Tag: Elizabeth Warren

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for utterly rejecting the suggestion from NBC’s Savannah Guthrie that Russian meddling may have tipped the 2016 election to President Trump – and explaining what really did happen.  They also welcome the U.S. Supreme Court siding with the Trump administration in requiring asylum seekers to apply for asylum in any country they enter on the way to the U.S.  And they pop the popcorn as the Biden campaign takes a swing at Elizabeth Warren and Marianne Williamson complains that the Democrats are meaner to her than conservatives.  Finally, they figure out ways to tolerate a three-hour Democratic presidential debate tonight.

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  Yesterday, I came across this post by Christopher Tremoglie at the NRO Corner. August 9th was the 5th anniversary of the justified shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren sent out this tweet in honor thereof; Preview Open

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Alexandra DeSanctis of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud Alabama legislators for passing a sweeping abortion ban but Alexandra wonders how well it will stand up to legal challenges.  They also shake their heads as Beto O’Rourke relaunches his presidential campaign by apologizing for his privilege, calling Stacey Abrams his hero, and vowing to choose a female running mate if he’s the nominee.  And they’re underwhelmed as Sen. Elizabeth Warren supposedly takes a principled stand by refusing to take part in a Fox News town hall, calling Fox News “hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists.”

As Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren tries to bribe college students into voting for her with promises of student loan debt forgiveness and free college, the Young Americans draw from their own experiences to discuss Warren’s plan, the student loan debt crisis, and what, if anything, we can do about it.

Welcome friends to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for April 24, 2019 it is the I-Word edition of the show with your T-Word (“terrific”) hosts Todd Feinburg, radio guy, east coast and Mike Stopa, AI guy, west coast. We are here every week to blast you with the latest news and political commentary that you so deeply need.

This week, the I-Word. Impeachment. Who be fer it and who be agin it? Does Rachel Maddow have any choice really? It matters not a whit what the Mueller report said, Maddow and her like-minded fellow travellers were going to continue to be pro-impeachment no matter what. That’s what happens when you are insulated from empiricism. But how about the legacy media like WaPo or the NYT? And then, how about the Dems, the Reps, the candidates? We will analyze.

Quote of the Day: James Freeman on Reparations for Slavery


Last week, in his Wall Street Journal “Best of the Web” newsletter, James Freeman discussed Elizabeth Warren’s call for a “thorough national conversation on Reparations.” Here is what he said:

The basic idea is that the federal government will apportion among the citizens living now the historical guilt for heinous acts committed by people long dead against other people long dead. Then money would flow from people who have not been convicted of any crime to people who have not been found by any court to have been victimized by a crime.

The Hottest Tax Ideas on the Left Are Really Bold. Does It Matter That They’re Also Really Bad?


Policy wonks have a soft spot for bold ideas. Doubly so if those ideas are new or making a comeback after years in the wilderness. The New York Times columnist David Leonhardt recently heaped much praise on presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren for her “bold” and “ambitious” agenda that’s appropriate “to the scale of our challenges.”

Voters are no different. Plenty of folks on the left seem giddy about the idea of a “Green New Deal” that would put the US economy on a war footing against climate change. And it’s not just Democrats and progressives. Many on the right fondly recall how Ronald Reagan in the 1970s said Republicans should raise ”a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors.”

But at some point, bold ideas will collide with boring reality. And the sooner bold ideas are subjected to a reality check the better. Let’s take one of Warren’s biggest and boldest ideas, a wealth tax. It’s a nearly $3 trillion plan involving a two-percent annual tax on wealth over $50 million plus an additional one percent on wealth above $1 billion. She says her plan would raise $2.75 trillion over ten years. Definitely big and bold.

Elizabeth Warren’s Wrongheaded Plan to Break Up Big Tech


An encouraging result of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s mega-ambitious plan to break up Amazon, Alphabet-Google, and Facebook is her interview with The Washington Post tech reporter Cat Zakrzewski. At the end of the Q&A, Zakrzewski asked the Democratic 2020 contender, “How do you avoid unintended consequences on innovation if you break the companies up?” To which Warren replied, “I think what we have right now is the unintended consequence. The giants are destroying competition in one area after another.”

This is good. Warren allows for unintended consequences when implementing public policy. Little of the activist feverishness about a Big Tech breakup has acknowledged their existence or that of trade-offs. More should be expected of policymakers. Conceding the reality of both provides a starting point for debate. That said, Warren seems oblivious to the potential unintended consequences or trade-offs of her proposal.

