Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 20 Mar 2019 08:09:54 -0700 Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate 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> df5550edd00274cfaf9ab3fe23e87ad3 Here's to Making 2019 a Year for D.C. to Remember for 01/03/2019 Thu, 03 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Christmas is over, and the new year begins. Now Congress needs to go back to work and clean up the mess it left behind last year.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Looking back, 2018 reveals a sad picture of what a Republican Congress and White House have failed to accomplish. </span>Instead of fiscal restraint, we got a spending explosion. Instead of restoring the regular budget order, we got more of the same fiscal chaos and short-term spending-bill nonsense punctuated by threats of government shutdowns. And at the end of that tunnel of disarray, only heightened uncertainty and heavier debt remain.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 03, 2019</p> 303a60eb2a29d7ae23e0e2f3cbcdd088 Here We Go Again -- Another Chaotic Christmas for Congress for 12/27/2018 Thu, 27 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The primary job of Congress is to pass a budget. Yet year after year, its members fail to do their job. This year is no different. The week before Christmas, and in the midst of a budget deficit that's exploding along with the national debt, the Senate rushed to prepare a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open for a couple months. In other words, we're left with unnecessary uncertainty and a growing pool of red ink.</p> <p>The Senate measure has an expiration date of Feb. 8, so its main intent was to temporarily prevent a government shutdown &#8212; the third such shutdown threatened during Donald Trump's presidency. It's worth noting that no matter what you read in the media and what talking points you hear from the Washington establishment, there's a lot of exaggeration about what a government shutdown really means, since 75 percent of the budget is already funded. That includes all of the mandatory programs (e.g. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest payments on the federal debt) plus six federal departments, including the Department of Defense.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 27, 2018</p> a3da90621d2bf34f8528a8fd86470d8a A Deficit-Happy Government May Lead to a Debt-Driven Financial Crisis for 12/20/2018 Thu, 20 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>There are milestones you celebrate: a kid's first step, a round-numbered birthday, a marriage anniversary. And then there are the milestones you dread: Reaching $22 trillion in national debt is one of them. We're slated to reach that number next month, yet nobody seems to care.</p> <p>The $22 trillion figure we'll soon hit is the total of $16 trillion in public debt (what the government owes to domestic and foreign investors) and $5.8 trillion in intra-governmental debt (the money it owes to other government accounts like Social Security). No matter how you look at it, it's by far the highest level of debt Uncle Sam has accumulated in peacetime. It's also shocking, considering the economy is growing faster than it has for a while. Even worse, <span class="column--highlighted-text">there's no end of that red ink in sight.</span><p>Updated: Thu Dec 20, 2018</p> f81a70f315432ae3f65f930b594267e8 Will Uprisings Thwart Green Central Planners? for 12/13/2018 Thu, 13 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>You know you've got a problem when your tax schemes are even being rejected by the French. While there's always a danger in reducing the causes of political unrest to a single issue, the plan to impose yet another regressive $9 billion annual carbon tax proved to be a catalyst for the "yellow vest" protests that are roiling Paris. </p> <p>The nonviolent version of the French carbon-tax revolt is spreading globally, too. Last November, Washington state voters rejected a very well-funded effort to pass the first ballot-approved carbon tax ever. The province of Ontario is suing the Canadian government to block a federal carbon tax there. According The Wall Street Journal, "the issue could topple the Alberta government and perhaps Prime Minister Justin Trudeau." The Journal adds, "German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Energiewende &#8212; a transition to renewables that has increased dirty coal emissions and caused household energy costs to soar &#8212; has become a political liability."</p> <p>The resistance comes from middle- to low-income workers. They're especially sensitive to changes in the cost and availability of energy for the simple reason that it affects so many aspects of their lives &#8212; from getting to work, especially for those who live in rural areas, to the price of most consumer goods. It's clear that many ordinary people aren't willing to pay higher costs just to fulfill the grand visions of central planners.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 13, 2018</p> 94b09a5c2ab947a1f2f1fd370a0277bb Trump's Trade Talk: NAFTA, the New NAFTA or No NAFTA? for 12/06/2018 Thu, 06 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>After spending months complaining about the disparity between the United States and other nations' duties, along with the unfair treatment of U.S. exporters, President Trump is once again threatening to pull the plug on one of the best tariff-equalizing deals ever made: the North American Free Trade Agreement. As always, his allies argue that this is a brilliant negotiating strategy to force the Democrats to adopt his new NAFTA. I don't know if that strategy will succeed, but it's incredibly inconsistent with his stated goal of wanting lower and reciprocal tariffs on U.S. exports.