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Washington Beyond The Headlines: Surviving Summer in the Swamp

By Andy Blom, TES Washington Editor

Summer in Washington. Yuck. Maryland graciously gave the new United States the land for its Capital City because it was a swamp. Literally, not the one we talk about today. So even now DC summer is hot, humid and awful. Old timers remember when that meant that the Government, the legislators, the lawyers and the lobbyists all went away and left us alone for a couple of months. Ha! Not anymore. Now the mischief goes on without pause. I blame air conditioning. Fortunately, free market thinkers and doers are still in their sweatshops, working fearlessly on your behalf. Here’s this week’s (non-fake) news…

Distrusting the Anti-trust (laws). While some bipartisan legislators were in a lather to punish Big Tech with new anti-trust laws, cooler heads had some serious questions. Steny Hoyer, the Democrat Majority leader threw cold water on the proposed laws, as did a bunch of other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. And Americans for Tax Reform’s President Grover Norquist laid out just why Republicans should reject the bills. Congress, shall we say, is agreeing to disagree.

Arizona Flat Out Cuts Taxes. Here’s great news if you live in Arizona. The Grand Canyon State just passed an historic tax cut that affects all Arizonans and puts an estimated $1.9 billion a year back in the pockets of taxpayers, families and small businesses. Based on a 2.5% flat tax, the new law can be expected to foster growth and further increase the number of people leaving high tax states for sunny Arizona. Read the good news here, then ask your state legislators why your taxes aren’t being cut.

Dum…Dum…Dum…Watch Out — Earmarks Are Back! That ominous sound you hear is your tax dollars being thrown around willy nilly to fund…Earmarks! The new Congress has brought back the process of allowing legislators to slide big chunks of funding for their pet projects into appropriations bills, and boy are they going for it. The House Transportation Bill contains $5.7 billion in pet projects — from bike paths to sidewalks. Think of it as your money going from your paycheck to some Congressperson’s local fave project. I’m not saying they are all corrupt, but they make local voters, and donors, happy with your money. Read all the details here. 

The Real Panic in the Pandemic? Federal Spending. Your children…grandchildren…great-grandchildren…are going to pay for this. Among the many ravages of the Wuhan Flu was an appalling waste in Federal spending. Throwing…no heaving…buckets of our money right and left far too often had no result but to add to the soaring national debt we are handing to our young. The figures are too big to put down here (I don’t have that many zeroes in my computer) but William Yeatman of the Cato Institute has the scary facts.  

Caring About Climate Change, Conservative Style. Yes, (some) conservatives do care about climate change and they want to do something about it. Just not necessarily what liberals want to do (think: not all fossil fuels are bad). Representative John Curtis (R-UT) has founded the Conservative Climate Caucus and already has 64 House Members joining him in bringing a more free market, conservative approach to the issue. See what you think of conservative climate ideas here. 

Like the Terminator, Energy Tax Credits Refuse to Die. And now they’re coming for your wallet! Wind and solar tax credits provide a very handsome government (that means your money) subsidy to the wind and solar energy business…a subsidy that gets renewed each time it nears its promised end date. Now the Biden Administration is proposing major increases in those subsidies but is planning on direct payment (of your money) instead of tax credits. If you have the energy, read the details here. 

Buried in the Bill: a Hotel Industry Killer. So, how much do you know about LKEs? Probably nothing unless you’re in the hotel industry. But LKEs, Like Kind Exchanges, are key real estate transaction tools that hoteliers use to grow their business, reinvest capital, create jobs and improve their communities. The problem? The Biden Administration’s “American Families Plan” puts a cap on LKEs that pulls the rug out from under the hotel industry. It’s the kind of interesting sidebar to legislation that the public often doesn’t learn about until it’s too late. Learn more about the importance of LKEs here and here.

Competition in the Electricity Market. A Powerful Idea. Monopolies are bad, right (see our first story)? But many of us around the country live where a monopoly controls our electric power. Peter Roff puts forward the bold idea that we should have more competition in power providers. Since electricity markets with competition saw an average 7% decrease in their energy prices from 2008 to 2017, and markets with monopoly providers saw an average of nearly 19% increase, it is an idea worth considering. An electrifying idea that can you study here.

Our Patent System is Patently Absurd. Got a great idea, new product, wonderful new device? Well, patent it and then watch as it is stolen while your patent protections fall prey to flaws in the U.S. Patent system. James Edwards, Executive Director of Conservatives for Property Rights, walks you through the legal and administrative miss mash our system has become, and gives some useful suggestions.

Staff Salaries — Your House versus the White House. You probably don’t actually hand your spouse a weekly paycheck and you may have a maid or helper or two around. Well, the Biden White House has 567 employees costing you, the taxpayer, nearly $50 million a year. It’s the most expensive WH payroll in history (no wonder we can’t afford a maid). Adam Andrzejewski has the full story in Forbes and it’s oddly fascinating, and expensive.

Small Business, the Pandemic and the Government…the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It wasn’t even good enough for Government work. Whether it was the Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, the Government’s attempts to help small business through the pandemic were poorly conceived and poorly executed. Yes, it was a big challenge. And in the final analysis, a big failure. The Cato Institute’s William Yeatman takes an in-depth look at how the Small Business Administration’s best laid plans went awry 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.