Category Archives: Taxes

Dan Mitchell “We’ve now reached the stage where bad ideas are being turned into legislation. Today’s analysis looks at what the House Ways & Means Committee (the one in charge of tax policy) has unveiled. Let’s call this the Biden-Pelosi plan!”

Five Visuals to Understand the Biden-Pelosi Tax Plan

The Biden Administration’s approach to tax policy is awful, as documented here, here, here, and here.

We’ve now reached the stage where bad ideas are being turned into legislation. Today’s analysis looks at what the House Ways & Means Committee (the one in charge of tax policy) has unveiled. Let’s call this the Biden-Pelosi plan.

And we’re going to use some great research from the Tax Foundation to provide a visual summary of what’s happening.

We’ll start with a very depressing look at the decline in American competitiveness if the proposal becomes law (the good news is that we’ll still be ahead of Greece!).

Next, let’s look at the Tax Foundation’s map of capital gains tax rates if the plan is approved.

Unsurprisingly, this form of double taxation will be especially severe in California.

Our third visual is good news (at least relatively speaking).

Biden wanted the U.S. to have the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate. But the plan from the House of Representatives would “only” put America in third place.

Here’s another map, in this case looking at tax rates on non-corporate businesses (small businesses and other entities that get taxed by the 1040 form).

This is not good news for America’s entrepreneurs. Especially the ones unfortunate enough to do business in New York.

Last but not least, here’s the Tax Foundation’s estimate of what will happen to the economy if the Biden-Pelosi tax plan is imposed on the nation.

There are two things to understand about these depressing growth numbers.

  • First, small differences in growth rates produce very large consequences when you look 20 years or 30 years into the future. Indeed, this explains why Americans enjoy much higher living standards than Europeans (and also why Democrats are making a big economic mistake to copy European fiscal policy).
  • Second, the Tax Foundation estimated the economic impact of the Biden-Pelosi tax plan. But don’t forget that the economy also will be negatively impacted by a bigger burden of government spending. So the aggregate economic damage will be significantly larger when looking at overall fiscal policy.

One final point. In part because of the weaker economy (i.e., a Laffer Curve effect), the Tax Foundation also estimated that the Biden-Pelosi tax plan will generate only $804 billion over the next 10 years.

P.S. Here’s some background for those who are not political wonks. Biden proposed a budget with his preferred set of tax increases and spending increases. But, in America’s political system (based on separation of powers), both the House and Senate get to decide what they like and don’t like. And even though the Democrats control both chambers of Congress, they are not obligated to rubber stamp what Biden proposed. The House will have a plan, the Senate will have a plan, and they’ll ultimately have to agree on a joint proposal (with White House involvement, of course). The same process took place when Republicans did their tax bill in 2017.

P.P.S. It’s unclear whether the Senate will make things better or worse. The Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden, has some very bad ideas about capital gains taxation and politicians such as Elizabeth Warren are big proponents of a wealth tax.

Tax Cartels Mean Ever-Higher Tax Rates

When President Biden proposed a “global minimum tax” for businesses, I immediately warned that would lead to ever-increasing tax rates.

Ross Kaminsky of KHOW and I discussed how this is already happening.

I hate being right, but it’s always safe to predict that politicians and bureaucrats will embrace policies that give more power to government.

Especially when they are very anxious to stifle tax competition.

For decades, people in government have been upset that the tax cuts implemented by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatchertriggered a four-decade trend of lower tax rates and pro-growth tax reform.

That’s the reason Biden and his Treasury Secretary proposed a 15 percent minimum tax rate for businesses.

And it’s the reason they now want the rate to be even higher.

Though even I’m surprised that they’re already pushing for that outcome when the original pact hasn’t even been approved or implemented.

Here are some passages from a report by Reuters.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will press G20 counterparts this week for a global minimum corporate tax rate above the 15% floor agreed by 130 countries last week…the global minimum tax rate…is tied to the outcome of legislation to raise the U.S. minimum tax rate, a Treasury official said.The Biden administration has proposed doubling the U.S. minimum tax on corporations overseas intangible income to 21% along with a new companion “enforcement” tax that would deny deductions to companies for tax payments to countries that fail to adopt the new global minimum rate. The officials said several countries were pushing for a rate above 15%, along with the United States.

Other kleptocratic governments naturally want the same thing.

A G7 proposal for a global minimum tax rate of 15% is too low and a rate of at least 21% is needed, Argentina’s finance minister said on Monday, leading a push by some developing countries… “The 15% rate is way too low,” Argentine Finance Minister Martin Guzman told an online panel hosted by the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation. …”The minimum rate being proposed would not do much to countries in Africa…,” Mathew Gbonjubola, Nigeria’s tax policy director, told the same conference.

Needless to say, I’m not surprised that Argentina is on the wrong side.

And supporters of class warfare also are agitating for a higher minimum rate. Here are some excerpts from a column in the New York Times by Gabriel Zucman and Gus Wezerek.

In the decades after World War II, close to 50 percent of American companies’ earnings went to state and federal taxes. …it was a golden period. …President Biden should be applauded for trying to end the race to the bottom on corporate tax rates. But even if Congress approves the 15 percent global minimum corporate tax, it won’t be enough. …the Biden administration to give working families a real leg up, it should push Congress to enact a 25 percent minimum tax, which would bring in about $200 billion in additional revenue each year. …With a 25 percent minimum corporate tax, the Biden administration would begin to reverse decades of growing inequality. And it would encourage other countries to do the same, replacing a race to the bottom with a sprint to the top.

I can’t resist making two observations about this ideological screed.

  1. Even the IMF and OECD agree that the so-called race to the bottom has not led to a decline in corporate tax revenues, even when measured as a share of economic output.
  2. Since companies legally avoid rather than illegally evade taxes, the headline of the column is utterly dishonest – but it’s what we’ve learned to expect from the New York Times.

The only good thing about the Zucman-Wezerek column is that it includes this chart showing how corporate tax rates have dramatically declined since 1980.

P.S. For those interested, the horizontal line at the bottom is for Bermuda, though other jurisdictions (such as Monaco and the Cayman Islands) also deserve credit for having no corporate income taxes.

P.P.S. If you want to know why high corporate tax rates are misguided, click here. And if you want to know why Biden’s plan to raise the U.S. corporate tax rate is misguided, click here. Or here. Or here.

P.P.P.S. And if you want more information about why Biden’s global tax cartel is bad, click here, here, and here.

I enjoyed this article below because it demonstrates that the Laffer Curve has been working for almost 100 years now when it is put to the test in the USA. I actually got to hear Arthur Laffer speak in person in 1981 and he told us in advance what was going to happen the 1980’s and it all came about as he said it would when Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts took place. I wish we would lower taxes now instead of looking for more revenue through raised taxes. We have to grow the economy:

What Mitt Romney Said Last Night About Tax Cuts And The Deficit Was Absolutely Right. And What Obama Said Was Absolutely Wrong.

Mitt Romney repeatedly said last night that he would not allow tax cuts to add to the deficit.  He repeatedly said it because over and over again Obama blathered the liberal talking point that cutting taxes necessarily increased deficits.

Romney’s exact words: “I want to underline that — no tax cut that adds to the deficit.”

Meanwhile, Obama has promised to cut the deficit in half during his first four years – but instead gave America the highest deficits in the history of the entire human race.

I’ve written about this before.  Let’s replay what has happened every single time we’ve ever cut the income tax rate.

The fact of the matter is that we can go back to Calvin Coolidge who said very nearly THE EXACT SAME THING to his treasury secretary: he too would not allow any tax cuts that added to the debt.  Andrew Mellon – quite possibly the most brilliant economic mind of his day – did a great deal of research and determined what he believed was the best tax rate.  And the Coolidge administration DID cut income taxes and MASSIVELY increased revenues.  Coolidge and Mellon cut the income tax rate 67.12 percent (from 73 to 24 percent); and revenues not only did not go down, but they went UP by at least 42.86 percent (from $700 billion to over $1 billion).

That’s something called a documented fact.  But that wasn’t all that happened: another incredible thing was that the taxes and percentage of taxes paid actually went UP for the rich.  Because as they were allowed to keep more of the profits that they earned by investing in successful business, they significantly increased their investments and therefore paid more in taxes than they otherwise would have had they continued sheltering their money to protect themselves from the higher tax rates.  Liberals ignore reality, but it is simply true.  It is a fact.  It happened.

Then FDR came along and raised the tax rates again and the opposite happened: we collected less and less revenue while the burden of taxation fell increasingly on the poor and middle class again.  Which is exactly what Obama wants to do.

People don’t realize that John F. Kennedy, one of the greatest Democrat presidents, was a TAX CUTTER who believed the conservative economic philosophy that cutting tax rates would in fact increase tax revenues.  He too cut taxes, and he too increased tax revenues.

So we get to Ronald Reagan, who famously cut taxes.  And again, we find that Reagan cut that godawful liberal tax rate during an incredibly godawful liberal-caused economic recession, and he increased tax revenue by 20.71 percent (with revenues increasing from $956 billion to $1.154 trillion).  And again, the taxes were paid primarily by the rich:

“The share of the income tax burden borne by the top 10 percent of taxpayers increased from 48.0 percent in 1981 to 57.2 percent in 1988. Meanwhile, the share of income taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers dropped from 7.5 percent in 1981 to 5.7 percent in 1988.”

So we get to George Bush and the Bush tax cuts that liberals and in particular Obama have just demonized up one side and demagogued down the other.  And I can simply quote the New York Times AT the time:

Sharp Rise in Tax Revenue to Pare U.S. Deficit By EDMUND L. ANDREWS Published: July 13, 2005

WASHINGTON, July 12 – For the first time since President Bush took office, an unexpected leap in tax revenue is about to shrink the federal budget deficit this year, by nearly $100 billion.

A Jump in Corporate Payments On Wednesday, White House officials plan to announce that the deficit for the 2005 fiscal year, which ends in September, will be far smaller than the $427 billion they estimated in February.

Mr. Bush plans to hail the improvement at a cabinet meeting and to cite it as validation of his argument that tax cuts would stimulate the economy and ultimately help pay for themselves.

Based on revenue and spending data through June, the budget deficit for the first nine months of the fiscal year was $251 billion, $76 billion lower than the $327 billion gap recorded at the corresponding point a year earlier.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated last week that the deficit for the full fiscal year, which reached $412 billion in 2004, could be “significantly less than $350 billion, perhaps below $325 billion.”

The big surprise has been in tax revenue, which is running nearly 15 percent higher than in 2004. Corporate tax revenue has soared about 40 percent, after languishing for four years, and individual tax revenue is up as well
.

And of course the New York Times, as reliable liberals, use the adjective whenever something good happens under conservative policies and whenever something bad happens under liberal policies: ”unexpected.”   But it WASN’T ”unexpected.”  It was EXACTLY what Republicans had said would happen and in fact it was exactly what HAD IN FACT HAPPENED every single time we’ve EVER cut income tax rates.

The truth is that conservative tax policy has a perfect track record: every single time it has ever been tried, we have INCREASED tax revenues while not only exploding economic activity and creating more jobs, but encouraging the wealthy to pay more in taxes as well.  And liberals simply dishonestly refuse to acknowledge documented history.

Meanwhile, liberals also have a perfect record … of FAILUREThey keep raising taxes and keep not understanding why they don’t get the revenues they predicted.

The following is a section from my article, “Tax Cuts INCREASE Revenues; They Have ALWAYS Increased Revenues“, where I document every single thing I said above:

The Falsehood That Tax Cuts Increase The Deficit

Now let’s take a look at the utterly fallacious view that tax cuts in general create higher deficits.

Let’s take a trip back in time, starting with the 1920s.  From Burton Folsom’s book, New Deal or Raw Deal?:

In 1921, President Harding asked the sixty-five-year-old [Andrew] Mellon to be secretary of the treasury; the national debt [resulting from WWI] had surpassed $20 billion and unemployment had reached 11.7 percent, one of the highest rates in U.S. history.  Harding invited Mellon to tinker with tax rates to encourage investment without incurring more debt. Mellon studied the problem carefully; his solution was what is today called “supply side economics,” the idea of cutting taxes to stimulate investment.  High income tax rates, Mellon argued, “inevitably put pressure upon the taxpayer to withdraw this capital from productive business and invest it in tax-exempt securities. . . . The result is that the sources of taxation are drying up, wealth is failing to carry its share of the tax burden; and capital is being diverted into channels which yield neither revenue to the Government nor profit to the people” (page 128).

Mellon wrote, “It seems difficult for some to understand that high rates of taxation do not necessarily mean large revenue to the Government, and that more revenue may often be obtained by lower taxes.”  And he compared the government setting tax rates on incomes to a businessman setting prices on products: “If a price is fixed too high, sales drop off and with them profits.”

And what happened?

“As secretary of the treasury, Mellon promoted, and Harding and Coolidge backed, a plan that eventually cut taxes on large incomes from 73 to 24 percent and on smaller incomes from 4 to 1/2 of 1 percent.  These tax cuts helped produce an outpouring of economic development – from air conditioning to refrigerators to zippers, Scotch tape to radios and talking movies.  Investors took more risks when they were allowed to keep more of their gains.  President Coolidge, during his six years in office, averaged only 3.3 percent unemployment and 1 percent inflation – the lowest misery index of any president in the twentieth century.

Furthermore, Mellon was also vindicated in his astonishing predictions that cutting taxes across the board would generate more revenue.  In the early 1920s, when the highest tax rate was 73 percent, the total income tax revenue to the U.S. government was a little over $700 million.  In 1928 and 1929, when the top tax rate was slashed to 25 and 24 percent, the total revenue topped the $1 billion mark.  Also remarkable, as Table 3 indicates, is that the burden of paying these taxes fell increasingly upon the wealthy” (page 129-130).

