Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer the election of a conservative governor in Kentucky, the GOP holding the Virginia Senate and voters rejecting liberal initiatives in Houston and Ohio. They also groan as TransCanada asks for its Keystone XL pipeline request to be to be postponed and they slam the Obama administration for its endless delay in deciding on the pipeline. And they unload on the Department of Education for forcing an Illinois high school to allow a male who “identifies” as a female to dress and shower with the girls on his team.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Will Democrats’ Populist Obsession with Inequality Be Their Downfall?

 

tightrope_inequality_populism_democrats_economics_2020_500x293President Obama says America’s greatest challenge is the income gap. A 74-year-old “democratic socialist” is the Democratic Party’s hottest star. And the party’s almost certain presidential nominee hedges on whether she’s a capitalist.

The party’s leaders are hardly without popular support for these stances. In a New York Times poll last summer, 83 percent of Democrats surveyed said government should deal ASAP with the income gap, with large majorities favoring higher taxes on the rich and Wall Street.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Republicans Are Being Told to Quit Talking About Entitlement Reform. Should They Listen?

 

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Almost every Saturday I do a 30-minute segment on my pal Larry Kudlow’s national radio show. Often the other two guests are John McIntyre of RealClearPolitics and Steve Moore of the Heritage Foundation. During last weekend’s show, Kudlow asked whether Republicans were taking a risk by talking about entitlement reform. McIntyre thought it was “politically dangerous,” and they would do better to focus on economic growth. And Moore had this to say:

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Europe, the United States, and Social Spending

 

I often read on Ricochet that conservatives don’t want a Western-European style social welfare state. What many don’t seem fully to appreciate is that we already have one.

Ryan McMaken’s interesting analysis, for example, appeals to the OECD’s definition: “Social expenditures” are those that have the purpose of redistributing resources from one group to another to serve social policy goals. In the US, he notes, Social Security is considered a public expenditure because it is spent, directly, by a government agency.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Are Democratic Presidents Really Better for the Economy Than Republican Ones?

 

HillaryClintonPartisans are likely to focus on these stats in Paul Krugman’s latest column: Since 1947, “the economy grew, on average, 4.35 percent per year [under Democrats]; under Republicans, only 2.54 percent.”

To his credit, Krugman does not make strong claims about the superiority of Democratic economic management (though he does mock current GOP policy proposals). Neither does the 2014 study, from where those numbers come, “Presidents and the U.S. Economy: An Econometric Exploration.” The study’s authors, Alan Blinder and Mark Watson, sort of give it the old ¯\_(ツ)_/¯:

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Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are cautiously pleased with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s vows to champion conservative solutions and stay away from immigration while Obama is in office. They also slam Bill Gates for suggesting we need to abandon the free market to address climate change. And they pay tribute to the late Sen. Fred Thompson.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Shoring up the Debt Ceiling Agreement: Terms of Credit Act Can Help

 

shutterstock_208794031There are two significant weaknesses in the recent debt ceiling agreement: 1) It departs from the balanced budget plan adopted earlier this year; and 2) it skirts the requirements of the budget process. The Terms of Credit Act drafted by the House Republican Study Committee can be used to address these weaknesses.

Congress and the Administration have reached an agreement that suspends the debt ceiling until March 2017, while increasing appropriated spending, restraining entitlement spending and taking steps to increase revenues. This agreement, within its confines, is an acceptable outcome for three reasons. First, it sets aside the risk of a breach of the debt ceiling or default by the federal government on its debt obligations. Either of these outcomes would have very likely shaken the confidence of markets in the “full faith and credit” of the federal government in a way that would have imposed serious damage on the economy. Second, it does not raise tax rates. Third, it sets a precedent for future steps to rein in out-of-control entitlement spending, thereby addressing the real cause of the fiscal crisis the federal government faces.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Flat Taxes and Gold: A Few Thoughts on Ted Cruz’s Economic Plan

 
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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, speaks at the First in the Nation Leadership Summit in Nashua, NH, April 18, 2015. Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com

Full disclosure: I have written critically of the flat tax and gold standard as appropriate policy choices for the modern US economy. Frequently, in fact.

So there goes Ted Cruz in Wednesday’s debate endorsing both policies (kind of regarding the gold standard): “If you want a 10 percent flat tax where the numbers add up, I rolled out my tax plan today. … And I think the Fed should get out of the business of trying to juice our economy and simply be focused on sound money and monetary stability, ideally tied to gold.”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. On Ben Carson and Taxes

 

Ben CarsonI am in Boulder for the CNBC-hosted Republican presidential debate, on which I will be offering insights in my role as an on-air contributor.

I have written quite a bit about Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush. But not so much about Ben Carson, who leads in Iowa and in one national poll. Not so bad for the good doctor. But where is he policy-wise?