</p> <p>A quick reminder of how we got here: From day one in the White House, the president has declared his intention to pull out of NAFTA. He has claimed many times that the 1994 deal was the worst deal ever agreed to by the United States. He used this threat of withdrawal to extract a new deal with Canada and Mexico called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a deal he modestly labeled "the most important trade deal we've ever made by far."<p>Updated: Thu Dec 06, 2018</p> 2c48f6bf3d0acb396bde814c14bc7181 Will a Lame-Duck Congress Once Again Overextend Itself? for 11/29/2018 Thu, 29 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Last year's tax reform represented a first step toward improving the tax code by making it simpler, fairer and slightly less distortive. As Congress considers taking up a so-called tax-extenders bill before the new Democratic-controlled House is seated, any hope of continuing a reformation requires vigilance against returning to those old ways through a ritualistic revival of expired special-interest tax breaks.</p> <p>Tax extenders are temporary and narrowly targeted tax provisions for individuals and businesses. Examples include the deductibility of mortgage-insurance premiums and tax credits for coal produced from reserves owned by Native American tribes. According to the Tax Foundation's Erica York, "Twenty-six now expired provisions are under congressional review to determine whether they merit a permanent place in the tax code. The ten-year cost of making all 26 provisions a permanent part of the tax code would be $92.5 billion." She adds, "More than half of the remaining provisions are tax credits that subsidize certain economic activities."<p>Updated: Thu Nov 29, 2018</p> f511a0abbd5923a2c5ff9e1b009de1ec Giving Thanks for Technology -- and Air Taxis for 11/22/2018 Thu, 22 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>On this Thanksgiving weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to remind Americans about some of the tremendous technological advancements we should be thankful for: better cellphones, safer cars, Lasik eye surgery and drones that deliver pizza and life-saving medications. Technology also provides life-changing services like Uber and Airbnb, too.</p> <p>Better still, if you combine technology like drones and Uber, you get one of the most exciting developments yet to come: air taxis. <p>Updated: Thu Nov 22, 2018</p> 34504193276520251fd5ff470f175efe Digital Tax Fight Not Yet Over for 11/15/2018 Thu, 15 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Indications suggest that the Paris-led effort to impose EU-level taxes on cross-border digital services has stalled. Opponents correctly painted the effort as a blatant tax grab against American tech giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon &#8212; noting also that it would apply to revenue, rather than profits. But it was the objection by low-tax EU nations like Ireland that has apparently scuttled the effort to pass the plan in December. Just don't think for a second that the fight is over.</p> <p>The EU argues that value in the digital industry is created by "user engagement" and that taxes should therefore be collected on a destination instead of origin basis. This is always the preferred approach of high-tax governments because it thwarts tax competition from other jurisdictions. But if companies can't benefit by seeking tax-friendly environments, then there's less competitive pressure on governments to keep tax rates at reasonable levels. This pressure, however, is of vital importance for spendaholic bureaucracies that never use new revenue for debt reduction but for more payoffs to greedy special interest groups.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 15, 2018</p> 7f6196cb38a8743fc7b0074fb22fed51 Another Republican Capitulation on Health Care for 11/08/2018 Thu, 08 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Republicans have established a clear pattern on health care. First, they rail against whatever big-government scheme Democrats propose. Then, after a half-hearted and incompetent effort to convince the public of the benefits of a market-oriented system, they abandon their principles and adopt the big-government idea as their own in order to win or hold power.</p> <p>The spectacle of Republican candidates tripping over themselves to announce their commitment to preserving requirements for coverage of pre-existing conditions, a key component of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the mandate most responsible for making insurance unaffordable for average Americans, is one example.</p> <p>The latest addition is the recent announcement of the Trump administration that it would base Medicare Part B reimbursements on what other countries pay for those drugs.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 08, 2018</p> 84a4c207fa888e12302b2528c91e1ffe Free Market Principles Missing in Ethanol Rule Changes for 11/01/2018 Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The list of losers from President Donald Trump's trade war is long and likely only to grow. Consumers of washers and dryers, metal-consuming industries and their customers, and American industries caught in the crossfire from retaliatory tariffs have all been hit hard. These losses have been compounded by subsequent moves to compensate the most politically powerful of those &#8212; e.g., farmers &#8212; harmed by Trump's protectionism.</p> <p>In July, the Trump administration announced plans to provide farmers with $12 billion in taxpayer subsidies to quell the uproar over costly retaliatory tariffs on American goods such as pork, beef and soybeans. That apparently wasn't enough, so now the administration is selectively easing regulations on ethanol at the expense of across-the-board energy policy reforms that could prioritize fiscal responsibility and market neutrality.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 01, 2018</p>