Now, that is incredible upon its face, but it becomes even more incredible when contrasted with FDR’s antibusiness and confiscatory tax policies, which both dramatically shrunk in terms of actual income tax revenues (from $1.096 billion in 1929 to $527 million in 1935), and dramatically shifted the tax burden to the backs of the poor by imposing huge new excise taxes (from $540 million in 1929 to $1.364 billion in 1935).  See Table 1 on page 125 of New Deal or Raw Deal for that information.

FDR both collected far less taxes from the rich, while imposing a far more onerous tax burden upon the poor.

It is simply a matter of empirical fact that tax cuts create increased revenue, and that those [Democrats] who have refused to pay attention to that fact have ended up reducing government revenues even as they increased the burdens on the poorest whom they falsely claim to help.

Let’s move on to John F. Kennedy, one of the most popular Democrat presidents ever.  Few realize that he was also a supply-side tax cutter.

Kennedy said:

“It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now … Cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.”

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, president’s news conference


“Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government.”

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 17, 1963, annual budget message to the Congress, fiscal year 1964

“In today’s economy, fiscal prudence and responsibility call for tax reduction even if it temporarily enlarges the federal deficit – why reducing taxes is the best way open to us to increase revenues.”

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: “The Economic Report Of The President”


“It is no contradiction – the most important single thing we can do to stimulate investment in today’s economy is to raise consumption by major reduction of individual income tax rates.”

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: “The Economic Report Of The President”


“Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort – thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.”

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 24, 1963, message to Congress on tax reduction and reform, House Doc. 43, 88th Congress, 1st Session.


“A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. Every taxpayer and his family will have more money left over after taxes for a new car, a new home, new conveniences, education and investment. Every businessman can keep a higher percentage of his profits in his cash register or put it to work expanding or improving his business, and as the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues.”

– John F. Kennedy, Sept. 18, 1963, radio and television address to the nation on tax-reduction bill

Which is to say that modern Democrats are essentially calling one of their greatest presidents a liar when they demonize tax cuts as a means of increasing government revenues.

So let’s move on to Ronald Reagan.  Reagan had two major tax cutting policies implemented: the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA) of 1981, which was retroactive to 1981, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Did Reagan’s tax cuts decrease federal revenues?  Hardly:

We find that 8 of the following 10 years there was a surplus of revenue from 1980, prior to the Reagan tax cuts.  And, following the Tax Reform Act of 1986, there was a MASSIVE INCREASEof revenue.

So Reagan’s tax cuts increased revenue.  But who paid the increased tax revenue?  The poor?  Opponents of the Reagan tax cuts argued that his policy was a giveaway to the rich (ever heard that one before?) because their tax payments would fall.  But that was exactly wrong.  In reality:

“The share of the income tax burden borne by the top 10 percent of taxpayers increased from 48.0 percent in 1981 to 57.2 percent in 1988. Meanwhile, the share of income taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers dropped from 7.5 percent in 1981 to 5.7 percent in 1988.”

So Ronald Reagan a) collected more total revenue, b) collected more revenue from the rich, while c) reducing revenue collected by the bottom half of taxpayers, and d) generated an economic powerhouse that lasted – with only minor hiccups – for nearly three decades.  Pretty good achievement considering that his predecessor was forced to describe his own economy as a “malaise,” suffering due to a “crisis of confidence.” Pretty good considering that President Jimmy Carter responded to a reporter’s question as to what he would do about the problem of inflation by answering, “It would be misleading for me to tell any of you that there is a solution to it.”

Reagan whipped inflation.  Just as he whipped that malaise and that crisis of confidence.

________

The Laffer Curve, Part III: Dynamic Scoring

Dan Mitchell article Quantifying the Damage of Biden’s Plan for Higher Taxes on Capital Gains, Part I

_________

Quantifying the Damage of Biden’s Plan for Higher Taxes on Capital Gains, Part I

Public finance theory teaches us that the capital gains tax should not exist. Such a levy exacerbates the bias against saving and investment, which reduces innovation, hinders economic growth, and lowers worker compensation.

All of which helps to explain why President Biden’s proposals to increase the tax burden on capital gains are so misguided.

Thanks to some new research from Professor John Diamond of Rice University, we can now quantify the likely damage if Biden’s proposals get enacted.

Here’s some of what he wrote in his new study.

We use a computable general equilibrium model of the U.S. economy to simulate the economic effects of these policy changes… The model is a dynamic, overlapping generations, computable general equilibrium model of the U.S. economy that focuses on the macroeconomic and transitional effects of tax reforms. …The simulation results in Table 1 show that GDP falls by roughly 0.1 percent 10 years after reform and 0.3 percent 50 years after reform, which implies per household income declines by roughly $310 after 10 years and $1,200 after 50 years. The long run decline in GDP is due to a decline in the capital stock of 1.0 percent and a decline in total hours worked of 0.1 percent. …this would be roughly equivalent to a loss of approximately 209,000 jobs in that year. Real wages decrease initially by 0.2 percent and by 0.6 percent in the long run.

Here is a summary of the probable economic consequences of Biden’s class-warfare scheme.

But the above analysis should probably be considered a best-case scenario.

Why? Because the capital gains tax is not indexed for inflation, which means investors can wind up paying much higher effective tax rates if prices are increasing.

And in a world of Keynesian monetary policy, that’s a very real threat.

So Prof. Diamond also analyzes the impact of inflation.

…capital gains are not adjusted for inflation and thus much of the taxable gains are not reflective of a real increase in wealth. Taxing nominal gains will reduce the after-tax rate of return and lead to less investment, especially in periods of higher inflation. …taxing the nominal value will reduce the real rate of return on investment, and may do so by enough to result in negative rates of return in periods of moderate to high inflation. Lower real rates of return reduce investment, the size of the capital stock, productivity, growth in wage rates, and labor supply. …Accounting for inflation in the model would exacerbate other existing distortions… An increase in the capital gains tax rate or repealing step up of basis will make investments in owner-occupied housing more attractive relative to other corporate and non-corporate investments.

Here’s what happens to the estimates of economic damage in a world with higher inflation?

Assuming the inflation rate is one percentage point higher on average (3.2 percent instead of 2.2 percent) implies that a rough estimate of the capital gains tax rate on nominal plus real returns would be 1.5 times higher than the real increase in the capital gains tax rate used in the standard model with no inflation. Table 2 shows the results of adjusting the capital gains tax rates by a factor of 1.5 to account for the effects of inflation. In this case, GDP falls by roughly 0.1 percent 10 years after reform and 0.4 percent 50 years after reform, which implies per household income declines by roughly $453 after 10 years and $1,700 after 50 years.

Here’s the table showing the additional economic damage. As you can see, the harm is much greater.

I’ll conclude with two comments.

P.S. If (already-taxed) corporate profits are distributed to shareholders, there’s a second layer of tax on those dividends. If the money is instead used to expand the business, it presumably will increase the value of shares (a capital gain) because of an expectation of higher future income (which will be double taxedwhen it occurs).

States Lowering Income Tax Rates

The best news of 2021 almost surely is the big expansion of school choice in several states.

That’s a great development, especially for poor and minority families.

But there’s another positive trend at the state level. As indicated by this map from the Tax Foundation, tax rates have been reduced in several jurisdictions.

I’ve already written about Arizona’s very attractive tax reform, though I also acknowledged that the new law mostly stops the tax system from getting worse (because of a bad 2020 referendum result).

But stopping something bad is an achievement, regardless.

What about other states? The Tax Foundation’s article has all the details you could possibly want, including phase-in times and presence (in some states) of revenue triggers.

For purposes of today’s column, let’s simply focus on what’s happening to top tax rates. Here’s a table with the key results, ranked by the size of the rate reduction.

Kudos to Arizona, of course, but Iowa and Louisiana also deserve praise for significantly dropping their top tax rates.

As these states move in the right direction, keep in mind that some states are shifting (or trying to shift) in the wrong direction.

And bigger differences between sensible states and class-warfare states will increase interstate tax migration – with predictable political consequences.

High-tax states are languishing but  zero-income-tax states such as Texas are growing rapidly!!!!

Much of my writing is focused on the real-world impact of government policy, and this is why I repeatedly look at the relative economic performance of big government jurisdictions and small government jurisdictions.

But I don’t just highlight differences between nations. Yes, it’s educational to look at North Korea vs. South Korea or Chile vs. Venezuela vs. Argentina, but I also think you can learn a lot by looking at what’s happening with different states in America.

So we’ve looked at high-tax states that are languishing, such as California and Illinois, and compared them to zero-income-tax states such as Texas.

With this in mind, you can understand that I was intrigued to see that even the establishment media is noticing that Texas is out-pacing the rest of the nation.

Here are some excerpts from a report by CNN Money on rapid population growth in Texas.

More Americans moved to Texas in recent years than any other state: A net gain of more than 387,000 in the latest Census for 2013. …Five Texas cities — Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth — were among the top 20 fastest growing large metro areas. Some smaller Texas metro areas grew even faster. In oil-rich Odessa, the population grew 3.3% and nearby Midland recorded a 3% gain.

But why is the population growing?

Well, CNN Money points out that low housing prices and jobs are big reasons.

And on the issue of housing, the article does acknowledge the role of “easy regulations” that enable new home construction.

But on the topic of jobs, the piece contains some good data on employment growth, but no mention of policy.

Jobs is the No. 1 reason for population moves, with affordable housing a close second. …Jobs are plentiful in Austin, where the unemployment rate is just 4.6%. Moody’s Analytics projects job growth to average 4% a year through 2015. Just as important, many jobs there are well paid: The median income of more than $75,000 is nearly 20% higher than the national median.

That’s it. Read the entire article if you don’t believe me, but the reporter was able to write a complete article about the booming economy in Texas without mentioning – not even once – that there’s no state income tax.

But that wasn’t the only omission.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas is the 4th-best state in the Tax Foundation’s ranking of state and local tax burdens.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas was the least oppressive state in the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Soft Tyranny Index.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas was ranked #20 in a study of the overall fiscal condition of the 50 states.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas is in 4th place in a combined ranking of economic freedom in U.S. state and Canadian provinces.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas was ranked #11 in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas is in 14th place in the Mercatus ranking of overall freedom for the 50 states (and in 10th place for fiscal freedom).

By the way, I’m not trying to argue that Texas is the best state.

Indeed, it only got the top ranking in one of the measures cited above.

My point, instead, is simply to note that it takes willful blindness to write about the strong population growth and job performance of Texas without making at least a passing reference to the fact that it is a low-tax, pro-market state.

At least compared to other states. And especially compared to the high-tax states that are stagnating.

Such as California, as illustrated by this data and this data, as well as this Lisa Benson cartoon.

Such as Illinois, as illustrated by this data and this Eric Allie cartoon.

And I can’t resist adding this Steve Breen cartoon, if for no other reason that it reminds me of another one of his cartoons that I shared last year.

Speaking of humor, this Chuck Asay cartoon speculates on how future archaeologists will view California. And this joke about Texas, California, and a coyote is among my most-viewed blog posts.

All jokes aside, I want to reiterate what I wrote above. Texas is far from perfect. There’s too much government in the Lone Star state. It’s only a success story when compared to California.

P.S. Paul Krugman has tried to defend California, which has made him an easy target. I debunked him earlier this year, and I also linked to a superb Kevin Williamson takedown of Krugman at the bottom of this post.

P.P.S. Once again, I repeat the two-part challenge I’ve issued to the left. I’ll be happy if any statists can successfully respond to just one of the two questions I posed.

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Open letter to President Obama (Part 573) (Emailed to White House on 7-29-13.) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 561) We should lower federal taxes because jobs are going to states like Texas that have low taxes

Open letter to President Obama (Part 561) (Emailed to White House on 6-25-13.) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get […]

DAN MITCHELL ARTICLE Washington DC raising taxes on itself!

_________

A Big (and Deserved?) Tax Increase for Washington, D.C.

I wrote last month about an encouraging wave of tax cuts at the state level.

I’m particularly impressed by the tax-cutting plan in Arizona, which cleverly reversed a class-warfare scheme designed to enrich teacher unions.

Indeed, I’m a big fan of federalism in large part because good fiscal policy is more likely when state and local governments are forced to compete for jobs and investment.

People can “vote with their feet” by moving from high-tax jurisdictions to low-tax jurisdictions, and politicians are less likely to misbehave when they realize taxpayers can escape.

But “less likely to misbehave” is not the same as “won’t misbehave.”

Notwithstanding the negative consequences, some jurisdictions are contemplating tax increases.

There’s also a plan for a class-warfare tax increase in Washington, DC.

I’m not referring to President Biden’s destructive tax plan (which you can read about here, here, here, and here). Instead, today’s column will focus on the tax increase being considered by the city’s local government.

Here are some excerpt from a report in the Washington Post.

An increasingly left-leaning D.C. Council voted…to raise income taxes on wealthy residents — a victory for advocates seeking tens of millions of dollars to spend…, but a puzzlement to others who saw no need for a tax increase in a year the city is flush with federal grant money. …the 2022 budget…includes generous spending on a long list of programs, mostly funded by the federal grants as well as other sources of local revenue. …The authors of the tax increase proposal…say that wealthy residents who were not financially hurt by the pandemic can afford to pay more.

To see which taxpayers are being penalized, here’s an excerpt from the Tax Foundation’s report on the proposed tax hike.

Interestingly, despite its left-leaning orientation, the Washington Post editorialized against the tax hike.

The council is now intent on ramming through a tax increase on wealthy residents that is driven more by ideology than any need for revenue or sound fiscal strategy. …as opponents of the tax increase pointed out, the District is flush with cash — about $3.2 billion in federal payments and grants, with next year’s local revenue projected to be $162 million more than pre-pandemic times.The proposed $17.5 billion budget already reflects a growth in spending of 3.9 percent over the historically high spending in the current year. …the council’s slapdash approach could have troubling consequences. The District’s tax rates on income and commercial property are already the highest in the region. …states such as Illinois should serve as a cautionary tale: Its high taxes have driven residents and businesses to other states. It’s not hard to imagine that someone making over $1 million — 0.7 percent of D.C. taxpayers, who pay 23.1 percent of the city’s income taxes — might find it more worthwhile to live in Arlington and pay one-third as much in taxes. What then happens…?

