Tag Archives: michael tanner

Tax increases are not the way to go

Tax increases are not the way to go

President Obama just does not get it.

Liberals love tax increases.

Seven Reasons Why Tax Increases Are the Wrong Approach

Uploaded by on May 3, 2011

This Economics 101 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity gives seven reasons why the political elite are wrong to push for more taxes. If allowed to succeed, the hopelessly misguided pushing to raise taxes would only worsen our fiscal mess while harming the economy.

The seven reasons provided by the video against this approach are as follows:

1) Tax increases are not needed;
2) Tax increases encourage more spending;
3) Tax increases harm economic performance;
4) Tax increases foment social discord;
5) Tax increases almost never raise as much revenue as projected;
6) Tax increases encourage more loopholes; and,
7) Tax increases undermine competitiveness

________________________

The Real Budget Problem

by Michael D. Tanner

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Added to cato.org on June 15, 2011

This article appeared on National Review (Online) on June 15, 2011.

If you listen to the discussion of the deficit in the mainstream media or the talking points from leading Democrats on the Hill (but I repeat myself), the refrain is that tax increases must be part of any deficit fix.

There is a superficial moderation to that appeal, a sort of splitting the difference between Republicans who want to cut spending and Democrats who want to pay for popular programs. And, frankly, some tax breaks and loopholes should be eliminated — ethanol subsidies, for example — not as revenue raisers, but because they are such bad economic policies.

But raising taxes to reduce the deficit would be bad policy for several reasons:

There’s not really a revenue problem. Democrats correctly point out that federal tax revenues are now just 16.5 percent of GDP, well below the post–World War II average of roughly 18 percent. This would have meant a bigger budget deficit than usual even if spending hadn’t exploded in recent years. But much of that decline is due to the economic slowdown, not to the Bush tax cuts or other policy changes. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that as economic growth returns, federal tax revenues will grow by an average of 7.3 percent annually over the next ten years. By the end of the decade, taxes will have pushed back through the 18 percent level, and be headed toward 20 percent — all without any changes in tax policy.

Government is too big, too intrusive, and too expensive. It doesn’t take more taxes to fix that.

There is a spending problem. Focusing on taxes implies that the problem is how to pay for spending — taxes or debt — not the spending itself. But, as Milton Friedman constantly pointed out, the real cost of government is the size of government. According to the CBO, the federal government is on track to consume 42 percent of GDP by 2050. (State and local governments will consume another 10 to 15 percent of GDP.) Would we really be better off if we raised taxes enough to pay for all that spending?

You can’t tax enough. The president keeps talking about solving our deficit problems by taxing millionaires and billionaires. Congressional Democrats throw in oil companies. But you could confiscate — not tax, confiscate — every penny belonging to every millionaire in America and cover barely one-tenth of our government’s total indebtedness (including the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare). Meanwhile the tax breaks for oil and gas companies amount to about $1.4 billion annually. Those tax breaks may or may not be defensible, but they amount to less than 1 percent of this year’s budget deficit.

Bait and switch.  If you look at most of the deficit-cutting proposals, including the president’s, they call for tax increases today in exchange for spending cuts somewhere in the future. I think we’ve seen that movie before. In fact, the president’s proposal actually makes the bait-and-switch game worse. His proposal says that if Congress didn’t actually make those spending cuts, there would be additional tax increases. So Republicans would be agreeing to tax increases today in exchange for . . . more tax increases tomorrow.

Tax hikes are bad for the economy and for freedom. Of course it’s an exaggeration to suggest that all tax cuts pay for themselves, but there is no doubt that high taxes discourage the type of investment and risk-taking necessary to grow the economy and create jobs. Every dollar that the federal government takes in taxes is one less dollar that the private sector can save, invest, or spend as it sees fit. Unless you believe that the government knows better than the private sector what to do with that money, this exchange hurts the economy. And unless you believe that our money really belongs to the government, it means we are less free to make use of the fruits of our labor as we see fit.

Republicans should not fall into the trap of reflexively defending every special-interest loophole in the tax code. But neither should they be seduced by the argument that we need a “balanced” approach to deficit reduction that includes tax increases. Government is too big, too intrusive, and too expensive. It doesn’t take more taxes to fix that.

Occupy Wall Street vs. Steve Jobs

COUNTER-DEMONSTRATION: At Kappa Sigma house in Fayetteville.

  • COUNTER-DEMONSTRATION: At Kappa Sigma house in Fayetteville.

