Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Mon, 27 May 2019 02:27:07 -0700 Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate c749b010c7829cca50b3d19f8910d019 President's Immigration Plan Could Use Some Work for 05/23/2019 Thu, 23 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Last week, the Trump administration released the outline of an immigration plan meant to reshape how and which people are allowed into the United States. The plan would prioritize merit-based immigration and high-skilled labor over those who already have family here. Far from comprehensive or sufficient, it's a modest improvement over the administration's previous restrictive pushes.</p> <p>The plan's centerpiece is a shift toward a "merit" system very similar to those in place in Australia and Canada. The reform would boost skill-based immigration from 12% to 57%, while decreasing family-based and lottery-based immigration by 50%. This is great news for employers in the market for high-skilled workers. Indeed, the cap for H-1B visas (for temporary, skilled workers) and employment-based green cards has not increased for many years, while the U.S. workforce has grown by 38 million since these programs' inception.<p>Updated: Thu May 23, 2019</p> db1da0e0e01751fe934e2fb23a95ea52 It's Time for a Course Correction in the Trade War for 05/16/2019 Thu, 16 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>President Donald Trump and his supporters often tell us that he is fundamentally a free trader. The current trade war with China, they say, is simply the small price we must pay now for a world of much freer trade tomorrow, when all governments lower their trade barriers in fear of Trump's hard-bargaining techniques.</p> <p>Let's see what markets have to say about that. After the president tweeted a couple weeks ago that tariffs against China would go up within five days if Beijing didn't agree to his demands, markets dived. Stocks plunged once again on Friday morning, after the 25% tariff on $200 billion in Chinese exports to the United States became reality. Stock prices rose later that day after presidential tweets suggested that trade talks were going well. But the market took another hit on Monday after China announced retaliatory moves, including tariffs increased to as much as 25% on $60 billion of U.S. imports to China.<p>Updated: Thu May 16, 2019</p> 87a93649f7cac8c71fdf5508ba48ff6f The Fed Is Not the Answer for Real-Time Payments for 05/09/2019 Thu, 09 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>There's an inherent conflict of interest that occurs when an agency serves as both a regulator and competitor. Unfortunately, that describes the present state of the Federal Reserve. But rather than reform the agency to eliminate sources of conflict, the Fed is proposing to expand its market activities by launching a real-time payments system to compete against the private sector.</p> <p>Anyone who has done any domestic banking is familiar with the need for faster clearing of interbank transfers. They're incredibly slow by digital age standards, sometimes taking several days to complete. It's even subpar by the standards of the European Union, the U.K., Mexico, Poland and South Africa, which have already developed (or are developing) real-time payments. <p>Updated: Thu May 09, 2019</p> 2ec6213ba4647fdfcc52889c3b40e8bc Once a Protectionist, Always a Protectionist for 05/02/2019 Thu, 02 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The United States has been plagued with uncertainty ever since President Donald Trump started his trade disputes with many of our trading partners. From steel and aluminum tariffs to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and replacing it with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), trade rules have been in flux, with U.S. consumers caught in the crossfire &#8212; and with no end in sight.</p> <p>This drama started in March 2018, when the Trump administration announced that it would impose 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum for imports from all countries that he deemed to be treating America unfairly. The duties were levied in the name of national security, even though they would actually punish many of our NATO allies. <span class="column--highlighted-text">At the time, the administration made no secret about the fact that it planned to use the tariffs as leverage to renegotiate the 25-year-old NAFTA with Canada and Mexico.</span><p>Updated: Thu May 02, 2019</p> ea6bba569cddec2b916256392a837aaa When Earth Day Predictions Go Predictably Wrong for 04/25/2019 Thu, 25 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As activists around the world recently celebrated Earth Day with warnings about the awful state of our planet, now seems like the right time to share the good news that actually &#8212; contrary to countless dire predictions &#8212; we're not running out of resources. In fact, the late economist and scholar Julian Simon was right: People again and again have innovated "their way out of resource shortages."</p> <p>As Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute reminds us in an article about "18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day in 1970," back in 1969, Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote that "Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born." He added that by 1975, "some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions." In 1970, he revised his prediction for the worse to warn us, as Perry writes, that "between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the 'Great Die-Off.'"