• Friday May 24, 2019 9:35 AM PDT •
According to new estimates, if the cost of complying with all the thousands of regulations imposed by the U.S. government on American households and businesses were totaled, the cost would be larger than Canada’s entire economy. With $1.9 trillion worth of these “hidden” taxes having been effectively imposed by bureaucratic fiat, it seems reasonable to wonder if we would have so many regulations if the elected members of the U.S. Congress had to vote for them.
That turns out to be a very good question to ask, because of a new report issued by the nonprofit Pacific Legal Foundation, which reveals just how unaccountable the bureaucrats at just one federal government department imposing this gigantic regulatory burden on Americans has become. Writing at Issues & Insights, Clint Black describes his organization’s findings of how the regulatory sausage is being made in an op-ed:
Over the past year, a team of lawyers and researchers investigated the inner workings of one federal department to find out who is really in charge. Our final report does not read like a spy novel. In fact, it’s about as exciting as a law journal. However, it proves what many Americans have long intuitively known: unaccountable bureaucrats make the rules in this country.
Here’s the background: During litigation over a controversial Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulation in 2018, attorneys at Pacific Legal Foundation found that a career bureaucrat had signed off on the rule.
That’s a problem because that bureaucrat did not have the Constitutional authority to issue regulations. The Constitution’s Appointments Clause requires that rules binding Americans must be issued by “officers of the United States”—i.e., government officials appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, or hired by cabinet secretaries under congressional authorization. Such officials are subject to political accountability, which allows them to wield political power such as issuing binding rules.
K. Lloyd Billingsley
• Thursday May 23, 2019 9:30 AM PDT •
In a Fox News town hall on May 19, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was asked about the federal deficit and responded with a call for tax hikes. The South Bend, Indiana, major said he favored a “fairer, which means higher,” marginal tax rate. Moderator Chris Wallace, son of the late Mike Wallace of CBS’s 60 Minutes fame, failed to challenge the candidate on this claim.
A marginal tax rate is essentially the tax on the last dollar earned. A worker will play a higher rate when she earns the dollar that brings her income to $100,000 than she would on the dollar that brought her income to $50,000. Mayor Buttigieg believes it is “fairer” to take more money from the worker who earns more. Workers could be forgiven for thinking that higher tax rates for more productive workers are inherently unfair, and punitive, but moderator Wallace, a Harvard grad, failed to follow up.
• Wednesday May 22, 2019 10:14 AM PDT •
“If one assumed that all costs of federal regulation and intervention flowed all the way down to households, U.S. households would “pay” $14,615 annually on average in a regulatory hidden tax.”
That’s a stunning finding from Wayne Crews, the author of the 2019 edition of 10 Thousand Commandments, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual report on the costs of regulations imposed by the U.S. government. This $14,615 figure is Crews’ estimate of the average amount by which the prices of everything that American households buy have been increased because of regulatory restrictions issued by every department and agency within the U.S. federal government.
Randall G. Holcombe
• Tuesday May 21, 2019 11:22 AM PDT •
A Saudi Arabian newspaper aligned with the state published an editorial on May 16 saying that the United States should initiate airstrikes against Iran. Despite President Trump’s aggressive stance toward Iran, the encouragement from Saudi Arabia is out of line for several reasons.
First, the Saudis are reacting to attacks on their energy infrastructure, which they blame on Iran. Why should the United States respond to these attacks rather than the Saudis themselves? Saudi Arabia has a substantial military arsenal. Why would they think the United States should fight their battles?
Vicki E. Alger
• Tuesday May 21, 2019 9:17 AM PDT •
Private schools and independent public charter schools are more productive than district public schools, according to a new report.
“The United States invests over $660 billion on K-12 education, or over $13,000 per student, each year,” according to report author Corey DeAngelis, who adds:
That is equal to over $169,000 for each child’s K-12 education. Interestingly, real education expenditures in the U.S. have nearly quadrupled in the last half century without consistent improvements in student outcomes...Because education dollars are scarce resources, and because students’ academic success is important for society, it’s vital to examine which education sector delivers the most “bang for the buck.”
