Recent Posts From Jason Pye
The New York Times’ editorial board — packed with purported journalists who make their living under the protections of the First Amendment — is strongly backing the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service’s proposed rules that would limit nonprofit groups from engaging in debates over public policy:
The problem of secret money began in 2010, with the loosening of rules that was prompted in part by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Political operatives like Karl Rove realized that “social welfare” groups were allowed by the tax code to accept unlimited donations that did not have to be disclosed. They could then use that money to run political attack ads. Though the tax code says the groups, known as 501(c)(4)s, could not be engaged primarily in political activity and still keep their tax exemption, that was easy enough to get around by claiming the ads had some kind of civic purpose.
By the 2012 election, these groups were spending $300 million and were often the dominant voice in major races. The Koch brothers, in particular, got around the tax code provision by moving tens of millions among a huge number of nonprofits so that it was almost impossible to determine the purpose of each group, let alone who the donors were.
The White House didn’t take too kindly to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s report showing that the $10.10 minimum wage being pushed by President Barack Obama would lead to the loss of 500,000 jobs.
In response to the report, two White House economists wrote a lengthy rebuttal to the report, touting the findings that they felt bolstered the case for a minimum wage hike while, at the same time, dismissing its findings on the negative impact to the labor market. Call it a case study in “having their cake and eating it too.”
Betsey Stevenson, one of the White House economists who wrote the rebuttal, even insulted the CBO, comparing its report to what’s taught in introductory economics.
“[A] new burgeoning literature has really pointed out that how much you pay people actually affects how they perform, what they do, and how much they produce,” Stevenson told reporters on Tuesday. “You don’t get the loss of employment that that, you know, supply-demand that you saw on the chalk board if you took introductory economics would have demonstrated.”
CBO Director Doug Elmendorf defended his agency’s report on the labor market effects of the minimum wage at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday:
A week after posting a solicitation for contractor submissions, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) canceled its plans to build a massive database that would allow law enforcement officials to upload images of license plates that could assist federal agents in criminal investigations:
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license-plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative.
The order came just days after ICE solicited proposals from companies to compile a database of license-plate information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers. Officials said the database was intended to help apprehend fugitive illegal immigrants, but the plan raised concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.
The data would have been drawn from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, and would have been accessed only for “ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals,” officials told The Washington Post this week.
Today in Liberty: Keystone XL dealt a blow, Obamacare alternative endorsed by FreedomWorks, Thomas Sowell on Ted Cruz
“Many unions have contracts with employers that are based on a multiple of the prevailing minimum wage. If the minimum wage goes up, union salaries go up by a similar percentage.” — Neal Boortz
— Keystone XL hits a road block not named Obama: The Lancaster County District Court has shot down a 2012 state law that would have sped up the regulatory process to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. “TransCanada now must secure approval for the pipeline route from the state’s utility regulators — a step the 2012 Nebraska law sought to circumvent,” notes Zack Colman of the Washington Examiner. “Judge Stephanie Stacy said [Gov. Dave] Heineman’s move to approve the revised pipeline plan, as the law allowed, was unconstitutional because it wrested control of oil pipeline decisions from the state regulatory body, the Nebraska Public Service Commission. As such, Stacy ruled the law null and void.”
Edward Lazear, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, has written an interesting op-ed at Politico Magazine on some of the healthcare reforms developed by President George W. Bush’s administration mid-way into his second term.
Lazear presents these reforms as an alternative to Obamacare, pointing to the recent findings in the Congressional Budget Office report showing that employment will drop by 2.5 million full-time workers because of the disincentives created by health insurance subsidies in the law. He explains that the 2007 reforms would have made healthcare more cost-effective and efficient. What’s more, it would have made health insurance more accessible to Americans who couldn’t afford coverage.
“The Bush 2007 plan achieves these goals,” Lazear wrote. “The basic structure is to offer all Americans a standard tax deduction, in 2007 set at $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals. The deduction would apply to payroll tax — both employee and employer contribution — as well as to income tax.”
“Importantly, the size of the deduction would be independent of the amount spent on the plan. Any taxpayer who has a plan that includes catastrophic coverage gets the full deduction, irrespective of the plan’s cost,” he continued. “That is important because it creates the incentives to choose efficiently.
Lazear explains that the problem with the current system is that it’s tied to employment. Instead, he argues, that offering tax credits to individuals would create “appropriate incentives to shop around.”
Political insiders from both parties blame the rise in primary challenges for the gridlock we’re seeing in Congress. You’ve heard it before. Talking heads will that Republicans, for example, have to appeal to their base to avoid an insurgent conservative primary challenger.
