Many state governments facing budget crises are still trying outdated, proven-failed policy ideas such as higher taxes and increased government spending, hoping they’ll work this time, somehow. Instead, they should copy tried-and-true ideas for successfully attracting residents and fostering an economic environment in which people can prosper.
Uncle Sam has added nearly an additional half a trillion dollars to the national debt over the past twelve months. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Federal government ended its fiscal year on September 30, 2015 with a budget deficit of a “mere” $435 billion. Total Federal expenditures for the fiscal year were nearly $3.7 trillion, while Federal tax receipts came to around $3.3 trillion.
In Maine, state lawmakers expanded existing bans on tobacco use in private and public spaces to include e-cigarettes. Many cities and states are likewise considering banning e-cigarette use in public and private spaces, and state governments in Delaware and New York have already banned using e-cigarettes in restaurants and other privately owned spaces.
As National Football League teams start to go into their “bye” weeks when they don’t have a game to play, fantasy sports fans are scrambling to find replacements for their starting lineups on the waiver wires.
California lawmakers are proposing to increase taxes on cigarettes by $2 per pack in order to fund increased entitlement spending. Instead of placing faith in the morality of their cause, lawmakers would do better to place their trust in economic and public health realities.
In this episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, managing editor Jesse Hathaway talks with Mercatus Center senior fellow Todd Zywicki. Zywicki’s new paper, “The Law and Economics of Consumer Debt Collection and Its Regulation,” examines the pitfalls of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s proposals to protect consumers from abuse by debt collection agencies.
The budget deal recently reached between the White House and Congress dramatically increases spending over the next two years, to the tune of $50 billion and $30 billion, respectively. To “pay” for that spending increase, the deal promises to—wait for it—find significant spending cuts in the future. Where have we heard that before?
Beginning in 1983 the government changed its method of calculation to show lower inflation by excluding food and energy, claiming they were too volatile to be reliable indicators. The result is the so-called “core inflation” CPI, which is a favorite of the Federal Reserve. The latest figure for this CPI reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is 0.4% (for August and also July), but if calculated by the method used in 1980 the inflation rate would be 7½ percent, as shown by Shadow Government Statistics (ShadowStats.com).
An electric truck manufacturer that was awarded $32 million from President Obama’s stimulus program has informed one of its investors that it is on the verge of bankruptcy, if it did not raise $4.5 million by Friday and $10 million by the end of October.
There is no way to describe current Federal Reserve policy other than as monetary confusion and misdirection. In a nutshell, Janet Yellen and the other members of the Fed’s Board of Governors have no idea what to do. Do they raise certain interest rates over which they have some direct influence? Do they keep them at their current rock bottom levels, as they have for the last six years?
By following through on entitlement reforms started in the 1990s, Congress can defuse a ticking entitlement-spending time bomb and allow states to lead the way on holding costs down and better serving taxpayers.
Washington, D.C. is a dysfunctional mess. Just about nothing gets done unless it absolutely has to get done. And when things do get done – they are just about always horrible. Bigger and bigger government, over and over again, as far as the eye can see.
Five federal employees were charged in August with theft and fraud for falsifying documents to qualify their children for free lunch at Prince George’s County, Md., public schools. The alleged fraudsters — all employees of the Government Accountability Office — were discovered after an audit into the National School Lunch Program by the very federal agency for which they work.
Chicago faces a significant and growing public pension problem. Instead of tackling the problem head-on by holding down cost increases, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposes several new or expanded taxes, which he says will slow down the debt growth from the revenue end. Emanuel’s half-billion-dollar property tax hike is getting most of the headlines, but he has also been pushing for taxes on e-cigarettes, ridesharing, and cloud computing.
Labor unions are fighting hard to maintain the power to force people to join unions as a condition of work. In June, Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri Democrat, vetoed a bill banning forced union membership and forced union dues payments in the workplace, and the legislature just upheld his veto.
Chicago is facing an unprecedented budget crisis thanks to a massive increase in pension payments. In order to solve the problem, Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed the largest property tax increase in city history.
As is clear from the rise of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina in the Republican presidential primaries and the groundswell of support for socialist Bernie Sanders among Democrats, a large portion of the American public has become fed up with the national government’s apparent takeover by powerful special-interest groups. Each new day brings another story of bad legislation and worse court decisions giving certain classes of people advantages denied to the rest of the people.
With the stated purpose of improving public health by making politically unpopular behaviors more expensive, Chicago City alderman Proco Moreno (D-Ward 1) is proposing to add $1.25 to the price of e-cigarette cartridges and $0.25 per milliliter of e-cigarette liquid.
Lawmakers in Congress introduced a plan to apply sales taxes to Internet purchases, hoping this time they’ve ironed out the problems that scuttled previous attempts. They haven’t, and this attempt at grabbing e-commerce tax revenue has the same flaws as previous attempts.
In today’s episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, managing editor Jesse Hathaway talks with Mercatus Center monetary policy program director and Bentley University economics professor Scott Sumner about the American stock market’s recent up-and-down volatility, the increasing threat of an international economic recession, and how our country’s centralized banking policies make the problem worse.