<p>Updated: Thu Apr 25, 2019</p> 47d4ba72fc6e3a6c6eab27a767f14ff6 Bipartisan Support for Electric Vehicle Handouts Betrays Taxpayers for 04/18/2019 Thu, 18 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Excessive partisanship and endless acrimony are common complaints lodged against the political class. There's a lot to be said in favor of this narrative, but bipartisanship isn't always what it's cracked up to be, either. As evidence, consider the latest attempt to extend corporate handouts for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers.</p> <p>The Driving America Forward Act was recently introduced to extend the existing EV tax credit well beyond its current limits. Unsurprisingly, its sponsors include both Michigan Senators, Democrats Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, as well as Republican Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine. A companion version was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dan Kildee, also a Democrat from a district in Michigan.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 18, 2019</p> 1011a14f122681a024ef7e7e9476ee19 The New NAFTA Is Exporting the Same Old Bad Habits for 04/11/2019 Thu, 11 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Trade agreements have been greatly successful at lowering trade barriers around the world. But they're not without their flaws. Each agreement, in practice, tends to retain some counterproductive protectionist policies and may even export some bad policies. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), or "new NAFTA," is no different.</p> <p>As soon as President Donald Trump got into office, he threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. He imposed metal tariffs on steel and aluminum for the stated purpose of forcing Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the 25-year-old trade agreement. The result was the USMCA.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 11, 2019</p> 4677ec6e1540ff2a36592da8c28f9928 Government-Mandated, Paid Leave Programs Proven Ineffective for 04/04/2019 Thu, 04 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. This is a perfect way to describe the current effort by Democrats and some conservatives to implement a federal paid leave program. If the United States implements this policy, they believe Americans will not suffer the same negative consequences suffered in every country that has such a policy on its books.</p> <p>Last year, the conservative American Enterprise Institute released a joint report with the more progressive Brookings Institution titled "Paid Family and Medical Leave: An Issue Whose Time Has Come." While the authors disagree among themselves about the specifics of a federal program, they "unanimously agreed that some form of paid parental leave should be offered to help workers at the time of birth, adoption, or fostering of a child."<p>Updated: Thu Apr 04, 2019</p> 42cdd7af004090e59d49f31b248e659d Can Politicians Move on from the Mueller Report? for 03/28/2019 Thu, 28 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The filing of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on whether there was collusion between President Donald Trump and the Russians to interfere with the 2016 election should put an end to speculations, accusations and outrage. The report finds that there was no collusion. But long live speculations, accusations and outrage.</p> <p>As soon as Attorney General William Barr summed up the report for Congress, Trump administration allies started to call for the heads of those who had fed the rumor mill for months. On their end, the Democrats didn't wait long to warn the administration that this wasn't over and that they would continue investigating the president for alleged obstruction of justice. That's their prerogative, obviously.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 28, 2019</p> 6019c728e12af5d048c3d2decb9800cd Trump's Rose-Colored Forecasts Surprisingly Accurate -- for Now for 03/21/2019 Thu, 21 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Much of my time is spent criticizing politicians for misrepresenting the impact of their policies. So, for once, I'd actually like to note an area where the Trump White House has represented the impact of its policies more accurately, and even better, than any other administration: economic growth forecasts. It may not sound like much, and I'd rather they balance the budget, but that's a start.</p> <p>The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 requires that each administration report "the economic and programmatic assumptions" underlying a budget. The result is a database of every administration's growth forecasts released since 1975. Using this data, the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) just released a report showing that this administration "is the first on record to have experienced economic growth that meets or exceeds its own forecasts in each of its first two years in office."<p>Updated: Thu Mar 21, 2019</p> ad2baf168cec703fa79c267dcfe8847a Politics Trump Policy Once Again in Budget Debate for 03/14/2019 Thu, 14 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The Trump administration just delivered a massive budget to Congress. A look at the numbers and the talking points drafted to defend it confirms that budgets favor politics over policy. This also confirms that it really doesn't really matter who is in the White House. Big spenders will spend and then dissemble to cover up their fiscal irresponsibility.