Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sun, 01 Aug 2021 09:55:07 -0700 Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate 27afe518a0b34f4b591a0896c960d719 Why Spending Matters in Times of Inflation and High Debt for 07/22/2021 Thu, 22 Jul 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p>A lot of people don't care about the nation's growing debt. Some believe that low interest rates for the foreseeable future essentially means a free lunch for the government. Others believe that no matter what the cost of this debt, it is all worth it because of the purported higher returns on government spending. But there is an argument that may convince them otherwise: If inflation ever gets out of control, it's easier to deal with it in a lower-debt environment.</p> <p>I believe that high levels of debt are problematic. First, growing debt means growing spending, along with government expanding in size and scope. I like my government small and as unintrusive as possible, so I am not happy about the current spending situation. Second, a review of the literature about the impact of government spending on growth reveals that, generally, such spending crowds out the private sector. This dispels the hope that more spending will produce economic wonders.</p> <p>Deficit spending will eventually result in higher taxes for future generations. That's a profoundly unfair burden. Debt is also expansive in and of itself, as interest payments on an enormous amount of debt &#8212; even when interest rates are low &#8212; will result in a larger and expanding deficit. According to Brian Riedl at the Manhattan Institute, Congressional Budget Office data reveal that by 2049, "Interest payments on the national debt would be the federal government's largest annual expenditure, consuming 42% of all projected tax revenues."<p>Updated: Thu Jul 22, 2021</p> dedb64e601f49b06b515643a22ea5574 The Return of the Tax Gap Hype for 07/15/2021 Thu, 15 Jul 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Every policy wonk will tell you that after you live in Washington long enough, you start seeing the same issues reemerge on a regular basis. Common ones are praise for the magical ability of government spending to help pay for itself during recessions and handwringing over the myth of middle-class stagnation. And when Uncle Sam's coffers are empty, everyone suddenly remembers the so-called tax gap &#8212; the difference between the tax revenues Congress expects versus those it actually collects.</p> <p>So right on cue, calls to reduce the tax gap are back.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 15, 2021</p> 0c949f6a98abe4ef8a4678260c186d77 Rediscovering the Promise of the American Founding for 07/08/2021 Thu, 08 Jul 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Declaring their independence from British rule 245 years ago, the American colonists held "these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." They went on to announce, "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."</p> <p>During the recent holiday, I reflected on how we've strayed from the ideals expressed so eloquently by Thomas Jefferson. You don't have to be a Reagan Republican to see how governments at the state, local and federal levels can obstruct our pursuit of happiness and at times even jeopardize our safety.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 08, 2021</p> 09c237940c55e5ed1ce7e73789367931 Let's Make a Deal -- to Abdicate Responsibility for 07/01/2021 Thu, 01 Jul 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If you follow the news, you may be under the impression that nothing ever gets done in Congress and that Democrats and Republicans can't agree on any serious legislation. You aren't alone. Look at the inordinate praise the "bipartisan" infrastructure deal is getting. This widespread wonder highlights the mistaken belief that our awful hyperpartisan era brings about discord and gridlock in Washington. This common refrain is simply wrong.</p> <p>To be sure, Democrats and Republicans don't enjoy sharing power or being constrained in how much money they can spend or how far they can extend Uncle Sam's reach into our lives. It's a fact that gridlock slows things down. But for those of us who still believe that the government should be smaller and more fiscally responsible, slowing things down is almost always a good thing. It certainly doesn't stop legislation from passing. How else can one explain the tremendous and rapid expansion of our budget, deficit and debt?<p>Updated: Thu Jul 01, 2021</p> 828f887f51d936d9540a262ef186b41b Infrastructure Insanity for 06/24/2021 Thu, 24 Jun 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p>In the event that a group of U.S. senators cannot agree on committing enough money to a bipartisan infrastructure plan, Democrats are reportedly considering a $6 trillion plan of their own. It would probably be best described as a package full of progressive items wrapped in magical thinking paper.</p> <p>Most people would consider $6 trillion a lot of money to drop on infrastructure. That's because most of us still have an outdated notion of what infrastructure is. In fact, for most people, the word infrastructure conjures up images of roads, bridges, dams and waterways. However, as we've discovered during the last few weeks of discussions, for elected Democrats, infrastructure can be so much more than that.</p> <p>Not long ago, for instance, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., tweeted: "Paid leave is infrastructure. Child care is infrastructure. Caregiving is infrastructure." So it's not surprising to see Politico report that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., hopes to include an expansion of Medicare in the Democrats' plan. That expansion would include, among other things, a reduction of the Medicare eligibility age to 60 or even 55.