The Drew Wilson photo above went viral last night — at least in Arkansas e-mail and social media users — after the Fayetteville Flyer posted it in coverage of an Occupy Northwest Arkansas demonstration in Fayetteville. The 1 percent banner was unfurled briefly on the Kappa Sigma frat house at UA.

_______________

I read this material above from the Arkansas Times Blog today.

I have posted a lot about Steve Jobs and I think this article below from the Cato Institute is probably one of the finest I have ever read on him.

I love reading the Arkansas Times Blog because Max Brantley does a great job of keeping us up with all the latest national and Arkansas news. However, when I read this article today on the Cato Institute, I thought of Max and his failed liberal ideas. Max is great at trying to fire up the middle class against the rich.

Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute said it all baby with this paragraph:

The next time someone suggests that what we need is more taxes, more regulation, more class warfare, more government programs, we should instead suggest that what we really need are policies that encourages a poor boy from San Francisco to become rich and thereby make the rest of us a little richer as well.

Occupy Wall Street vs. Jobs

by Michael D. Tanner

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Added to cato.org on October 12, 2011

This article appeared on National Review (Online) on October 12, 2011.

The last week brought us a striking contrast that tells us much about the current debate over the direction of this country.

On one hand were the perpetually aggrieved protestors of Occupy Wall Street. While much of the media, desperate to find a liberal counterpart to the Tea Party (remember coverage of the state-house takeover in Wisconsin?), tried to pretend that this was an organic and leaderless uprising by middle America, the reality was that most of the demonstrators were the same motley crew that regularly shows up to demonstrate against the World Bank or G8 meetings, their ranks bolstered by union activists, MoveOn.org, and the Obama front group Organizing for America — not to mention the usual collection of filthy-rich movie stars who flew in on private jets and then climbed into waiting limousines to show up to denounce the filthy rich.

But while Roseanne Barr was suggesting that the rich should be beheaded and demonstrators were making such reasonable demands as the forgiveness of all debt, much of the rest of the world was mourning the death of Steve Jobs, the filthy-rich businessman who was responsible for all those iPhones and iPads that the iPod-sporting protestors used to organize their demonstrations.

[W]hat government jobs program has created as many net new jobs as Jobs?

Jobs certainly was rich. Estimates suggest he was worth more than $7 billion. But it’s important to realize that he didn’t start out that way. Jobs’s story was a quintessential American one. Born poor (and out of wedlock), he achieved success through hard work and brilliance. Along the way he failed sometimes. But when he did, he didn’t beg Washington for a bailout. Instead he frequently put his own capital at risk, taking chances, because entrepreneurship truly is risky. And he showed us that no amount of adversity can stop someone who is truly determined and talented from achieving the American dream.

Does it really matter what tax rate Steve Jobs paid? He was not even a notable contributor to charity. Yet, he did more to contribute to American prosperity and the general betterment of mankind than any government program could ever hope to. Start with the obvious: The various businesses started and run by Jobs employed more than 30,000 Americans and thousands more around the world. Jobs truly was one of those job creators so disparaged by the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

Estimates suggest that Jobs generated as much as $30 billion annually in increased wealth for the U.S. economy. Obviously, without the wealth that Jobs created, all of society would be that much poorer. And, of course, as Jobs drove the value of Apple from $2 billion to $350 billion following his return as CEO in 1997, all of us moved a bit closer to a comfortable retirement as the value of our pension plans and 401(k)s, almost all of which include Apple stock, increased.

But that only captures a small fraction of the social benefits generated by Jobs.

The technology that Jobs brought to the mainstream of American life doesn’t just let us listen to music or play Angry Birds. It has made businesses more efficient, lowering the cost of goods and services for all of us. It has made it easier for everyone from doctors to teachers and students to soldiers on the battlefield to access information and stay in contact with others. It has disseminated knowledge, improved medical diagnostics, and helped bring about the overthrow of dictators. It has helped the blind read the denominations of dollar bills and alleviated the symptoms of children with autism.

The Occupy Wall Street crowd, and for that matter President Obama, see government as the center of our existence. It is government that makes for a better society, while the rich, businessmen, and entrepreneurs are “takers” who don’t “pay their fair share.” But would we really have been better off if we had taken more of Jobs’s wealth and given it to the government? Would President Obama really have used it better than Jobs did? Would the government have given us all that Jobs did?