</p> <p>The fiscal year 2020 budget proposes spending $4.7 trillion. That's up from $4.5 trillion last year and $4.1 trillion in FY 2018. Meanwhile, assuming that the tax cuts set to expire in 2025 do not expire, tax revenue will grow to $3.6 trillion in FY 2020, up from $3.4 trillion last year and $3.3 trillion in FY 2018. Spending between FY 2020 and FY 2029 will grow by 40 percent, and thanks to projected GDP growth averaging 3 percent over the next decade, revenue may grow by 72 percent during that time.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 14, 2019</p> 1d1df23b24f6c2cf960dcc03fec47d47 Statewide Rent Control Laws Cannot Escape the Law of Supply and Demand for 03/07/2019 Thu, 07 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Last week, Oregon became the first state in the nation to adopt a mandatory statewide rent control policy. Yet, rent control never delivers on the promise that it will multiply the affordable housing in high-value markets to serve middle- and lower-class families. It also always has negative consequences, and this time will be no different.</p> <p>The new statewide law applies to landlords who have at least four units, one of which is at least 15 years old. It prohibits them from increasing rent more than 7 percent over inflation annually. The bill also prohibits no-cause evictions after the first year of residency, in addition to the protections against eviction already on the books.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 07, 2019</p> 0e5f1c89dd6308ebaca85d2c2ee570b3 Learning the Lessons of Protectionism the Hard Way for 02/28/2019 Thu, 28 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Protectionism begets protectionism. The latest example of this sad state of affairs comes to us via the U.S. International Trade Commission. It ruled in January that American producers of line pipe are being hurt by imports of large-diameter line pipe from China and India, among other places. The remedy will likely be higher duties.</p> <p>Some background: Back in March 2018, President Donald Trump cited national security concerns to impose steel tariffs on our trading partners. At the time, trade experts warned that these duties (imposed under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962) would inevitably make the lives of American manufacturers more difficult. Trump's 25 percent tariffs would significantly raise the price of imported steel used by American firms. Experts also predicted that manufacturers using domestic steel would pay a higher price. These predictions have proved correct.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 28, 2019</p> 56be34ca364b6045739550c8618fb2f0 Is Your Car a Threat to National Security? for 02/21/2019 Thu, 21 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>If you drive an imported car, as I do, your vehicle may soon be declared a national security risk by the Department of Commerce. If you drive an American-assembled car, your car may also pose a threat to U.S. national security because it inevitably contains some foreign parts &#8212; which Commerce could include in its list of threats to national security. If President Donald Trump acts on this finding, it'll be bad news for automakers and even worse news for consumers.</p> <p>Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president unilateral authority to impose tariffs or quotas on imports that "threaten to impair" U.S. national security. In a still-undisclosed-to-the-public report sent to the administration on Sunday, many suspect that Commerce contends imported foreign cars and parts represent just such a threat. If that's the case, it would give the president power to impose restrictions on them, such as a 25 percent tariff. He has up to 90 days to announce his decision and another 180 days to negotiate remedies with trade partners.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 21, 2019</p> a8d4b099debe06a98a28897a9031c121 Innovative Treatments May Require Equally Innovative Health Care Payment Models for 02/14/2019 Thu, 14 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>What Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Medicare-for-all," former President Obama's Affordable Care Act and former House Speaker Paul Ryan's Medicare "premium support" model all have in common is an overemphasis on health insurance coverage &#8212; who needs it, who is eligible for it, at what level and who should pay for it (private sector vs. state governments vs. federal government).</p> <p>Yet insurance coverage and health care are two different things. A focus on the first one has resulted in an endless debate over which third party pays for people's health care bills. Whether your preference is the government or private insurers, both end up creating massive distortions and moral hazards, which then results in higher costs and poorer-quality health care.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 14, 2019</p> da4a4a43202108c87bea2f587f4084d3 PURPA and Why Central Planning Fails for 02/07/2019 Thu, 07 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>In F.A. Hayek's 1988 book, "The Fatal Conceit," the economist explained, "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design." Unfortunately, politicians of both parties today imagine they can design quite a lot by successfully managing the nation's health care, trade and energy production, among other herculean tasks.</p> <p>The recent push to centralize more of the economy &#8212; think about "Medicare-for-all" or "Buy American" requirements for infrastructure projects &#8212; comes even though we are still discovering all the ways in which prior efforts to direct economic activity have backfired. Consider the case of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, or PURPA. This program within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is still causing headaches today.