This is a remarkable editorial.

Indeed, it sounds like I could have been the author.

  • It highlights excessive growth of government.
  • It highlights how the rich pay the lion’s share of tax.
  • It highlights tax migration across borders.
  • It highlights jurisdictional tax competition.

The difference between me and the Washington Post, though, is that I’m intellectually consistent.

Unlike the editors of that newspaper, I apply the same arguments when analyzing national tax policy as well.

P.S. While the D.C. Council’s plan is very bad tax policy, part of me will be amused if it gets enacted. That’s because Washington is filled with lobbyists, bureaucrats, contractors, and other insiders who get undeserved riches because they have their snouts buried in the federal trough.

 

 

Texas vs. California, Part VII

To begin the seventh edition of our series comparing policy in Texas and California (previous entries in March 2010, February 2013, April 2013, October 2018, June 2019, and December 2020), here’s a video from Prager University.

There will be a lot of information in today’s column, so if you’re pressed for time, here are three sentences that tell you what you need to know.

California has all sorts of natural advantages over Texas, especially endless sunshine and beautiful topography.

Texas has better government policy than California, most notably in areas such as taxation and regulation.

Since people are moving from the Golden State to the Lone Star State, public policy seems to matter more than natural beauty.

Now let’s look at a bunch of evidence to support those three sentences.

We’ll start with an article by Joel Kotkin of Chapman University.

If one were to explore the most blessed places on earth, California, my home for a half century, would surely be up there. …its salubrious climate, spectacular scenery, vast natural resources… President Biden recently suggested that he wants to “make America California again”. Yet…he should consider whether the California model may be better seen as a cautionary tale than a roadmap to a better future… California now suffers the highest cost-adjusted poverty rate in the country, and the widest gap between middle and upper-middle income earners. …the state has slowly morphed into a low wage economy. Over the past decade, 80% of the state’s jobs have paid under the median wage — half of which are paid less than $40,000…minorities do better today outside of California, enjoying far higher adjusted incomes and rates of homeownership in places like Atlanta and Dallas than in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Almost one-third of Hispanics, the state’s largest ethnic group, subsist below the poverty line, compared with 21% outside the state. …progressive…policies have not brought about greater racial harmony, enhanced upward mobility and widely based economic growth.

Next we have some business news from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Business leaders fear tech giant Oracle’s recent announcement that it is leaving the Bay Area for Austin, Texas, will lead to more exits unless some fundamental political and economic changes are made to keep the region attractive and competitive. “This is something that we have been warning people about for several years. California is not business friendly, we should be honest about it,” said Kenneth Rosen, chairman of the UC Berkeley Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics.Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman said… “From consulting companies to tax lawyers to bankers and commercial real estate firms, every person I talk with who provides services to big Bay Area corporations are telling me that their clients are strategizing about leaving…” Charles Schwab, McKesson and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have all exited the high-cost, high-tax, high-regulation Bay Area for a less-expensive, less-regulated and business-friendlier political climate. All of them rode off to Texas. …the pace of the departures appears to be increasing. …A recent online survey of 2,325 California residents, taken between Nov. 4 and Nov. 23 by the Public Policy Institute of California, found 26% of residents have seriously considered moving out of state and that 58% say that the American Dream is harder to achieve in California than elsewhere.

Are California politicians trying to make things better, in hopes of stopping out-migration to places such as Texas?

Not according to this column by Hank Adler in the Wall Street Journal.

California’s Legislature is considering a wealth tax on residents, part-year residents, and any person who spends more than 60 days inside the state’s borders in a single year. Even those who move out of state would continue to be subject to the tax for a decade… Assembly Bill 2088 proposes calculating the wealth tax based on current world-wide net worth each Dec. 31. For part-year and temporary residents, the tax would be proportionate based on their number of days in California. The annual tax would be on current net worth and therefore would include wealth earned, inherited or obtained through gifts or estates long before and long after leaving the state. …The authors of the bill estimate the wealth tax will provide Sacramento $7.5 billion in additional revenue every year. Another proposal—to increase the top state income-tax rate to 16.8%—would annually raise another $6.8 billion. Today, California’s wealthiest 1% pay approximately 46% of total state income taxes. …the Legislature looks to the wealthiest Californians to fill funding gaps without considering the constitutionality of the proposals and the ability of people and companies to pick up and leave the state, which news reports suggest they are doing in large numbers. …As of this moment, there are no police roadblocks on the freeways trying to keep moving trucks from leaving California. If A.B. 2088 becomes law, the state may need to consider placing some.

The late (and great) Walter Williams actually joked back in 2012that California might set up East German-style border checkpoints. Let’s hope satire doesn’t become reality.

But what isn’t satire is that people are fleeing the state (along with other poorly governed jurisdictions).

Simply state, the blue state model of high taxes and big government is not working (just as it isn’t working in countries with high taxes and big government).

Interestingly, even the New York Times recognizes that there is a problem in the state that used to be a role model for folks on the left.

Opining for that outlet at the start of the month, Brett Stephens raised concerns about the Golden State.

…today’s Democratic leaders might look to the very Democratic state of California as a model for America’s future. You remember California: People used to want to move there, start businesses, raise families, live their American dream. These days, not so much. Between July 2019 and July 2020, more people — 135,400 to be precise — left the state than moved in… No. 1 destination: Texas, followed by Arizona, Nevada and Washington. Three of those states have no state income tax.

California, by contrast, has very high taxes. Not just an onerous income tax, but high taxes across the board.

Californians also pay some of the nation’s highest sales tax rates (8.66 percent) and corporate tax rates (8.84 percent), as well as the highest taxes on gasoline (63 cents on a gallon as of January, as compared with 20 cents in Texas).

Sadly, these high taxes don’t translate into good services from government.

The state ranks 21st in the country in terms of spending per public school pupil, but 27th in its K-12 educational outcomes. It ties Oregon for third place among states in terms of its per capita homeless rate. Infrastructure? As of 2019, the state had an estimated $70 billion in deferred maintenance backlog. Debt? The state’s unfunded pension liabilities in 2019 ran north of $1.1 trillion, …or $81,300 per household.

Makes you wonder whether the rest of the nation should copy that model?

Democrats hold both U.S. Senate seats, 42 of its 53 seats in the House, have lopsided majorities in the State Assembly and Senate, run nearly every big city and have controlled the governor’s mansion for a decade. If ever there was a perfect laboratory for liberal governance, this is it. So how do you explain these results? …If California is a vision of the sort of future the Biden administration wants for Americans, expect Americans to demur.

Some might be tempted to dismiss Stephens’ column because he is considered the token conservative at the New York Times.

But Ezra Klein also acknowledges that California has a problem, and nobody will accuse him of being on the right side of the spectrum.

Here’s some of what he wrote in his column earlier this month for the New York Times.

I love California. I was born and raised in Orange County. I was educated in the state’s public schools and graduated from the University of California system… But for that very reason, our failures of governance worry me. California has the highest poverty rate in the nation,when you factor in housing costs, and vies for the top spot in income inequality, too. …but there’s a reason 130,000 more people leave than enter each year. California is dominated by Democrats, but many of the people Democrats claim to care about most can’t afford to live there. …California, as the biggest state in the nation, and one where Democrats hold total control of the government, carries a special burden. If progressivism cannot work here, why should the country believe it can work anywhere else?

Kudos to Klein for admitting problems on his side (just like I praise the few GOPers who criticized Trump’s big-government policies).

But his column definitely had some quirky parts, such as when he wrote that, “There are bright spots in recent years…a deeply progressive plan to tax the wealthy.”

That’s actually a big reason for the state’s decline, not a “bright spot.”

I’m not the only one to recognize the limitations of his column.

Kevin Williamson wrote an entire rebuttal for National Review.

Who but Ezra Klein could survey the wreck left-wing Democrats have made of California and conclude that the state’s problem is its excessive conservatism? …Klein the rhetorician anticipates objections on this front and writes that he is not speaking of “the political conservatism that privatizes Medicare, but the temperamental conservatism that” — see if this formulation sounds at all familiar — “stands athwart change and yells ‘Stop!’”…California progressives have progressive policies and progressive power, and they like it that way. That is the substance of their conservatism. …Klein and others of his ilk like to present themselves as dispassionate pragmatists, enlightened empiricists who only want to do “what works.” …Klein mocks San Francisco for renaming schools (Begone, Abraham Lincoln!) while it has no plan to reopen them, but he cannot quite see that these are two aspects of a single phenomenon. …Klein…must eventually understand that the troubles he identifies in California are baked into the progressive cake. …That has real-world consequences, currently on display in California to such a spectacular degree that even Ezra Klein is able dimly to perceive them. Maybe he’ll learn something.

I especially appreciate this passage since it excoriates rich leftists for putting teacher unions ahead of disadvantaged children.

Intentions do not matter very much, and mere stated intentions matter even less. Klein is blind to that, which is why he is able to write, as though there were something unusual on display: “For all the city’s vaunted progressivism, [San Francisco] has some of the highest private school enrollment numbers in the country.” Rich progressives have always been in favor of school choice and private schools — for themselves. They only oppose choice for poor people, whose interests must for political reasons be subordinated to those of the public-sector unions from which Democrats in cities such as San Francisco derive their power.

Let’s conclude with some levity.

Here’s a meme that contemplates whether California emigrants bring bad voting habits with them.

Though that’s apparently more of a problem in Colorado rather than in Texas.

And here’s some clever humor from Genesius Times.

P.S. My favorite California-themed humor (not counting the state’s elected officials) can be found here, hereherehere, and here.

High-tax states are languishing but  zero-income-tax states such as Texas are growing rapidly!!!!

Much of my writing is focused on the real-world impact of government policy, and this is why I repeatedly look at the relative economic performance of big government jurisdictions and small government jurisdictions.

But I don’t just highlight differences between nations. Yes, it’s educational to look at North Korea vs. South Korea or Chile vs. Venezuela vs. Argentina, but I also think you can learn a lot by looking at what’s happening with different states in America.

So we’ve looked at high-tax states that are languishing, such as California and Illinois, and compared them to zero-income-tax states such as Texas.

With this in mind, you can understand that I was intrigued to see that even the establishment media is noticing that Texas is out-pacing the rest of the nation.

Here are some excerpts from a report by CNN Money on rapid population growth in Texas.

More Americans moved to Texas in recent years than any other state: A net gain of more than 387,000 in the latest Census for 2013. …Five Texas cities — Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth — were among the top 20 fastest growing large metro areas. Some smaller Texas metro areas grew even faster. In oil-rich Odessa, the population grew 3.3% and nearby Midland recorded a 3% gain.

But why is the population growing?

Well, CNN Money points out that low housing prices and jobs are big reasons.

And on the issue of housing, the article does acknowledge the role of “easy regulations” that enable new home construction.

But on the topic of jobs, the piece contains some good data on employment growth, but no mention of policy.

Jobs is the No. 1 reason for population moves, with affordable housing a close second. …Jobs are plentiful in Austin, where the unemployment rate is just 4.6%. Moody’s Analytics projects job growth to average 4% a year through 2015. Just as important, many jobs there are well paid: The median income of more than $75,000 is nearly 20% higher than the national median.

That’s it. Read the entire article if you don’t believe me, but the reporter was able to write a complete article about the booming economy in Texas without mentioning – not even once – that there’s no state income tax.

But that wasn’t the only omission.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas is the 4th-best state in the Tax Foundation’s ranking of state and local tax burdens.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas was the least oppressive state in the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Soft Tyranny Index.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas was ranked #20 in a study of the overall fiscal condition of the 50 states.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas is in 4th place in a combined ranking of economic freedom in U.S. state and Canadian provinces.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas was ranked #11 in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas is in 14th place in the Mercatus ranking of overall freedom for the 50 states (and in 10th place for fiscal freedom).

By the way, I’m not trying to argue that Texas is the best state.

Indeed, it only got the top ranking in one of the measures cited above.

My point, instead, is simply to note that it takes willful blindness to write about the strong population growth and job performance of Texas without making at least a passing reference to the fact that it is a low-tax, pro-market state.

At least compared to other states. And especially compared to the high-tax states that are stagnating.

Such as California, as illustrated by this data and this data, as well as this Lisa Benson cartoon.

Such as Illinois, as illustrated by this data and this Eric Allie cartoon.

And I can’t resist adding this Steve Breen cartoon, if for no other reason that it reminds me of another one of his cartoons that I shared last year.

Speaking of humor, this Chuck Asay cartoon speculates on how future archaeologists will view California. And this joke about Texas, California, and a coyote is among my most-viewed blog posts.

All jokes aside, I want to reiterate what I wrote above. Texas is far from perfect. There’s too much government in the Lone Star state. It’s only a success story when compared to California.

P.S. Paul Krugman has tried to defend California, which has made him an easy target. I debunked him earlier this year, and I also linked to a superb Kevin Williamson takedown of Krugman at the bottom of this post.

P.P.S. Once again, I repeat the two-part challenge I’ve issued to the left. I’ll be happy if any statists can successfully respond to just one of the two questions I posed.

Related posts:

California is the Greece of the USA, but Texas is not perfect either!!!

