Written by Simon Lester, Trade Policy Analyst for the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Borrowing the title from a Stephen Colbert segment, this blog post is going to be about trade disputes not involving America. Given recent trade rhetoric, you might think that all trade disputes are about the U.S. and China, but that’s not the case. Other countries have disputes, too, and some of them are very interesting, getting into the core issue of what international trade rules should be about.
First up is a complaint by Canada and Norway against the EU related to a ban on “seal products.” According to the EU regulation at issue, seal products means “all products, either processed or unprocessed, deriving or obtained from seals, including meat, oil, blubber, organs, raw fur skins and fur skins, tanned or dressed, including fur skins assembled in plates, crosses and similar forms, and articles made from fur skins.” Under the regulation, with limited exceptions, seal products may not be imported or sold in the EU.
While most mainstream pundits believe the fight over ObamaCare is over after the Supreme Court’s decision during the summer, polls still show that the law is still unpopular with Americans.
Health insurance premiums are still on the rise, companies are dropping coverage or cutting hours to skirt the law’s mandates, and the cost of ObamaCare has skyrocketed. The law has also been a jobs killer. According to a recent study, ObamaCare’s regulations have killed some 30,000 jobs and cost $27.6 billion.
If these reasons weren’t enough to do away with the law and start over, a new compendium put together by Dean Clancy, Vice President of Health Care Policy at FreedomWorks, goes over the top 10 reasons to repeal ObamaCare.
In addition to some of the points already made, Clancy explains that ObamaCare is a bureaucratic mess that will force many Americans to lose their current health insurance, pushing them into buy government-controlled plans. He explains that taxes imposed as part of the law will hit all areas of the health care system. Clancy also notes that the law will lead to rationing of health care.
More importantly, as Clancy explains, “there is a better way.” After repealing ObamaCare, Congress could start over again by crafting legislation that focuses on the needs of patients, not bureaucrats.
I’ve explained on many occasions that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was bad news for the economy. The same can be said of Herbert Hoover’s policies, since he also expanded the burden of federal spending, raised tax rates, and increased government intervention.
So when I was specifically asked to take part in a symposium on Barack Obama, Franklin Roosevelt, and the New Deal, I quickly said yes.
I was asked to respond to this question: “Was that an FDR-Sized Stimulus?” Here’s some of what I wrote.
ObamaCare’s ‘Essential Health Benefits’: Few States Implement, HHS ‘Is in Clear Violation of the Law’
Written by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
ObamaCare directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to define the “essential health benefits” that all consumers in the individual and small-group health insurance markets must purchase. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius kicked that decision to the states, giving them a deadline of this past Friday, September 30. Kaiser Health News reports that all of 16 states submitted an Essential Health Benefits (EHB) benchmark to HHS by the deadline.
But did Sebelius have the authority to kick this decision to states? In a September 26 letter to Sebelius, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine writes:
[T]he PPACA clearly states that the Secretary of HHS is to define the EHB package for policies offered both inside and outside of health insurance exchanges. While the language in PPACA was plain that this statutory responsibility fell on HHS, in December of last year HHS issued guidance preliminarily indicating states must select a benchmark design, with HHS potentially acting as final arbiter…of that selection. (Emphasis added.)
Is September 30 even a deadline?
Some communications from your agency indicate that this is a suggested response date while others indicate that it is a deadline of some sort. We again are asking for clarity.
Keep telling me that the economy is getting better. Seriously, I know this something that is critical to President Barack Obama re-election bid — that businesses are hiring more and that there are all these encouraging mythical signs everywhere. Yeah, doesn’t seem to be the case according to a new report from Bloomberg, which notes that business activity has declined for the first time since 2009:
Business activity in the U.S. unexpectedly contracted in September for the first time in three years, adding to signs manufacturing will contribute less to the economic recovery.
The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said today its business barometer fell 49.7 this month from 53 in August. A reading of 50 is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.
Uncertainties surrounding domestic fiscal policy and weakening economies in Europe and China may prevent companies from adding to headcount and ramping up production. Slow growth prospects prompted the Federal Reserve to announce more accommodation measures earlier this month in a bid to help spur the three-year-old expansion.
“The chain that links all this stuff together is just a loss of confidence as we head toward the end of the year in fiscal policy,” said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies & Co. Inc. in New York, whose forecast of 50 was the closest in the Bloomberg survey. Businesses “have been cutting back on their investment spending.”
The Cato Institute, in partnership with the Fraser Institute in Canada, has released the annual report, Economic Freedom of the World. The report shows where each nation across the globe ranks on various economic factors, such as the size of government, the legal system, respect for private property rights, sound money, free trade, and regulation.
