After many highs and lows in 2017 (similar to most years), there were certainly far more highs. The opportunities to be alive, have a wonderful wife and two healthy boys, have terrific family and friends, and achieve much this year give me much optimism for 2018.
If you watch one video today, watch my interview on Capital Tonight discussing the benefits of the pro-growth Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed today by Congress and signed by President Trump at time 3:30 here.
Here’s the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s press release on it today with my statement.
My thoughts: Although it’s not perfect, upon final passage today by the House and eventual signature by President Trump, this first major tax reform in a generation (1986 was last time) is a historic moment for our republic.
The permanent cut of the corporate tax rate to below the worldwide average, immediate expensing of capital purchases for five years, lowering tax liability for business pass-through income, and permanent elimination of the corporate alternative minimum tax are huge for reducing the cost of doing business. The individual income tax cuts will likely be felt by the vast majority of taxpayers. The $10,000 limit on the state and local tax deduction will put pressure on state and local politicians from excessively spending and taxing hard-working people. The inclusion of 529 savings plans in the tax bill to allow $10,000 to be used for schooling will empower parents so more children can have their unique needs met. The repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate is a tax cut for people that had been forced to purchase insurance, but the regulations and likely continued increases in premiums from fewer non-healthcare users require full repeal of this absurd law.
According to the principle of good taxation (simple, flat, broad), this tax bill achieves simplification and broadening the base, but flattening the brackets didn’t happen as there remains seven income tax brackets with the highest rate dropping from 39.6% to 37% and the lowest remaining at 10%.
Overall, this is a pro-growth, prosperity-generating tax bill that help many people have a brighter future by reducing government barriers to their ability to flourish.
But there’s more work to do! We must push for spending restraint and cuts, which is the way we truly reduce the excessive burden of government instead of just the tax burden.
The Texas model has provided the path to policy, let’s make sure that continues here and continues to infiltrate the big government planners in D.C. as we have seen in regulatory reform and now what is historic tax reform.
Does Texas need more money for public education? This question can cause heated debates, which were on full display during the 85th Texas Legislature’s regular and special sessions.
Although most of the debate has centered on how much money has been or should be spent, the focus should not be on taxpayer dollars spent, but really on how best to increase student achievement.
Read this paper to learn more: https://www.texaspolicy.com/content/detail/texans-need-more-education-for-their-money.
This commentary was originally featured in The Hill on December 8, 2017.
In today’s politically polarized environment, compromise is a rare commodity, especially in the energy debate. While progressives push for the use of zero-carbon energy, conservatives counter by advocating for a reliable electricity grid.
Yet, nuclear energy could bridge the divide. Innovative technologies like molten salt reactors safely create power that is both carbon free and highly reliable. By removing onerous energy-related regulations and subsidies, federal and state governments can provide an economic environment that allows such a game-changing innovation to benefit Americans.
Countries around the world — particularly China and developing nations — see the benefits and are poised to increase their nuclear production. Even France has backed off its plan to reduce their 75 percent share of electricity from nuclear power as it finds alternatives scarce.
Unfortunately, new projections by the Energy Information Agency show a diminishing U.S. nuclear presence as closures of reactors mount. To improve the human condition — ensuring clean air, clean water, and a robust economy — nuclear energy must be a part of America’s future.
Nuclear energy is simply more reliable than all other sources of energy except geothermal. It has the ability to operate at full capacity 90 percent of the time. By contrast, solar energy can only sustain maximum output less than one-third of the time and wind generation just about half of the time because the sun isn’t always shining and the wind isn’t always blowing. Another source of energy must always be ready to back up unreliable renewables, which is often coal and natural gas.
Nuclear power has even proved its reliability in the face of devastating conditions. A two-reactor nuclear power plant located near Houston, known as the South Texas Project, took a direct hit from the Category 4 Hurricane Harvey. While Texas’ wind farms quickly cut off generation due to high winds, the nuclear power plant continued providing power at capacity for struggling communities during the disaster.
In other words, nuclear provided electricity when Texans needed it most.
The Trump administration has shown some support for nuclear energy’s unmatched resiliency. This new direction of energy policy along with rolling back crippling regulations and quickly ending wasteful energy subsidies to allow for a level playing field could reinvigorate implementation of molten salt reactors technology.
Most of today’s nuclear plants operate on systems that rely on water to cool and facilitate nuclear fission while exchanging heat to make steam that drives turbine generators. While these processes are highly effective and have become safer over time, both operate under intense pressure, which can build and eventually rupture containment cells when the system fails. This happened in the Fukushima accident in 2011.
Because molten salt reactors run not on solid uranium rods, but rather on a liquid fuel in their heat exchange, molten salt reactor vessels are able to operate at normal, atmospheric pressures making reactor blowouts nearly impossible.
Additionally, the liquid fuel provides the added benefit of acting as both the reaction catalyst and the coolant. In the event of a molten salt reactor system failure where pumps are not able to move the liquid fuel through the reactor, the reaction safely slows as the fuel cools and self-regulates the fission process. The ability to self-regulate makes molten salt reactors incredibly resilient in addressing the containment fears from not only system malfunctions but also modern-day concerns of targeted terrorist threats on the American grid.
Molten salt reactors also provide the country with an extraordinary opportunity to reduce its massive holdings of nuclear waste by reusing it as liquid fuel. While conventional reactors utilize between only two and five percent of the energy available in their fuel rods before requiring replacement, molten salt reactors can consume upwards of 98 percent of the energy. This uses less resources and reduces the amount of time waste remains radioactive from more than 100,000 years to 300 years.
As Americans balance a clean environment and reliable energy, one solution advances toward both. Add in safety enhancements and efficient waste recycling, nuclear energy offers a sustainable way forward.
Governments should remove barriers for development of nuclear energy and other energy sources so that markets provide the best mix of energy production. This will provide Americans with an energy future that is not only clean, affordable, and reliable, but also powers their lives and their potential for flourishing.
Ph.D. Economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Blog posts are publications by the author.