Government has spent trillions on schools that don’t educate, anti-poverty programs that don’t lift people out of poverty, stimulus programs that don’t stimulate, and health-care programs that don’t control the cost of health care. Compare Apple or Pixar’s record of success with the failures of government. For that matter, what government jobs program has created as many net new jobs as Jobs?

In fact, the next time someone suggests that what we need is more taxes, more regulation, more class warfare, more government programs, we should instead suggest that what we really need are policies that encourages a poor boy from San Francisco to become rich and thereby make the rest of us a little richer as well.

Related posts:

Steve Jobs’ Father

(If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it ,8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs ,Steve […]

Steve Jobs at Stanford

(If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it ,8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs ,Steve […]

Steve Jobs depicted at pearly gates with Saint Peter

It is strange that the New Yorker Magazine did no research. (If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible […]

Steve Jobs: Great Entrepreneur

(If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it ,8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs ,Steve […]

Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist

Some people have called Steve Jobs an atheist. According to published reports Steve Jobs was a Buddhist and he had a very interesting quote on death which I discussed in another post. Back in 1979 I saw the film series HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? by Francis Schaeffer and I also read the book. Francis Schaeffer observes […]

Steve Jobs and Adoption

Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address Uploaded by StanfordUniversity on Mar 7, 2008 It was a quite moving story to hear about Steve Jobs’ adoption. Ryan Scott Bomberger (www.toomanyaborted.com), co-founder of The Radiance Foundation, an adoptee and adoptive father: “As a creative professional, [Jobs’] visionary work has helped my own visions become reality. But his […]

What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life?

(If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it ,8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs ,Steve […]

Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs?

I loved reading this article below. (Take a look at the link to other posts I have done on Steve Jobs.) David Boaz makes some great observations: How much value is the Post Office creating this year? Or Amtrak? Or Solyndra? And if you point out that the Post Office does create value for its […]

Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it

(If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it ,8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs ,Steve […]

8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs

(If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it ,8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs ,Steve […]

Steve Jobs was a Buddhist: What is Buddhism?

(If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs: Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it ,8 things you might not […]

 
Did Steve Jobs help people even though he did not give away a lot of money?

  Did Steve Jobs help people even though he did not give away a lot of money? (I just finished a post concerning Steve’s religious beliefs and a post about 8 things you may not know about Steve Jobs) Uploaded by UM0kusha0kusha on Sep 16, 2010 clip from The First Round Up *1934* ~~enjoy!! ______________________________________________ In the short film […]

 

Tax increases are not the way to go

Tax increases are not the way to go, but the president doesn’t get that.

Liberals love tax increases.

Seven Reasons Why Tax Increases Are the Wrong Approach

Uploaded by on May 3, 2011

This Economics 101 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity gives seven reasons why the political elite are wrong to push for more taxes. If allowed to succeed, the hopelessly misguided pushing to raise taxes would only worsen our fiscal mess while harming the economy.

The seven reasons provided by the video against this approach are as follows:

1) Tax increases are not needed;
2) Tax increases encourage more spending;
3) Tax increases harm economic performance;
4) Tax increases foment social discord;
5) Tax increases almost never raise as much revenue as projected;
6) Tax increases encourage more loopholes; and,
7) Tax increases undermine competitiveness

________________________

The Real Budget Problem

by Michael D. Tanner 

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Added to cato.org on June 15, 2011

This article appeared on National Review (Online) on June 15, 2011.

If you listen to the discussion of the deficit in the mainstream media or the talking points from leading Democrats on the Hill (but I repeat myself), the refrain is that tax increases must be part of any deficit fix.

There is a superficial moderation to that appeal, a sort of splitting the difference between Republicans who want to cut spending and Democrats who want to pay for popular programs. And, frankly, some tax breaks and loopholes should be eliminated — ethanol subsidies, for example — not as revenue raisers, but because they are such bad economic policies. 

But raising taxes to reduce the deficit would be bad policy for several reasons:

There’s not really a revenue problem. Democrats correctly point out that federal tax revenues are now just 16.5 percent of GDP, well below the post–World War II average of roughly 18 percent. This would have meant a bigger budget deficit than usual even if spending hadn’t exploded in recent years. But much of that decline is due to the economic slowdown, not to the Bush tax cuts or other policy changes. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that as economic growth returns, federal tax revenues will grow by an average of 7.3 percent annually over the next ten years. By the end of the decade, taxes will have pushed back through the 18 percent level, and be headed toward 20 percent — all without any changes in tax policy.

Government is too big, too intrusive, and too expensive. It doesn’t take more taxes to fix that.

