By Andy Blom, TES Washington Editor
The once lazy southern city of Washington, DC is lazy once more. The Senate is out of session. The House is out of session. The President is out of town. The American people are breathing sighs of relief. And free market policy people just keep on working on issues and ideas that affect America, and the world. Read on for this week’s news…
- Fixing Tax Reform — for the Benefit of Business. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) gave a very positive kick in the butt to America’s businesses. But sometimes the devils hide in the details. Now, a new piece of proposed legislation by Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) is offered to help clean up one of those devilish details. Specifically, the Accelerate Long-term Investment Growth Now (ALIGN) Act will make permanent the TCJA’s 100% expensing for short-lived assets (those with useful lives of 20 years or less). The TCJA allows full expensing for five years, then phases it out over the next five. But reforms such as expensing can produce more than 4 times the GDP growth per dollar of revenue. Expensing also lowers the tax costs of new investments, with workers being a chief beneficiary of more jobs, better productivity and higher productivity. Win, win, win. ALIGN is an important part of tax reform 2.0 from the Trump Administration. Learn about those details here.
- Budget News — the White House Goes First. President Trump has released his 2021 Budget (President 1, Congress 0) and like all budgets there is something in it for everyone to love… and something for everyone to hate. The White House claims it will provide a path to a balanced budget, eliminate red tape, shrink the government, ensure national security and provide the tools for a better economic future. Bold claims? Read their argument here.
- Budget News — On the Other Hand…It costs a lot of money. LOTS of money. Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University calls the President’s proposed budget “a testament to fiscal irresponsibility”. Labeling Trump as a big spender, de Rugy goes on to catalog and quantify what she feels are the President’s excesses. Road to a balanced budget? Or spendthrift? Take a look at her analysis here. And make your own decisions.
- Wake Up DOL — You’ve Got a Mole! We wrote recently of the very positive gains the Trump Administration’s Department of Labor has made in cutting unnecessary and harmful regulations. But the right hand might not know everything the left hand is doing. Within the DOL a little known agency called the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has been on a witch-hunt, using Obama-era practices to hunt down, trap and sue companies for race and sex discrimination without proper due process or full investigation of the issue. DOL needs to fix this rogue, anti-business agency and they, like you, can get the inside scoop from Peter Roff here.
- Math + Criminals = Danger. Under the name of ‘reducing jail overcrowding’ and ‘justice reform’ some cities and states are now using mathematical algorithms to determine the risk of releasing criminals. The problem is, these ‘risk assessment algorithms’ and ‘public safety assessment scores’ are really just a means to release more criminals. And the public pays the price…sometimes with their lives. Criminals released under these programs in California, New York and New Jersey have gone right back out and committed more crime, in at least two instances killing innocent victims. Death by mathematical algorithm? It’s a bad idea. George Landrith, president of Frontiers of Freedom, shines a light on it here.
- Heads Up! The Dems Want to Bring Back the Obamacare Individual Mandate Tax. One of the more pleasant victims of the Trump tax cuts was the individual mandate tax levied through Obamacare. Brutally regressive, in 2017, the tax hit 4,654,990 households according to IRS data. Nationwide, roughly 74 percent of those paying the mandate had annual income of less than $50,000 and roughly 32 percent had annual income of less than $25,000. Can’t afford healthcare, so you’re taxed for not having it. But it’s a tax so, naturally, Democrats in Congress want to bring it back. Americans for Tax Reform has prepared useful information on the topic, including a breakdown of the penalty paid in each Congressional district. We hope our Congressional representatives will study this as carefully as you do here.
- Bad Idea Department — Railroads. Just when the Feds reduce regulations — or the semblance of regulations — states start acting foolishly to establish them. In this case it’s the minimum crew size for freight trains and Oklahoma and Wyoming are considering joining 15 other states in fixing a problem that doesn’t exist. In fact, regarding this, the Federal Railroad Administration (did you even know one existed?) stated that “no regulation of train crew staffing is necessary or appropriate at this time”. Will that keep states from imposing rules and more bureaucracy? There are issues at stake, and reasons why the FRA has even said that its decision not to institute a minimum crew size rule would “preempt all state laws attempting to regulate crew staffing in any manner”. It’s an interesting read at Mercatus.
- Remember George? Honoring and Learning from our First President. President’s Day just doesn’t do it. This mishmash of a nod to history fails to recognize, and more importantly remind and teach us of, the tremendous grace and wisdom of one of our most noble founding fathers. George Washington was truly a giant of history, a man who helped put America on its path to greatness. Yet, he doesn’t even get a day to himself. And so we don’t stop and remember what made him, and America great. Peter Roff, Contributing Editor to Newsweek, asks us to give Washington back his day, and learn from his wisdom. Good idea? Read his case for George here.
- ADVANCING WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT. Panel featuring Manisha Singh, Asst Secretary of State for the Economics and Business Affairs Bureau. Tuesday, March 10th, 12 PM – 1:15 PM. The Heritage Foundation’s Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave., NE. RSVP.
- PENNSYLVANIA LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE. Congressman Jason Chaffetz. March 27-28. Radisson Penn Harris, Camp Hill, PA. Info and register at PALeadershipConference.org.
- INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE. The Heartland Institute. May 7-8. Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV. Info and register at heartland.org.
- ACTON UNIVERSITY. Four Day Conference. June 16 – 20, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Apply at university.acton.org.
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.