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Inflation might be cooling some, but recent reports suggest many Americans aren’t economically optimistic. Despite President Biden continuing to celebrate the success of his “Bidenomics” approach, the reality is that purchasing power is still down, and job market weaknesses remain. So, why is the current administration so proud? It seems deficit spending is the reason.
A poll from Monmouth University found that only one in four Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction, and a significant 62% disapprove of how Biden is handling inflation. And it’s no wonder, considering that real wages have failed to keep up with inflation for a staggering 26 consecutive months. Understandably, people are becoming weary.
The latest CPI report shows a moderate decline in headline inflation to 3% in June 2023 from the previous month’s 4%. However, core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, remains stubbornly high at 4.8% year over year.
This improvement shows some relief, but to get the economy back on track, we must address the underlying inflationary pressures caused by deficit-spending of more than $6 trillion funded by a bloated Federal Reserve balance sheet, which is declining too slowly.
Turning to the latest jobs report for June, the figures are disappointing, falling well below expectations. Only 99,000 net jobs were added after accounting for downward revisions in the two prior months. Moreover, many of these jobs were government jobs, straining the productive private sector that pays for those jobs. According to the household survey, employment has remained nearly stagnant since March, indicating a lack of substantial job creation. To make matters worse, the labor force participation rate has yet to return to its pre-pandemic rate, indicating millions of Americans are uncertain about their job prospects.
Even for employed people, their purchasing power is down, and renters and individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds are struggling.
If this is the outcome of “Bidenomics,” it’s clear that a different approach is necessary to restore the American economy. The government must rein in spending, and the Federal Reserve should be more aggressive in cutting its balance sheet.
Despite the lackluster evidence that his initiatives are helping, President Biden continues to approve increased deficit spending through initiatives like the Inflation Reduction Act, which is estimated to cost over $1 trillion. The national debt has surpassed $32 trillion, translating to roughly $95,000 owed per American or almost $250,000 per taxpayer, far exceeding the country’s economic output. This continuous increase in spending, coupled with kicking the problem down the road for future generations to tackle, as seen in the latest debt ceiling deal, won’t effectively lower inflation or provide the economic relief Americans desperately need.
A different direction is essential, involving responsible budgeting to curb excessive spending and align expenditures with means. Congress should consider passing a strict spending limit with a growth rate that better matches the average taxpayer’s ability to fund government spending, calculated based on the maximum rate of population growth plus inflation. If Congress had adhered to this maximum spending growth rate from 2003 to 2022, there could have been a cumulative $500 billion debt increase instead of the actual $19 trillion increase, resulting in $18 trillion in static savings for taxpayers. In essence, restraining spending now is pro-growth and will foster greater economic prosperity.
The latest inflation and jobs reports suggest that the touted “Bidenomics” approach leaves much to be desired. To secure a brighter economic future, current economic strategies need serious reevaluation that focus on fiscal responsibility and sustainable growth.
Originally published at The Daily Caller.
The U.S. Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA) in August 2022. The IRA includes many provisions which are now estimated to cost $1.2 trillion over a decade per Goldman Sachs’ more recent analysis compared with the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) initial estimate of $391 billion.
Part of this substantially higher estimated cost is because of the new cost estimates for tax credits for electric vehicle (EV) battery cells and modules manufactured in the U.S. Instead of the initially estimated cost of $30.6 billion by the CBO, new estimates based on more precise projections and growth in the EV market indicate that this could be as high as $196.5 billion (540% higher than initially estimated) per the Mercatus Center and Goldman Sachs. This higher estimate appears more accurate than the original CBO estimate given the large increase in the EV market and the expanding use of these tax credits.
Given that the cost of these subsidies passed by Congress and communicated to the public appears to be substantially undervalued, the CBO and other nonpartisan agencies and committees responsible for providing Congress with accurate revenue estimates and sound economic analysis should reexamine their calculations.
Originally published at Americans for Tax Reform.
The push to ditch reliable energy is out of control. Politicians are manipulating the energy market through subsidies, tax breaks, and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives in regulations and government pensions.
It’s also concerning that the “big three” investment institutions, which collectively hold over $20 trillion in assets, too often coerce the companies in which they have significant investments to bend the knee to their big-government political ideology, such as complying with the Paris Climate Accord.