There is a spending problem. Focusing on taxes implies that the problem is how to pay for spending — taxes or debt — not the spending itself. But, as Milton Friedman constantly pointed out, the real cost of government is the size of government. According to the CBO, the federal government is on track to consume 42 percent of GDP by 2050. (State and local governments will consume another 10 to 15 percent of GDP.) Would we really be better off if we raised taxes enough to pay for all that spending?

You can’t tax enough. The president keeps talking about solving our deficit problems by taxing millionaires and billionaires. Congressional Democrats throw in oil companies. But you could confiscate — not tax, confiscate — every penny belonging to every millionaire in America and cover barely one-tenth of our government’s total indebtedness (including the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare). Meanwhile the tax breaks for oil and gas companies amount to about $1.4 billion annually. Those tax breaks may or may not be defensible, but they amount to less than 1 percent of this year’s budget deficit.

Bait and switch.  If you look at most of the deficit-cutting proposals, including the president’s, they call for tax increases today in exchange for spending cuts somewhere in the future. I think we’ve seen that movie before. In fact, the president’s proposal actually makes the bait-and-switch game worse. His proposal says that if Congress didn’t actually make those spending cuts, there would be additional tax increases. So Republicans would be agreeing to tax increases today in exchange for . . . more tax increases tomorrow.

Tax hikes are bad for the economy and for freedom. Of course it’s an exaggeration to suggest that all tax cuts pay for themselves, but there is no doubt that high taxes discourage the type of investment and risk-taking necessary to grow the economy and create jobs. Every dollar that the federal government takes in taxes is one less dollar that the private sector can save, invest, or spend as it sees fit. Unless you believe that the government knows better than the private sector what to do with that money, this exchange hurts the economy. And unless you believe that our money really belongs to the government, it means we are less free to make use of the fruits of our labor as we see fit.

Republicans should not fall into the trap of reflexively defending every special-interest loophole in the tax code. But neither should they be seduced by the argument that we need a “balanced” approach to deficit reduction that includes tax increases. Government is too big, too intrusive, and too expensive. It doesn’t take more taxes to fix that.

99th anniversary of Milton Friedman’s birth (Part 13) Milton Friedman on freedom of choice

Next year is the 100th anniversary of Milton Friedman’s birth and I get on the computer today and read an article published today on the National Review Online and it quotes Milton Friedman.

I wish we would listen to Milton Friedman more often. This article below quotes Friedman and today I am starting a series on what Friedman had to say about the voucher system for our schools. Parents should be allowed to choose what school their children can go to.

Paternalism and Principle

by Michael D. Tanner

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Added to cato.org on October 5, 2011

This article appeared on National Review (Online) on October 5, 20

If you are looking for a single statement that defines the essence of the modern welfare state, look no further than Secretary of Energy Steven Chu’s defense of the administration’s efforts to ban incandescent light bulbs. “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money,” Chu said, quite satisfied with government’s efforts to protect Americans from their own choices.

Contrast this with Milton Friedman’s view that

those of us who believe in freedom must believe also in the freedom of individuals to make their own mistakes. If a man knowingly prefers to live for today, to use his resources for current enjoyment, deliberately choosing a penurious old age, by what right do we prevent him from doing so? We may argue with him, seek to persuade him that he is wrong, but are we entitled to use coercion to prevent him from doing what he chooses to do? Is there not always the possibility that he is right and we are wrong? Humility is the distinguishing characteristic of the believer in freedom, arrogance of the paternalist.

For too long, both liberals and too many conservatives have attempted to impose on people the government’s standards of what is best for them rather than leaving them to their own decisions, merely because those decisions may be mistaken. That is the real legacy of the welfare state as expanded by President Obama and as it has been practiced on a bipartisan basis for the last half century or more: We are, quite simply, less free.

Once you accept the paternalistic premise, there is no end to government interference.

In some cases, the restrictions on liberty are tangible and easily seen. As the economy becomes more and more socialized, so too do the consequences of individuals’ behavior. This, in turn, creates an incentive for the state to control that behavior. After all, if individual decisions impose a collective cost, it is only rational for those bearing that cost to demand input on those decisions. Thus, the nanny state seeks to restrict all manner of private consensual activity, whether it is eating fast foods and smoking or having consensual sex or driving without a seat belt. 

