Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Tue, 21 Aug 2018 19:31:54 -0700 Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate 4f9b29f3a48f9750c74be77589563ff7 Will There Be a Home for Free Traders? for 08/16/2018 Thu, 16 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Despite several interviews revealing a profound lack of basic knowledge about public policy and government, 28-year-old self-described democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a darling of the media and the left. Her surprise primary victory in a heavily Democratic district all but guarantees she will win a seat in the 116th Congress and have many pundits pronouncing her the future of the Democratic Party. The prospect of an emergent far-left faction in the United States raises many grave concerns, but one area that's getting little attention is what it could mean for the future of trade.</p> <p>By now, President Trump's attitudes toward trade are well-known. While he occasionally makes superficially free trade-oriented declarations &#8212; such as his call for the G7 to eliminate all tariffs and subsidies &#8212; it's always premised on the erroneous belief that foreign-government interference is behind the U.S. trade deficit, which he also wrongly considers evidence that America is being cheated.<p>Updated: Thu Aug 16, 2018</p> a1fcac6715f26a442640c5cc5e2a3a8f Are Trump's Tariffs Actually Increasing the Trade Deficit? for 08/09/2018 Thu, 09 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>President Trump isn't going to be happy. The U.S. trade deficit expanded in June, at its fastest rate since November 2016. Also, $291 billion was added to that gap in the first six months of 2018, compared with $272 billion in the first half of 2017. And wait until he finds out that in spite of the tariffs he imposed on billions of dollars in imports, those imports grew slightly while exports are going down.</p> <p>The administration's stated objectives for imposing tariffs on foreign imports is to reduce the trade deficit by reducing imports and forcing foreign governments to lower their "unfair" trade barriers so U.S. exporters will have more access to foreign markets.</p> <p>It's true that if you impose hellish taxes on the goods and services that Americans buy from abroad, over time the higher prices will nudge consumers to shift their demands to the now-relatively cheaper American goods. In fact, this is what happened after the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from China and many of our trading partners. The Department of Commerce reports that the steep hike in metal prices has resulted in a seasonally adjusted 19 percent reduction of iron- and steel-mill products imported in June and a 10 percent fall in imports of bauxite and aluminum.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 15, 2018</p> 6a99b801b154bee31603f30356fa1747 Tax Reform 2.0? Let's Do Better for 08/02/2018 Thu, 02 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Republicans and President Trump are talking about tax reform 2.0. Unfortunately, it's futile without first having a real conversation about controlling spending. Indeed, the White House isn't just unserious about cutting spending; it's contributing to the problem. It's time for a broader approach.</p> <p>Don't get me wrong. There are a few tax changes we should hope for. Some key provisions from the 2017 tax reform 1.0, particularly tax rate cuts for individuals, expire in 2025. Removing the uncertainty would be good. Ideally, we'd level the playing field for as many Americans as possible by getting rid of deductions for state and local income tax and mortgage interest, and then lighten their load by further cutting the corporate income tax rate and indexing capital gains to inflation.<p>Updated: Thu Aug 02, 2018</p> a9e41fc66fa428a14005b43dea10f148 Pull the U.S. out of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for 07/26/2018 Thu, 26 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>I've spent years arguing that the Export-Import Bank, the official United States export credit agency, is a wasteful and corrupt bureaucracy. It exists to subsidize big companies, especially Boeing and other politically connected firms. Not only is this unfair; it undermines growth because these subsidies distort the allocation of capital. I don't mind if companies earn profits by providing value to consumers, but they shouldn't line their pockets simply because politicians are granting them favors.</p> <p>It's disappointing that Republicans won't shut down the Ex-Im Bank and are even thinking about giving it a new boost. They control Washington and have the power to uphold the principles of genuine free enterprise. Instead, they're kowtowing to the swamp even as the data show that exports are doing well and formerly subsidized companies are doing A-OK.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 26, 2018</p> 3890fa9b7b8f5111f7c244d4a2a1a929 What Goes Around Comes Around: Tariffs Stuck on the Spin Cycle for 07/19/2018 Thu, 19 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>American firms cheering for protectionism in the form of tariffs on their foreign competitors should be careful what they wish for. As they say, "What goes around comes around." Case in point: The American washer and dryer manufacturer Whirlpool Corp.</p> <p>Last January, the Trump administration imposed a penalty on Americans who buy foreign-made washers. The administration argued that the need to protect our domestic washer makers from competition required the imposition, for a period of three years, of a 20 percent duty on the first 1.2 million imported washing machines each year and a 50 percent duty on quantities above that threshold. Whirlpool loved the idea of getting a leg up on two of its most fierce competitors and increasingly consumer darlings, South Korean Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. Why bother trying to produce goods that your consumers want to buy when Uncle Sam can make your competitors' stuff artificially more expensive?<p>Updated: Thu Jul 19, 2018</p> 2100aa28d0908ae2ba970d07de596e5a On Trade, Trump Is Who He Claims to Be for 07/12/2018 Thu, 12 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When it comes to trade, we should take President Trump at his word. This is one policy area where he's been remarkably consistent over the years. That's why I'm always surprised whenever articles, TV commentators or friends in casual conversations argue that his real goal in boldly imposing unilateral tariff hikes is to achieve freer trade.</p> <p>As we embark on a trade war, let's put this question to rest. Deep down, President Trump is not a free trader.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 12, 2018</p> ce27a4cbb8f91cadbf7f4c86243fedaa Declaring Independence From Logic for 07/05/2018 Thu, 05 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The Fourth of July is a day to reflect on the courage of our Founding Fathers to pursue independence from the tyrannical British government. Unfortunately, <span class="column--highlighted-text">we now get to spend the other 364 days dealing with the tyrannical federal government in Washington.