Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Tue, 26 Jan 2021 23:05:55 -0800 Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate 2fefe147d49c713b204ceb53da6590c3 Joe Biden's Plan to Build the United States of Italia for 01/21/2021 Thu, 21 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>With his policy announcement about another COVID-19 relief bill, President Joe Biden declares loud and clear that he will not shy away from spending blowouts and fiscal irresponsibility. For the most part, his proposed plan is nothing more than a way to use the current crisis to deliver on Democrats' longtime dream to explode the size and scope of the federal government.</p> <p>The objective of the $1.9 trillion plan is noble enough: stimulate the economy, provide relief to Americans and combat the pandemic. But noble doesn't always mean good. <span class="column--highlighted-text">As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I would add political expediency to that expression.</span><p>Updated: Thu Jan 21, 2021</p> 8031937d17a165d3059e8435c36fad0f Don't Hate the Political Players; Hate the Political Game for 01/14/2021 Thu, 14 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Many Americans are very upset that President-elect Joe Biden will replace President Donald Trump. For most of them, it's not that they will miss Trump's unconventional and often unacceptable behavior. Instead, it's that they fear that the size and scope of government will grow so fast that it will permanently change the country they love.</p> <p>And this fear has intensified with the defeat of two Republican senators in the Georgia runoffs, resulting in Democrats regaining control of the Senate.</p> <p>At the margin, such a worry is justified. With 50 Democratic senators and control of both the House of Representatives and the White House, more policies that would have never seen the light of day when Republicans were in power, such as much more unwise COVID-19 relief, will potentially get through.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 14, 2021</p> 7023b86febff9f003039d7be75a670a6 Even Governments Can Make New Year's Resolutions for 01/07/2021 Thu, 07 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>It's the beginning of a new year. It's almost the beginning of a new presidential administration, too. In theory, now is a perfect time for some resolutions: to start fresh, fix the mistakes of the past or do what we never got around to doing. In that spirit, I offer some advice to the Biden administration; Congress; and state and local governments.</p> <p>State and local governments should reopen schools. That many schools are still not providing in-person instruction is unforgivable. We've known for months now that in many scenarios, in-person instruction poses little risk to children, their teachers and their communities. Indeed, in Germany, school closures were not associated with reduced transmission of COVID-19. <p>Updated: Thu Jan 07, 2021</p> 08a5c17d8557b2b1fd8839bafe1378f5 Tevi Troy's 'Fight House' Holds Valuable Lessons for a Biden Administration for 12/24/2020 Thu, 24 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden are quite different from each other. It is obvious in their personalities and in their policy positions. So, we can reasonably assume that their White House management styles will also be radically different. One thing is for sure: No matter how the new administration is managed, there will be some internal conflict.</p> <p>That's one of the many lessons I learned from Tevi Troy's 2020 book, "Fight House: Rivalries in the White House from Truman to Trump." The book was named one of the best political books of 2020 by The Wall Street Journal. Troy is a historian who has written many books about the presidency. This one is particularly entertaining, though, at times, disheartening. While many of us have shaken our heads in disapproval and dismay at the open chaos and infighting in Trump's White House, Troy reveals some of the other epic battles in the modern White House.</p> <p>The reasons behind the fights are numerous. Some were the product of Cabinet members butting heads with White House staff. There were, for instance, the intense conflicts that occurred during the Kennedy presidency between then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and the president's brother-slash-attorney general, Robert "Bobby" Kennedy. The two men hated each other and would sometimes end up not speaking. There were other noteworthy conflicts in the Kennedy White House.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 24, 2020</p> 2bf55adbef0e533fdba3bc5c7a689072 Continuing Education During COVID-19 for 12/17/2020 Thu, 17 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>There's no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted childhood education. In many countries, kids have physically returned to school. In others, schools were never closed. Yet in the United States, many public schools have been closed since March, yielding disastrous results for millions of kids. While scientific data say it's safe to bring them back, incentives in the school systems are such that many kids continue to be locked up at home rather than receiving a proper education.</p> <p>A school's main role is to educate children. They can feed low-income children and supply day care for working parents, but these benefits are secondary to providing a quality education to <i>all</i> enrolled children.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">The fact that children and their taxpayer parents are consumers in this scenario should guide the decisions made by superintendents and school boards. But that hasn't been the case since the start of this pandemic.</span><p>Updated: Thu Dec 17, 2020</p> 74521ebe2a461a494650f222e1caa037 Assessing Trump's Experiment With Protectionist Trade Policies for 12/10/2020 Thu, 10 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>With President Donald Trump soon departing Washington, now is a great time to assess his protectionist trade policies. From tariffs to his hectic bullying of other governments to renegotiate trade agreements to his support for American export subsidies, the Trump years were more than infuriating on trade matters; they were destructive.