But there are other equally important, if less obvious, ways that the welfare state restricts liberty. Government-run health-care systems, for example, impose a minimum amount that you must spend on health care, either through taxes or through insurance mandates, as with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They determine which medical conditions and eventualities you must insure against, even if you would prefer not to cover such conditions. Thus, they turn individual moral decisions, such as whether to buy insurance that covers abortion, contraception, or drug-abuse treatment, into political questions. And in some government-run systems they deny people the right to purchase the health care they want even with their own money.

By the same token, government-run anti-poverty programs limit your ability to support the charity of your choice. Money you pay in taxes to support government charity is money that you cannot donate to private charity. Yet the charitable activities chosen by the government may not be the ones that you would have chosen, or even the ones most needed. Indeed, the government’s charitable decisions are likely to be driven by politics, favoring those constituencies with the greatest voting power or those causes that capture the public imagination because they are on television or in the newspapers.

Government-run schools automatically pit the values of one group of parents against the values of other groups. How many textbook controversies or debates about what to teach about homosexuality, whether students may pray, or phonics versus whole language could be avoided if parents could choose the school their child attended?

Social Security may or may not be a Ponzi scheme, but it prevents people — especially poor people — from saving and investing for their own retirement in ways that would allow them to build real, inheritable wealth.

Beyond the programs themselves, there is the simple fact that every dollar that the welfare state consumes to pay for itself is one fewer dollar that individuals have to spend the way that they want to, however that may be. As the French economist Frederic Bastiat put it in his parable of the shopkeeper with the broken window, “He would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library.” Or to put it in today’s context, he might have purchased health care, saved for his retirement, or donated to charity. He might have started a business and hired workers. Or he might have spent it entirely on pleasure or frivolities. He might even have bought energy-inefficient light bulbs.

Whatever he might have done, he is now deprived of that choice. He is, in fact, less free.

Once paternalism is accepted in principle, there is no limit to the actions that government may take in controlling our lives and restricting liberty. The ultimate result, as Friedman writes, is “dictatorship, benevolent and maybe majoritarian, but dictatorship nonetheless.”

As we debate the ever-expanding welfare state and all its consequences — joblessness, a crushing debt burden on our children and grandchildren, and the loss of opportunity for the neediest among us — let us not forget the other casualty of big government: freedom.

Liberals like Krugman and Brantley want another stimulus

Max Brantley posted on the Arkansas Times Blog the words of Paul Krugman, “As the stimulus has faded out, so have hopes of strong economic recovery…” (Arkansas Times Blog, June 3, 2011).

The video clip above by Dan Mitchell goes over some of the past attempted stimulus plans as does the article below. Every stimulus plan in the history of man has failed but we keep on TRYING TO MOVE MONEY FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO THE PUBLIC SECTOR AND SOMEHOW WE THINK IT WILL NEXT TIME. IT ALWAYS FAILS.

Stay on Vacation

by Michael D. Tanner

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Added to cato.org on August 24, 2011

This article appeared on National Review (Online) on August 24, 2011.

As the economy continues to teeter on the precipice of a double-dip recession, there is a growing demand for the president and Congress to rush back from their vacations and do something. But why?

What is it that we really think the president can do?

While the president’s latest economic plan remains a deeply held secret until after his vacation, pretty much everyone in Washington expects him to call for … drumroll please … a stimulus plan.

Now why haven’t we thought of that before? Oh, that’s right. We have.

We’re not the first country to rely on this stale brew of Keynesian economics.

In fact, we have now had at least five — or is it six? — stimulus plans since this recession started.

The first of these came back in February 2008 under the Bush administration: a $152 billion measure, featuring a $600 tax rebate, several incentives for businesses, and loan guarantees for the housing industry. Then, as the recession picked up steam in September 2008, Congress passed the $61 billion Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act of 2008. This bill pumped money into federal “infrastructure projects” and extended unemployment insurance.

And of course, immediately after taking office, President Obama pushed through the giant $787 billion stimulus. He followed that up with an additional $26 billion bill in August of 2010, aimed at helping states retain teachers and make Medicaid payments. On top of that, in September 2010, Congress created a $30 billion fund to provide small businesses with low-interest loans. Finally, the December compromise that extended the Bush tax cuts included another extension of unemployment benefits and a reduction in the Social Security payroll tax, both heralded at the time as stimulus measures.

We’re not the first country to rely on this stale brew of Keynesian economics. When Japan’s asset bubble collapsed in the late 1980s, its economy went into freefall. In response, Japan pursued three major fiscal-stimulus packages, totaling 6 percent of GDP, between August 1992 and September 1993. When those failed, Japan tried still more stimulus, a total of eight different packages over eight years. The Japanese government has spent $6.3 trillion on construction-related projects alone. It also increased subsidies and social-welfare payments.