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 07, 2019</p> 1f6c35fece529b06867b5e20e384426b Killing 2 Birds With 1 Millstone Hung Around America's Neck for 01/31/2019 Thu, 31 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Wisconsin Republican congressman Sean Duffy recently introduced a bill to give President Trump new powers to raise tariffs in response to actions taken by other individual countries on American goods. This effort to expand the president's power should make the White House happy, since Trump is eager to see his trade efforts bear fruit. We'll likely hear about that during his State of the Union address. But this bill will also move our nation back to the days of the infamous Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930.</p> <p>It's a fact that some countries impose higher duties on imports from America than the United States imposes on similar products it imports. For example, the European Union imposes a 10 percent tariff on imported American cars, while we charge only a 2.5 percent duty on European car imports. According to congressman Duffy and President Trump, as long such differences in rates persist, we really won't or can't have free trade.</p> <p>Their solution is legislation that would give the president power to raise tariffs on American imports to levels that foreign governments impose on American exports. Such legislation is believed to kill two birds with one stone.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 31, 2019</p> b226548307ced26b869e4701392ccc45 Be Careful What You Wish for on the Minimum Wage for 01/24/2019 Thu, 24 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>We have a saying in France that goes something like this: With enough "ifs," we could put Paris in a bottle. In other words, if you assume away all the difficulties of the real world, you can achieve miracles. This proverb was all I could think about when reading Ginia Bellafante's recent column in The New York Times about making the case for a $33 minimum wage in the Big Apple.</p> <p>While in her estimation, the $15 minimum wage that went into effect in NYC on Jan. 1 is a step in the right direction, she argues that it's not enough if the goal is to enable a single parent with two school-age children there to meet his or her expenses. With that objective in mind, $33 an hour is necessary.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 24, 2019</p> 79f6441c8758486f5dce52f3cf8ece53 Trump Paving the Road to Overtime Pay With Good Intentions for 01/17/2019 Thu, 17 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Back in 2016, the Obama administration passed an overtime-pay regulation that would have required employers to pay overtime for salaried employees who earn less than $47,476 per year. But its implementation was blocked by a federal judge in November 2016 in response to a lawsuit filed by states and businesses. That regulation is back in the news, however, after the Trump administration has spent months re-examining the issue and seems close to a final decision.</p> <p>Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, most employers must pay a time-and-a-half rate for overtime hours (usually understood as hours worked beyond 40 hours per week) for salaried employees who don't have sufficiently advanced job duties or who earn less than $23,660 annually. These standards were last set in 2004.</p> <p>The Obama administration decided to go all in and double the salary threshold. While in the past, employers only had to track the hours of salaried employees eligible for overtime, under the new rules they'd be required to track the hours of salaried employees making less than this amount, no matter how advanced their duties &#8212; a significant increase in reporting requirements. At the time, the Department of Labor estimated that an additional 4.2 million workers would qualify for the added pay, with 35 percent of full-time salaried workers expected to fall below the threshold under the new rule.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 17, 2019</p> 6d923388a6b9bd7c6a4cde0c6cde4a39 The DOJ Shouldn't Reignite the Fight Against Intrastate Gambling for 01/10/2019 Thu, 10 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>The government has been shut down for over two weeks and is on track to become the longest shutdown in U.S. history. As for how long the current standoff between the Trump administration and the Democratic congress is going to last, your guess is as good as mine. It's a gamble for both sides. That makes it the perfect time to write a column about gambling.</p> <p>As I have mentioned in previous columns, it's been reported that the Department of Justice is drafting an opinion to reverse a 2011 finding from the Office of Legal Counsel that paved the way for states to regulate online gambling as they see fit. Such a move would not just be a blow to states like Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania that have already legalized online gambling, as well as the many others considering such action; it would also go against basic federalist principles.</p> <p>To briefly provide some background, in 2011 the DOJ responded to inquiries from states with an opinion that finally acknowledged that the Wire Act, which targets "bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest" through "transmission in interstate or foreign commerce," does not prohibit strictly in-state, non-sports-related gambling like online poker.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 10, 2019</p>