“In a recent paper on the issue, my Mercatus Center colleagues Matthew Mitchell and Michael Farren did the math and found that “the $3.6 billion in taxes needed to fund the subsidies will likely decrease Wisconsin’s long-run GDP by about $20 billion over the 15-year life of the handout. And this estimate doesn’t include the local utility infrastructure, and federal subsidies that total another $1.4 billion.” These numbers are harder to sell to taxpayers than the la-la land ones we hear about before every big subsidy deal.”
“A new paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives by Cailin Slattery of Columbia University and Owen Zidar of Princeton University looks at state and local business tax incentives and finds yet again that narrow, firm-specific tax breaks aimed at attracting businesses and boosting employment aren’t the way to go. The study shows that larger, more profitable companies are more likely to get bigger handouts. The largest deals benefit the recipients, according to their research, but not the overall state economy.”
“This study is only one of many on the topic. They all find that these narrowly targeted subsidies don’t work as advertised and are typically counterproductive. Unfortunately, a slogan like “subsidized projects aren’t worth the money you pay for them” doesn’t make for a great sound bite at ribbon-cutting ceremonies.”
“Allegheny Technologies, which employs about 100 people, is the type of company that is especially vulnerable to Trump’s tariffs. It imports stainless steel slab from Indonesia and turns it into sheet metal, which it then sells to other manufacturers who incorporate it into car parts, kitchen appliances, and more.
Being in the middle of the supply chain is rough when you’re also in the middle of a trade war. Companies like Allegheny Technologies have to pay for Trump’s 25 percent tariffs on imported steel, and then have little choice but to pass on that cost increase to their customers. But, as Wetherbee laments, that makes it difficult for a company like his to compete against foreign manufacturers who can make and sell sheet metal without having to account for an extra 25 percent import tax.
Buying American doesn’t work, either, since U.S. steel is more expensive. One domestic supplier, Wetherbee writes, “quoted us a price for 60-inch slabs that was so high, the raw materials would have cost us more than we charge for the finished product.””
“Matthew Luckhurst of the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) tried to feed a homeless man a sandwich made of dog feces. While Luckhurst was initially fired for such crappy behavior, Reason reported in March 2019 that his employment was fully restored.
Luckhurst was able to rejoin the force following an arbitration hearing required by the collective bargaining agreement the San Antonio Police Officers Association has with the city. Since the department could not prove the exact date of the crap sandwich incident, the department had no choice but to accept that it missed the 180-day window in which it could discipline Luckhurst, and the arbitration panel ruled in Luckhurst’s favor.
The San Antonio Current reported this week that Luckhurst’s story is not an exception to the rule. Twenty-seven of the 40 SAPD police officers fired between 2010 and 2019 have managed to get their jobs back through arbitration. Only 13 firings were upheld in that entire time.”
“one day in jail plus probation for a lie that nearly cost a man 15 years of his life. Contrast that with the fate of low-income people trapped behind bars because of expensive pre-trial bail. Though the law considers them innocent until proven guilty, they often spend far more time in jail than Bergmann while waiting for their day in court. In one infamous case, Kalief Browder spent three years in Rikers Island without a trial because his bail was set at an unaffordable $3,000.”
“After piling up trillions of dollars in deficit spending during the last recession, the federal government took some modest steps towards reducing that red ink during the middle years of the 2010s. But after Republicans took full control in 2017, spending skyrocketed and the deficit inflated again.
Since Trump was inaugurated, Washington has added $4.7 trillion to the national debt—almost entirely the result of a gigantic spending binge, but with a small assist from the 2017 tax cuts, which reduced revenues without offsetting spending cuts.”
“”Debt threatens our economic health and hinders our ability to make important investments in our future. If we want to tackle big issues like climate change, student debt or national security, then we shouldn’t saddle ourselves with growing interest costs.””
“Compare all this with early 2001, at the end of the second-longest economic expansion in history. The federal government was running a surplus. The national debt was falling and amounted to only 31 percent of GDP. That’s what you’d expect to see now, since deficits typically fall when the economy is growing and grow when the economy is rotten.
Indeed, since the end of World War II, the U.S. has seen deficits greater than 4 percent of GDP only in years when the country was either deep in the throes of a serious recession or emerging from one.”
“If we’re running a trillion-dollar deficit in the good years, what happens when the next downturn occurs?”
“The Trump administration and current crop of Republicans in Congress have made the problem worse than it already was. Some of them—like former deficit hawk Mick Mulvaney and former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who made his name in Congress as the GOP’s budget-maker—deserve special ignominy for abandoning their fiscal conservatism when it was most needed. Trump came into office promising to eliminate the national debt in eight years, and that’s even more of a joke now than it was then.
Meanwhile, Democrats’ aversion to spending reductions and their refusal even to consider changes to entitlement programs—the biggest driver of the national debt—are equally large obstacles to any meaningful attempt at fixing this mess. The party’s progressive wing is pushing for Medicare for All and expanding Social Security benefits, while elevating economic theories that say we should ignore the deficit.”
“Washington’s bipartisan military-first approach to foreign affairs broadcasts to bad actors worldwide that U.S. intervention is always at hand and that a nuclear arsenal is the only sure deterrence against it.
North Korea has affirmed this logic explicitly. “History proves that powerful nuclear deterrence serves as the strongest treasure sword for frustrating outsiders’ aggression,” a state-run media editorial declared in January 2016. Neither Iraq’s Saddam Hussein nor Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, both deposed and killed with U.S. involvement, could “escape the fate of destruction after being deprived of their foundations of nuclear development and giving up undeclared programs of their own accord,” the editorial continued. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is visibly determined not to follow in their footsteps.
For all its imperfections, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—better known as the “Iran deal”—presented an opportunity to break this pattern. Unfortunately, that opportunity is gone following Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018. After the Soleimani strike, Tehran announced its own exit from the plan and, with that, its intent to proceed with nuclear research and development at will.”
“NBC is reporting that President Donald Trump was mulling the hit on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago, with war hawks such as John Bolton urging him to go for it. This further erodes the administration’s claim that the assassination was done to stop an “imminent” attack on U.S. lives.
“According to five current and senior administration officials,” NBC reports, Trump gave the order in June 2019, “with the condition that Trump would have final signoff on any specific operation to kill Soleimani.” Trump said that signoff would come if any Americans were killed, their sources said, which “explains why assassinating Soleimani was on the menu of options that the military presented to Trump two weeks ago for responding to an attack by Iranian proxies in Iraq.” That proxy attack killed a U.S. contractor.”
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly and repeatedly attributed it not to retribution but to an alleged imminent threat to dozens (sometimes “hundreds”) of American lives.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly and repeatedly attributed it not to retribution but to an alleged imminent threat to dozens (sometimes “hundreds”) of American lives.”
“Yesterday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Face the Nation that he knew of no “specific evidence” to support the claim that Iran was planning embassy attacks.”
“”The administration didn’t present evidence to Congress regarding even one embassy. The four embassies claim seems to be totally made up. And they have never presented evidence of imminence—a necessary condition to act without congressional approval—with respect to any of this.””