Japan began the 1990s with a budget surplus. A decade later it had a budget deficit equal to 7.9 percent of GDP. Today, its budget deficit is 8.3 percent, and its debt exceeds 200 percent of GDP. The result has been minimal economic growth. For all this spending, Japan’s industrial production in 2008 was only 2.9 percent larger than it had been in 1991. Over the past decade, Japan’s economy has grown by less than a quarter of one percent.

Now President Obama prepares to call for another extension of unemployment benefits, more infrastructure spending, and an extension of the payroll-tax cut.

The real drags on our economy have nothing to do with the failure of government to spend enough. The federal government is now spending roughly 24 percent of GDP. State and local governments are spending another 10 to 15 percent, meaning government at all levels is spending around 40 percent of GDP. If government spending brought about prosperity, we should be experiencing a golden age.

The reasons we are not growing are simple and clear:

Debt: Several studies show that high levels of government debt slow economic growth. The seminal study by Carmen Reinhardt of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard concluded that countries with a debt totaling more than 90 percent of GDP have median growth rates 1 percent lower than countries with a lower debt, and average growth rates nearly 4 percent lower. Our national debt now tops 102 percent of GDP.

Taxes: Businesses are forward-looking. They hear the president and congressional Democrats calling for tax hikes, and they become worried about taking the risks inherent in investing, expanding, and hiring. Even if the president doesn’t sock them with any new taxes, they are facing some $569 billion in new taxes by the end of the decade as a result of Obamacare. And virtually everyone acknowledges that our corporate tax rates, the second highest in the developed world, are putting American businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

Regulation: Obamacare is coming, including a mandate for businesses to provide workers with health insurance. Making hiring more expensive is not an inducement to increased employment. The EPA is planning new carbon-emission regulations. The NLRB is telling Boeing where to locate its plants. This is not a pro-jobs agenda.

Here’s a different idea. More than two centuries ago, Adam Smith wrote that “little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice.”

President Obama could try that approach — and he wouldn’t even have to come back from vacation.

I wish the Republican Presidential Candidates will give us specifics concerning where they would cut spending

I am not too happy with the budget deal because I WANT TO SEE REAL CUTS. I knew when I heard President Obama say that there would be no cuts during this sensitive time that meant till after his Presidency was over. That means these are mythical cuts that are scheduled for 2013 and may never happen.

Ron Paul seems to be the only Republican Presidential Candidate that gives us specific examples of where he would cut spending. Why can’t the others give us any examples.

I would like to start by eliminating the Dept of Education and then reducing the weeks a person can draw unemployment. 99 weeks is a crazy amount!!! How did we ever get to that point?

Here is an excellent article below that got me to thinking.

Now Answer Some Questions

by Michael D. Tanner

This article appeared on National Review (Online) on August 17, 2011.

Wth the Ames Straw Poll behind us, the race for the Republican presidential nomination is starting to pick up speed. That means it is more important than ever that we know just where the candidates stand.

Unfortunately, we can expect much of the media attention over the coming weeks to be focused on the “horse race” aspects of the campaign. Will Perry or Bachmann become the conservative alternative to Romney? Is there a dark horse out there somewhere? Who will make the next gaffe?

The candidates are not likely to make things easier. If what we have seen so far is any indication, we can expect lots of Obama-bashing, promises to be the most conservative candidate in the race, and platitudes about American greatness.

So, with that in mind, here are a few questions I’d like to see them answer:

What three programs (at least) would you cut or eliminate? Every Republican candidate has called for balancing the federal budget. Every candidate is also, justifiably, opposed to raising taxes. Since the federal government will spend $1.1 trillion more this year than it takes in, that means spending will have to be cut. Of course, everyone is against “fraud, waste, and abuse.” But the last time I looked, there is no line item called “fraud, waste, and abuse” in the federal budget. Across-the-board spending cuts are another type of cop out. They preserve worthless or wasteful programs, albeit at lower levels, while cutting programs that are actually useful. Balancing the budget without raising taxes is going to require cutting specific programs, so tell us which ones you would cut. And promising to “go through the budget line by line” or the equivalent doesn’t count. Surely by now you have figured out some specific programs that you are willing to cut — even if it means offending that program’s supporters.