California is the Greece of the USA, but Texas is not perfect either!!! Just Because California Is Terrible, that Doesn’t Mean Texas Is Perfect January 21, 2013 by Dan Mitchell Texas is in much better shape than California. Taxes are lower, in part because Texas has no state income tax. No wonder the Lone Star State […]

Dan Mitchell on Texas v. California (includes editorial cartoon)

We should lower federal taxes because jobs are going to states like Texas that have low taxes. (We should lower state taxes too!!) What Can We Learn by Comparing the Employment Situation in Texas vs. California? April 3, 2013 by Dan Mitchell One of the great things about federalism, above and beyond the fact that it […]

Ark Times blogger claims California is better than Texas but facts don’t bear that out (3 great political cartoons)

I got on the Arkansas Times Blog and noticed that a person on there was bragging about the high minimum wage law in San Francisco and how everything was going so well there. On 2-15-13 on the Arkansas Times Blog I posted: Couldn’t be better (the person using the username “Couldn’t be better)  is bragging […]

California burdensome government causing some of business community to leave for Texas

Does Government Have a Revenue or Spending Problem? People say the government has a debt problem. Debt is caused by deficits, which is the difference between what the government collects in tax revenue and the amount of government spending. Every time the government runs a deficit, the government debt increases. So what’s to blame: too […]

Arkansas Times blogger picks California business environment over Texas, proves liberals don’t live in real world(Part 2)

       Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with his family   I posted a portion of an article by John Fund of the Wall Street Journal that pointed out that many businesses are leaving California because of all of their government red tape and moving to Texas. My username is SalineRepublican and this is […]

John Fund’s talk in Little Rock 4-27-11(Part 4):Responding to liberals who criticize states like Texas that don’t have the red tape that California has

John Fund at Chamber Day, Part 1 Last week I got to attend the first ever “Conservative Lunch Series” presented by  KARN and Americans for Prosperity Foundation at the Little Rock Hilton on University Avenue. This monthly luncheon will be held the fourth Wednesday of every month. The speaker for today’s luncheon was John Fund. John […]

California and France have raised taxes so much that it has hurt economic growth!!!

___________ California and France have raised taxes so much that it has hurt economic growth!!! Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, which Nation and State Punish Success Most of All? September 25, 2014 by Dan Mitchell I’ve shared some interested rankings on tax policy, including a map from the Tax Foundation showing which states have the earliest […]

Jerry Brown raised taxes in California and a rise in the minimum wage, but it won’t work like Krugman thinks!!!

___________   Jerry Brown raised taxes in California and a rise in the minimum wage, but it won’t work like Krugman thinks!!!! This cartoon below shows what will eventually happen to California and any other state that keeps raising taxes higher and higher.   Krugman’s “Gotcha” Moment Leaves Something to Be Desired July 25, 2014 by […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 573) Are the states of Illinois and California going to join Detroit in Bankruptcy one day?

Open letter to President Obama (Part 573) (Emailed to White House on 7-29-13.) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get […]

Open letter to President Obama (Part 561) We should lower federal taxes because jobs are going to states like Texas that have low taxes

Open letter to President Obama (Part 561) (Emailed to White House on 6-25-13.) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get […]

Daniel Mitchell article Fiscal Policy 101 for Politicians and other Dummies

Fiscal Policy 101 for Politicians and other Dummies

Our friends on the left who want more government spendinggenerally have a short-run argument and a long-run argument.

  • In the short run, they assert that more government spending can stimulate a weak economy. This is typically known as Keynesian economics and it means temporary borrowing and spending.
  • In the long run, they claim that big government is an investment that leads to better economic performance. This is the “Nordic Model” and it means permanent increases in taxes and spending.

In many ways, the debate about short-run Keynesianism is different than the debate about the appropriate long-run size of government.

But there is one common thread, which is that proponents of more government pay too much attention to consumption and too little attention to production.

I wrote a somewhat wonky column about this topic back in April, but let’s take another look at this issue.

In a column last month for the Wall Street Journal, Andy Kessler shared some economic fundamentals.

Here’s how capitalism works—pay attention if you took the social-justice version of Econ 101. SIPPC: Save. Invest. Produce. Profit. Consume. Save means postponing consumption, money and time. Only then you can invest,especially your human capital, in something productive. Usually this means doing more with less, being efficient and effective. This is when innovation happens. Wealth comes only from productivity, not from giving away money. …Supply first and then consume…, creating incentives to put money into the hands of entrepreneurs and clearing a path for them to innovate by getting government out of the way.

In some sense, this is simply the common-sense observation that you can’t consume (or redistribute) unless someone first produces.

But it’s also a deeper message about what actually drives production.

There are no shortcuts. You can’t induce demand without supply. Didn’t the lockdowns prove that? Stimulus checks did little good given that there were few places to spend them until businesses were allowed to reopen. We’re now perversely sitting on almost $3 trillion in excess savings and even more new government debt. Yet the government stimulus mentality continues in Congress. …Through taxes and currency depreciation, demand-side spending steals savings needed to invest in future supply, which is why it never works. It is why the Great Depression lasted so long, why Japan lost two decades, and why 2009-16 saw subpar U.S. economic growth. When demand drops, government spending and giveaways make things worse. The only solution to kickstart production is to increase investment and make jobs more plentiful by cutting taxes and easing regulation. ..Price signals tell entrepreneurs what to supply. But price signals are only as good as their inputs. Minimum-wage laws mess up labor price signals. Tariffs mess up trade price signals. The Federal Reserve’s bond-buying blowouts mess up interest-rate price signals.

Amen. We know the policies that lead to more prosperity, but politicians constantly throw sand in the gears.

Simply stated, bigger government diverts resources from the productive sector of the economy. And that makes it more difficult to get the innovation and investment that are necessaryfor rising wages.

To be sure, there are some types of government spending that arguably help a private economy function.

But that’s not what we get from much of the federal government (Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentDepartment of EducationDepartment of EnergyDepartment of AgricultureDepartment of Transportation, etc).

Which is why the growth-maximizing size of government is far smaller than what we are burdened with today.

P.S. I can’t resist sharing this additional segment of Mr. Kessler’s column.

Modern Monetary Theory, known as MMT—what economist John Christensen called the “Magic Money Tree”—is the worst of demand-side nonsense. MMT believers think that to boost aggregate demand we can have government print money and spend, spend, spend. We tried this in the 1960s and ’70s with Great Society programs

At the risk of understatement, I agree with his concerns.

P.P.S. It’s worth noting that the World BankOECD, and IMF have all published research showing the benefits of smaller government.

Another cartoon I got from Dan Mitchell’s blog below.

Here’s a Lisa Benson cartoon that makes a similar point, but it focuses on Obama’s class-warfare tax policy.

Cartoon Grinch Spending

What makes the cartoon especially effective is that it not only shows that higher tax burden is designed to finance more spending, but also it makes clear that soaking-the-rich won’t be enough.

I thought taxes were not going up “by one cent,” but the truth is that they are going up a lot more that one cent.

Rob Bluey

February 27, 2013 at 10:32 am

President Obama is crisscrossing the country to scare Americans about sequestration. But what’s really frightening are the 13 Obama tax hikes that took effect in 2013.

These tax increases, which range from new Obamacare taxes to a payroll tax hike on workers, will slow the economy. Heritage Foundation President-Elect Jim DeMint warned on Fox News last night these tax hikes have the potential to cause more harm than the budget cuts that will happen as a result of sequestration:

Most of the media is so sold out to Obama that they’re missing the obvious. The policies the President has in place, especially the tax increases that just got in, are going to hurt our economy, probably actually bring it down. The President is desperate to blame it on Republicans. He wants to blame it on a reduction in government spending. But the taxes are taking almost two-and-a-half times more out of the economy than this sequester will.

So how do the Obama tax hikes compare to sequestration? It’s a whopping $149.7 billion in taxes vs. $85 billion in spending cuts.

Heritage’s Romina Boccia explains the consequences: Tax increases take money out of the economy that could have been spent on hiring workers and they change the incentives against productive work and investment, which slows growth over the long term.

We don’t expect Obama to mention these tax increases as he campaigns against the sequester. But we do encourage YOU to share our new video and the list of Obama’s 13 tax hikes, which that was put together by Curtis Dubay, a senior policy analyst at Heritage:

Tax increases the fiscal cliff deal allowed:

1. Payroll tax: increase in the Social Security portion of the payroll tax from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent for workers. This hits all Americans earning a paycheck—not just the “wealthy.” For example, The Wall Street Journal calculated that the “typical U.S. family earning $50,000 a year” will lose “an annual income boost of $1,000.”

2. Top marginal tax rate: increase from 35 percent to 39.6 percent for taxable incomes over $450,000 ($400,000 for single filers).

3. Phase out of personal exemptions for adjusted gross income (AGI) over $300,000 ($250,000 for single filers).

4. Phase down of itemized deductions for AGI over $300,000 ($250,000 for single filers).

5. Tax rates on investment: increase in the rate on dividends and capital gains from 15 percent to 20 percent for taxable incomes over $450,000 ($400,000 for single filers).

6. Death tax: increase in the rate (on estates larger than $5 million) from 35 percent to 40 percent.

7. Taxes on business investment: expiration of full expensing—the immediate deduction of capital purchases by businesses.

Obamacare tax increases that took effect:

8. Another investment tax increase: 3.8 percent surtax on investment income for taxpayers with taxable income exceeding $250,000 ($200,000 for singles).

9. Another payroll tax hike: 0.9 percent increase in the Hospital Insurance portion of the payroll tax for incomes over $250,000 ($200,000 for single filers).

10. Medical device tax: 2.3 percent excise tax paid by medical device manufacturers and importers on all their sales.

11. Reducing the income tax deduction for individuals’ medical expenses.

12. Elimination of the corporate income tax deduction for expenses related to theMedicare Part D subsidy.

13. Limitation of the corporate income tax deduction for compensation that health insurance companies pay to their executives.

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY “For years, a lot of us subscribed to the notion that Milton Friedman warned us about,” that government would harm the economy if it didn’t take a light-touch approach to business, said former Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, a longtime Biden friend, referring to the economist who helped define the small-government neoliberal philosophy.

President Biden in the White House on March 18.

President Biden in the White House on March 18.ANDREW HARNIK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Behind Biden’s Big Plans: Belief That Government Can Drive Growth

Multitrillion-dollar spending program would reverse Reagan-era tacit understanding that public sector is less efficient than the private in allocating resources

WASHINGTON—President Biden envisions long-term federal spending claiming its biggest share of the American economy in decades. He wants to pay for that program in part by charging the highest-earning Americans the biggest tax rates they’ve faced in years.

The Biden economic team’s ambitions go beyond size to scope. The centerpiece of their program—a multitrillion-dollar proposal to be rolled out starting Wednesday, less than a month after a $1.9 trillion stimulus—seeks to give Washington a new commercial role in matters ranging from charging stations for electric vehicles to child care, and more responsibility for underwriting education, incomes and higher-paying jobs.

The administration has also laid the groundwork for regulations aimed at empowering labor unions, restricting big businesses from dominating their markets and prodding banks to lend more to minorities and less for fossil-fuel projects. All while federal debt is currently at a level not seen since World War II.

It all marks a major turning point for economic policy. The gamble underlying the agenda is a belief that government can be a primary driver for growth. It’s an attempt to recalibrate assumptions that have shaped economic policy of both parties since the 1980s: that the public sector is inherently less efficient than the private, and bureaucrats should generally defer to markets.

The administration’s sweeping plans reflect a calculation that “the risk of doing too little outweighs the risk of doing too much,” said White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. “We’re going to be unapologetic about that,” he said. “Government must be a powerful force for good in the lives of Americans.”

The pandemic and lockdown measures that followed have become a Rorschach test for the new economic debate. Former President Donald Trumpargued that the booming economy of 2019 and early 2020 was proof his tax-cutting, deregulating agenda was the best for spurring broadly shared prosperity, and he portrayed the coronavirus and lockdowns as a temporary disruption. The Biden team sees the pandemic as exposing myriad flaws and fragilities that liberals had long identified in the economy, masked by prosperity.

Mr. Biden himself casts his program as a throwback to Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1960s Great Society and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1930s New Deal. “This is the first time we’ve been able to, since the Johnson administration and maybe even before that, to begin to change the paradigm,” he said at a White House event in mid-March. Mr. Biden recently spoke with a group of prominent American historians, and his aides have studied FDR’s presidency as they plan his economic agenda.

Mr. Biden’s big plans raise big questions, and big risks. He faces an uphill battle to win over a narrowly divided Congress, with solid Republican opposition plus hesitancy among Democratic moderates who blanch at higher taxes and more spending following nearly $5 trillion in coronavirus relief outlays over the past year.

Conservative-tilting courts, increasingly skeptical of executive authority, might block some of his initiatives. Already, a coalition of Republican state attorneys general has sued to challenge some provisions of the stimulus program and some of his executive orders.

Some economists consider the latest spending plan an overkill response to the temporary, albeit severe, hit from the pandemic and lockdowns. They call recent stirrings in the bond market a warning that the vast increase in government spending and borrowing might prompt a return to the high-inflation/high-interest-rate stagnation of the late 1970s and early 1980s—conditions that fed the long-lasting backlash to expansive FDR-LBJ policies in the first place.

“They’re creating too much demand when it’s not needed. When demand runs away from supply, you get inflation,” said Kevin Hassett, a former Trump chief economic adviser now at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “The laws of economics can’t be repealed,” he said.

The Biden agenda rests on the notion those laws have evolved. “There appear to have been a broad-based set of structural changes that have had a very significant effect on how the economy works,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. “There are a lot of ways in which I think our understanding of the economy has shifted.”

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She cited persistently low interest rates and low inflation, defying many conventional forecasts, as reasons to feel more relaxed than before about federal borrowing and low unemployment rates. Ms. Yellen says there’s little sign inflation is in danger of escalating, and is confident that if it does, the Federal Reserve has the tools to contain it.

The administration’s policies are rooted in economic research focused on perceived free-market flaws, much of it conducted and funded by young, left-leaning economists and activists now scattered throughout the administration. Much of the Biden economic agenda is built around the conclusion that climate change in particular is a private-sector breakdown requiring extensive government intervention.

Before joining the Biden Council of Economic Advisers, Heather Boushey ran the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a think tank devoted to persuading economists and policy makers to take action reducing income inequality. To her and many of her colleagues, the pandemic validates their studies on market failures.

