purchasing power now. It is also correct that the gas tax hasn't been enough to cover the annual amounts that Congress has authorized to be spent on transportation infrastructure in recent years.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 22, 2018</p> 4d5bc1c89466c0b9cb362304f2470f3e The US Should Welcome More Investor Immigrants for 02/15/2018 Thu, 15 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>There's a deep political divide over how to handle immigration, and clashes over the issue have contributed to two government shutdowns &#8212; albeit one lasting mere hours &#8212; thus far this year. Battles relating to illegal immigration, including the question of border security and the status of so-called "dreamers" &#8212; those brought into the United States illegally as children &#8212; are receiving the most attention. But the fight over the legal immigration system could also prove to have a significant impact on the U.S. economy.</p> <p>President Donald Trump has called for an end to the diversity lottery program, which offers visas to those from nations that have relatively few immigrants in the United States. He also wants to end the heavy use of family-based visa programs.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 15, 2018</p> 9fc1317905d001d2877f5b0c403ed8bf Making the Federal Government Lean Again for 02/08/2018 Thu, 08 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>We are not in a full-scale war. We are not in a recession or fighting a high unemployment rate. But the federal government is spending as if we were a teenager with a parent's credit card. Trillion-dollar deficits are coming back soon, so this is the perfect moment to start talking about government austerity.</p> <p>According to the Congressional Budget Office, even before taking under consideration the budget impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the added spending from the budget deals, we are about three years away from the next $1 trillion deficit. Also, this year, the Department of the Treasury will inevitably have to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to pile on top of our already eye-popping $20.6 trillion of gross debt, which is public debt plus the debt the federal government owes to other accounts, such as Social Security. That's over 100 percent of our gross domestic product. It will also have to request yet another increase to its borrowing limit.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 08, 2018</p> afc9fc2b5f7b0ce66ac56d46555cd194 NAFTA Withdrawal Would Undermine Tax Reform Gains for 02/01/2018 Thu, 01 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Last year's massive tax code overhaul lowered corporate income tax rates to an internationally competitive level for the first time in decades. U.S.-based businesses can now compete against their foreign counterparts without starting from an immediate disadvantage, thanks to Uncle Sam. The change should result in faster growth, higher wages and more jobs. Unfortunately, those gains may be undone this year with a wrong step on trade.</p> <p>Take the Trump administration's recent decision to impose tariffs on washing machines and solar panels from Chinese and South Korean manufacturers. The cost to consumers could rise to a level where buying a washer isn't worth the price. News reports mention similar measures being imposed on aluminum and steel imports.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 01, 2018</p> 5f7203b154151939f79054a84e8ca10a SpaceX and Uncle Sam Shrug Off Billion-Dollar Blame Game for 01/25/2018 Thu, 25 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Did you know that the government doesn't insure the cargo it sends into space? That means that <span class="column--highlighted-text">when a satellite carrying government cargo explodes during or after launch, taxpayers are left footing the entire bill</span>. This issue has become topical with the recent loss of a Northrop Grumman satellite launched by Elon Musk's privately owned company SpaceX earlier this month. Shooting a satellite into orbit is obviously inherently risky; however, that is all the more reason to protect taxpayers when the federal government contracts with private companies like Musk's.</p> <p>We know little about the contract or the mission of the launch itself because that information is classified. What we do know for sure is that on Jan. 7, a top-secret satellite (code-named "Zuma") was launched on one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets. Though the rocket didn't explode upon launch this time (something that has happened twice in recent years), the satellite &#8212; which is rumored to have cost upward of $3 billion &#8212; seemingly failed to maintain orbit and is believed to have ended up in the Indian Ocean.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 25, 2018</p> 792089c8c10682dea1a8e998829b0cd2 Real Federalists Need to Step Up for 01/18/2018 Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>You would think that the Justice Department has better things to do than to restart a federal war on marijuana or that it would want to stay away from interfering with the will of the people in the 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, that allow at least the medical use of marijuana. But you would be wrong. Thanks to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, we have now an emerging conflict between federal and state laws. That conflict should be resolved in favor of the states.</p> <p>When he was a senator, Sessions once said during a Senate hearing, "Good people don't smoke marijuana." So nobody was surprised when a few weeks ago, he revoked the Cole memo &#8212; a document that provided guidance to federal prosecutors about targeting sales to children, money laundering and sales across state lines, as opposed to targeting the legal state sale of medical and recreational pot.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 18, 2018</p> 2eee0382df5f6f00452880d9230290af Should Congress Cut Up Uncle Sam's Credit Card? for 01/11/2018 Thu, 11 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Imagine that each month, you spend $2,000 more than you earn and charge the difference to your credit card. You make interest payments but never attempt to pay down your debt, instead just letting it grow. There will inevitably come a time when you have to ask the credit card company to increase your limit. That's how Uncle Sam has handled his spending and, as a result, debt. Now, come Feb. 28, he hopes that his ability to borrow will be extended once again.</p> <p>This is where the analogy between you and the federal government ends. In your case, if you ask the credit card company for an increase in your balance limit, it'll be approved only if the bank trusts you. However, when Uncle Sam wants an increase, he ask Congress to approve an increase in the debt ceiling, and then the Treasury Department can go to domestic and foreign investors for more money.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 11, 2018</p> fe7c14c87cfd528d8ee4c8ae7cbd7c0f Trillion-Dollar Deficit Deja Vu for 01/04/2018 Thu, 04 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>After failing to pass any significant legislation during most of President Donald Trump's first year in office, the Republican-controlled Congress was finally able to pass a major tax reform bill in the waning minutes of 2017. But beyond not getting in the way of the administration's efforts to crack down on abusive federal regulations, the party that never missed an opportunity to bemoan the previous Democratic administration's profligacy continued to show little interest in addressing the country's spending-driven fiscal problems.</p> <p>Will 2018 be any different?<p>Updated: Thu Jan 04, 2018</p>