How would you reform entitlements? Answering the first question was actually the easy part. Domestic discretionary spending makes up less than 20 percent of the federal budget. If you eliminated it all — the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, the FDA, the FBI — we would still be running a deficit. Ultimately, dealing with our deficit and debt requires dealing with entitlements, particularly Medicare and Social Security. But so far we’ve heard little more than vague generalities. Do you support Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare reform? If not, what would you do? What about Social Security? Would you cut benefits? Should young workers be allowed to save a portion of their payroll taxes in personal accounts?

Are you a fair-weather federalist? Republicans have become fond of quoting the Tenth Amendment recently: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” But we’ve heard that before. President Bush was all for states rights until a state did something he didn’t like, such as legalize medical marijuana or physician-assisted suicide. What happens now if a state, say, chooses to permit gay marriage? Already former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum has attacked Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas governor Rick Perry for even hinting that states have that authority. And Bachmann and Perry have started to go wobbly on the issue.

Are there any limits to our military commitments? We are now fighting at least three wars, not counting drone attacks and covert actions. We have troops in more than 100 countries and are still guarding South Korea from North Korea and Germany from, well, something. Are all these military commitments still necessary? Under what circumstances would you commit U.S. troops to combat? It’s not enough to say you would protect U.S. vital interests. What are those vital interests? Promoting democracy? Human rights? Fighting every last terrorist in any country that they pop up in? Ensuring “stability” in every area of the globe?

What is the proper role of government? It’s not possible to think of every possible issue that may come up during your presidency. That’s why it’s so important to know your animating principles when it comes to government. Is it government’s role to “create jobs”? Should government enforce moral values?  What things can only government do, and what should be left to civil society? Is there anything that you think is a good idea, but still shouldn’t be government policy?

Cutting spending is the way to balance the budget despite what liberals say

President Obama really believes that we must raise taxes in order to balance the budget. Nevertheless, conservatives argue that the bloated federal spending should come down to a level where he can balance the budget. Take a look at the excellent article “Unbalanced,” by Michael D. Tanner 

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Added to cato.org on August 10, 2011

This article appeared on National Review (Online) on August 10, 2011

During his brief media appearance on Monday responding to S&P’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and the subsequent stark market plunge, Pres. Barack Obama once again renewed his call for a “balanced approach” to debt reduction, combining modest entitlement reform with tax increases. This was the same formulation repeated endlessly by the president, Democrats in Congress, and much of the media throughout the recent negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.

But beyond raw ideology, there is no reason to believe that coupling tax hikes with spending cuts would solve our debt problems.

President Obama usually couches his call for tax hikes in terms of fairness. How, he asks, can we cut programs that help people without also asking the wealthy to “sacrifice” something as well? Setting aside the fact that this formulation establishes a false moral equivalence between giving less to people who have not earned it and taking more from the people who have, this ignores the fact that the wealthy in America already pay a disproportionate share of taxes.

The richest 1 percent of Americans earn 20 percent of all income in America but pay 38 percent of income taxes. The top 5 percent earn slightly more than one-third of U.S. income while paying nearly 59 percent of income taxes. At the same time, roughly half of Americans pay no federal income tax. One might suggest, therefore, that the wealthy already pay their fair share, and then some.

Of course other taxes, such as payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and the like, tend to be more regressive. But even if you include all types of federal, state, and local taxes, the wealthy pay a considerably higher proportion of taxes than their share of income would warrant.

Others less prone to moral posturing argue for including tax hikes along with spending reductions on the grounds that it is “impossible to balance the budget through cuts alone.” But the evidence strongly suggests that cutting spending alone may be the only way to really balance the budget. Indeed, by including tax hikes, we slow economic growth, thereby making it harder to balance the budget.

Simply look to those European countries today that have adopted such a “balanced” approach to debt reduction. Britain, Greece, Portugal, and Spain have all included major tax hikes as part of their austerity packages. The result across the board has been anemic economic growth and scant progress toward debt reduction. Britain, for instance, imposed a new 50 percent top income-tax rate, hiked the capital-gains tax rate from 18 percent to 28 percent, and increased the VAT rate from 17.5 percent to 20 percent. The result: During the first quarter of 2011, the British economy grew at just 0.5 percent, barely enough to offset the 0.5 percent decline during the last quarter of 2010.

Paul Krugman and others have argued that it was the spending cuts, not the tax hikes, that slowed economic growth. Others more plausibly have suggested that the continuing shocks that are buffeting the world economic system have reduced economic growth generally and made it difficult to judge the effectiveness of any particular policy or group of policies.