For instance: Amazon — with a five percent market share of US retail overall — does exactly what many buyback-hating Democrats have been insisting the rest of Corporate America do more of: invest bigly. Amazon is a massive R&D spender. Would it spend nearly as much if it had to shutdown as much as half its business, as Warren’s plan seems to suggest? Aren’t the very companies she wants to break up also America’s innovation leaders, spending not just to better their current businesses but also on potential future businesses such as autonomous vehicles and space commerce? Might banning new Big Tech acquisitions reduce venture capital investment by denying an off-ramp to the early investors in promising, high-impact startups? By the way, a quick visit to Alphabet’s X research group might be a worthwhile campaign trip for Warren.

Hello there, Lunchers one and all! Welcome again to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for February 28, 2019 it is the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels edition of the podcast with your honest and upstanding hosts, radio guy Todd Feinburg and AI guy Mike Stopa (the handsome one). We come to you every week to bring you thew’hbnia’enisn’iv42v….ooops, fell asleep there.

This week we bring you two topics, but they’re not quite what we intended. We thought to wax eloquent about the Trump-Kim summit but we were – by news breaking in our faces – sidetracked by the Cohen testimony….so we talk about that.

Unwarranted: Elizabeth Warren’s Flawed Idea


Elizabeth Warren, one of the – what is it now, 211 candidates for president? – seems intent on proving that having been a Harvard law professor is no bar to fatuous policy prescriptions. She has endorsed the farrago of foolishness called the Green New Deal, promises to tax the rich “make the economy work for us,” and recently proposed a shiny new policy idea fresh from 1971 – government-funded, universal pre-school.

Decade after decade, this old chestnut is trotted out as a pro-family, pro-middle class reform, and every time, assumptions about government’s competence to perform this task are blithely assumed.

Any sentence that begins “In the wealthiest country on Earth . . .” is bound to introduce a massive government program of some sort and Warren is no exception. She urges that “affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right, not a privilege reserved for the rich.” Sounds expensive. Who will pay? Warren proposes to tax the wealth of “ultra-millionaires — those with a net worth of more than $50 million. ”

Hello you fellow right wing, knuckle-dragging troglodytes and welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast number 213!!! it is the Ten in Twenty edition of the show with your 2 in 2 hosts radio guy Todd Feinburg and AI guy Mike Stopa. We come to you every week….but you *know* that already, don’t you? What, you ask, are the topics for this week? Where, you ask, is the beef?

Okay already!

The Toxic Warren Wealth Tax


In my lastcolumn, I explained how Senator Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax violates well-established constitutional limits on income and transfer taxes. Ever since the Sixteenth Amendment legalized the income tax, all taxes on income have been based on some fraction of the amount earned within a given year. And all taxes on capital are imposed only once, namely at their transfer during life or upon death. In contrast, the Warren wealth tax would be imposed annually on all forms of wealth at rates that start at 2 percent for households whose net worth is between $50 million and $1 billion, and 3 percent for households who hold amounts of wealth in excess of $1 billion. The tax applies in both rich and lean years, whether a person makes or loses money.

To defend this dubious scheme on economic grounds, Warren, now a presidential aspirant, relies on a letter prepared by two prominent economists from Berkeley, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, both experts on the economics of inequality. Indeed, it is just there that the problems begin, for any fixation with equality or, as Saez and Zucman call it, equitable growth, rests on shaky premises.

It’s not clear why we should worry about inequality of income or wealth. Both concentrate solely on the gap between those at the top and those further down in the distribution. To be sure, the gap is striking. As Saez and Zucman point out, the yearly increase in wealth for the top 0.1 percent between 1980 and 2016 has averaged about 5.3% compared to the general average of 2.5%. But where is the social problem? Why am I worse off because someone else has become better off? The superrich have made their money by providing goods and services to their fellow citizens. Rather than just engaging in massive consumption, the rich, especially at the billionaire level, typically reinvest or give a large fraction of their wealth, often to charitable enterprises. The upshot is that the distribution in consumption is far more equal than that in income.

Green New Deal: Serious as a Mass Famine


Keep yucking it up. Talk about Alexandria Occasional Cortex. Hey, it could never happen here right? Not so fast, slick, your laughter is actually based in ignorance or forgetfulness. Stalin engineered a terror famine, the Holodomor, and Mao killed off up to 60 million inconvenient people with his Great Leap Forward. Today, Venezuelans are eating rats. Now are you focused?

Holodomor memorial monument in Kyiv, UkraineAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s socialist scheme reveals, in its own words, the red origins and aims of the Green movement. Instead of greedy capitalists oppressing wage slaves, evil polluters are killing everyone. those at the top of the intersectional virtue pyramid hit hardest.

Green, With Envy


An end to industrial civilization, but like in a totally pro-union way.

