By Andy Blom, TES Washington Editor
August in Washington. As we eagerly wait for Congress to go on recess — they can do much less harm at home campaigning than they can do here legislating — Free Market policy people are working to offer better perspectives and policy options for the problems of the day. Even with people on break and vacation, if there is such a thing as vacation in pandemic land, here’s this week’s (shorter) news …
- Getting Educated on Charter Schools. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused chaos, confusion and re-evaluation in many areas of American life, not least in education. As parents, students and educators take a hard look at post epidemic schooling, Charter Schools are beginning to gather some much deserved attention. Thomas Sowell takes us to school on Charter Schools in The American Spectator, getting right to the point — we should be concerned about students, not unions.
- Put that Kid to Work, and Learning, Anyway. College not open? Well that undergrad or graduate student can still learn a lot as part of the Americans for Tax Reform Fall Internship Program…and make money doing it. ATR is accepting applications to its paid Fall Internship Program. Get the details here. No one comes out of this program as a socialist.
- Your Vote is in the Mail. Honest. Sure. I sent it last week. Promise. Except it may never be counted. But then a bunch that were never properly cast may be counted. Mail-in voting is the hot topic in the age of the China Virus but there could be some very serious problems. Hans von Spakovsky of The Heritage Foundation takes a look at four elections where the potential problems with mail-in voting made a difference. Thoughtful, important reading as we hurtle towards November.
- Today’s Cultural Revolution…and What’s Really Behind the Glitter and Tinsel of Socialism. An astonishing number of today’s youth are favorably disposed towards socialism (astonishing that anyone is, given its consistent historical failure). Partly at fault is the educational system, and partly it is the presentation of a uniquely American-flavored brand of socialism that masks its true colors behind American sounding values. Iain Murray takes a hard look, at the current trend and the possible outcomes.
- And Speaking of Bad Socialism: Venezuela. Things are a hot mess in Venezuela. And the Trump Administration has rightfully, usually, taken a hard line with the various malpractices of the country…except…when it comes to property rights. Mario Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund (HLF) writes in The Washington Examiner that the Administration has failed to take action against the Venezuelan Regime stealing from its people and businesses, in spite of rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the World Bank Tribunal. HLF has joined a dozen other free market organizations in calling for U.S. action to see Venezuelans and Venezuela businesses get fair compensation.
- It’s Sick — The EU Bureaucrats’ Attempted Corona Virus Power Grab.We are all tired of comments about ‘not wasting a good crisis’, but this is alarming. Under the guise of combatting COVID-19, the unelected bureaucrats of the European Union are seeking to gain the power to tax, “harmonise” economies, pick winners and losers and a whole lot more. At stake is the freedom and independence of individual countries, and individuals, throughout Europe. Standing up to take on the bureaucrats is the TAE, The Taxpayers Association of Europe. TAE outlines the problems, and suggests better alternatives here.
- Biden Goes After Freelancers, Independent Contractors. This isn’t funny. In 2019 California passed AB5, a bill that attempts to force freelancers and independent contractors to have a boss. And Democrats in Congress are attempting to achieve the same thing nationally with the PRO Act. Presumptive Democrat Presidential nominee Joe Biden strongly supports both efforts…efforts to take away Americans’ right to be independent and be their own boss, an especially egregious effort in this time when more and more people are unemployed, working from home and creating new ways to support themselves and their families. These two little pieces of legislation are actually a big deal…especially when supported by a possible President. You should learn more. There’s no telling when it may affect you.
- Freight Rail Comes Back. You Can Help. Thanks to a balanced deregulation that allowed freight rail to reinvest in its systems, freight rail has made a strong comeback in America. And, they’d like your help in telling Congress not to mess up a good thing. (Congress wouldn’t do that, would they? Of course not.) Read their compelling story and sign the letter of support here.
- Break Up Big Tech!!! Well, Hold on a Minute. Are Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook too big? Amid growing bipartisan calls for new Antitrust laws to break up Big Tech, a coalition of conservatives are saying, “wait a minute”, maybe success, competition and free market economics should have a voice in this fight. The newly formed Alliance on Antitrust represents more than a dozen right-of-center groups and individuals speaking out against new, perhaps precipitous, antitrust action. Get In on the discussion here. And read more on this important, evolving issue and how the pandemic affects it here.