K. Lloyd Billingsley
• Monday May 20, 2019 5:35 PM PDT •
Back in 1980, an assailant broke into an Orange County home, bound University of California, Irvine, medical student Keith Harrington, 24, and his wife Patti, then raped the woman before beating the couple to death. Police had no suspects, and Keith’s brother Bruce Harrington became convinced that the only way to solve the crime was through DNA. In 2002, when DNA was proving effective in other states, Harrington testified before the state Assembly and the Senate public safety committees. His pleas fell on deaf ears. “All I see and hear from Senator Burton, his staff and his cronies,” Harrington said, “is a buzz saw of opposition and obfuscation, focused more on the rights of prisoners than on the rights of their victims.”
Harrington backed Proposition 69, which authorized DNA testing of felons. The measure drew opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union, but it passed in 2004. On April 2, 2018, the California Supreme Court upheld DNA testing of those arrested or charged with a felony. On April 25, 2018, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced that DNA comparisons led to the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, suspected of being the Golden State Killer who had murdered Keith Harrington and many others. Bruce Harrington duly recalled the opposition to his “Keep California Safe” DNA proposition, telling Sen. Burton and his committee, “You were wrong.”
• Friday May 17, 2019 9:46 AM PDT •
The U.S. government directly owes the nation of China over 1.1 trillion dollars. What would happen if the Chinese government were to weaponize its holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds by suddenly selling off all of them?
That’s an option that has been suggested by Hu Xijin, the editor of the government-controlled Global Times.
Dumping its U.S. national debt holdings is considered to be China’s “nuclear option” for retaliating against the U.S. government in the trade war between the two countries that has been going on for more than a year. CNBC‘s Jeff Cox describes how Beijing might come to deploy this particular economic weapon in its trade war with the United States:
As the two sides engage in a tit-for-tat tariff exchange, the possibility that China might raise the stakes and stop being the world’s biggest consumer of U.S. debt again reared its imposing head Monday.
China currently owns $1.13 trillion in Treasurys, a fraction of the total $22 trillion in U.S. debt outstanding but 17.7% of the various securities held by foreign governments, according to data from the Treasury and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Should the Chinese decide to walk away or reduce their role in the market, that, at least in theory, could create a substantial dislocation for a country such as the U.S. that relies so much on sovereign entities to buy its paper....
“To me, that is the biggest worry. This is really the biggest weapon they have,” said Sung Won Sohn, professor of economics at Loyola Marymount University and president of SS Economics. “They need to do more to counter the United States. So if push comes to shove, that’s what they are going to resort to.”
Vicki E. Alger
• Thursday May 16, 2019 2:11 PM PDT •
Thousands of public-school students in the nation’s capital could soon be a whole lot safer at school thanks to new legislation being considered in Congress.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced a bill that would create Child Safety Accounts (CSAs) for public-school students in Washington, DC, which is the only school district under congressional authority.
The idea is a unique reform that Heartland Institute policy analyst Timothy Benson and I recommended in a policy report published last year, Protecting Students with Child Safety Accounts. As Congressman Banks explains:
School safety and the well-being of children is every parent’s number one concern. In today’s complex world, school safety problems have become more prevalent. Unfortunately, too many students are trapped in unsafe schools.
Alvaro Vargas Llosa
• Thursday May 16, 2019 10:45 AM PDT •
Artificially low interest rates and monetary manipulation of the kind that the developed world, and more specifically the United States, have witnessed since the last financial crisis have consequences. One of them has been the ballooning of corporate debt in this country.
Regardless of how corporate America has used its access to tons of cheap new credit all these years (many companies, as is well known, have simply used it to buy back their own shares, whether it made sense or not, just to make their earnings per share look better), the result today is a highly dangerous level of debt at the heart of the economy.
Raymond J. March
• Wednesday May 15, 2019 1:39 PM PDT •
When he first took office, President Trump pledged to eliminate 75 to 80 percent of all Food and Drug Administration regulations. A recent deregulatory effort is a small step in this direction. It also serves as a comical (and a little concerning) example of how far the agency’s regulatory authority extends.
The FDA recently committed to deregulating the frozen cherry pie market. Specifically, the agency is re-examining current regulations dictating that frozen cherry pies are required to be at least 25 percent cherries by weight and that no more than 15 percent of these cherries may be blemished.