</p> <p>This harsh conclusion is no surprise to those of us who understand international trade. We realized from the start that the president's trade philosophy is the mercantilist one that Adam Smith debunked nearly 250 years ago. </p> <p>For instance, Trump believes that the success of U.S. trade policy is best gauged with a trade-balance scorecard &#8212; the notion that trade deficits are bad and trade surpluses are good. For this reason, he believes that the ultimate benefit of trading lies in the amounts that we export, while imports are to be feared and kept to a minimum. But Trump's understanding is backward. After all, exports are what we produce for foreigners, while imports are what foreigners produce for us.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 10, 2020</p> 0f05b831cf50ea1165a0d04cdd71fb0c Speaking up for the Voiceless Victims of the COVID-19 Pandemic for 12/03/2020 Thu, 03 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Americans are well versed in the consequences for physical health from COVID-19. Newspapers brim daily with scary headlines alarming us of any risk that it might pose, no matter how minor or remote. But there are other nasty and less often discussed consequences brought on by this pandemic and by our collective reaction to it &#8212; whether that's due to people locking themselves up at home out of fear of encountering others or government-ordered lockdowns.</p> <p>These consequences deserve our attention. They are real and poignant, and they disproportionately affect society's least powerful. Victims of the current pandemic response have little political or economic voice. So, let me speak for them:</p> <p>They are the small-business owners who have seen their businesses destroyed by the lockdowns. They are the owners of restaurants and small shops that never reopened, even when the lockdowns were partially lifted.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 03, 2020</p> f5715122c13323e34d09ce2af1ad4c28 Giving Thanks and Maintaining Perspective, Even in a Pandemic for 11/26/2020 Thu, 26 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Every Thanksgiving, we make a conscious effort to give thanks. This year, even in the midst of a pandemic, I'd encourage you to be genuinely grateful for everything you may take for granted. There is still so very much.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Let's be thankful that we continue to do so much better on a global scale. </span>Dwelling on apocalyptic headlines might lead some to think otherwise, but a new book by Reason's science correspondent Ronald Bailey and the Cato Institute's senior fellow Marian Tupy shows that this pessimism is unwarranted. In "Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know," they outline 78 improving global and U.S. trends that should put a smile on everyone's face. </p> <p>For instance, you learn that conservation efforts are growing, in part because the share of land devoted to agriculture is shrinking, and the share of wildlands and oceans that are preserved is on the rise.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 26, 2020</p> 84bf25fdc84fdfd078185c06067a859f Election Day Post-Mortem Reveals Voters Eschew Extremism for 11/19/2020 Thu, 19 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Contrary to most predictions, Election Day brought no blue wave. While former Vice President Joe Biden won the presidency, it looks like the Republicans will keep the Senate. Even more surprisingly, the Democrats appear to be on the verge of losing as many as 13 seats in the House of Representatives. If this proves to be the case, it would be the smallest House majority for any party since 1919.</p> <p>The electorate's rejection of the Democratic agenda in the legislature actually makes it somewhat surprising that the Democrats won back the White House. As a result, the blame game is afoot among our friends on the left.</p> <p>Those in the progressive wing of the Democratic party are accusing their more moderate colleagues of being inept at running campaigns, while the relatively few centrist Dems are complaining about their progressive colleagues' open embrace of socialism.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 19, 2020</p> 90d4c100a9a1c4f706db3916ff3966bd Biden's Search for Bipartisanship (and Bloated Budgets) for 11/12/2020 Thu, 12 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>As he claimed victory in the race for the White House, Joe Biden declared that now is "a time to heal." Like Republican Jack Kemp before his vice presidential debate with Al Gore in 1996, Biden added: "Stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They're Americans."</p> <p>What's not love about this message? After four brutal years of hideous rhetoric coming from an angry and sometimes unhinged electorate around the country, in response to a president who simply couldn't pretend to be presidential and resist hurling insults from Twitter, we can all use a return to normal. Biden's message signals a willingness to really work with the other side to govern rather than to reign unilaterally.</p> <p>Now, to be fair, President-elect Biden might have no choice <i>but</i> to work with Republicans since the government will be divided if the Republicans do indeed, as now projected, keep the U.S. Senate. Fortunately, the resulting checks and balances will guard against the imposition of a radical left-wing agenda featuring the Green New Deal, a $4 trillion tax hike, $11 trillion in new spending and court packing. Democrats who hoped the election would serve as an all-around indictment not only of President Donald Trump but also of Republicans in general didn't get their wish.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 12, 2020</p> ebf8b7756b75f7ef8631cb94150db0d8 Would Both Trump and Biden Bring More of the Same? for 11/05/2020 Thu, 05 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Once again, Election Day in America has come and gone with some lingering questions as to when the results will be certified. In the run-up to the presidential contest, each side overflowed with hope about the many wonders its guy, once in power, might bring about. Unfortunately, for those of us who prefer smaller government &#8212; for those of us who value individual liberty as an end in itself &#8212; neither candidate really promised fiscal solvency or less government interference in our lives.