Sadly, the result of this virtue signaling to prop up unreliable wind and solar comes at high costs for little benefits—if any benefits at all. And more than hemorrhaged taxpayer dollars are at stake: this green energy agenda increases poverty. It must stop.
While the media is constantly ringing alarm bells about the always-changing climate, not enough people are alarmed by the economic trade-offs these unreliable green energy initiatives create. But that requires an honest comparison of the climate change risks versus the economic costs, both of which impact future generations.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) finds that there were an expected 20 million more people without electricity globally, totaling 775 million people, in 2022. Many of these people are in sub-Saharan Africa, who are facing increasing hardship due to rising costs for food, fuel and other necessities. This situation is made worse by the left’s insistence on unreliable sources of energy that have forced many Europeans to use wood for stoves and heat instead of much cleaner-burning natural gas.
Forcing some of the population to depend on energy sources that don’t work ultimately pushes them into hardship and poverty when those methods fail.
Texas experienced this problem in a tragic way two years ago during its historic weather event of freezing temperatures and accumulations of ice and snow that left thousands without power, contributing to an estimated 246 deaths.
Such a tragedy should never have happened in America’s energy capital, but these are gambles that politicians take when offering subsidies to unreliable variable energy providers that make it difficult for reliable thermal energy to compete, even though thermal energy is the most stable and reliable form.
Fortunately, Texas let a property tax break for businesses called Chapter 313 expire in December 2022. That tax break was often used by renewable energy companies to lower their tax bills (and operating costs). Still, some already want to bring Chapter 313 or something like it back. This should be a non-starter.
That’s not to say that climate change couldn’t have consequences, but considering the projected minimal benefits from expensive initiatives by politicians and the need for adaptation, the trade-offs seem hardly worth it. And this says nothing of the benefits of more CO2, which is necessary for life on earth.
More broadly, if every signatory of the Paris Accord, including India and China, decarbonized by 2050, the temperature differentiation by 2100 would be just 0.17 degrees. And according to climate change activists, the cost to get there could be as much as $21 trillion through 2050.
Businesses attempting to go green would be forced to raise their prices significantly to make a profit, a normally tough task that’s only made harder by present-day sky-high inflation. But if subsidies and other artificial means of skewing the energy market continue, then businesses that don’t receive subsidies and can’t afford to “go green” simply won’t be able to compete. This would result in a massive reallocation of resources that will contribute to less economic growth, more poverty, and less energy stability.
Not only can over-dependence on unreliables lead to hardship, but it often counteracts the green energy innovation it wants to spur.
One of the reasons the U.S. is so prosperous is that it is the most responsible and efficient at producing and utilizing energy, having reduced criteria pollutants 78% in the last 50 years. And what has supported this is our wealth acquired via free-market capitalism.
That’s why the best thing for activists and politicians seeking improved adaptation to climate change is to get out of the way and let the free markets, meaning free people, work.
Subsidies, tax breaks, ESG initiatives, and other hindrances to a well-functioning market process should be abandoned. When politicians push funds into green energy agendas, often to win votes through virtue signaling, precious scarce taxpayer resources are wasted.
Markets work, but we have to let them.
Individuals and entities should be left alone when choosing which energy sources to direct their funds and business. Otherwise, the outcome is less prosperity and more poverty. There is a better way.
Originally posted at Real Clear Energy.
Both Republicans and Democrats at the national level have put us down a path of slow growth, massive deficits, and high inflation. With a new Republican majority in the U.S. House and the daunting debt ceiling fight over the bloated $31.4 trillion national debt almost exclusively due to excessive spending, there’s a proven pro-growth, pro-liberty path.
In 2022, the U.S. had real GDP growth of just 0.9 percent (Q4-over-Q4), the highest inflation in 40 years, the highest mortgage rates in 20 years, and the worst stock market in 14 years. Average real weekly earnings have now declined year-over-year for 22 straight months.
Fortunately, history is a good guide for how to overcome this mess. The two of us have served as chief economists at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), though 50 years apart. One of us (Arthur Laffer, originator of the “Laffer Curve”) was the first chief economist of the OMB in the Nixon White House. The other (Vance Ginn) was the last associate director for economic policy at the OMB in the Trump White House.