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Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud House Republicans for pursuing impeachment charges against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. They also scold House Republicans for contributing to the resurrection of the Export-Import Bank. And they have no patience for the campaigns griping about their green rooms prior to the presidential debate at Colorado University.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Pot Legalization Ain’t (Tax) Consequence Free

 

Like death and taxes, you can count on the state to fumble the libertarian holy grail of recreational marijuana legalization. Take Colorado, for example.

There’s a ballot proposition (Prop BB) for next week’s election that allows the state to keep revenues from excise and sales taxes on pot, rather than having to return the excess to growers and taxpayers under Colorado’s TABOR.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. US Safety Net Might Be Working Better Than We Think

 

From “Using Linked Survey and Administrative Data to Better Measure Income: Implications for Poverty, Program Effectiveness and Holes in the Safety Net” by Bruce D. Meyer and Nikolas Mittag:

We examine the consequences of underreporting of transfer programs for prototypical analyses of low-income populations using the Current Population Survey (CPS), the source of official poverty and inequality statistics. We link administrative data for food stamps, TANF, General Assistance, and subsidized housing from New York State to the CPS at the individual level.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Refugee Bonds: How Could This Idea Be Made to Work?

 

Hundreds-of-migrants-walk-along-a-highway-in-HungaryGary N. Kleiman, a DC-based emerging market specialist and a columnist for my old haunt, Asia Times, has an idea for financing relief efforts for the global refugee crisis: sovereign refugee bonds. Obviously, the idea is still germinal. He writes about it here at Beyond Brics:

The plight of tens of thousands of Middle East refugees pouring daily into eastern and western Europe has prompted EU and UN emergency action to raise billions of dollars for unmet previous pledges as well the historic fresh influx. But the funding model that relies on governments supplemented by private donations has long been unable to keep pace with the global spread of internal and external displacement now affecting 60m people, 80 per cent in developing countries, according to the UN’s latest figures.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Wit and Wisdom of Thomas Sowell

 

Thomas-Sowell“Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.”

“The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Economic Growth Isn’t Everything … But It’s Tremendously Important

 

shutterstock_113872831Economic growth is necessary but not sufficient for a flourishing society. An obvious, non-controversial statement, I would think.

The recent Democratic presidential debate, however, suggests some policymakers have forgotten the “necessary” part as they debate the merits of “democratic socialism” and a more redistributive state. Now more than ever America needs a dynamic, competitive capitalism to drive the US economic engine.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. What Good Is Another Parchment Barrier?

 

e48202_c9245fe6b9db46f592ca1450e15e3049.jpg_srb_p_397_335_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srbAmericans are tired of Washington. We keep sending new politicians who promise to get our finances in order, but every year the national debt goes up. The fundamental problem is that the United States faces an overconcentration of power in Washington, D.C. The ability to incur limitless amounts of debt is what enables politicians to get away with promising to spend limitless amounts of money. That power is easily leveraged by special interests to enrich themselves at the expense of current and future generations. As a result, Washington has not — and will never — control its addiction to debt.

Fortunately, the Founders gave us the power to solve the problems caused by “Washington gone wild” in Article V of the Constitution. Article V empowers state legislatures to originate constitutional amendments. This authority was meant to be used as a crucial failsafe to protect our liberty from an overconcentration of power in Washington, D.C. In Federalist No. 85, the last Federalist Paper, Alexander Hamilton urged skeptical states to ratify the Constitution because they retained ultimate authority over the federal government through Article V’s state-initiated constitutional amendment process.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. No, There Aren’t More Than 90 Million Americans Unemployed

 

shutterstock_238058275Back in August, Donald Trump told Time:

You have 90 million people that aren’t working. Ninety-three million to be exact. If you start adding it up, our real unemployment rate is 42 percent.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Regulation Inflation

 

There’s basically no real inflation in the cost of technology — computers and that sort of stuff are actually getting cheaper. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Have you bought a TV or computer recently? If so, you may have noticed their prices have steeply decreased over the years, while their quality continues to improve. From December 1997 to August 2015, the Consumer Price Index for personal computers and peripheral equipment declined 96 percent. Most of the decline in this index occurred between 1998 and 2003. The price index for TVs decreased 94 percent from December 1997 to August 2015. This decline was more gradual than the decline in the price index for personal computers.

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Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review discuss new poll results showing Democrats are more favorable towards socialism than capitalism by a 12-point margin and how that should be a huge advantage for conservatives in 2016. They also slam Joe Biden for dragging out his decision on whether to run for president. And they shake their heads as Jim Webb abruptly quits his 2016 bid and the Democratic Party while mulling an independent bid. Finally, they observe five years of the Three Martini Lunch by looking back on one of their favorite martinis of all time.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Debt Ceiling Drama, 2015 Edition

 

Sinking-dollar-debtDuring the fiscal year just ended September 30, the Federal Government collected $3,018,371,000,000.00 in taxes, an average of $251,530,920,000.00 per month, or $8,269,509,600.00 per day. Everywhere except Washington DC, that is real money.

Is it even conceivable that a supposedly fiscally responsible congressional majority could fathom a way to live within those means, given that they’re an all-time tax collection record in the history of our republic?

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