May 13, 2020
Should U.S. taxpayer dollars be loaned to strip clubs? What would have sounded like a joke just a few months ago is now a reality thanks to the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. And while that may sound like an outrageous misuse of federal funds, the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak means the situation may not be as clear cut as that.
May 5, 2020
U.S. Postal Service boosters re calling for a taxpayer-funded bailout of the agency. Today’s specter of a bailout signals it is time to start thinking about privatizing the mail for real.
March 23, 2020
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) introduced legislation aimed at tackling the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Tlaib’s bill would give every single person in America a $2,000 preloaded debit card that would refill with $1,000 every month until one year after the end of the crisis. Though well-meaning, her legislation is legally dubious and would drive the economy toward hyperinflation.
March 20, 2020
Restaurants are among the hardest—if not the hardest—hit of industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other industries, restaurants are lobbying Congress and state legislatures for assistance. The proposals of the National Restaurant Association have some healthy policy morsels that will benefit all, but some other items that will give restaurant consumers severe indigestion.
December 20, 2019
The spending packages to fund the federal government through the end of the 2020 fiscal year ending on October 1st, which were passed by the House and Senate this week, included only two extensions of green energy tax credits.
December 13, 2019
It would be comforting to think that the House’s impeachment proceedings have so poisoned relations between Democrats and Republicans that the Congress won’t be able to pass any significant legislation in the near future besides a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year. Unfortunately, the prospect of using tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to reward special interests is so irresistibly attractive to members of Congress that it can overcome almost any level of partisan animosity.
December 6, 2019
The House Ways and Means Committee on November 19th released a draft of its “Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act” (summary). The sponsors propose to extend, increase, and create tax credits for various non-fossil energy-related technologies, such as electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels.
September 23, 2019
For all its flaws, the Export-Import Bank’s charter gets an important thing right: the agency must be reauthorized every few years, or it will close. This makes Ex-Im an important case study in institutional design. Its reauthorization requirement should be applied to nearly every government agency. Reauthorization offers regularly scheduled opportunities for Congress to enact possible reforms, or close an agency entirely. It also adds a level of democratic accountability to agencies that mostly lack it.
September 20, 2019
The Export-Import Bank’s charter is currently set to expire on September 30. If authorization lapses, the agency will shut down. On Thursday, the House passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through November 21—specifically including Ex-Im. The Senate will likely pass it next week. This means the Ex-Im fight could drag on for an additional seven weeks, and possibly longer.
September 19, 2019
Nobel laureate economist Ronald Coase wrote in his 1975 essay “Economists and Public Policy” that “An economist who, by his efforts, is able to postpone by a week a government program which wastes $100 million a year (which I would call a modest success) has, by his action, earned his salary for the whole of his life.” By Coase’s measure, the Ex-Im fight that began in 2014 was an enormous success, despite the coming reauthorization setback.