“We’ve talked about inequality—it seems like an abstract concept, but in 2020, this notion of the K-shaped economy became so real,” Ms. Boushey said. She was referring to a recovery where the fortunes of upper-income families—able to keep their jobs, work from home and enjoy gains in their stock portfolios—rose like the letter’s upward-sloping part, while lower-income families were unable to keep jobs in hard-hit service industries such as restaurants.

Plans for selling the administration proposals lean heavily on fears of losing out to China’s model of state-driven capitalism, a concern that resonates across the political spectrum. “China is out-investing us by a long shot, because their plan is to own that future,” Mr. Biden said recently in previewing his program.

In a Wednesday speech in Pittsburgh, the president is preparing to unveil the first part of an economic proposal that would cost $3 trillion or more over 10 years and might be split into multiple pieces of legislation, with more coming in April. The first measure will focus on infrastructure, climate change, domestic manufacturing and research and development. Mr. Biden will find ways to pay for the full cost of the first measure, the White House has said. The second measure will center on child care, healthcare and education.

‘There are a lot of ways in which I think our understanding of the economy has shifted,’ said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

‘There are a lot of ways in which I think our understanding of the economy has shifted,’ said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

PHOTO: DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES

The multipart package would include higher taxes on corporations, upper-income households and investors. It will call for huge investments in infrastructure and climate programs and provide for universal prekindergarten and tuition-free community college, people familiar with the plan said.

Most Republicans are expected to oppose it, and the president’s advisers are already discussing options for continuing to move some of his proposals without GOP support, including through the process known as budget reconciliation.

Mike Donilon, one of Mr. Biden’s closest advisers, acknowledged the challenges but argued the public supports action. “I don’t think the country is in much mood for relentless obstructionism,” he said.

Critics of big-government projects have long argued that bureaucrats are less skilled than market forces in allocating resources. “What they’re trying to do is re-establish government as a major positive force in the economy, and I believe government is a massive negative force” in it, said Stephen Moore, a former Trump economic adviser. “There really is a micromanagement of the economy from the left.”

Presidents of both parties, hesitant to micromanage, have long steered away from anything smacking of an industrial policy that attempts to bolster specific industries. Biden aides are more willing to target and support certain industries such as the health and high-tech sectors. “We are committed to using the levers of government to encourage more domestic production,” Mr. Deese said.

President Biden held notes on infrastructure while speaking during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on March 25.

President Biden held notes on infrastructure while speaking during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on March 25.

PHOTO: OLIVER CONTRERAS/PRESS POOL

The president’s budget and regulatory proposals could disrupt major industries, boosting renewable-energy companies over fossil-fuel firms and expanding markets for emerging technologies. Business groups and Republicans warn that new regulations could stifle growth.

Mr. Biden’s stimulus bill added to federal debt that had already hit peacetime records under Mr. Trump. Mr. Biden has said his full agenda will ultimately be aimed at curbing government borrowing, through tax increases and savings in medical spending.

That will be a challenge. Federal debt, which reached 100% of gross domestic product last fiscal year for the first time since 1946, is expected to rise to a record 107% of economic output by 2031, according to the Congressional Budget Office, fueling concerns that future generations will get stuck with the bill. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in March that the federal government can manage its debt at current levels, but policy makers should seek to slow its growth once the economy is stronger.

The long-dominant paradigm Mr. Biden and aides want to change is one widely branded neoliberalism, framed by Ronald Reagan, who declared in his 1981 inaugural address that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He ushered in an era of tax cuts, deregulation and federal programs increasingly designed to work through market forces. That was followed by two of the longest expansions in American history, in the 1980s and the 1990s.

Ronald Reagan speaking at his inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981.

Ronald Reagan speaking at his inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981.

PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

While Democrats controlled the White House for nearly half the time since then, their policies often were constrained by the core Reagan principles, in the view of many progressives. Bill Clinton tried to juggle liberal goals with a focus on balancing the budget, expanding free trade, and deregulating the financial sector. Barack Obama created a new government health program, but to the chagrin of the left, worked through private insurers. His 2009 program to fight the recession was constrained by fears of big deficits.

“For decades now, people have talked about economics as running against government, ignoring how much we need government to be able to build out opportunities,” said Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who, as an Obama adviser, often tangled with his aides over how aggressively to rein in Wall Street and support homeowners slammed by the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

A confluence of forces since the turn of the century has shaken support for the market-oriented economic model. A sharp increase in income and wealth inequality, combined with longtime wage stagnation that ended just before the pandemic hit, raised questions about how broadly prosperity gets shared absent government intervention. The swift loss of manufacturing jobs undermined support for free trade. China’s success and Wall Street’s collapse in the financial crisis further sowed doubts about free markets.

Those trends animated critics on the left, fueling the 2016 presidential campaigns of self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the rise to prominence of his allies such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Republicans, too, have faced internal challenges to the party’s free-market orientation. Mr. Trump won the presidency in part by attacking bipartisan support for globalization. In office, he launched a trade war with China, regularly criticized big business and intervened to force domestic investments and pressure companies to relocate manufacturing to the U.S. and cut prices of drugs.

“Some establishment Republicans are too willing to do nothing at all with government. They see an all-natural, organic market having its way,” said Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley. Mr. Hawley, a Trump supporter and possible presidential contender, has called for tougher antitrust laws to break up big tech companies and co-sponsored a bill last year with Mr. Sanders to give households $1,200 direct payments.

The first-term senator voted against the latest stimulus bill and opposes many of Mr. Biden’s policies, but he also says that “old-style conservatives have been too quick to wave away policies to strengthen American workers and promote competition rather than monopolies.”

Trends such as wealth disparities and wage stagnation animated the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, seen here speaking at a rally in Manchester, N.H., in August 2015.

Trends such as wealth disparities and wage stagnation animated the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, seen here speaking at a rally in Manchester, N.H., in August 2015.

PHOTO: RICK FRIEDMAN/CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES

While many of those urging an economic rethink are relatively new voices in the debate, some pillars of the establishment have evolved, including former senior economic aides in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Another Washington veteran whose positions have changed: Joe Biden.

Elected to the Senate in 1972 at age 29, Mr. Biden ousted a Republican incumbent in part by casting himself as more attuned to the needs of the middle class, a theme that became a through-line of his career. He has long espoused the importance of unions, small businesses and a strong working class.

Mr. Biden juggled those causes with a belief in the need to curb government spending and cut taxes. He voted for Mr. Reagan’s historic 1981 tax cuts and backed spending ceilings for most agencies through the 1980s and a balanced-budget constitutional amendment in the 1990s. He regularly floated the idea of limiting Social Security and Medicare.

“For years, a lot of us subscribed to the notion that Milton Friedman warned us about,” that government would harm the economy if it didn’t take a light-touch approach to business, said former Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, a longtime Biden friend, referring to the economist who helped define the small-government neoliberal philosophy.

As Mr. Obama’s vice president during the financial crisis, Mr. Biden walked a tightrope between pushing for spending, especially on infrastructure, and taking the lead in negotiating with Republicans to limit the extent of government expansion. Toward the end of his term, the persistently slow recovery prompted the vice president and his aides to launch a study of wage stagnation, income inequality and ways the government could steer business to do more for workers. That work planted the seeds for his current program.

Joe Biden was first elected to the Senate from Delaware in 1972 after a campaign in which he cast himself as attuned to the needs of the working class.

Joe Biden was first elected to the Senate from Delaware in 1972 after a campaign in which he cast himself as attuned to the needs of the working class.

PHOTO: HENRY GRIFFIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mr. Biden started his 2019 presidential bid determined to lay out more of a big-government agenda than recent Democrats had espoused. But much of the primary field had moved even farther left. He emerged once again as the fiscal scold warning of excessive spending.

The arrival of the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd marked a turning point for Mr. Biden, according to his advisers, bringing into focus what his aides describe as his longstanding desire to “go big.”

Mr. Biden tapped his longtime friend and successor as Delaware senator, Ted Kaufman, to run the transition, and in helping assemble the economic team, Mr. Kaufman said his team focused on people steeped in new economic thinking and steered away from business executives.

“I looked at people who had internalized what Joe Biden’s policy was about, and Joe Biden’s policy was not about taking care of Wall Street or people making over $400,000 a year,” Mr. Kaufman said.

The middle ranks of the administration are filled with academics and activists who have spent the past few years honing a framework for progressive economic policy-making. In March 2019, many of them gathered at a Washington conference called “Bold v. Old.” A panel on toughening antitrust enforcement was led by Jennifer Harris, an official with the Hewlett Foundation—a philanthropy created by one of the founders of Hewlett-PackardCo. —overseeing a program funding researchers seeking to replace the neoliberal paradigm. She was joined by Lina Khan, a young law professor known for laying out the case for breaking upAmazon.com Inc., and Sabeel Rahman, president of Demos, a progressive think tank.

Ms. Harris has joined the Biden National Economic Council. Ms. Khan has been nominated to the Federal Trade Commission. Mr. Rahman works at the Office of Management and Budget.

Few of those new-generation policy makers supported Mr. Biden in the primaries. One of Mr. Deese’s deputies, Bharat Ramamurti, who was Ms. Warren’s chief campaign policy adviser, says the party is now largely unified on economic policy.

President Biden at his first press conference as president on March 25.

President Biden at his first press conference as president on March 25.

PHOTO: OLIVER CONTRERAS/PRESS POOL

A change in the Biden approach to economics is a re-evaluation of the costs of government action, which his team says have receded or always been exaggerated. And on the other side of the equation: an assertion that the cost of inaction is greater than previously estimated.

Progressive economists have generated rafts of research, often contested by conservatives, challenging the links between higher tax rates and lower economic activity. “The evidence suggests that the impact of marginal tax rates on labor supply is not as big as we may have once feared,” said Cecilia Rouse, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

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Liberal academics have produced studies examining the costs to the economy’s productive capacity from inequality and long-term unemployment, work invoked by the Biden team to justify spending big and fast to try to return to full employment as soon as next year. Some critics, including former Clinton and Obama economic adviser Lawrence Summers, have said that spending too aggressively to drive down unemployment could backfire, possibly prompting the Fed to raise interest rates and trigger a recession.

This more relaxed view of previous economic limits has freed the Biden team to plan on a grand scale. They designed a two-step strategy that began with the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which provided $1,400 direct payments to many Americans, extended a $300 weekly jobless-aid supplement, expanded the child tax credit to provide periodic payments and dropped requirements that recipients work.

That was a symbolically significant shift from the Clinton-era move to tie welfare to work and a nod to the burgeoning progressive demands for a no-strings-attached guaranteed government income floor, at least for families with children.

Biden aides are also preparing an aggressive plan of new regulations and enforcement that can be implemented without Congress.

“The president campaigned on concerns about big tech, about labor market competition, about making sure small businesses can compete with the bigger guys,” Mr. Ramamurti said. “The president has a clear agenda there.”

Write to Jacob M. Schlesinger at jacob.schlesinger@wsj.com

It appears that only a fraction of the spending proposed in a new $3 trillion to $4 trillion bill would go toward an already too-expansive definition of infrastructure. Pictured: Engineers discuss the progress of an infrastructure construction project. (Photo: Sornranison Prakittrakoon/ Moment/Getty Images)

The media were flooded Monday with news that the Biden administration is working on a colossal new $3 trillion to $4 trillion spending plan.

While full details are not available yet, the plan appears to be another left-wing grab bag of big-government proposals. Rather than stimulating the economy, it would stimulate bigger government while funneling unprecedented amounts of power and money through the hands of politicians in Washington.

All this comes on the heels of President Joe Biden signing into law on March 11 a badly flawed $1.9 trillion legislative package that was originally marketed as a COVID-19 response, but which was more focused on left-wing pet causes, such as bailouts for union pension plans and unnecessary handouts for state governments.

Just a day later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., released a statement calling for bipartisan work on legislation that would focus on infrastructure. While there were good reasons to question how beneficial or “bipartisan” such legislation would be, there was at least a chance of finding some across-the-aisle support.

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But the potential for bipartisanship was quickly scuttled by news of the latest multitrillion-dollar plan.

It would be bad enough if the latest plan was just a big-spending infrastructure package. However, it appears that only a fraction of the new spending would go toward an already too-expansive definition of infrastructure.

Instead, most of the new spending and tax subsidies would go toward expanding the welfare state, including “free” tuition for community colleges, “free” child care, and other handouts that lack right-of-center support.

This would likely be the largest expansion of the federal government since the “Great Society” of the 1960s, even eclipsing Obamacare in scope.

Reports indicate that Democrats might attempt to split the plan into two bills—one focused on social spending that passes narrowly along party lines, the other focused on actual infrastructure aimed at winning bipartisan support.

However, it’s clear that the $3 trillion-plus total price tag is already souring prospects for bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

House Republicans boycotted the annual Ways and Means Committee “Member’s Day” hearing on Tuesday in the wake of news reports on the plan, since they indicated that Democrats have already made up their minds to pursue as much spending as possible through the legislative procedure known as reconciliation.

Coincidentally, two respected nonpartisan groups released reports this week that show why Biden and Pelosi should pause their aggressive agenda.

First, the Congressional Budget Office published a paper demonstrating what would happen if a sustained increase in federal spending were coupled with big tax increases to pay for the spending.

While the analysis points to different long-term effects from different types of taxes, any tax-and-spend approach would lead to reductions in economic growth and personal income that are larger than the size of the tax hikes.

For example, the analysis found that having 10% more federal government would mean a 12% to 19% reduction in personal consumption.

And that’s a conservative estimate. Most estimates show tax hikes shrink the economy by two to three times more than the revenues they raise.

That doesn’t mean Congress could escape the consequences of a continued spending spree by simply adding to the national debt. The CBO paper cautions that that would not only impose significant costs and divert resources away from the private sector, but it also would be unsustainable and increase the risk of a devastating financial crisis.

Along the same lines, the Government Accountability Office released a sobering reporton the nation’s poor financial health.