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 24, 2021</p> 51da2627e35b233bd2538431ba0b00df If You Can't Beat Them, Bully Them Into Joining You for 06/17/2021 Thu, 17 Jun 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p>For several decades now, politicians around the world have tried to curtail tax competition to make it easier for them to increase the tax burdens on their citizens without them fleeing to other lower-tax jurisdictions. The best way to achieve their goal is to create a global high-tax cartel. If implemented, the recent G7 countries' agreement to impose minimum taxes on multinational companies would get them much closer to this shady objective.</p> <p>It's no mystery why politicians don't like tax competition. In a global economy like ours, individuals and businesses are better able to work and invest in nations with lower tax rates. The ability to shift residences and operations from country to country puts pressure on governments to keep taxes on income, investment, and wealth lower than politicians would like. Politicians in each country fear that raising taxes will prompt high-income earners and capital to move away.</p> <p>Politicians disparage this type of tax arbitrage with phrases like "race to the bottom" while every low-tax nation is labeled a "tax haven." These epithets are meant to obscure the fact that this is perfectly legal and ethical. It's annoying to our legislators who want to spend as much of other people's money as possible, even if it means grabbing some income that's earned outside of our borders and/or preventing other nations from offering lower rates to companies willing to do business within their borders.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 17, 2021</p> 08c7a26bf9801809c9614ebdaba631a0 Demystifying the Magical Multiplier Myth for 06/10/2021 Thu, 10 Jun 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The scale and scope of government spending expansion in the last year are unprecedented. Because Uncle Sam doesn't have the money, lots of it went on the government's credit card. The deficit and debt skyrocketed. But this is only the beginning. The Biden administration recently proposed a $6 trillion budget for fiscal 2022, two-thirds of which would be borrowed.</p> <p>Obviously, the politicians pushing money out always make extravagant promises about the economic growth that will result from their generous use of other people's money. A new study by George Mason University economist Garett Jones and myself dispels some of the magical thinking that goes on in this area.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 10, 2021</p> 8fb33726e2d23c42a033f5dc7796a98b Biden Shoots for the Stars With Astronomical Spending Proposals for 06/03/2021 Thu, 03 Jun 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Some emergencies require an increase in government spending, but that comes with an understanding that the higher levels of spending are unusual and will not be sustained. Unfortunately, this understanding seems to be lost on the Biden administration. Exhibit A is his proposed $6 trillion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 and the accompanying huge budget deficits on the books for the next decade.</p> <p>This is bad news for everybody except politicians and their cronies. It signals once again that contrary to the words spoken by the president during his inaugural address, unity is not in the cards for us Americans. In fact, <span class="column--highlighted-text">this budget, which is unlikely to pass in its current form, demonstrates an unwillingness to govern and a preference for pandering to special interests.</span><p>Updated: Thu Jun 03, 2021</p> cdb368b23fa00b5d1e693b41444dab37 Expanding the Child Tax Credit Ignores Historical Precedent for 05/27/2021 Thu, 27 May 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Marketing is everything in politics. It explains why a tax credit that benefits 90% of American families with kids &#8212; some of them with income higher than $400,000 &#8212; is marketed as an anti-poverty measure. But in politics, that marketing is often an illusion that hides the hard consequences of a preferred policy.</p> <p>With the latest COVID-19 relief package, Congress expanded the child tax credit, increasing the maximum amount a taxpayer could claim from $2,000 per child to $3,000 for those aged 6 to 17 and to $3,600 under age 6. The expanded part of the credit begins to decrease as income rises above $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married couples. The $2,000 credit starts phasing out when income reaches $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for married couples.<p>Updated: Thu May 27, 2021</p> 33e55d7c9e466d3ceab213695cd5f5dd Biden's Family Leave Plan Is a Permanent Burden for a Temporary Problem for 05/20/2021 Thu, 20 May 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p>If you're a politician peddling big new government programs for which there is little need but hefty price tags, you need a clever marketing strategy. At the least, your sales pitch could use a decent soundbite. Such marketing is what the Biden administration with its friends in Congress and the media are doing when insisting that the drop in women's labor force participation during the pandemic requires implementing a policy of federal paid family leave.</p> <p>Don't buy it.</p> <p>First, temporary problems should never be addressed with permanent government expansions. Women have dramatically fallen out of the labor force, and unemployment rates have skyrocketed because of a once-in-a-century pandemic followed by state and local governments locking down the economy. The reality, fortunately, is that this virus will soon be in the rearview mirror, and the economy is now quickly reopening. Once labor unions agree to let K-12 public schools reopen five days a week in the fall, all should be back to normal. As such, there's no reason to use a temporary hardship to saddle taxpayers with a permanently bad deal.