But the body of evidence from outside the current economic crisis tends to confirm the hypothesis that additional taxes would slow economic growth, making it harder to reduce the debt. For example, a study by Harvard economists Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna looked at more than 100 debt-reduction efforts in 21 countries between 1970 and 2007. They found that a combination of spending cuts and revenue reductions was actually more likely to result in debt reduction than a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases.

History shows us that countries as divergent as Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Slovenia successfully reduced the size of their governments relative to their economies and lowered their debt burden substantially. They did so by controlling spending, not by raising taxes.

In this country, look to the end of World War II. The U.S. government cut spending by nearly two-thirds, from $84 billion in 1945 to just $39 billion in 1946. While the country ran a budget deficit of nearly 21 percent of GDP in 1945, it was running a surplus by 1947. At the time, many economists predicted that cuts of that magnitude would destroy the U.S. economy and bring about Depression-era levels of unemployment. Instead, civilian employment actually grew, and an era of economic expansion began that would last throughout the 1950s.

All this implies that we should find a way to cut spending. And that brings us back to President Obama’s press briefing. At the end of his remarks, the president once again laid out his plans for the future, and called for more spending: more spending on education, more spending on unemployment insurance, more spending for an infrastructure bank, more, more, more.

Perhaps that, and not a mythical “balance,” is what really lies behind his calls for higher taxes.

New Deal promises mythical cuts to be carried out in 2013

I am not too happy with the budget deal because I WANT TO SEE REAL CUTS. I knew when I heard President Obama say yesterday that there would be no cuts during this sensitive time that meant till after his Presidency was over. That means these are mythical cuts that are scheduled for 2013 and may never happen.

Michael Tanner  notes, “those cuts would not go into effect until 2013, after the next election.  Since the current Congress cannot bind future Congresses, it’s entirely possible – even likely – that those cuts will be rewritten, reduced, or done away with altogether.”

Michael Tanner sums up my views in his article, “A Deal, Not a Solution, August 1, 2011, Cato Institute:

The deal that President Obama and congressional leaders may well be the best deal that Republicans could get – and any deal that makes Paul Krugman this apoplectic can’t be all bad – but it should not be considered a solution to our fiscal problems.  

In the face of a $1.1 trillion budget deficit, a $14.3 trillion official debt, and a real indebtedness of more than $120 trillion, the deal would reduce the baseline increase in planned spending initially by about $1 trillion, or an average of roughly $100 billion per year – less than the federal government will borrow this month.   Moreover, the cuts are unspecific – apparently Congress still can’t find actual programs to eliminate – raising the specter that it will employ the same budgetary gimmicks as the Continuing Resolution last May, that promised $61 billion in cuts and delivered less than $8 billion.  Any cuts that do occur are simply reductions in baseline increases, not actual year-over-year reductions.  And most cuts are pushed far out into the future when they may or may not materialize.

The plan also creates a “”supercommittee – there’s an original idea – to propose an additional $1.2-1.7 trillion in spending cuts or tax increases, but few Washington observers expect it to be able to reach an agreement that could actually pass Congress.   Of course, in theory, if that happens, there would be automatic cuts of about $1.2 trillion, split equally between domestic programs and defense.   However, those cuts would not go into effect until 2013, after the next election.  Since the current Congress cannot bind future Congresses, it’s entirely possible – even likely – that those cuts will be rewritten, reduced, or done away with altogether.   Certainly there is no reason why we should count on them occurring.

The net result of this deal is that – if every penny of the proposed cuts actually occurs – our official national debt will rise to about $20 trillion by 2020.  That it otherwise would have reached $23 trillion is scant comfort.  With our country careening toward a fiscal cliff, Congress has chosen to tap on the breaks, not change direction. 

More troubling, the deal fails to deal with entitlement reform.   It is Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that are driving this country towards insolvency, but this plan does not include any structural reform of these programs.   They are exempt from the first round of cuts, and the level of cuts that can be proposed by the supercommittee are far too small to encompass anything like the Medicare reforms that Paul Ryan proposed early this year.   And both Social Security and Medicaid are exempt from the across-the-board cuts that kick in if the committee’s cuts do not occur.  In that case Medicare would be trimmed, but only in terms of further reductions in reimbursements to providers.

Certainly, this deal could have been worse.  There are no tax increases (yet).  There are at least theoretical cuts in spending.   We’ve moved a long way from when President Obama proposed an increase in spending as part of his 2012 budget.  But no one should pretend that we’ve put our fiscal house in order.