President Joe Biden’s administration has targeted Big Tech with several antitrust enforcement actions that could significantly impact consumers, but while many conservatives support the efforts, others fear they may stifle innovation.
Under Biden, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is presently engaged in a lawsuit against Google, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took Meta to court, and there is a possibility of a forthcoming lawsuit against Amazon, all over alleged antitrust violations stemming from industry monopolies. Some conservatives say this enforcement will increase competition, but others say the increase in government intervention in business will harm consumers while also reducing innovation.
“Generally, antitrust enforcement is intended to help consumers by deterring anticompetitive conduct that would lead to higher prices, lower quality service, and fewer choices for consumers,” Hudson Institute Senior Fellow and former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth told the DCNF. “DOJ must explain to the judge how Google’s contracts for search engines harm consumers. Based on public information, I am not sure how DOJ makes that case.”
The DOJ originally filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google under the Trump administration, in October 2020, alleging the company used unlawful practices to maintain a monopoly in the search and search advertising markets. In particular, the lawsuit alleges that Google has abused its dominant market position to force its search engine as the default on web browsers.
“Google’s contracts ensure that rivals cannot match the search quality ad monetisation, especially on phones,” the DOJ alleges. “Through this feedback loop, this wheel has been turning for more than 12 years. It always turns to Google’s advantage.”
Though the Biden administration did not initiate antitrust cases against Facebook and Google, since Biden took office his administration has expanded antitrust enforcement against tech companies, with the FTC under Biden appointee Lina Khan suing Microsoft over its Activision acquisition and refiling a lawsuit against Facebook.
Biden has also made antitrust reform a key part of his economic platform, calling for passing “bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent big online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage” in his February State of the Union address.
Some economists argue, however, that this strategy disincentivizes innovation by creating greater regulatory friction for companies looking to expand. Moreover, experts question whether large tech companies’ market positions actually hurts consumers, as many of their products, such as Facebook and Google search, are free to use and provide numerous benefits. There are also many other search engines that are available to use.
“This administration has used [antitrust] to go after businesses based on subjective grounds,” Pelican Institute for Public Policy chief economist Vance Ginn told the DCNF. “The consequences … are a growing reliance on lawyers instead of expanding their businesses that people are choosing to use even with competitors in the search engine market. Doing so, the administration is making it more costly for new businesses to enter the market because of legal liability and dealing with a radical antitrust policy environment.”
Google referred the DCNF to a blog post titled, “People use Google because it’s helpful,” highlighting the quality of its product and the fact that it is free of charge. (RELATED: DAVIS: Why Conservatives Must Support The DOJ Against Google).
Despite these concerns, many Republicans and conservatives have joined with Biden in advocating for stronger antitrust enforcement and legislation targeting tech companies’ market dominance. Prominent GOP lawmakers including Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Colorado Rep. Ken Buck all backed legislation intended to target major tech companies.
Many conservatives also argue that stricter antitrust enforcement could ameliorate the problem of online censorship.
“Big Tech has had a stranglehold on the online marketplace of ideas for far too long,” founder and President of the Internet Accountability Project Mike Davis told the DCNF. “Consumers, especially those on the right, have had their opinions and voices silenced by the speech censors of Big Tech. Breaking up those behemoths will not only allow for more freedom of expression online, but it would allow a new era of discourse to flourish. Competition is important for all Americans, not just conservatives. Antitrust should be a nonpartisan issue as American as apple pie.”
Jake Denton, a research associate at the Heritage Foundation’s Tech Policy Center, asserts that government intervention is necessary to prevent this.
“The unchecked growth of Big Tech monopolies has gone on for too long,” Denton told the DCNF. “Silicon Valley giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple have been steadily acquiring emerging startups and growing competitors, consolidating their control over the tech sector … It is no longer tenable for regulators or our lawmakers to remain on the sidelines.”
The Biden administration has recently signaled its willingness to expand its crackdown on tech companies, with the FTC charging Amazon in June for allegedly having “duped millions of consumers into unknowingly enrolling in Amazon Prime,” according to its complaint. It also claims it takes at least six clicks to cancel a Prime membership.
“Consumers could lose out on popular features like Google Maps being at the top of search results, Amazon’s Prime program, or iPhones that come ready to use with basic apps out of the box,” Cato Institute Technology Policy Research Fellow Jennifer Huddleston told the DCNF.
“The shift towards a ‘big is bad’ mentality could penalize companies for developing features that make them more popular than competitors or otherwise improve their product” Huddleston told the DCNF.
The White House referred the DCNF to speeches and studies conducted by the administration asserting that antitrust enforcement boosts economic activity and competition.