</span></p> <p>You see this in our debt and increasing deficits to entitlement programs that redistribute from relatively young and poor to relatively rich and old &#8212; or in our corporate welfare programs that subsidize a handful of producers at the expense of everyone else. You also see it in a never-ending stream of contradictory legislation and red tape at the taxpayers' expense.<p>Updated: Thu Jul 05, 2018</p> 7e7da6abf8fac9092956e8df31ea4ca6 Telling the Truth on Trade With China for 06/28/2018 Thu, 28 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>We hear quite a bit of misleading rhetoric against China these days. Let's grant, for argument's sake, that the Chinese overproduce steel, dump some of that steel into Canada and Europe before it makes its way to the United States, pilfer intellectual property and have a plan to dominate the world by 2025. It's still not a good reason to protect a few privileged American producers by slapping tariffs on the stuff other U.S. firms use to manufacture their goods &#8212; or for the government to restrict the supply of goods that households consume to raise their standard of living.</p> <p>Since when do free market advocates believe that a communist authoritarian regime like the one in China can successfully and centrally plan and execute economic growth? These days, newspapers are full of quotes by noted free marketeers who would usually oppose trade barriers such as those put in place by the Trump administration but nevertheless support such barriers because they worry that China's 2025 "plan" will successfully lead to its domination of many industries.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 28, 2018</p> b492a0116f2b47541a20de5a84463dc6 Eliminate, Don't Expand, Electric Vehicle Credit for 06/21/2018 Thu, 21 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>For manufacturers of electric vehicles, you might expect the accomplishment of moving their 200,000th unit to be met by celebration. However, because the threshold triggers the reduction of a juicy federal handout that props up electric vehicle sales, we're getting hand-wringing instead. There's even a push to expand the giveaway and keep taxpayers on the hook in perpetuity.</p> <p>The $7,500 tax credit applies to the first 200,000 electric vehicles sold per manufacturer &#8212; a threshold both Tesla and General Motors are about to hit &#8212; at which point it is then phased out over the course of the subsequent year. The tax credit, along with many other renewable-energy inducements and incentives, unfortunately survived last year's tax reform. But that's not enough for its beneficiaries.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 21, 2018</p> 5cb0c079e126b3043783c105533893f3 It's Time to Tame Trump's Tariff Temper Tantrums for 06/14/2018 Thu, 14 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Another week, another bumbling trade declaration from President Donald Trump. After a very confrontational G-7 meeting, he threatened to cut all member countries &#8212; Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom &#8212; off from the U.S. market if they don't reduce their tariffs on American exports. He told the press,?"It's going to stop, or we'll stop trading with them."</p> <p>As a reminder, this whole drama started when President Trump imposed stiff steel and aluminum tariffs on everyone, including our closest trading partners, friends and security allies. Adding insult to injury, he argued that imports from these friendly countries are a security threat to the United States, even though the Department of Defense said they are not.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 14, 2018</p> c0a0ef842a556f39da3992cba8d99457 Jumping From the Free Trade Ship to the Protectionist Fair Trade Ship for 06/07/2018 Thu, 07 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Are there any free market principles Republicans won't abandon at the altar of political expediency? They certainly have long stopped standing up for fiscal responsibility, and though they held on to their free trade principles for some time and seemed to understand that trade "remedies" (such as tariffs) mostly hurt the American people rather than foreign exporters, that didn't last long after Donald Trump took office. It's astonishing what the Trump presidency has done to the GOP's position on trade.</p> <p>But really, this all started during the presidential campaign, when Trump's constant railing against trade and trade agreements seemed to prod other Republican candidates, such as Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, to talk about "fair" trade (protectionism) as opposed to "free" trade.<p>Updated: Thu Jun 07, 2018</p> 8401105d1a63835bddf17be39202cae6 Air Travel Protectionists' Wings Clipped by Open Skies Agreements for 05/31/2018 Thu, 31 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Though competition is great for consumers &#8212; as they get more and better goods and services for less money &#8212; some companies dislike the constant pressure it creates for them to stay ahead. When that's the case, it's no surprise when they call on the government to squash annoying competitors. Case in point: the big three U.S. airlines' attempts to limit the pressure by Persian Gulf carriers on their price and quality. Apparently, flying the friendly sky is all about U.S. airlines making money on the backs of their captive consumers.</p> <p>This all started when Delta, American and United hatched a big plan to limit flights to the United States by the airline Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. The intent was to eliminate options for American consumers. Delta, the anti-competition gang leader, hoped to limit the foreign airlines' ability to offer lower prices, as well.<p>Updated: Thu May 31, 2018</p> 6bd4fbc54f8daa2f716c6671d920e0ce Are Health Officials Strangling the Lesser of Two Evils for the Benefit of the Greater? for 05/24/2018 Thu, 24 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Tobacco kills 480,000 people a year in the United States. Yet when an innovative alternative that delivers nicotine and eliminates 95 percent of the harm of smoking is available, the wary Food and Drug Administration fails to embrace this revolutionary lifesaving technology. All in the name of the children, of course.</p> <p>Using e-cigarettes, known as vaping, has been around long enough for respected health authorities to conclude after many studies that it is eminently safer than smoking cigarettes. Britain's Royal College of Physicians called any attempts by public officials to discourage smokers from switching to vaping "unjust, irrational and immoral."<p>Updated: Thu May 24, 2018</p> 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>