While much has changed since the OMB was formed in 1970, the problems are basically the same today. There remains a lot of unjustifiable government spending, prosperity-killing taxes, unwarranted regulations, excessive liquidity, and harmful interference in international trade. But just because counterproductive economic policies have been around for a long time doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try for a better world.
Each of the above areas is the subject of intense debate. In politics, these debates have their short-term winners and losers as judged by elections. But the principles of economics aren’t determined by votes. The remedy for economic malaise has been and is less government, not more. Free-market, pro-growth policies are the cure.
The legacy of the 1970s is now called the era of stagflation, and the 2020s are shaping up to be known for the same, or worse. Even with 50 years of experience, many people still haven’t learned a lesson.
During the Nixon and Ford administrations, the economy was stifled at every turn. The dollar was taken off gold and devalued, resulting in higher inflation. Then there was the imposition of wage and price controls, which did nothing to stop inflation but instead ravaged the economy. Government spending was out of control. Taxes were raised, and tariffs imposed, including a 10 percent import tax surcharge; such was the wisdom of the D.C. crowd.
The consequences were rising inflation, stock market collapse, impeachment, and a weak economy. Then, President Jimmy Carter tried to do more of the same with the same consequences.
There followed a true renaissance, led by President Ronald Reagan’s tax and regulatory cuts and Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker’s sound monetary policy. Inflation crashed, the stock market soared, new jobs surged, and Reagan won re-election in a landslide, winning 49 states.
And then there was the sad interlude of George H.W. Bush, who broke his promise by raising taxes, leading to a one-term presidency.
President Bill Clinton, partnering as he did with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, cut government spending by 3 percentage points of GDP, cut capital gains tax rates while exempting owner-occupied homes from this tax altogether, and finally, he and the Republicans pushed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through Congress. On the bad side, he raised the top two tax rates. But the spending restraint contributed to a budget surplus for four straight years.
President George W. Bush, with a penchant for spending more and for temporary tax cuts, was followed by President Barack Obama, with a desire on steroids to spend even more, plus he nationalized health care. Stagnation took hold, and prosperity faded.
In his first two years, President Trump reversed some of the prior 16 years of bad policy with substantial tax cuts, historic deregulation, and other measures that helped get government out of the way, contributing to the lowest poverty rate and the highest real median household income on record. But with the onset of the pandemic, prosperity was cut short by the ill-advised massive spending increases and lockdowns.
Today, we’re once again mired in a sea of bad policies and bad consequences despite President Joe Biden’s self-serving narrative. With tax hikes, massive spending, oppressive energy regulations, soaring debt levels, trade protectionism, and a bloated Fed balance sheet, stagflation was given a brand-new lease on life.
We should follow the proven, pro-growth path (not currently taken) of sound money, minimal regulations, free trade, flat taxes, and most of all, spending restraint for the sake of the economy and human flourishing. It’s also great politics. With this elixir in hand, it would be springtime again in America. And that is something Americans can believe in.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D., is an economist and senior fellow at Young Americans for Liberty and previously served as the associate director for economic policy of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget from 2019 to 2020. Arthur Laffer, Ph.D., is an economist from Nashville, Tennessee, and was the first chief economist of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
Originally published at The Federalist.
President Biden recently visited the humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border but mostly used it as a political stunt to offer more failed policies and chastise Republicans. Republicans have also had years to solve immigration issues, but the situation continues. Meanwhile, Biden and former President Trump have similar protectionist trade policies, which have come at a cost to Americans.
Given the gains from immigration and trade in a globally connected economy, many on the left and the right overlook how government failures of a broken visa system and costly big-government are the source of these problems. And this oversight leads to many of their big-government solutions that aren’t rooted in sound economics but rather winning votes.
Immigration and trade overlap in many ways as they are exchanges with people across international borders. Given the rule of law and private property rights are essential in our republic, there are roles for government to enforce the rules of the game but otherwise politicians should address bad policies in the U.S. before trying to blame tangential problems on other countries or “market failures.”
For instance, have you ever heard that “immigrants and trade steal jobs”? It’s a myth.