Here is a brief summary of the report from Cato:
Global economic freedom bounced back slightly in this year’s report. After falling for two consecutive years following a long trend of increases, the average score rose from 6.79 in 2009 to 6.83 in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available. In this year’s index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom, 8.90 out of 10 (down slightly from 9.01 last year). The rest of this year’s top scores are Singapore, 8.69; New Zealand, 8.36; Switzerland, 8.24; Australia, 7.97; Canada, 7.97; Bahrain, 7.94; Mauritius, 7.90. Finland, 7.88; and Chile, 7.84. Bahrain and Finland are new to the top 10 — replacing, notably, the United Kingdom (fell to 12th) and the United States (a sizable drop to 18th).
The United States, long considered the standard bearer for economic freedom among large industrial nations, has experienced a substantial decline in economic freedom during the past decade. From 1980 to 2000, the United States was generally rated the third freest economy in the world, ranking behind only Hong Kong and Singapore. After increasing steadily during the period from 1980 to 2000, the chain linked EFW rating of the United States fell from 8.65 in 2000 to 8.21 in 2005 and 7.70 in 2010. The chain-linked ranking of the United States has fallen precipitously from second in 2000 to eighth in 2005 and 19th in 2010 (unadjusted ranking of 18th).
The stagnant economy is sure to be on the minds of voters as we get closer to the fall election. President Obama’s campaign is doing everything it can to distract voters from the dismal unemployment rate, depressing budget deficits, and looming tax hikes.
Recently, Veronique de Rugy, an economist at the Mercatus Center, noted the job creation numbers under presidents dating back to 1945. While Obama claims that the economy has created some four million jobs since taking office, the truth is that Americans have seen the worst job creation numbers under the current administration than any of his predecessors dating back to Truman.
And while his fixes haven’t worked as sold haven’t worked as promised — and there was no question that they would fail before they were even passed, President Obama is trying to sell more snake oil to Americans by pushing crippling taxes hikes. Nevermind that the share of income taxes paid by higher-income earners has gone up since the passage of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and nevermind that even Keynesian economists will tell you that raising taxes in an economy is a bad idea.
The Obama Administration is still touting the Affordable Care Act — also known as ObamaCare — as some sort of law that will magically cut healthcare spending for both the budget and Americans. While they’re basing this “savings” off of a recent Congressional Budget Office reports weighing the impact of limited Medicaid expansion — thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in June — and House Republican proposals to repeal the law, the reality is, as explained recently by the National Taxpayers Union, that scrapping ObamaCare would actually save taxpayers money.
There are also costs outside of the federal budget that have to be weighed. Sally Pipes, President of the Pacific Research Institute, notes that ObamaCare “will, in the long term, lead to higher costs and reduced access to insurance coverage.” That are other impacted costs, such as the mandates on businesses to comply with ObamaCare. These costs will no doubt trickle down to consumers rather than impacting a companies bottomline. For example, John Schnatter, founder of Papa Johns, explained that the healthcare law will cause his campany to raise pizza prices:
“Our best estimate is that the Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis,” Schnatter said.
“We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry. But our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare,” he said.
On Thursday, the United States Senate shot down so-called “cybersecurity” legislation in a mostly party line vote. Many Senate Democrats tried to hype up the bill as something that could prevent a worst-case scenario, but Republicans were concerned that it would put too much on businesses.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) noted that the bill was a trojan horse, explaining that “In its current form, the Cybersecurity Act does not sufficiently safeguard Internet users’ privacy and civil liberties, nor would it create the correct incentives to adequately protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber threats.” Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, also explained that all the cybersecurity legislation would have done is create a headache for business and, as Wyden noted, put privacy at risk through data sharing with the federal government:
With President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats eager to raise income taxes on higher-income earners — despite the fact that they already shoulder a substantial sum of the tax income burden, a new report shows that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32 trillion put away in off-shore accounts:
Wealthy individuals may have been hiding as much as $32 trillion offshore at the end of 2010, according to Tax Justice Network, a U.K.-based organization that campaigns for transparency in the financial system.
The estimate is almost three times the organization’s last estimate of $11.5 trillion in 2005. Fewer than 100,000 people own $9.8 trillion of offshore assets, according to the research, carried out by former McKinsey & Co. economist James Henry.
There is a “huge black hole in the world economy” of untaxed private wealth, Henry said in a statement. “The lost tax revenue implied by our estimates is huge.”
The amount held offshore means that 139 countries with external debts of $4.1 trillion at the end of 2010 would be creditors to the world, if as much as $9.3 trillion of cross- border holdings of their wealthiest citizens were taken into account, according to the research.