</p> <p>Despite corporate tax reform, deregulatory efforts, some criminal justice reforms and an anti-socialist rhetoric, President Donald Trump has shown little interest in free market policies. His administration promised and failed to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and would have likely replaced it with what is best described as Obamacare Light. With the Republicans' support, Trump opened wide the spending spigot for the Pentagon and its defense contractors. Ditto for other kinds of spending, much of which was irresponsibly funded with debt.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 05, 2020</p> 90eeae2a6b13c7dc9544e214af73f791 Fool Us Once, Shame on You; Fool Us Forever, Shame on Us All for 10/29/2020 Thu, 29 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Why people continue to trust government officials is a mystery. Often disconnected from the problems at hand, their policies also often contradict their supporters' frequently expressed beliefs. While suffering from cost overruns and increasing budget deficits, these policies handsomely reward their cronies, too.</p> <p>A good example is the latest attempt to pass yet another COVID-19 relief bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Republicans' failure to agree to her $2.2 trillion bill "malfeasance." Never mind that the White House's $1.8 trillion proposal was right up there with hers.</p> <p>It's right to help those low-income Americans hurt by the pandemic-induced recession. But that relief bill shouldn't cost anywhere near $2 trillion. Think about this: When the economy was more solidly locked down back in March, unemployment was above 14%; growth was collapsing; people were scared; and when politicians were throwing all the money they could grab at anything that crossed their minds, Congress passed the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Today, unemployment is down by half; the economy is growing again; pretty much everything is improving; but both the Democrats and the White House still want <i>another</i> $2 trillion. <p>Updated: Thu Oct 29, 2020</p> 60bdf86843aa2379cd057205592ead0f Koch and Hooks Inspire With Their New Book for 10/22/2020 Thu, 22 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Every year witnesses the publication of countless books. Some are interesting, and a few are inspiring. The forthcoming book by Charles Koch (businessman and philanthropist) and Brian Hooks (CEO of philanthropic community Stand Together), "Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World," is both interesting and inspiring.</p> <p>While the book shares personal and intimate details about Koch's life, it starts off, as many free market-oriented books do, with his realization as a young adult that bottom-up economic systems are better than top-down ones at leveraging human creativity to improve everyone's living standards.</p> <p>This truth, while important, isn't new. The 18th-century economist Adam Smith's "invisible hand" was the principle's first iteration. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and many other scholars enriched our understanding that top-down systems produce one-size-fits-all "solutions." Even when they are highly inefficient, the failed outcomes of a political process are more difficult to replace or modify than are market-based outcomes.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 22, 2020</p> de6082695c901beef1fcddafe885f4e7 On the Art of 'Stimulus' Spending With Trump and Pelosi for 10/15/2020 Thu, 15 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>President Donald Trump is one of the worst negotiators I have ever seen. One day, he tells Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that the stimulus talks are over because she insisted on at least a $2 trillion deal and rejected the White House's offer of $1.6 trillion. The next day, without Pelosi lifting a finger, the president comes back with an offer of nearly $1.9 trillion. Maybe if Pelosi waits, she'll get her full $2 trillion after all.</p> <p>Setting the puzzling negotiation tactics aside, this carelessness about American taxpayers' money is shameful.</p> <p>I know that everyone is supposedly now a Keynesian, and the refrain inside the D.C. Beltway is that failure to reach yet another so-called stimulus deal would guarantee economic disaster. In spite of evidence that government spending isn't a miracle cure for the economy and that it's often a bad investment, many Washington insiders lamented the president calling Pelosi's bluff by saying that enough was enough and that negotiations were over. Until they weren't.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 15, 2020</p> a3670abce9273296aeac693f3359377f $75 Billion in Band-Aids Won't Cure Ailing Airlines for 10/08/2020 Thu, 08 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Regal Cinemas announced recently that it will temporarily close all 536 of its U.S. locations as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and continues to keep customers away. This move will affect approximately 40,000 employees across the country. And yet, nobody in Congress is talking about a bailout for Regal.</p> <p>Now compare that with the airline industry.</p> <p>The airlines received a $50 billion bailout in April of this year, with $25 billion in subsidized loans and $25 billion meant to keep most of airline workers employed until the end of September. As predicted, since consumers weren't ready to fly yet, this taxpayer-funded Band-Aid only postponed the inevitable. American Airlines and United Airlines just furloughed 32,000 employees. Yet, in this case, most legislators &#8212; from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to a large number of Senate Republicans to President Donald Trump &#8212; want to bail out the industry.