The notion that immigrants “steal jobs” supposes that adding more people and different kinds of knowledge and innovation to the economic pie somehow prohibits the native-born population from prospering. Simply put, the aversion to immigrants joining the American workforce is rooted in fear of competition.
Moreover, much of the skepticism fueling fear of more working immigrants tends to also be directed at international trade. But the gains to be acquired from immigration and trade outweigh the suspected costs.
We would be wise to let markets work within the rule of law instead of imposing arbitrary restrictions and growing government.
Working immigrants do not steal jobs. But, as economist Ben Powell recently noted in my conversation with him, they do change the mix of jobs as they expand the capacity of the economy with more workers. Similarly, when young people graduate college and enter the labor market each year, they don’t “steal jobs” but often accept the lower-skilled positions while increasing productivity.
These groups support increased competition, fuel the creation of new jobs, and permit the native-born population to work in positions in which they’re more productive. They also increase demand for goods and services provided by lower-skilled workers.
So, immigrants and new graduates alike can increase net jobs.
When I hire a contractor to install my ceiling fan, I don’t view it as them stealing my job because someone else is better at it. Even though I pay for the service, it’s a trade that ultimately benefits me or I wouldn’t do it, as not learning how to install the fan gives me more time to do things which I enjoy.
The contractor and I mutually benefit, just like with all exchanges with people whether in the same community, same state, same country, or another country. Barriers to immigration and trade, such as visa limitations, border walls, tariffs, and quotas, are barriers to human cooperation enforced by politicians with limited knowledge.
A more productive path forward would be pursuing immigration reform that improves the visa system, making it easier for immigrants to come legally. Border walls, such as the one in Texas, are a scapegoat and far cry from addressing the real issues needing reform.
Similar to the fear of immigration, proponents of trade protectionism often fail to understand that the exchange is as economically simple as it is non-threatening.
Whether a Texan is trading with a New Yorker or someone from China, it’s individuals, not places or entities, trading for mutual benefit. A greater exchange of goods and services through trade promotes competition as the expanded pool of resources for consumers encourages producers to innovate to stay competitive or risk closing.
International trade doesn’t steal U.S. profits any more than immigrants steal jobs. But, like immigration, it allows people to focus on producing the goods they have a comparative advantage instead of being pressured to supply everything for themselves. The goal should be to reduce costs of doing business so there are abundant opportunities for American workers and businesses to flourish by cutting government spending, taxes, and regulations.
Restricting trade and immigration ultimately restricts the prosperity supported by free-market capitalism by keeping out an influx of knowledge, skills, and goods and services that made the American melting pot so great for so long.
Anti-trade and anti-immigration are anti-growth. Free markets are really free people. We ought to find free-market solutions to advance freedom and opportunity rather than impose costly barriers that hinder them.
As economist Peter Boettke recently in my conversation with him: when ordinary people are given elbow room to grow, economies thrive and people can prosper.
Originally published at Econlib.
Key Point: Americans are suffering under big-government policies as average weekly earnings adjusted for inflation are down for 21 straight months. It's time for pro-growth policies to unleash economic potential to let people prosper.
Overview: The irresponsible “shutdown recession” and subsequent government failures have led to a longer, deeper recession with high inflation that are having persistent consequences for many Americans’ livelihoods. This includes excessive federal spending redistributing scarce private sector resources with deficit spending of more than $7 trillion since January 2020 to reach the new high of $31.4 trillion in national debt—about $95,000 owed per American or $250,000 owed per taxpayer. This new debt has hit its limit and needs to be addressed with spending restraint as the Federal Reserve monetized most of the new debt, leading to a 40-year-high inflation rates. The failed policies of the Biden administration, Congress, and the Fed must be replaced with a liberty-preserving, free-market, pro-growth approach by the new majority by House Republicans so there are more opportunities to let people prosper.
Labor Market: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released the U.S. jobs report for December 2022. The BLS’s establishment report shows there were 223,000 net nonfarm jobs added last month, with 220,000 added in the private sector. Interestingly, while there have appeared to be a relatively robust number of jobs created, a recent report by the Philadelphia Fed find that if you add up the jobs added in states in Q2:2022 there were just 10,500 net new jobs rather than more than 1 million initially estimated. This further indicates that the recession started in (likely) March 2022 (more on this below).