Now that Congress has passed a combined total of $6 trillion in legislation in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic (more than $48,000 per household), it must quickly address the unsustainable growth of major benefit programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Even before the pandemic struck, these programs were on a path to bankruptcy. Addressing these shortfalls in a way that is fair to both current retirees and future generations who will have to foot the bill is one of the greatest policy challenges facing the nation.

Unfortunately, Washington is exacerbating the problem by adding excessively to the national debt and potentially stunting economic growth with higher taxes.

While the Biden administration has repeatedly claimed that it will only seek to raise taxes on the wealthy, a government of the size that it’s seeking would require amounts of money that can only be generated through steep across-the-board tax increases on middle-class Americans.

Regardless of whether those taxes are levied tomorrow or in a few years, they would be an inevitable part of expanding the size and scope of the federal government.

Rather than continuing down the path of centralized power and socialism, lawmakers should recognize the costs associated with endless federal spending and chart a course toward financial responsibility and prosperity.

If they don’t, it will be the public’s duty to hold them accountable.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we will consider publishing your remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature.

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

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Dan Mitchell: “There’s no reason why taxpayers across the nation should be subsidizing the cost of railway, bus, and subway travel in a handful of cities”

There Should Be No Federal Funding for Mass Transit

As a matter of sensible public policy (and well as fealty to the Constitution), the federal government should not be involved in transportation.

But since I don’t expect the current crowd in Washington has any interest in getting rid of the Department of Transportation, perhaps we should have a more modest goal of eliminating subsidies for mass transit.

After all, there’s no reason why taxpayers across the nation should be subsidizing the cost of railway, bus, and subway travel in a handful of cities.

Getting rid of these handouts would save a decent chunk of money. Here’s a chart from Downsizing Government, which shows the history of pre-pandemic spending by the Federal Transit Administration.

But that chart is now out of date since politicians have used the pandemic as an excuse to dramatically increase the burden of federal spending. Including big handouts for mass transit.

And now they want to raid taxpayers for more transit money as part of a spending spree on infrastructure.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized about this topic a couple of days ago.

Democrats are accusing Republicans of holding up the Senate infrastructure deal over funding for mass transit. Here’s what’s really going on: Republicans have bowed to most Democratic demands. But now Democrats are also insisting that they acquiesce to spending ever more to rescue broken rail and bus systems in big liberal cities. Mass transit typically receives $13 billion in federal funds each year, and Congress provided an additional $70 billion for urban transit last year in the myriad pandemic spending bills. That’s more than six times the normal transit budget and more than the annual operating and capital spending of every transit agency in the U.S. combined. …But most mass transit systems face a larger structural budget problem that pre-dated the pandemic: Ballooning operating costs from generous labor contracts and pension payments, which are siphoning off money from system improvements and repairs. Many systems have also been losing riders due to lousy service… So Democrats want Republicans to bail out those cities and their public unions. Republicans have agreed to a $48.5 billion supplemental appropriation for mass transit in the deal. But in addition Democrats are demanding that 20% of transportation spending from the highway trust fund—financed by gas tax revenues—go toward transit.

This is throwing good money after bad.

In a column for the Foundation for Economic Education back in 2019, Hans Bader explained that mass transit in an inefficient money pit.

Mass transit is largely a failure and continues to decline despite growing subsidies to many mass transit systems. Light rail systems are white elephants. …South Korea is abolishing its celebrated high-speed rail line from its capital, Seoul, to a nearby major city because it can’t cover even the marginal costs of keeping the trains running. Most people who ride trains don’t need maximum possible speed,and most of those who do will still take the plane to reach distant destinations. …most Japanese don’t take the bullet train either; they take buses because the bullet train is too expensive. Bullet trains do interfere with freight lines, so Japanese freight lines carry much less cargo than in the United States, where railroads—rather than trucks—carry most freight, thereby reducing pollution… California’s so-called bullet train is vastly behind schedule and over budget, and will likely never come close to covering its operating costs once it is built. …Just the first leg of this $77 billion project will cost billions more than budgeted. And the project is already at least 11 years behind schedule.

Government is a big reason why transit is so inefficient and expensive.

Industry expert Randal O’Toole wrote about the harmful impact of socialized systems back in 2018.

Public ownership of transit has significantly increased the cost of transit, creating another disadvantage for the transit industry relative to other modes of travel. Before 1964, transit systems in most American cities were private and profitable, albeit declining. In 1964, Congress gave cities and states incentives to take over transit systems, and within a decade nearly all had been municipalized …followed by a staggering decline in transit productivity. In the decade before 1964, transit systems carried an average of about 59,000 riders per operating employee. This plunged after 1964 and today averages fewer than 27,000 riders per employee… It is doubtful that any American industry has suffered a 54 percent decline in worker productivity over 30 years unless it was another industry taken over by the government and inflicted with all the inefficiencies associated with government control and management.

We’ll close with this chart from O’Toole’s study, which shows total taxpayer subsidies over time.

The bottom line is that government transit systems are a lot like government schools. More and more money gets spent over time with worse and worse results.

Except maybe mass transit is even worse because of absurd cost overruns.

P.S. Click here and here to learn more about the boondoggle of government-funded rail.

P.P.S. Click here to learn more about the boondoggle of government-funded subways.

TRY BORROWING AT A BANK WITH A FINANCIAL CONDITION LIKE THE USA HAS:

The problem in Washington is not lack of revenue but our lack of spending restraint. This video below makes that point. WASHINGTON IS A SPENDING ADDICT!!!

I love reading this blog by Dan Mitchell. No two people agree on everything but I sure do agree with most everything Dan writes on this blog of his. However, I disagree silently with something he has written today. I think it is encouraging that the Republicans in the House have been able to accomplish some things in slowing down the growth in spending by Obama. I know Dan would agree that more needs to be done. For instance, why don’t they just vote no on the next increase to the debt ceiling limit. I have praised over and over and over the 66 House Republicans that voted no on that before. If they did not raise the debt ceiling then we would have a balanced budget instantly.  I agree that the Tea Party has made a difference and I have personally posted 49 posts on my blog on different Tea Party heroes of mine.

What would happen if the debt ceiling was not increased? Yes President Obama would probably cancel White House tours and he would try to stop mail service or something else to get on our nerves but that is what the Republicans need to do.

I have written hundreds of letters and emails to President Obama and I must say that I have been impressed that he has had the White House staff answer so many of my letters. However, his policies have not changed, and by the way the White House after answering over 50 of my letters before November of 2012 has not answered one since.  President Obama committed to cutting nothing from the budget that I can tell. Republicans must take the next step now and vote no on the debt ceiling increase!!!

In recent months, people have asked me why I’m acting all giddy and optimistic. Am I hooked on cocaine? Have I fallen in love? Did I inherit several million dollars?

These questions started after I said the fiscal cliff was a smaller loss than I expected. Then people wondered what was going on when I wrote that we should celebrate the sequester victory. The questions got more intense when I opined that the Tea Party had made a positive difference. And people were even more nonplussed when I wrote that we should enjoy a win over the IMF.

But I’m not the only person thinking that things may be heading in the right direction.

Conn Carroll explains his optimism in the Washington Examiner. He starts by noting how bad Congress was back in 2009 and 2010.

…its liberal predecessor passed a trillion-dollar stimulus, enacted a government takeover of health care and institutionalized the power of Wall Street’s Too Big To Fail banks by passing the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law.

Then he explains that the new Tea Party Congress has changed the fiscal outlook.

…if you look at the hard numbers — if you look at the tax-and-spending trajectory that the United States was on before the 112th Congress was sworn into office, and then look at the path the U.S. is on now — you’d see that Republicans in Congress have made tremendous progress in shrinking the size and scope of the federal government.

But is there any proof?

Conn points out that the CBO “baselines” from early 2011 showed government growing very rapidly.

…the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its annual Budget and Economic Outlook for fiscal years 2011 through 2021. That document showed the federal government was on track to spend…a total of almost $50 trillion ($49.8 trillion to be exact) through 2021. At the same time, tax revenues were set to rise from just 14.8 percent of GDP in 2011 to 20.8 percent in 2021.

The same estimates from early this year, by contrast, show government growing at a slower pace.

The CBO’s Budget and Economic Outlook for fiscal years 2013 through 2023 shows just how much House Republicans have actually accomplished. The federal government is now on track to spend just $46.2 trillion through 2021. That is a $3.6 trillion spending cut. And instead of taxes eating up 21 percent of the U.S. economy in 2021, now the government is set to take in just 18.9 percent.

Here are the respective baselines from those CBO publications. Let’s start by looking at how spending is projected to grow at a slower pace for the rest of the decade.

2011-2013 Spending Projections

That’s $3.5 trillion of savings. Not genuine spending cuts, of course, but it’s real progress if government doesn’t grow as fast.

Here are the revenue numbers.

2011-2013 Revenue Projections

This data basically shows that the tax burden will be much smaller than projected because about 98 percent of the Bush tax cuts were made permanent as part of the fiscal cliff deal.

And if you believe in the Starve-the-Beast theory (and you should), this will make it harder for politicians to increase the burden of government spending in the future.

Conn also notes that the unemployment rate has fallen.

Despite all of this supposedly economy-killing “austerity,” unemployment has steadily fallen, too. When Republicans took control of the House in 2011, the nation’s unemployment rate was 9 percent. Today, it has fallen to 7.7 percent.

If this seems like a familiar point, it’s because I share his assessment. I wrote back in February of last year that gridlock was a positive thing for the economy since it reduced the likelihood of new bad policies.

What’s remarkable about these developments, as Conn notes, is that folks were expecting Obama to have momentum as his second term began.

Just three months ago, many in Washington were predicting Obama would steamroll Republicans into accepting higher taxes for millions of earners, undoing the sequester and maybe even passing new stimulus spending. Instead, Republicans have stayed unified, outfoxed Obama, preserved and made permanent most of last decade’s tax cuts (including permanent indexing of the Alternative Minimum Tax) and let the sequester cuts occur on schedule. As a result, Obama’s approval ratings have tumbled, and his entire second-term agenda is in jeopardy.

The final sentence in that excerpt explains why I’m feeling semi-optimistic. Obama’s agenda of more taxes and more spending is being thwarted.

To be sure, that doesn’t mean we’re seeing good policies of tax reform and fiscal restraint. And we still face a very dour fiscal future unless entitlements are reformed.

But we’re going in the wrong direction at a slower pace, and that beats the alternative.

__________

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Dan Mitchell noted “politicians should only spend money to finance “public goods” that generate offsetting benefits!”

Government Spending Is a Problem, Regardless of How It Is Financed

Back in 2019, I listed “Six Principles to Guide Policy on Government Spending.”

If I was required to put it all in one sentence (sort of), here’s the most important thing to understand about fiscal policy.

This does not mean, by the way, that we should be anarcho-capitalists and oppose all government spending.

But it does mean that all government spending imposes a burden on the economy and that politicians should only spend money to finance “public goods” that generate offsetting benefits.

Assuming, of course, that the goal is greater prosperity.

I’m motivated to address this topic because Philip Klein wrote a column for National Review about Biden’s new spending. He points out that this new spending is bad, regardless of whether it is debt-financed or tax-financed.

As Democrats race toward squandering another $4.1 trillion — perhaps with some Republican help — we are being told over and over how the biggest stumbling block is figuring out how the new spending will be “paid for.” …Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), who is trying to maintain his image as a moderate, insisted that he doesn’t believe the spending should be passed if it isn’t fully financed.“Everything should be paid for,” Manchin has told reporters. …Republican members of the bipartisan group have also made similar comments. …But it is folly to consider massive amounts of new spending to be “responsible” as long as members of Congress come up with enough taxes to raise… At some point in the next few weeks, Democrats (and possibly Republicans) will announce that they have reached a deal on some sort of major spending compromise. They will claim that it is fully paid for, and assert that it is fiscally responsible. But there is nothing responsible about adding trillions in new obligations at a time when the nation is already heading for fiscal catastrophe.

Klein is correct.

Biden’s spending binge will be just as damaging to prosperity if it is financed with taxes rather than financed by debt.

The key thing to realize is that we’ll have less growth if more of the economy’s output is consumed by government spending.

Giving politicians and bureaucrats more control over the allocation of resources is a very bad idea (as even the World Bank, OECD, and IMF have admitted).

March 31, 2021

President Biden  c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Please explain to me if you ever do plan to balance the budget while you are President? I have written these things below about you and I really do think that you don’t want to cut spending in order to balance the budget. It seems you ever are daring the Congress to stop you from spending more.

President Barack Obama speaks about the debt limit in the East Room of the White House in Washington. | AP Photo

“The credit of the United States ‘is not a bargaining chip,’ Obama said on 1-14-13. However, President Obama keeps getting our country’s credit rating downgraded as he raises the debt ceiling higher and higher!!!!

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Just spend more, don’t know how to cut!!! Really!!! That is not living in the real world is it?

Making more dependent on government is not the way to go!!

Why is our government in over 16 trillion dollars in debt? There are many reasons for this but the biggest reason is people say “Let’s spend someone else’s money to solve our problems.” Liberals like Max Brantley have talked this way for years. Brantley will say that conservatives are being harsh when they don’t want the government out encouraging people to be dependent on the government. The Obama adminstration has even promoted a plan for young people to follow like Julia the Moocher.  

David Ramsey demonstrates in his Arkansas Times Blog post of 1-14-13 that very point:

Arkansas Politics / Health Care Arkansas’s share of Medicaid expansion and the national debt

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Baby carrot Arkansas Medicaid expansion image

Imagine standing a baby carrot up next to the 25-story Stephens building in Little Rock. That gives you a picture of the impact on the national debt that federal spending in Arkansas on Medicaid expansion would have, while here at home expansion would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, create jobs, and save money for the state.

Here’s the thing: while more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending would represent a big-time stimulus for Arkansas, it’s not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the national debt.

