Rand Paul, Ron Wyden Want To End Endless National Emergencies

“just one of 34 currently active national emergencies—each coming with its own special powers that the president can use until he decides to stop. The longest-running was invoked by President Jimmy Carter in response to the Iran hostage crisis (which ended in 1981, though the “emergency” never did). Other emergencies authorized by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump are still humming along too, many with no obvious end in sight.

Congress can respond to presidential emergency declarations by disapproving of them after the fact, which it occasionally does.”

“But doing so requires a supermajority of both chambers and, generally, Congress can’t be persuaded to get off its collective duff.”

“Under a bill the two senators reintroduced..all presidential emergency declarations would expire after 72 hours unless Congress votes to allow them to continue.”

“the bill is undermined by the fact that Paul and Wyden propose to exempt some presidential powers, such as those granted by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which allows presidents to impose sanctions on foreign officials and businesses deemed a threat to American national security. The powers granted by the IEEPA form the basis of many of the 34 ongoing national emergencies”

We Already Have an Alternative to Massive Student-Loan Cancellation

“Income-driven repayment (IDR), an existing set of programs that function somewhat poorly, can be improved to ensure that not a single borrower will ever have to make an unaffordable payment on federal student loans. Under IDR, monthly payments are tied to a borrower’s income and unaffordable balances are ultimately forgiven. IDR accomplishes this in a way that minimizes moral hazard and delivers benefits in a true progressive manner — with more benefits going to people who invested in a college degree, and took on debt to do so, but didn’t see the return they were promised in the form of a high-paying job.”

“IDR allows borrowers to make monthly payments that are equal to a fixed percentage of their current disposable income. When income is high, they pay the full amount due, and when income is low, they can make a reduced payment without penalty.”

“The balance is forgiven once a borrower has made a requisite number of IDR payments. This takes between ten and 25 years depending on the student’s eligibility and choice of IDR program. Borrowers may not like having a balance hanging over their head for that long, but the reduced monthly payments (often reduced to zero) mean the process isn’t excessively burdensome.”

“Despite the IDR system’s appropriateness for the policy challenge at hand, the system hasn’t been working well. The reason for this is largely that IDR is administered through a variety of programs each with different eligibility criteria and a range of program parameters. The amount borrowers are expected to pay is calculated differently across programs, as is the number of years before borrowers can qualify to have their balance forgiven. The result is a system that is excessively complex to navigate, with many borrowers unaware of the benefits that are available to them. While IDR is now universal for all federal student borrowers, it became that way only after a series of legislative and executive interventions, between 1992 and 2015, stitched together a patchwork of loosely related programs. Factual evidence about how IDR has been used is limited, but anecdotes about the challenges of navigating the system, even by financially savvy consumers, indicate systemic problems. This rickety policy framework desperately needs to be replaced with a single user-friendly, income-driven repayment plan that can be universally marketed and better understood.

Reasonable people can disagree about how generous IDR should be. Moving the conversation away from mass loan forgiveness to reforming IDR would be a step in a fairer and more efficient direction.”

What’s your “fair share” of carbon emissions? You’re probably blowing way past it.

“The world’s wealthy need cuts of over 90 percent of their carbon emissions, to get to their carbon fair share. The top-skew is so huge that the world’s richest 1 percent cause double the carbon burden of the poorest 50 percent combined (that’s 3.5 billion people).

Most “middle class” Americans are in the global top 1 or 10 percent.”

“So what the hell can anyone do? The main answer for the majority of folks reading this is to cut your personal consumption, and to press for political and systemic changes to get off the “hedonic treadmill,” at least until we’ve stabilized. The “hedonic treadmill” refers to the effect that increases in consumption often result in no permanent gain in happiness.

We’ve all felt negligible or fleeting satisfaction from consumption, but sadly the carbon impacts are far from fleeting — they will last centuries. It’s critical to avoid mindless overconsumption. Many carbon footprint calculators are available to help you figure out your own carbon impact.”

Fix Family Poverty With Free Markets, For Once

“What’s irritating, though, is that many of the best free market ideas for helping working families have not been tried.

What would happen if we actually stopped providing tax incentives for employer-sponsored health insurance? Or if we allowed people to pick less expensive insurance plans that didn’t cover chiropractic bills and dermatology visits but did provide the kind of coverage they were most likely to use and would most likely cause them financial strain if they didn’t have? The annual savings for the average family from this type of policy change would likely surpass any child allowance.

What if we had occupational licensing reforms and allowed people to run small businesses out of their home without fear that the local health department will shut them down? These would give families another path to upward mobility.

What if we stopped making childcare more expensive through government regulations, such as demanding that daycare workers have unnecessary masters degrees and mandating child-to- staff ratios instead of just allowing parents to decide whom they trust with their children?

What if we changed zoning rules so that families could rent out extra rooms in their homes or allowed extended families to more easily live together? What if zoning rules didn’t keep residential properties so far away from commercial properties, in turn requiring that children be driven everywhere?

What if—and here is an idea whose resonance has become even more apparent in recent months—we had real school choice? What if parents didn’t have to worry about buying a more expensive home in order to get their children access to a better school district? Or what if we allowed them to choose a charter school or private school when the public schools in their neighborhood didn’t perform (or even open in person)?

What if instead of continuing to subsidize the bloated higher education industry, we simply offered flexible vouchers to low-income students, letting them spend the money in a way that would allow them to quickly and efficiently gain the job skills they wanted?”