That expected revision to the establishment report supports the weak data in the BLS’s household survey, which employment increased by 717,000 jobs last month but had declined in four of the last nine months for a total increase of 916,000 jobs since March 2022. This number of net jobs added since then is much lower than the report 2.9 million payroll jobs in the establishment. The official U3 unemployment rate declined slightly to 3.5%, but challenges remain, including: 3.1% decline in average weekly earnings (inflation-adjusted) over the last year, 0.4-percentage point lower prime-age (25–54 years old) employment-population ratio than in February 2020, 0.6-percentage point below prime-age labor force participation rate, and 1.0-percentage-point lower total labor-force participation rate with millions of people out of the labor force.
These data support my warnings for months of stagflation, recession, and a “zombie economy.” This includes “zombie labor” as many workers are sitting on the sidelines and others are “quiet quitting” while there’s a declining number of unfilled jobs than unemployed people to 4.5 million And that demand for labor is likely inflated from many “zombie firms,” which run on debt and could make up at least 20% of the stock market and will likely lay off workers with rising debt costs.
Economic Growth: The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ released economic output data for Q4:2022. The following provides data for real total gross domestic product (GDP), measured in chained 2012 dollars, and real private GDP, which excludes government consumption expenditures and gross investment.
The shutdown recession in 2020 had GDP contract at historic annualized rates because of individual responses and government-imposed shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic activity has had booms and busts thereafter because of inappropriately imposed government COVID-related restrictions in response to the pandemic and poor fiscal policies that severely hurt people’s ability to exchange and work.
Since 2021, the growth in nominal total GDP, measured in current dollars, was dominated by inflation, which distorts economic activity. The GDP implicit price deflator was +6.1% for Q4-over-Q4 2021, representing half of the +12.2% increase in nominal total GDP. This inflation measure was +9.1% in Q2:2022—the highest since Q1:1981—for a +8.5% increase in nominal total GDP that quarter. This made two consecutive declines in real total (and private) GDP, providing a criterion to date recessions every time since at least 1950. In Q3:2022, nominal total GDP was +7.6% and GDP inflation was +4.4% for the +3.2% increase in real total GDP. But if inflation had been as high as it was in the prior two quarters or had the contribution of net exports of goods and services (driven by natural gas exports to Europe) not been 2.9%, real total GDP would have either declined or been essentially flat for a third straight quarter.
In Q4:2022, there was a similar story of weaknesses as nominal total GDP was +6.4% and GDP inflation was +3.5% for the +2.9% increase in real total GDP. But if you consider the +2.9% real total GDP growth was driven by contributions of volatile inventories (+1.5pp), government spending (+0.6pp), and next exports (+0.6pp) which total +2.7pp, the actual growth is quite tepid. For all of 2022, real total GDP growth is reported +2.1% year-over-year but measured by Q4-over-Q4 the growth rate was only +0.96%, which was the slowest Q4-over-Q4 growth for a year since 2009 (last part of Great Recession).
The Atlanta Fed’s early GDPNow projection on January 27, 2023 for real total GDP growth in Q1:2023 was +0.7% based on the latest data available.
The table above also shows the last expansion from June 2009 to February 2020. The earlier part of the expansion had slower real total GDP growth but had faster real private GDP growth. A reason for this difference is higher deficit-spending in the latter period, contributing to crowding-out of the productive private sector. Congress’ excessive spending thereafter led to a massive increase in the national debt that would have led to higher market interest rates. This is yet another example of how there is always an excessive government spending problem as noted in the following figure with federal spending and tax receipts as a share of GDP.
But the Fed monetized much of it to keep rates artificially lower thereby creating higher inflation as there has been too much money chasing too few goods and services as production has been overregulated and overtaxed and workers have been given too many handouts. The Fed’s balance sheet exploded from about $4 trillion, when it was already bloated after the Great Recession, to nearly $9 trillion and is down only about 6% since the record high in April 2022. The Fed will need to cut its balance sheet (see first figure below with total assets over time) more aggressively if it is to stop manipulating so many markets (see second figure with types of assets on its balance sheet) and persistently tame inflation.