<p>Updated: Thu May 20, 2021</p> 7ec31d38b3edad56ac4deaa9017a8619 Uncle Sam's Lack of Leadership on Debt Cannot Be Ignored for 05/13/2021 Thu, 13 May 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p>I'm always amazed to hear people say that the national debt doesn't matter because interest rates are low. Yet, it's a common refrain on the left and sometimes on the right. The next step in that line of thinking is that if accumulating debt is so cheap, we shouldn't think twice about spending more today without offsetting it with additional taxes or spending cuts. That's wrong.</p> <p>Debt is the symptom of too much spending. One unfortunate aspect of talking about the problem of accumulating too much debt (as opposed to too much spending) is that it opens the door to arguments that we should raise taxes to pay down the debt. So, let me say this from the start: In my opinion, the only acceptable way to address the debt that results from too much spending is to cut the said spending. It's not only the right thing to do but also the most effective way to actually reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio, as a large body of academic literature has shown.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Admittedly, it's true that so far, debt accumulation hasn't resulted in a debt crisis, despite warnings from people like me that it could happen any minute now. But that doesn't mean that the crisis will never happen. It may simply take longer for investors to lose trust that the government will repay its loans. I suspect that other nations like France and Germany will face a crisis before we do, yet it's only a matter of time for us, too.</span><p>Updated: Thu May 13, 2021</p> 2e45c9346819f018caace1f0f9df36e4 Biden's Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure Plan Won't Help Infrastructure or the Environment for 05/06/2021 Thu, 06 May 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p>The Biden administration has made the fight against climate change a central part of its $2 trillion infrastructure plan. This legislation, if it ever sees the light of day, would shovel more than $100 billion of subsidies toward boosting the market for electric vehicles, as well as updating the country's electric grid to make it allegedly more resilient to climate disasters.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">All of these "investments" sound well and good on paper, but if you genuinely care about the environment, don't hold your breath for any real progress.</span> For one thing, Biden's plan is mostly a giant handout to corporations that are already heavily investing in infrastructure. It's also a gift to unions, most of which will do nothing to encourage the type of activities the president claims to support, and they'll make the cost of producing infrastructure more expensive, so we'll probably see less of it.</p> <p>Consider the way the plan is currently funded with taxes on income. As Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute notes, that's pretty much the exact opposite of the way a green plan should be funded. He writes, "Biden's plan relies on income taxes to pay for infrastructure subsidies, and that approach does not moderate consumption or reduce resource use." What the president should do instead, Edwards suggests, is allow states to "fund infrastructure ... through user charges that restrain consumer demand."<p>Updated: Thu May 06, 2021</p> cdce635d8dc711c41cc04288f43937d3 The FDA's Slippery Slope Toward Mandating Raw Broccoli for Breakfast for 04/29/2021 Thu, 29 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If it doesn't look like avocado toast, you can't have it. That's the message I get loud and clear from Uncle Sam when I read story after story about the Food and Drug Administration's latest foray into stopping ordinary Americans from doing what ordinary Americans like to do.</p> <p>Take the latest news that the FDA is thinking about requiring tobacco companies to lower the nicotine in all cigarettes sold in the United States. Its goal is to fight nicotine addiction. The paternalists at the FDA are also considering whether this proposal should be paired with a ban on menthol products.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 29, 2021</p> 1b28567ae83a60137d544df3cab382a9 If All the World's a Stage, COVID-19 Is Writing the Script for 04/22/2021 Thu, 22 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The 9/11 attacks gave us the heightened security theater now on display in all U.S. airports. Day after day for the last two decades, Transportation Security Administration agents have patted down travelers from teens to the elderly, looking for weapons that nobody expects to find. While airplane cockpit doors are now locked to prevent hijackings, the pat-downs remain.</p> <p>And now we have pandemic hygiene theater to give uninformed people a false sense of control and sustain their fear of the virus.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 22, 2021</p> 22aef2a6748ffb4853c2e0a9127654d1 Just Because It's Said by Joe Doesn't Make It So for 04/15/2021 Thu, 15 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>While President Joe Biden's administration doesn't seem to need an excuse to spend money, two recurring arguments for his gigantic $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal are that our roads and bridges are "crumbling" and that modernization would generate economic growth and jobs &#8212; hence its name, the American Jobs Plan. But none of this clever marketing makes any of these claims true.</p> <p>Let me start by pointing out that, to the extent that people think about roads and bridges when they hear the word "infrastructure," they should know that only $621 billion of the $2.3 trillion is for transportation &#8212; and of that sum, only $115 billion is for repairing roads and bridges. The rest of the bill is mostly a handout to private companies that already invest heavily in infrastructure. These subsidies will come with federal red tape and regulation and hinder job creation, not bolster it.