Currently, the national debt is around $16.4 trillion. In fiscal year 2015, the federal government would spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion to fund Medicaid expansion in Arkansas if we say yes. That’s about 1/13,700th of the debt.

It’s hard to get a handle on numbers that big, so to put that in perspective, let’s get back to the baby carrot. Imagine that the height of the Stephens building (365 feet) is the $16 trillion national debt. That $1.2 billion would be the length of a ladybug. Of course, we’re not just talking about one year if we expand. Between now and 2021, the federal government projects to contribute around $10 billion. The federal debt is projected to be around $25 trillion by then, so we’re talking about 1/2,500th of the debt. Compared to the Stephens building? That’s a baby carrot.

______________

Here is how it will all end if everyone feels they should be allowed to have their “baby carrot.”

How sad it is that liberals just don’t get this reality.

Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say about welfare. David Weinberger noted:

While living in Europe in the 1760s, Franklin observed: “in different countries … the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and he noted, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan

April 6, 1816

[Jefferson affirms that the main purpose of society is to enable human beings to keep the fruits of their labor. — TGW]

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.” If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra taxation violates it.

[From Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Albert E. Bergh (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 14:466.]

_______

Jefferson pointed out that to take from the rich and give to the poor through government is just wrong. Franklin knew the poor would have a better path upward without government welfare coming their way. Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is the best method for doing that and by taking away all welfare programs and letting them go to the churches for charity.

_____________

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733

Williams with Sowell – Minimum Wage

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Reducing Black Unemployment

By WALTER WILLIAMS

—-

Ronald Reagan with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman The Power of the Market 2-5

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Private charities are best solution and not government welfare

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The book “After the Welfare State”

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Welfare reform part 3

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Welfare reform part 2

Uploaded by ForaTv on May 29, 2009 Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2009/05/18/James_Bartholomew_The_Welfare_State_Were_In Author James Bartholomew argues that welfare benefits actually increase government handouts by ‘ruining’ ambition. He compares welfare to a humane mousetrap. —– Welfare reform was working so good. Why did we have to abandon it? Look at this article from 2003. In the controversial […]

Why did Obama stop the Welfare Reform that Clinton put in?

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“Feedback Friday” Letter to White House generated form letter response July 10,2012 on welfare, etc (part 14)

I have been writing President Obama letters and have not received a personal response yet.  (He reads 10 letters a day personally and responds to each of them.) However, I did receive a form letter in the form of an email on July 10, 2012. I don’t know which letter of mine generated this response so I have […]

Dan Mitchell article States Lowering Income Tax Rates

_________

States Lowering Income Tax Rates

The best news of 2021 almost surely is the big expansion of school choice in several states.

That’s a great development, especially for poor and minority families.

But there’s another positive trend at the state level. As indicated by this map from the Tax Foundation, tax rates have been reduced in several jurisdictions.

I’ve already written about Arizona’s very attractive tax reform, though I also acknowledged that the new law mostly stops the tax system from getting worse (because of a bad 2020 referendum result).

But stopping something bad is an achievement, regardless.

What about other states? The Tax Foundation’s article has all the details you could possibly want, including phase-in times and presence (in some states) of revenue triggers.

For purposes of today’s column, let’s simply focus on what’s happening to top tax rates. Here’s a table with the key results, ranked by the size of the rate reduction.

Kudos to Arizona, of course, but Iowa and Louisiana also deserve praise for significantly dropping their top tax rates.

As these states move in the right direction, keep in mind that some states are shifting (or trying to shift) in the wrong direction.

And bigger differences between sensible states and class-warfare states will increase interstate tax migration – with predictable political consequences.

High-tax states are languishing but  zero-income-tax states such as Texas are growing rapidly!!!!

Much of my writing is focused on the real-world impact of government policy, and this is why I repeatedly look at the relative economic performance of big government jurisdictions and small government jurisdictions.

But I don’t just highlight differences between nations. Yes, it’s educational to look at North Korea vs. South Korea or Chile vs. Venezuela vs. Argentina, but I also think you can learn a lot by looking at what’s happening with different states in America.

So we’ve looked at high-tax states that are languishing, such as California and Illinois, and compared them to zero-income-tax states such as Texas.

With this in mind, you can understand that I was intrigued to see that even the establishment media is noticing that Texas is out-pacing the rest of the nation.

Here are some excerpts from a report by CNN Money on rapid population growth in Texas.

More Americans moved to Texas in recent years than any other state: A net gain of more than 387,000 in the latest Census for 2013. …Five Texas cities — Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth — were among the top 20 fastest growing large metro areas. Some smaller Texas metro areas grew even faster. In oil-rich Odessa, the population grew 3.3% and nearby Midland recorded a 3% gain.

But why is the population growing?

Well, CNN Money points out that low housing prices and jobs are big reasons.

And on the issue of housing, the article does acknowledge the role of “easy regulations” that enable new home construction.

But on the topic of jobs, the piece contains some good data on employment growth, but no mention of policy.

Jobs is the No. 1 reason for population moves, with affordable housing a close second. …Jobs are plentiful in Austin, where the unemployment rate is just 4.6%. Moody’s Analytics projects job growth to average 4% a year through 2015. Just as important, many jobs there are well paid: The median income of more than $75,000 is nearly 20% higher than the national median.

That’s it. Read the entire article if you don’t believe me, but the reporter was able to write a complete article about the booming economy in Texas without mentioning – not even once – that there’s no state income tax.

But that wasn’t the only omission.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas is the 4th-best state in the Tax Foundation’s ranking of state and local tax burdens.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas was the least oppressive state in the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Soft Tyranny Index.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas was ranked #20 in a study of the overall fiscal condition of the 50 states.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas is in 4th place in a combined ranking of economic freedom in U.S. state and Canadian provinces.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas was ranked #11 in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index.

The article doesn’t mention that Texas is in 14th place in the Mercatus ranking of overall freedom for the 50 states (and in 10th place for fiscal freedom).

By the way, I’m not trying to argue that Texas is the best state.

Indeed, it only got the top ranking in one of the measures cited above.

My point, instead, is simply to note that it takes willful blindness to write about the strong population growth and job performance of Texas without making at least a passing reference to the fact that it is a low-tax, pro-market state.

At least compared to other states. And especially compared to the high-tax states that are stagnating.

Such as California, as illustrated by this data and this data, as well as this Lisa Benson cartoon.

Such as Illinois, as illustrated by this data and this Eric Allie cartoon.

And I can’t resist adding this Steve Breen cartoon, if for no other reason that it reminds me of another one of his cartoons that I shared last year.

Speaking of humor, this Chuck Asay cartoon speculates on how future archaeologists will view California. And this joke about Texas, California, and a coyote is among my most-viewed blog posts.

All jokes aside, I want to reiterate what I wrote above. Texas is far from perfect. There’s too much government in the Lone Star state. It’s only a success story when compared to California.

P.S. Paul Krugman has tried to defend California, which has made him an easy target. I debunked him earlier this year, and I also linked to a superb Kevin Williamson takedown of Krugman at the bottom of this post.

P.P.S. Once again, I repeat the two-part challenge I’ve issued to the left. I’ll be happy if any statists can successfully respond to just one of the two questions I posed.

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California is the Greece of the USA, but Texas is not perfect either!!!

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Dan Mitchell “For decades, people in government have been upset that the tax cuts implemented by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher triggered a four-decade trend of lower tax rates and pro-growth tax reform”

Tax Cartels Mean Ever-Higher Tax Rates

When President Biden proposed a “global minimum tax” for businesses, I immediately warned that would lead to ever-increasing tax rates.

Ross Kaminsky of KHOW and I discussed how this is already happening.

I hate being right, but it’s always safe to predict that politicians and bureaucrats will embrace policies that give more power to government.

Especially when they are very anxious to stifle tax competition.

For decades, people in government have been upset that the tax cuts implemented by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatchertriggered a four-decade trend of lower tax rates and pro-growth tax reform.

That’s the reason Biden and his Treasury Secretary proposed a 15 percent minimum tax rate for businesses.

And it’s the reason they now want the rate to be even higher.

Though even I’m surprised that they’re already pushing for that outcome when the original pact hasn’t even been approved or implemented.

Here are some passages from a report by Reuters.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will press G20 counterparts this week for a global minimum corporate tax rate above the 15% floor agreed by 130 countries last week…the global minimum tax rate…is tied to the outcome of legislation to raise the U.S. minimum tax rate, a Treasury official said.The Biden administration has proposed doubling the U.S. minimum tax on corporations overseas intangible income to 21% along with a new companion “enforcement” tax that would deny deductions to companies for tax payments to countries that fail to adopt the new global minimum rate. The officials said several countries were pushing for a rate above 15%, along with the United States.

Other kleptocratic governments naturally want the same thing.

A G7 proposal for a global minimum tax rate of 15% is too low and a rate of at least 21% is needed, Argentina’s finance minister said on Monday, leading a push by some developing countries… “The 15% rate is way too low,” Argentine Finance Minister Martin Guzman told an online panel hosted by the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation. …”The minimum rate being proposed would not do much to countries in Africa…,” Mathew Gbonjubola, Nigeria’s tax policy director, told the same conference.

Needless to say, I’m not surprised that Argentina is on the wrong side.

And supporters of class warfare also are agitating for a higher minimum rate. Here are some excerpts from a column in the New York Times by Gabriel Zucman and Gus Wezerek.

In the decades after World War II, close to 50 percent of American companies’ earnings went to state and federal taxes. …it was a golden period. …President Biden should be applauded for trying to end the race to the bottom on corporate tax rates. But even if Congress approves the 15 percent global minimum corporate tax, it won’t be enough. …the Biden administration to give working families a real leg up, it should push Congress to enact a 25 percent minimum tax, which would bring in about $200 billion in additional revenue each year. …With a 25 percent minimum corporate tax, the Biden administration would begin to reverse decades of growing inequality. And it would encourage other countries to do the same, replacing a race to the bottom with a sprint to the top.

I can’t resist making two observations about this ideological screed.

  1. Even the IMF and OECD agree that the so-called race to the bottom has not led to a decline in corporate tax revenues, even when measured as a share of economic output.
  2. Since companies legally avoid rather than illegally evade taxes, the headline of the column is utterly dishonest – but it’s what we’ve learned to expect from the New York Times.

The only good thing about the Zucman-Wezerek column is that it includes this chart showing how corporate tax rates have dramatically declined since 1980.

P.S. For those interested, the horizontal line at the bottom is for Bermuda, though other jurisdictions (such as Monaco and the Cayman Islands) also deserve credit for having no corporate income taxes.

P.P.S. If you want to know why high corporate tax rates are misguided, click here. And if you want to know why Biden’s plan to raise the U.S. corporate tax rate is misguided, click here. Or here. Or here.

P.P.P.S. And if you want more information about why Biden’s global tax cartel is bad, click here, here, and here.

I enjoyed this article below because it demonstrates that the Laffer Curve has been working for almost 100 years now when it is put to the test in the USA. I actually got to hear Arthur Laffer speak in person in 1981 and he told us in advance what was going to happen the 1980’s and it all came about as he said it would when Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts took place. I wish we would lower taxes now instead of looking for more revenue through raised taxes. We have to grow the economy:

What Mitt Romney Said Last Night About Tax Cuts And The Deficit Was Absolutely Right. And What Obama Said Was Absolutely Wrong.

Mitt Romney repeatedly said last night that he would not allow tax cuts to add to the deficit.  He repeatedly said it because over and over again Obama blathered the liberal talking point that cutting taxes necessarily increased deficits.

Romney’s exact words: “I want to underline that — no tax cut that adds to the deficit.”

Meanwhile, Obama has promised to cut the deficit in half during his first four years – but instead gave America the highest deficits in the history of the entire human race.

I’ve written about this before.  Let’s replay what has happened every single time we’ve ever cut the income tax rate.

The fact of the matter is that we can go back to Calvin Coolidge who said very nearly THE EXACT SAME THING to his treasury secretary: he too would not allow any tax cuts that added to the debt.  Andrew Mellon – quite possibly the most brilliant economic mind of his day – did a great deal of research and determined what he believed was the best tax rate.  And the Coolidge administration DID cut income taxes and MASSIVELY increased revenues.  Coolidge and Mellon cut the income tax rate 67.12 percent (from 73 to 24 percent); and revenues not only did not go down, but they went UP by at least 42.86 percent (from $700 billion to over $1 billion).

That’s something called a documented fact.  But that wasn’t all that happened: another incredible thing was that the taxes and percentage of taxes paid actually went UP for the rich.  Because as they were allowed to keep more of the profits that they earned by investing in successful business, they significantly increased their investments and therefore paid more in taxes than they otherwise would have had they continued sheltering their money to protect themselves from the higher tax rates.  Liberals ignore reality, but it is simply true.  It is a fact.  It happened.

Then FDR came along and raised the tax rates again and the opposite happened: we collected less and less revenue while the burden of taxation fell increasingly on the poor and middle class again.  Which is exactly what Obama wants to do.

People don’t realize that John F. Kennedy, one of the greatest Democrat presidents, was a TAX CUTTER who believed the conservative economic philosophy that cutting tax rates would in fact increase tax revenues.  He too cut taxes, and he too increased tax revenues.

So we get to Ronald Reagan, who famously cut taxes.  And again, we find that Reagan cut that godawful liberal tax rate during an incredibly godawful liberal-caused economic recession, and he increased tax revenue by 20.71 percent (with revenues increasing from $956 billion to $1.154 trillion).  And again, the taxes were paid primarily by the rich:

“The share of the income tax burden borne by the top 10 percent of taxpayers increased from 48.0 percent in 1981 to 57.2 percent in 1988. Meanwhile, the share of income taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers dropped from 7.5 percent in 1981 to 5.7 percent in 1988.”