The resulting inflation measured by the consumer price index (CPI) has cooled some from the peak of 9.1% in June 2022 but remains hot at 6.5% in December 2022 over the last year, which remains at a 40-year high (highest since June 1982) along with other key measures of inflation (see figure below). After adjusting total earnings in the private sector for CPI inflation, real total earnings are up by only 1.1% since February 2020 as the shutdown recession took a huge hit on total earnings and then higher inflation hindered increased purchasing power.
Just as inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon, high deficits and taxes are always and everywhere a spending problem. The figure below (h/t David Boaz at Cato Institute) shows how this problem is from both Republicans and Democrats.
As the federal debt far exceeds U.S. GDP, and President Biden proposed an irresponsible FY23 budget and Congress never passed one until the ridiculous $1.7 trillion omnibus in December, America needs a fiscal rule like the Responsible American Budget (RAB) with a maximum spending limit based on population growth plus inflation. If Congress had followed this approach from 2002 to 2021, the (updated) $17.7 trillion national debt increase would instead have been a $1.1 trillion decrease (i.e., surplus) for a $18.8 trillion swing to the positive that would have reduced the cost to Americans. The Republican Study Committee recently noted the strength of this type of fiscal rule in its FY 2023 “Blueprint to Save America.” And the Federal Reserve should follow a monetary rule.
Bottom Line: Americans are struggling from bad policies out of D.C., which have resulted in a recession with high inflation. Instead of passing massive spending bills, like passage of the “Inflation Reduction Act” that will result in higher taxes, more inflation, and deeper recession, the path forward should include pro-growth policies. These policies ought to be similar to those that supported historic prosperity from 2017 to 2019 that get government out of the way rather than the progressive policies of more spending, regulating, and taxing. The time is now for limited government with sound fiscal and monetary policy that provides more opportunities for people to work and have more paths out of poverty.
Our country’s economic journey throughout 2022 is one for the books. We had the highest inflation in 40 years , the highest mortgage rates in 20 years , and the worst stock market declines in 14 years . People are still struggling to pay bills, reduce debt, and save money, with average weekly earnings adjusted for inflation down 3% year over year .
The dismal state of the economy blindsided many people last year, but we don’t have to be caught so unaware in 2023. Knowledge is power, and knowing what could happen this year might make a difference in your finances.
I believe that the burden of the inflationary recession will intensify this year. Expect to see the economy continue to correct from the consequences of Congress’s excessive deficit-spending that simply moved our money around, Biden’s overregulation that stifled energy production and other markets, and the Federal Reserve’s monetary mischief that manipulated markets through its bloated balance sheet.
Currently, the Fed’s balance sheet remains well over $8.5 trillion , not falling nearly fast enough after it peaked at $8.9 trillion in April 2022. Much of this stems from when the Fed’s balance sheet more than doubled due to pandemic-related shutdowns to help Congress afford massive spending that ballooned the national debt by more than $7 trillion over the last three years. Now, the debt sits at about $31.5 trillion .
Adding to the perfect storm is a regulation-happy president, Joe Biden, who hinders the ability of the free market to flourish, particularly in the areas of oil and gas, with his flawed green-energy agenda.
The vital ingredients for a suffering economy with continually high inflation and high interest rates are present.
The popular misery index (a measurement of economic distress on the everyday person), which uses the unemployment rate plus inflation, was above 10% in December — the highest rate since before the shutdowns in 2012. Given the projection of the economy in 2023, we can expect rising unemployment and elevated inflation as employers cut costs or raise prices to stay afloat.
We’ve already seen employment take hits in the household survey, which has shown net employment declined in four of the last nine months for a total increase of just 916,000 jobs added since March 2022. In short, we’re looking at a continued inflationary recession with higher interest rates in 2023. It won’t be pretty, but there’s a reason for hope: a divided Congress.
Republicans now have control of the House, and Democrats have control of the Senate and the White House. That division can create roadblocks to poor policies being pushed out of the Biden administration and the Democrat-controlled Senate, which has destroyed economic opportunities over the last two years.
But the other possibility is more costly executive orders from Biden as he seeks to push more green energy policies, such as the ESG investing scam or stopping permits for oil and gas, and other flawed initiatives. This would mean more blockades to free-market flourishing.