If this week’s Green New Deal boomlet was politically significant, it wasn’t just because a legislative newcomer elected by 110,318 voters in Queens and the Bronx proposed a government program to renovate or replace every building in the country within ten years, abolish internal-combustion-engine cars and commercial air travel, shut down all conventional utility generation without building nuclear, phase out flatulent cows, support persons “unwilling” to work, print new paper money to pay for it all, and on and on. New York City voters have elected radical mavericks to Congress before and will do so again.

Elizabeth Warren’s Unconstitutional Wealth Grab


As part of her populist presidential campaign, Senator Elizabeth Warren has unveiled a proposal for an annual wealth tax of 2 percent for ultra-rich families whose net worth is between $50 million and $1 billion. That tax would increase to 3 percent for families whose net worth exceeds $1 billion. The tax is on top of many other taxes to which such a family would be subject, including, presumably, the progressive ideal of a 70 percent income tax as well as state and local taxes. The wealth tax would even apply to people whose net worth has declined during the past year so long as they remain above the stated threshold. Cumulative taxes could easily exceed 100 percent of income. That result is not an unanticipated bug but rather an essential feature: Warren wants to mandate greater income equality through tax policy, even if it means leveling down, not up.

In a future column, I shall address the economic ramifications of this proposal. But for now, I turn to the question of the constitutionality of this novel wealth tax. On that topic, Senator Warren offers in support two short letters signed by sixteen prominent American constitutional law scholars that vouch for the constitutionality of her plan.

One letter relies on a 2018 Indiana Law Journal article by legal scholars Dawn Johnson of the University of Indiana and Walter Dellinger, of Duke University, entitled “The Constitutionality of a National Wealth Tax.” Johnson and Dellinger claim that the Supreme Court’s 1796 decision in Hylton v. United States, which sustained an annual tax on carriages as an “indirect” tax, is a decisive precedent for upholding Warren’s proposal. The second letter relies on a 1999 article by Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman that claims that “the key decision” of Knowlton v. Moore (1900), which upheld a state inheritance tax, provides constitutional support for the Warren wealth tax. Both letters reject the view that her wealth tax is a “direct” tax that must be apportioned among the states. Neither addresses a second important issue in American constitutional law—whether any tax can be so confiscatory that it counts as a taking of private property.

Elizabeth Warren’s Theory of America’s ‘Freeloading’ Billionaires


Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she wants “billionaires to stop being freeloaders.” It’s a statement akin to the idea that billionaires need to “give back” to society. Which is not how I immediately think about the wealth inequality issue. Surely Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates didn’t begin to “give back” or generate value for society only when he began “giving back” via the Gates Foundation to boost education and reduce global poverty. Society benefited from his role in revolutionizing home computing, generating massive wealth for retirement plans everywhere, and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs over the decades.

Oh, and Gates became superrich in the process. And he should pay taxes. Lots of them. Does he or other wealthy Americans pay anywhere near enough? Warren and many Democrats don’t seem to think so, (although paying for new spending does seem to be the primary concern here). Thus the talk of a wealth tax or a higher top income tax rate. There’s less talk on the left, however, of possible tradeoffs from such ideas. A wealth tax would certainly be a theoretically powerful — though difficult to administer and possibly unconstitutional — way to break up or diminish concentrated wealth. (Many nations that have tried them have since abandoned them.) But there is another side of the story. My AEI colleague Alan Viard notes that wealth taxes of the sort Warren advocates “would be a drain on the pool of American savings, [which] finance the business investment that in turn drives future growth of the economy and living standards of workers.” Something to consider at a time when the American economy faces historically low economic growth due to demographics and low productivity.

Another thing to consider: Most of the value created by entrepreneurial innovation isn’t captured by the entrepreneur. And that’s under the current tax system. In the 2004 paper “Schumpeterian Profits in the American Economy: Theory and Measurement,” 2018 Nobel laureate William Nordhaus concludes “that only a minuscule fraction of the social returns from technological advances over the 1948-2001 period was captured by producers, indicating that most of the benefits of technological change are passed on to consumers rather than captured by producers.”

Daniel Foster of National Review Online and Greg Corombos of Radio America get a kick out of reports that Elizabeth Warren and her team are still trying to do damage control over her DNA stunt.  They also unload on the mainstream media for insisting that every kind word said Wednesday about the late George H.W. Bush was somehow an obvious rebuke of President Trump.  And they react to news that Trump is at least contemplating a change in running mates for 2020.

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I’ve noticed an interesting thing following yesterday’s election: the media may not quite know how to handle Sharice Davids’ win in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. From the Kansas City Star’s website: “Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, will be the first Native American woman to serve in Congress — a distinction she shared with New […]

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