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 15, 2021</p> 510945adb957b8ff876cc5b66fd72e9b Biden's Crony Anti-Infrastructure Plan for 04/08/2021 Thu, 08 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"A crony anti-infrastructure plan" is, sadly, the best description of the Biden administration's proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. It's insanely expensive and unnecessary, especially coming, as it does, on top of last year's fiscal insanity.</p> <p>Over the past year, our leaders have spent $6 trillion in bailout and COVID-19 relief funds. They've driven local, state and federal government spending up to 43.5% of GDP, meaning that we're already in financial trouble. Now they want to top it off with trillions more of wasteful spending, describing it as "infrastructure" spending, which arguably everyone likes. But once you look at what's in the bill, you realize that the label is mere marketing for more handouts to politicians' friends and payments for pet projects.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 08, 2021</p> 545a2296a05d382354887c2886ea50d5 On Biden, Betrayal, Burdens and Bunk for 04/01/2021 Thu, 01 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Politicians betray their campaign promises all the time. So, it's no surprise to see President Joe Biden go back on his word that, in spite of his plan to significantly hike taxes to pay for a portion of a massive increase in spending, nobody earning less than $400,000 annually would suffer a tax increase. But this flip-flop is just the tip of the iceberg.</p> <p>During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Biden declared that if someone makes less than $400,000, they wouldn't face any tax hikes. His campaign website reinforced this promise: "Joe Biden will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000. Period." The president recently reiterated his promise on "Good Morning America" when he said, "Anybody making more than $400,000 will see a small to a significant tax increase," and "You make less than $400,000, you won't see one single penny in additional federal tax."<p>Updated: Thu Apr 01, 2021</p> 36228bb0fcaf62cf94c39a5b8441ab07 History Tells Us That Wealth Taxes Don't Work for 03/25/2021 Thu, 25 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>With Democrats now in control of the House, Senate and White House, many of the most significant policy battles of the next two years will be determined by intraparty fights within the Democratic Party's various factions.</p> <p>Although not a moderate in any meaningful sense, President Joe Biden has always positioned himself strategically at the center of his party. Nevertheless, his defeat of the party's left wing in the last presidential primary won't be the end of a populist insurgence. Sadly, one fight will be between those, such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who want to raise taxes significantly, and those who, like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., want to raise taxes even more significantly.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 25, 2021</p> 7520f9a9b9bcf0f63704064277d4ed43 Biden Stays the Course on Trump's Immigration, Trade and Industrial Policies for 03/18/2021 Thu, 18 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Several of my friends have expressed relief now that Joe Biden is president and Donald Trump is gone. They no longer have to watch the news constantly, declaring that they know "the country is now in good hands."</p> <p>There's no way to defend Trump's poor behavior and insulting style. Yet, there is more to a president than his decorum. <span class="column--highlighted-text">And on at least three signature Trump policies for which he'll be remembered the most, often with dread, the similarities between Biden and Trump are unsettling.</span><p>Updated: Thu Mar 18, 2021</p> 564fe6b7edddda2a6349f0f33ad2dd61 On the Pursuit of Tyrannical Policies and Zero-Risk Societies for 03/11/2021 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p>A lot has been said about the harm to people resulting from government lockdowns imposed in the name of fighting COVID-19. However, lockdowns aren't the only misguided policies that we've had and continue to endure because of this pandemic. In fact, we will suffer many tragic effects from the pandemic-induced changes long after lockdowns are lifted and the coronavirus is endemic.</p> <p>The case against lockdowns is pretty well established. In fact, contrary to accusations issued by lockdown advocates, one doesn't have to believe that COVID-19 isn't a serious disease to oppose lockdowns. Nor does one have to make the claim that doing nothing would have worked wonders in controlling this nasty virus. All you have to show is that lockdowns do not control the spread of the virus any better than less-draconian alternatives. <span class="column--highlighted-text">In fact, when all costs are considered, such as the short- and long-term health, educational and psychological harms the lockdowns caused, their costs far exceed their benefits.</span></p> <p>It's also hard to avoid the label of tyrannical policy today when still talking about lockdowns a year into this pandemic. Many academic studies about their lack of effectiveness and enormous evidence of their harms are available, yet lockdowns aren't fully lifted, and many schools still aren't opened. It's particularly frustrating since it has become obvious that those protesting the lifting of these policies &#8212; aside from the politicians who directly or indirectly benefit from them &#8212; are the wealthier and politically connected people who are less affected by lockdowns than most.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 11, 2021</p>