- The Next Stimulus. Okay, How Did the First One Work? As Congress engages in heated debate about how to spend the next big chunk of Our Money, the Mercatus Center makes a simple and intelligent suggestion…look at the results of the first pandemic relief bill. Veronique de Rugy, Senior Research Fellow takes a look at what was done, how it works, and makes suggestions for improvements here.
- Invest in Stocks? The Governments of NY and NJ are Coming After You. It’s cloaked as “make the rich pay their fair share”, but the Governments of New York and New Jersey are seeking to fund their extravagant budgets with new tax plans that would hurt every single investor. Seemingly intent on killing the geese that lay their golden eggs, the two states are working towards ‘Billionaire taxes’ that are anything but. These taxes would hit every single person who invests in stocks and could further the mass exodus of wealthy individuals and businesses leaving the area…even to the extent of driving Wall Street away. Do you own stock? Invest? Better read this. Oh, this has election implications, too.
- Flattening the Curve…the Debt Curve, That Is. While we’ve all heard, and worried, about ‘flattening the curve’ of COVID-19, we haven’t paid enough attention to another epidemic threatening our nation: the skyrocketing National Debt. Fortunately, researchers at the Mercatus Center are on their toes and have prepared a well documented research paper on how we can best flatten the curve on our National Debt. Short answer: fiscal adjustments are noticeably more successful than tax adjustments at controlling debt. Long answer: read the report here.
- Back to School…if They are Still There. The education system is in turmoil. Will public schools reopen? Will teachers strike (for outrageous demands)? In this time of questions and uncertainty, Nora Kenney looks through the eyes of faith and sees opportunity for Catholic Schools. Writing in National Review Ms. Kenney acknowledges the downward spiral Catholic Schools have been in, with dwindling enrollment and now, decreased funding. But she points out that in this crisis there is hope. Parents may be seeking educational alternatives free from the public schools’ requirement of a “Woke” curriculum and offering a more structured, rigorous environment. Opportunity for Catholic Schools, and opportunity for parents and students. Read on.
- Good Old Freedom of Speech… While It Lasts. Reasonable debate is dead. The Cancel Culture killed it, along with autocratic voices on the left and in the media. Research that show that 62% of Americans say they are afraid to share their political views. 62%! Afraid! Because of possible damage to their professional or personal careers. See the survey here. Freedom of speech is the first thing important enough to be put into the Bill of Rights. Not the third, or the fifth or the tenth. The first. And it’s under threat. It is time to speak up, America.
- Parsing the Supreme Court. Senator Josh Hawley (R – MO), recently made news by announcing what was, in effect, a litmus test on abortion for approval of Federal Judges…a litmus test many judges would fail whatever their positions on the issue because they had never been called on to rule on it. But Senator Hawley’s comments (which he backed off of eventually) raised interesting questions about the court and its trends, questions thoughtfully discussed by Roger Pilon in a piece by the Cato Institute. Fascinating reading here.
- Trump’s EOs on Prescription Drugs. Good and Bad. Jim Martin, Founder and Chairman of 60+ Association is looking out for seniors when he praises, and condemns, President Trump for his actions to control prescription prices here. By trying to see that seniors gain the rebates on prescription drug costs, and bringing manufacturers to the bargaining table, Martin feels the President is making good progress on drug pricing. But in using pricing based on the International Price Index, and changing rules on importation of foreign medicines, Martin fears a lack of quality control, a diminution of American innovation and a step to socialized medicine. Lower prices are only a boon to seniors if the purity and quality of the medication is assured and the benefits of the American pharmaceutical industry are maintained.
- Seniors and COVID-19. Okay, enough working together for seniors, let’s get to finger pointing. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and Presidential Candidate Joe Biden have launched a campaign accusing President Trump of ‘throwing seniors to the wolves” in the pandemic, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 older Americans. In fact, the greatest number of deaths of seniors from COVID-19 have come under the management, or mismanagement, of Democrat Governors in New York and New Jersey. The time of national crisis, fighting a deadly enemy, is not the time for politicking and finger pointing…especially when you’re wrong. Jim Martin and Saul Anuzis tell the story here.
Andresen Blom is a Washington based policy and political analyst and author who has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Politico.