Though it’s true that some incumbents have been knocked off by primary challengers in recent election cycles, Robert Boatright, a political science professor at Clark University and author of Getting Primaried: The Changing Politics of Congressional Primary Challenges, challenges the conventional wisdom that primary challenges are responsible for gridlock in Washington:
There’s just one problem with the idea that primaries have become more common and more important: It’s dead wrong. By my count, there’s nothing unique about the number of competitive primary challenges occurring today. In fact, there were more competitive primary races run in the House during the 1970s (an average of 49 per election) than there have been in the last decade (the average has been 45 each election). Today’s primaries only look competitive because the late 1990s had so few of them. The pattern in the Senate is similar.
While most Democrats seem to be hailing the news that Obamacare will reduce the incentive to work, Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seems to be in complete denial.
At a stop in Orlando on Monday, Sebelius told reports that there is no evidence that Obamacare will reduce employment.
“There is absolutely no evidence, and every economist will tell you this, that there is any job-loss related to the Affordable Care Act,” Sebelius said. “Part-time physicians are actually down since 2010, not up. The number of full-time workers continues to increase. I know that’s a popular myth that continues to be repeated, but it just is not accurate.”
Well, there is evidence.
The Congressional Budget Office recently determined that Obamacare would reduce employment by 2 million full-time workers by 2017, up from an earlier projection of 800,000, rising to 2.5 million by 2024. The reason for the decline in workers is because the subsidies, which are tied to income, would encourage people to work less.
A group of South Carolina-based conservatives have filed a compliant with the Justice Department over the state’s election system, a move that could have implications for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) if he’s forced into a runoff against any one of his primary opponents.
At issue is disenfranchisement of military voters who claim residence in the Palmetto State. Carolina Conservatives United, a group formed last year, alleges that the two-week span between the general primary and the primary runoff mandated by state election statues stands in violation of Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.
“In 2012, we had the largest case of voter disenfranchisement in our state’s history. It is our desire to take our legislators at their word that they want to correct such issues when they arise,” said Bruce Carroll, chairman of Carolina Conservatives United.
“A change to state law is required to fix this current problem, but we are not going to leave anything to chance. We are also filing an official complaint with the US Department of Justice and request their attention to this matter,” he added.
The MOVE Act is 2009 law that requires states to send requested ballots to military and overseas voters no later than 45 days before a federal election. In its complaint, Carolina Conservatives United notes that the Justice Department intervened last year during the special election in South Carolina’s First Congressional District, but it wasn’t a permanent solution to the problem.
You know that Tea Party movement thing that took off five years ago this month and helped Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in 2010? Yeah, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) doesn’t know anything about it. No, seriously, that’s what he told Mississippi News Now.
Cochran is facing a conservative primary challenger, State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), who has cast the 36-year senator an establishment politician who is out-of-touch with Mississippi’s conservative tendencies.
“He’s wrong. He’s flat wrong,” Cochran told Mississippi News Now. “I’m as in touch with the people of Mississippi as an elected official can be.”
But when asked about McDaniel’s support from outside conservative and Tea Party groups, Cochran said, “The Tea Party is something I don’t really know a lot about,” adding that “[i]t’s a free country. We have open opportunities for people to participate in the election process.”
Conservative groups that are openly backing McDaniel’s candidacy have seized on Cochran’s comments. The Club for Growth, for example, is running a 10-second web ad with featuring Cochran’s admitted ignorance about the Tea Party, followed by a snarky reply from McDaniel, who says, “Perhaps it’s time for an introduction.”
The net-effect of Obamacare and President Barack Obama’s proposed minimum wage hike could mean 3.5 million fewer workers by 2017, according to recent reports from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Earlier this month the CBO released its annual snapshot of the economy, The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024. The nonpartisan fiscal research arm of Congress determined that Obamacare would reduce employment by 2 million workers by 2017.
“ACA will cause a reduction of roughly 1 percent in aggregate labor compensation over the 2017-2024 period, compared with what it would have been otherwise,” noted the CBO (p. 123). “The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.”
The reason for the for the reduction is the subsidies available to help pay for health insurance coverage create a disincentive to work. The subsidies are, of course, tied to Americans’ income, the less someone earns, the greater the subsidy.
The reduction of workers wouldn’t end with Obamacare, at least if President Obama has his way. The CBO released a report yesterday, The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income, in which it projected that the $10.10 minimum wage proposal currently being pushed by the White House and congressional Democrats could reduce employment from anywhere between 500,000 to 1 million workers.