Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Tue, 16 Oct 2018 13:53:07 -0700 Veronique de Rugy from Creators Syndicate 9fbfd35066335dfc73adf2cf2b714342 Think Your State Is Fiscally Sound? Think Again for 10/11/2018 Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>It's that time of the year again when we find out how deep in the red our country is thanks to the 2018 edition of the Mercatus Center State Fiscal Rankings. The study authors, Eileen Norcross and Olivia Gonzalez, find that when you rank states by their fiscal health, you can identify the best and worst state. But the scariest finding is that no state is really fiscally healthy.</p> <p>Norcross and Gonzalez are very transparent about each decision behind the study methodology. They use states' own audited financial data to create five different indices (cash solvency, budget solvency, long-term solvency, service-level solvency and trust-fund solvency) to analyze and create the overall ranking. The final product is the result of many factors and deliberative choices.</p> <p>Based on the most recent government data available for all states, this year, the top five most fiscally solvent states, from one to five, are Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma. One thing these states have in common is that they have some cash on hand and relatively low short-term obligations. That makes them relatively healthier than others.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 11, 2018</p> e733de460c36d6035206f2a696f7be0f Thinking Broadly About Parental Leave Policy for 10/04/2018 Thu, 04 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In recent months, a vocal group of conservatives has joined with Democrats in arguing that it's time for the government to correct a blatant market failure: the private sector's inability to provide sufficient paid leave. A new study suggests otherwise.</p> <p>The study by the Cato Institute's Vanessa Brown Calder is called "Parental Leave: Is There a Case for Government Action?" Before diving into the report findings, I want to question the timing of the conservative interest in government-provided paid leave. The economy is doing well and growing fast; unemployment rates, no matter how you measure them, are pretty low; and companies that have to compete for the better employees are expanding benefits, including paid leave. In other words, it's an odd moment for conservatives to shift their position on government-provided paid leave, no matter how light the intervention.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 04, 2018</p> 84480d4d6cab10e12238435bc0204bc5 Bad Bills Come From Those Who Wait for 09/27/2018 Thu, 27 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If there's something the government does well, it's spend money. It does it with great fervor, no matter who's in charge of Congress or the White House. And it's made easier these days, thanks to our legislators' collective unwillingness to follow a regular budget process and their carelessness about the fiscal health of this country. Case in point: the $854 billion Senate spending bill making its way to the House this week.</p> <p>Considering how large the total spending package is, you'd think it might pay for all discretionary spending (that's the part of the budget that funds transportation, defense, infrastructure, education and more). But it's only a little more than 65 percent of discretionary spending for 2019. Instead, it covers just one year of defense spending (a Republican priority) and the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill (a Democratic one). As for the remaining discretionary spending, it's provided in a smaller bill meant to fund the government through Dec. 7.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 27, 2018</p> 9cd9ae4d250ff57a57d49adcf5f14e33 State Migration Increasingly Driven by Taxes for 09/20/2018 Thu, 20 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Americans move from one state to another for a variety of reasons. They move to retire, to find jobs, to lower their housing costs or to enjoy nicer weather. While experts disagree about whether tax competition between states plays a large or small role in these relocation decisions, <span class="column--highlighted-text">a new study finds that taxes are actually a factor for migration and will increase in importance as a result of the 2017 tax reform.</span></p> <p>That new study on Tax Reform and Interstate Migration is from Chris Edwards, a tax expert at the Cato Institute. Using 2016 data from the Internal Revenue Service, he finds that 578,269 people moved, on net, from the 25 highest-tax states to the 25 lowest-tax states. That's a loss of $33 billion in aggregate income for these vacated states. In that year, 24 of the 25 highest-tax states suffered from net out-migration. The only high-tax state that saw in-migration was Maine.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 20, 2018</p> 88c20f7958b7e90405ecc5b9c700e0e4 Universal Savings Accounts a Silver Lining in Tax Reform for 09/13/2018 Thu, 13 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>This week, House Republicans did what they do best: offer to cut taxes and add to the deficit. Their three-part reform plan is round two of their goal to dramatically slash taxes and reform the nation's tax code. The move is likely a political one, because it isn't fiscally responsible. Yet it carries with it the seed for an important reform.</p> <p>It's hard to look at the reform package without thinking of it as an attempt to influence the November midterm elections and help Republicans keep control of the House. It's sending a strong signal that for the time being, if you elect Republicans, your probability of paying lower taxes is much higher than if you elect a Democrat. The first round of tax cuts for individuals and small businesses that were passed last December as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is currently set to expire after 2025. Making those cuts permanent is perceived as popular across the board.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 13, 2018</p> ca8c91fb9491159f7b56a8104b7a63f0 Will the Export-Import Bank Rise Again? for 09/06/2018 Thu, 06 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>At the end of August, the Senate Banking Committee voted Kimberly Reed out of the committee to become the new president of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. But before she can start her job, she must win a confirmation vote in the full Senate. This is the first step to restore the past glory of an agency mostly devoted to serving big corporate interests at the expense of millions of non-subsidized American firms, workers and taxpayers.</p> <p>One of the core businesses of the Ex-Im Bank is backing loans made to foreign customers of domestic companies. For the most part, both the clients getting the loans and the domestic firms being subsidized are large and successful companies with plenty of access to capital. On the domestic side, before Ex-Im lost a large portion of its lending authority in 2015 due to the lack of quorum on its board of directors (it needs three members to approve deals above $10 million), 65 percent of its activities benefited 10 very large and successful companies, like GE, Caterpillar, Applied Materials and the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 06, 2018</p> 509ecc78e65c15d9a26effa53eb1ded8 Life After NAFTA for 08/30/2018 Thu, 30 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On Monday, the American people were treated to a televised Oval Office phone call between President Trump and Enrique Pena Nieto, the president of Mexico, during which they congratulated each other on reaching a bilateral trade agreement. The new deal is meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, yet we now have more questions than answers. Only one thing is clear: If the agreement ever sees the light of day, it will likely be called the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement.</p> <p>As the president explained: "(T)hey used to call it NAFTA. We're going to call it the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement, and we'll get rid of the name NAFTA. It has a bad connotation because the United States was hurt very badly by NAFTA." But if you know anything about NAFTA, you may be left wondering what was so bad about it. After all, according to World Trade Organization data, all U.S. exports to Mexico face zero percent tariffs. We have NATFA to thank for that.<p>Updated: Thu Aug 30, 2018</p> 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>