If the economy is prohibited from growing due to excessive regulation, taxation, and spending, we can anticipate that things will get worse before they get better. We’re in this mess because of 2020’s “shutdown recession” and subsequent government failures. The way out is the proven recipe of pro-growth, liberty-enhancing policies of less spending, taxation, and regulation while the Fed aggressively cuts its balance sheet.
This would unleash the economic potential of the productive private sector and get people working well-paid jobs while substantially reducing inflation.
In the meantime, hardworking people should minimize expenses, save for the storms ahead, and stay connected to family and the community for the smoothest possible sailing throughout what is sure to be a bumpy ride in 2023.
Originally published at Washington Examiner.
As Congress rolled out the $1.7 trillion omnibus government-funding bill, an economist broke down the effects of large federal spending amid big deficits and high debt, the impact on tuition, and the need for oversight of some of this taxpayer money. NTD spoke to Vance Ginn, the president of Ginn Economic Consulting, who warned against massive spending, given a federal deficit of over $1.3 trillion and a national debt of over $31 trillion. Ginn called on Americans to say “no” to the bill and let the next Congress draft a budget, and alleged that the omnibus bill expands social safety nets without connecting them back to people joining the workforce.
Originally posted at NTD News.
In a desperate attempt to garner public favor before the midterms, President Biden set his sights on a new target to distract Americans from the pressing inflation problem: overdraft fees. Those low-percentage charges issued by banks to customers who use more money than they have in their accounts are apparently dire.
Biden tweeted: “My Administration is making clear that charging Americans for a bounced check they deposit or an overdrafted bank account isn’t just wrong. It’s illegal.” In the official White House statement, he refers to these charges as “hidden fees,” discounting that bank account holders voluntarily sign off on the possibility of overdraft fees when they open an account.
Unlike Biden, most people understand that what’s illegal is using someone else’s funds without permission, not issuing a penalty for doing so.
Eliminating overdraft fees would disempower personal responsibility through government overreach and reduce the opportunity for some to open an account. Charges are a practical price for using an institution’s capital to support money mismanagement, and an underreaction, one could argue, to theft.
As it turns out, nothing is free, including using the bank’s money when you’ve overspent yours. This is bad enough, as people have begun to think that scarce things are free, but Biden says he isn’t stopping at overdraft fees.
He’s also going after what he’s branded as “surprise” fees, such as family seating fees issued by airlines, switch fees from internet and cable services, and service fees from concert and sporting venues.
Notably, he claims that these charges are more menacing than typical add-on fees and that “firms should be free to charge more to add mushrooms to your pizza.”
So, what’s more menacing about concert venues charging a service fee to cover operational costs than Pizza Hut charging for extra toppings so they can still turn a profit? There isn’t a difference.
What’s malicious is that Biden wants to penalize businesses for trying to stay profitable in a recession that he’s prolongingby addressing “problems” like these instead of the 40-year high inflation that’s removing purchasing power from consumers and hurting families.
Biden insists that these “junk fees” are undetectable by consumers and therefore unfair, and that this makes it impossible for people to compare the real costs between service providers.
Those seeking to promote more government involvement in businesses,almost always undermine individual agency. The reality is that consumers can fight against fees, take their business elsewhere, or choose to pay them if they think it’s worth it. That’s what prices in a free-enterprise system of capitalism are all about: allowing people to improve their lives.
There are always trade-offs in life, and if the Biden administration successfully removes all these fees, we can expect to see another kind of trade-off instituted in its place.
Nothing scarce is free. Every decision we make gives up something else, which economists call opportunity costs. Politicians too often think they can ignore this fact, but they do so at the peril of the people whom they serve.
This kind of overreach isn’t just insulting to Americans, it’s harmful to a free-market system that operates best with limited government. By convincing people that they’re powerless to manage their money or find the best service provider because they’re helpless against “big scary businesses,” the government creates enough public concern to justify stepping in where they have no business doing so.
The economy is suffering enough under Biden’s overregulation, Congress’ overspending, and the Fed’s overprinting; the last thing it needs is another barrier to growth and organic competition.
Biden can quit trying to kid the American public that overdraft fees, which make up less than one percent of annual household spending, are the culprit for this lackluster economy. Instead, he should scrap his failed policies and promote free-market solutions that let people prosper.
Originally published at AIER
Vance Ginn, Ph.D.