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 08, 2020</p> f28818cba827cfc9a0fc3f68a6331963 Once Again, the Export-Import Bank Dogs Taxpayers with Pemex for 10/01/2020 Thu, 01 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>As the saying goes, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Nowhere is this truth more evident than in the recent behavior of the allegedly "reformed" Export-Import Bank of the United States.</p> <p>Reauthorized by Congress in December 2019 with the promise that it would suddenly change its ways and focus its fire power on fighting China, this export credit agency quickly returned to its tired routine of propping up its old and favorite customers, including &#8212; very prominently &#8212; Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.</p> <p>Right under Congress' nose, Ex-Im Bank approved $400 million in financing to this Mexican government-owned oil company. This use of taxpayer funds raises several questions, not the least of which is why our federal government would subsidize a foreign state-owned company in the first place. There's no good answer.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 01, 2020</p> 87456aa08138a2dee62ec18856972abb New CBO Report Projects Delusional Spending Levels for 09/24/2020 Thu, 24 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>America's national debt now stands at close to $27 trillion. According to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office, by the end of 2020, federal debt held by the public is projected to equal 98% of GDP &#8212; and in the following year, this burden will grow to 104% of GDP. But its growth doesn't stop there. Even in the unlikely scenario that spending doesn't increase, the CBO projects that national debt will weigh in at 107% of GDP in 2023. That'll be the highest level in our nation's history &#8212; higher than during the Great Depression and even higher than its peak during World War II.</p> <p>Yet nobody in Washington seems to care about this disease of chronic profligacy, and COVID-19 has only made things worse. As economist John Cochrane of Stanford University's Hoover Institution rightly notes, the pandemic response "resembles a sequence of million-dollar bets by non-socially distanced drunks at a secretly reopened bar: I'll spend a trillion dollars! No, I'll spend two trillion dollars! That anyone has to pay for this is un-mentioned."</p> <p>A recent CNBC forum confirms Cochrane's intuition. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich asserts, "When you have this much unemployment, when you have this much-underutilized capacity; this is the time when the government has got to be the spender of last resort."<p>Updated: Thu Sep 24, 2020</p> 202126d40b02c1d3afef7e9c4be21a4e The Export-Import Bank's China Program Lacks Vision for 09/17/2020 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Industrial policy that uses tariffs and subsidies to pick economic winners is once again in vogue among intellectuals. The rationale is to prevent China from "dominating" the global market with its subsidies while boosting American jobs and manufacturing. While I believe it's unwise to mimic China's policies to tamp down the danger of its authoritarianism, I'm amazed at cynics who support such policies but make no effort to adopt a serious strategic plan to achieve this goal.</p> <p>To see why, look no further than their sudden conviction that the New Deal-era U.S. Export-Import Bank, Uncle Sam's official export credit agency, is the ideal vehicle to fight China.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 17, 2020</p> 6ac771bbb7347aebecfc9bccfc612425 Airlines Once Again Approach Congress With Captain's Hat in Hand for 09/10/2020 Thu, 10 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>As the saying goes, "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." This advice applies to the hole Congress leapt into by bailing out the airline industry back in March through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Now these companies want even more taxpayer money. The federal government should refuse another bailout.</p> <p>Like many industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines have lost a lot of revenue. But unlike other industries, the coronavirus relief bill authorized up to $32 billion for payroll support through Sept. 30, for roughly six months. Basically, the way it worked is that every airline that got a loan could furlough its employees, but those that took both a grant and a loan couldn't. Of course, it's difficult to tell if the Treasury Department was ever serious about enforcing these requirements.</p> <p>Traditional objections to the first bailout were ignored in the name of saving airline workers' jobs. Unfortunately, that reasoning was mistaken. Many airline employees still lost their jobs, while others suffered severe reductions in employment. For instance, part-time workers only had to be paid for minimum hours. As a result, many airline employees still had to apply for unemployment insurance to cover their lost hours.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 10, 2020</p> 52b62c5214f467edce0313ab1c6482d8 There's No Such Thing as a Free Tax Holiday for 09/03/2020 Thu, 03 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>A few weeks ago, President Donald Trump proposed a payroll tax holiday to Americans earning less than $100,000 per year. The gesture is better described as a deferral of the payroll tax burden until April 2021, and that has some people worried. They should be.</p> <p>Talking about his plan, the president explained, "In a few moments, I will sign a directive, instructing the Treasury Department to allow employers to defer payment of the employee portion of certain payroll taxes from Sept. 1." The deferral will last until the end of 2021. As the president added, "This will mean bigger paychecks for working families."</p> <p>An actual payroll tax holiday does mean an increase in take-home wages for some. According to recently published Internal Revenue Service guidance on the president's order, employers can temporarily stop withholding the employee's 6.2% share of Social Security taxes for workers earning under $104,000 per year. That means more money in their paychecks for those eligible workers.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 03, 2020</p>