So we get to George Bush and the Bush tax cuts that liberals and in particular Obama have just demonized up one side and demagogued down the other.  And I can simply quote the New York Times AT the time:

Sharp Rise in Tax Revenue to Pare U.S. Deficit By EDMUND L. ANDREWS Published: July 13, 2005

WASHINGTON, July 12 – For the first time since President Bush took office, an unexpected leap in tax revenue is about to shrink the federal budget deficit this year, by nearly $100 billion.

A Jump in Corporate Payments On Wednesday, White House officials plan to announce that the deficit for the 2005 fiscal year, which ends in September, will be far smaller than the $427 billion they estimated in February.

Mr. Bush plans to hail the improvement at a cabinet meeting and to cite it as validation of his argument that tax cuts would stimulate the economy and ultimately help pay for themselves.

Based on revenue and spending data through June, the budget deficit for the first nine months of the fiscal year was $251 billion, $76 billion lower than the $327 billion gap recorded at the corresponding point a year earlier.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated last week that the deficit for the full fiscal year, which reached $412 billion in 2004, could be “significantly less than $350 billion, perhaps below $325 billion.”

The big surprise has been in tax revenue, which is running nearly 15 percent higher than in 2004. Corporate tax revenue has soared about 40 percent, after languishing for four years, and individual tax revenue is up as well
.

And of course the New York Times, as reliable liberals, use the adjective whenever something good happens under conservative policies and whenever something bad happens under liberal policies: ”unexpected.”   But it WASN’T ”unexpected.”  It was EXACTLY what Republicans had said would happen and in fact it was exactly what HAD IN FACT HAPPENED every single time we’ve EVER cut income tax rates.

The truth is that conservative tax policy has a perfect track record: every single time it has ever been tried, we have INCREASED tax revenues while not only exploding economic activity and creating more jobs, but encouraging the wealthy to pay more in taxes as well.  And liberals simply dishonestly refuse to acknowledge documented history.

Meanwhile, liberals also have a perfect record … of FAILUREThey keep raising taxes and keep not understanding why they don’t get the revenues they predicted.

The following is a section from my article, “Tax Cuts INCREASE Revenues; They Have ALWAYS Increased Revenues“, where I document every single thing I said above:

The Falsehood That Tax Cuts Increase The Deficit

Now let’s take a look at the utterly fallacious view that tax cuts in general create higher deficits.

Let’s take a trip back in time, starting with the 1920s.  From Burton Folsom’s book, New Deal or Raw Deal?:

In 1921, President Harding asked the sixty-five-year-old [Andrew] Mellon to be secretary of the treasury; the national debt [resulting from WWI] had surpassed $20 billion and unemployment had reached 11.7 percent, one of the highest rates in U.S. history.  Harding invited Mellon to tinker with tax rates to encourage investment without incurring more debt. Mellon studied the problem carefully; his solution was what is today called “supply side economics,” the idea of cutting taxes to stimulate investment.  High income tax rates, Mellon argued, “inevitably put pressure upon the taxpayer to withdraw this capital from productive business and invest it in tax-exempt securities. . . . The result is that the sources of taxation are drying up, wealth is failing to carry its share of the tax burden; and capital is being diverted into channels which yield neither revenue to the Government nor profit to the people” (page 128).

Mellon wrote, “It seems difficult for some to understand that high rates of taxation do not necessarily mean large revenue to the Government, and that more revenue may often be obtained by lower taxes.”  And he compared the government setting tax rates on incomes to a businessman setting prices on products: “If a price is fixed too high, sales drop off and with them profits.”

And what happened?

“As secretary of the treasury, Mellon promoted, and Harding and Coolidge backed, a plan that eventually cut taxes on large incomes from 73 to 24 percent and on smaller incomes from 4 to 1/2 of 1 percent.  These tax cuts helped produce an outpouring of economic development – from air conditioning to refrigerators to zippers, Scotch tape to radios and talking movies.  Investors took more risks when they were allowed to keep more of their gains.  President Coolidge, during his six years in office, averaged only 3.3 percent unemployment and 1 percent inflation – the lowest misery index of any president in the twentieth century.

Furthermore, Mellon was also vindicated in his astonishing predictions that cutting taxes across the board would generate more revenue.  In the early 1920s, when the highest tax rate was 73 percent, the total income tax revenue to the U.S. government was a little over $700 million.  In 1928 and 1929, when the top tax rate was slashed to 25 and 24 percent, the total revenue topped the $1 billion mark.  Also remarkable, as Table 3 indicates, is that the burden of paying these taxes fell increasingly upon the wealthy” (page 129-130).

Now, that is incredible upon its face, but it becomes even more incredible when contrasted with FDR’s antibusiness and confiscatory tax policies, which both dramatically shrunk in terms of actual income tax revenues (from $1.096 billion in 1929 to $527 million in 1935), and dramatically shifted the tax burden to the backs of the poor by imposing huge new excise taxes (from $540 million in 1929 to $1.364 billion in 1935).  See Table 1 on page 125 of New Deal or Raw Deal for that information.

FDR both collected far less taxes from the rich, while imposing a far more onerous tax burden upon the poor.

It is simply a matter of empirical fact that tax cuts create increased revenue, and that those [Democrats] who have refused to pay attention to that fact have ended up reducing government revenues even as they increased the burdens on the poorest whom they falsely claim to help.

Let’s move on to John F. Kennedy, one of the most popular Democrat presidents ever.  Few realize that he was also a supply-side tax cutter.

Kennedy said:

“It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now … Cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.”

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, president’s news conference


“Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government.”

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 17, 1963, annual budget message to the Congress, fiscal year 1964

“In today’s economy, fiscal prudence and responsibility call for tax reduction even if it temporarily enlarges the federal deficit – why reducing taxes is the best way open to us to increase revenues.”

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: “The Economic Report Of The President”


“It is no contradiction – the most important single thing we can do to stimulate investment in today’s economy is to raise consumption by major reduction of individual income tax rates.”

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: “The Economic Report Of The President”


“Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort – thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.”

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 24, 1963, message to Congress on tax reduction and reform, House Doc. 43, 88th Congress, 1st Session.


“A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. Every taxpayer and his family will have more money left over after taxes for a new car, a new home, new conveniences, education and investment. Every businessman can keep a higher percentage of his profits in his cash register or put it to work expanding or improving his business, and as the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues.”

– John F. Kennedy, Sept. 18, 1963, radio and television address to the nation on tax-reduction bill

Which is to say that modern Democrats are essentially calling one of their greatest presidents a liar when they demonize tax cuts as a means of increasing government revenues.

So let’s move on to Ronald Reagan.  Reagan had two major tax cutting policies implemented: the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA) of 1981, which was retroactive to 1981, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Did Reagan’s tax cuts decrease federal revenues?  Hardly:

We find that 8 of the following 10 years there was a surplus of revenue from 1980, prior to the Reagan tax cuts.  And, following the Tax Reform Act of 1986, there was a MASSIVE INCREASEof revenue.

So Reagan’s tax cuts increased revenue.  But who paid the increased tax revenue?  The poor?  Opponents of the Reagan tax cuts argued that his policy was a giveaway to the rich (ever heard that one before?) because their tax payments would fall.  But that was exactly wrong.  In reality:

“The share of the income tax burden borne by the top 10 percent of taxpayers increased from 48.0 percent in 1981 to 57.2 percent in 1988. Meanwhile, the share of income taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers dropped from 7.5 percent in 1981 to 5.7 percent in 1988.”

So Ronald Reagan a) collected more total revenue, b) collected more revenue from the rich, while c) reducing revenue collected by the bottom half of taxpayers, and d) generated an economic powerhouse that lasted – with only minor hiccups – for nearly three decades.  Pretty good achievement considering that his predecessor was forced to describe his own economy as a “malaise,” suffering due to a “crisis of confidence.” Pretty good considering that President Jimmy Carter responded to a reporter’s question as to what he would do about the problem of inflation by answering, “It would be misleading for me to tell any of you that there is a solution to it.”

Reagan whipped inflation.  Just as he whipped that malaise and that crisis of confidence.

________

The Laffer Curve, Part III: Dynamic Scoring

Dan Mitchell article Everything You Need to Know about Bad Government in California

___________

Everything You Need to Know about Bad Government in California

California is a fascinating state for people who follow public policy. It has some immense advantages, such as climate, coastline, and natural resources.

But it also has high taxes, absurd regulations, a bloated bureaucracy, and a costly welfare state.

The net result of all these factors is mixed. There are some sectors that are still thriving, such as high tech, but there’s also evidence that the Golden State is losing ground.

And the comparative data will probably get worse over time because many taxpayers and businesses are now fleeing to lower-tax states.

Since I specialize in public finance, I’m tempted to say bad fiscal policy is California’s biggest problem. And that may actually be the case.

But if someone asks me for an example of what’s wrong with the Golden State, I’m going to direct them to this story in the Los Angeles Times.

The California Legislature on Monday approved a $100-million plan to bolster California’s legal marijuana industry, which continues to struggle to compete with the large illicit pot market nearly five years after voters approved sales for recreational use. …State officials initially expected to license as many as 6,000 cannabis shops in the first few years, but permits have been issued only for 1,086 retail and delivery firms. In 2019, industry officials estimated there were nearly three times as many unlicensed businesses as ones with state permits. …The $100 million would go to local agencies with the most provisional licenses for growing, manufacturing, distribution, testing and retail operations. Some of the money can be used by cities offering equity funding to cannabis businesses owned by people of color.

Yes, you read correctly.

The state did a smart thing (removing legal prohibitions on marijuana), but did it in the worst possible way (burdening the sector with high taxes and red tape).

As a result, there’s still a very robust black market.

Here are some additional details about how politicians and bureaucrats have made it difficult to operate a legal business.

Many cannabis growers, retailers and manufacturers have struggled to make the transition from a provisional, temporary license to a permanent one renewed on an annual basis — a process that requires a costly, complicated and time-consuming review. …some face two to four years to get through the licensing process. Many would face the prospect of shutting down, at least temporarily, if they don’t get a regular license by current state deadlines, Kiloh said. …Supporters of legalization blame the discrepancy on problems that they say include high taxes on licensed businesses, burdensome regulations… A key requirement to convert from a provisional license is to conduct a CEQA review to indicate how pot farms and other cannabis businesses will affect the surrounding water, air, plants and wildlife, and to propose ways to mitigate any harms. However, Kiloh said, some cities are just setting up ordinances and staffing to process licenses, meaning many businesses cannot meet the looming deadline. …industry officials note the money will go to a small fraction of California cities, and only those that have already decided to allow cannabis businesses. …said Kiloh, owner of the Higher Path cannabis store in Sherman Oaks. “The real problem is CEQA analysis is a very arduous process,” he added. “I think it would be good to have more reform of the licensing system instead of just putting money to it.”

Wow, provisional licenses, permanent licenses, CEQA analysis, taxes, regulations, reviews, and ordinances.

Sounds like my regulatory obstacle course.No wonder so many buyers and sellers of pot prefer the black market.

And Mr. Kiloh is correct. The solution is to deregulate, not to dump more money into the system.

No wonder California is a mess.

P.S. The late (and great) Walter Williams joking speculatedwhether California should set up East German-style border controls to prevent taxpayers from escaping.

P.P.S. There is a pro-secession group in California, though they should be careful what they wish for.

California and France have raised taxes so much that it has hurt economic growth!!!

I’ve shared some interested rankings on tax policy, including a map from the Tax Foundation showing which states have the earliest and latest Tax Freedom Days.

There’s also a depressing table showing that the United States “earns” a lowly 94th place in a ranking of business-friendly tax system.

Heck, there’s even a map showing the states with the highest wine taxes, as well as a map showing which states have the lightest and heaviest tax burdens compared to income.

So I was very interested to see this table from the Tax Foundation revealing which countries have the most punitive regimes for penalizing success.

Portugal has the dubious honor of having the most progressive (i.e., discriminatory) tax system in the developed world.

I don’t think anyone is surprised to see France in second place, though I confess that I was not expecting to see pro-reform success stories such as Chile and Canada in the top five.

And I’m totally embarrassed that the United States is #8, worse than such garden spots as Greece, Mexico, and Belgium.

Though it’s important to understand that the Tax Foundation is relying on a narrow definition of progressivity.

One way to measure and compare the progressivity of income tax codes across countries is to express the level of income at which each country’s top tax bracket applies as a multiple of that country’s average income.

That’s a useful bit of information and it shows one aspect of progressivity, but it’s also a bit misleading since it implies that the Swedish tax system (with a top tax rate of 56.7 percent) is less progressive than the Slovakian tax system (with a top tax rate of 21.7 percent).

You won’t be surprised that I think a ranking that purports to show the burden of “progressive” taxation should include the top tax rate.

Speaking of which, this is why I like the Tax Foundation’s measure of progressivity on the state level.

The…table also shows the gap between the top marginal tax rate and the marginal tax rate on $25,000 of taxable income. …Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have progressive rate structures that rise after $25,000. California, New Jersey, and Vermont have the most progressive rate structures by a wide margin.

Who could have guessed that California would be the worst state, though I’m not surprised to see New Jersey (the worst place to die) and Vermont (worst place for self reliance) have such poor ratings as well.

And is anyone even remotely shocked to see that states with no income taxes manage to avoid any problems with ‘so-called” progressivity? Not surprisingly, they also grow faster and create more jobs.

The moral of the story, at the very least, is that America needs a simple and fair flat tax.

And not the Obama or Hollande version.

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California is the Greece of the USA, but Texas is not perfect either!!! Just Because California Is Terrible, that Doesn’t Mean Texas Is Perfect January 21, 2013 by Dan Mitchell Texas is in much better shape than California. Taxes are lower, in part because Texas has no state income tax. No wonder the Lone Star State […]

People will move when you raise the taxes too much!!!!

People will move when you raise the taxes too much!!!! Final Score: Dwight Howard 8,000,000 – Jerry Brown 0 July 7, 2013 by Dan Mitchell I feel sorry for the people of California.  They’re in a state that faces a very bleak future. And why does the Golden State have a not-so-golden outlook? Because interest groups have effective […]