The DOJ did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. The FTC declined to comment.
Originally posted at Daily Caller.
PMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says Americans would be making a “huge mistake” if they believe narratives saying the U.S. economy is booming.
NTD spoke to Vance Ginn, the president of Ginn Economic Consulting and former Chief economist at the Office of Management and Budget, on some ideas to kickstart the economy. Ginn says he agrees with Dimon’s statement, citing increasing inflationary pressures and inflation-adjusted spending being basically flat.
Watch my full interview on NTD News here.
(The Center Square) – The property tax relief package passed by the state Legislature is the second largest in Texas history, economist Vance Ginn, president of Austin-based Ginn Economic Consulting, says.
While at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Ginn helped devise a plan to eliminate one of multiple property taxes homeowners pay: the school maintenance and operations (M&O) tax. Eliminating this tax over time was part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for the first and second special legislative sessions.
Ginn, who sat down with The Center Square to explain differing property tax relief approaches, was also integral to implementing federal tax reform efforts when he worked at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget under the Trump administration.
After the legislature passed an $18 billion property tax relief package Thursday, House Speaker Dade Phelan said it was “the largest cut in Texas history.” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said it was “the largest property tax relief package in Texas history, and likely the world.”
Abbott, when running for reelection for his third term, vowed to return half of the state’s record $33 billion surplus to taxpayers. On Wednesday, he said the package allocated “at least $13.5 billion from our historic budget surplus to provide substantial relief to property taxpayers across Texas.” With additional money from the budget, he said they were delivering “over $18 billion in property tax cuts.”
According to Ginn’s analysis, the package includes $12.7 billion in new relief and $5.3 billion from the earlier-approved state budget. Neither $13.5 billion nor $12.7 billion is half of the surplus, he points out.
The combined $18 billion in property tax cuts, Ginn also points out, isn’t the largest property tax cut in state history. That occurred under Gov. Rick Perry in the 2008-2009 legislative session when the legislature passed $14.2 billion in property tax relief, he said. In order to surpass that, adjusting for inflation, “for us to have the same purchasing power of those dollars back then it would need to be about $21 billion,” he said. “This isn't the largest tax cut in history. It's substantial, it's historic, probably the second most ever.”
But more problematic, he says, is the Republican-led legislature spent more money than ever before.
“This session was the largest spending increase in Texas history of more than 20%,” he said. “If you look at all funds, and more than 30% if you look at state funds, the state's portion is up by a massive 30%. More than $50 billion being spent; that’s more than ever before.
“If you spend too much, you can't provide as much in tax relief. That's just dollars coming from the taxpayers.”
The $33 billion surplus means the state over collected taxes, he added. “That should be returned to the taxpayer. And the best way to do that,” through property tax reduction, “is through compression.”
“The research that I've done on this in the past is that's the only way you can get to zero. If we really want to eliminate property taxes, which is what Governor Greg Abbott said he wants to do, you can't do it by raising the homestead exemption. You could raise the homestead exemption to $1 million, $2 million, $3 million but you're always going to have property values that are above that. So that can't get you to zero.”
“Appraisal caps don't do that either,” he said, because they just slow growth, referring to the House plan, which was included in the bill. “Appraisal caps don't reduce property taxes. The only way to get to $0 per a $100 valuation, meaning a 0% tax rate, is by compression, lowering property tax rates until they get to zero. If you want to talk about limiting the growth of property taxes or a small relief, then you can talk about appraisal caps or homestead exemptions. But if you want elimination, and actually reduce them over time, the only way, the gold standard, is compression.”
Ginn explained how compression works.
"Rght now, when people pay property taxes to the school districts, the districts are funded at a set amount. The amount [that taxpayers overpay] that goes over the set amount, known as recapture, spills over and goes to Austin. When we talk about compression, what we're saying is we're wanting to reduce the recapture amount by the state funding a reduction in school M&O property tax rates.
“You do this by using state dollars collected from taxpayers, mostly sales taxes, but also franchise taxes. The school districts still receive the same amount of money because state law requires them to be fully funded. The difference is how much [recapture money] goes to Austin or not.”
Compression going to zero would eliminate recapture altogether, he explains.
Recapture is one reason why “the school property tax is essentially a statewide property tax,” he said. While the M&O tax is “determined by the school finance formulas that are set by the Texas legislature, “It's local in name only. That's why the focus has been to eliminate it at the state level. Use record levels of sales taxes and surplus dollars to reduce, compress the school district property tax until it goes all the way to zero.”
Original post at Washington Examiner from The Center Square.
News/Interview: LOCAL NEWS Here are the 2 philosophies to reduce property taxes behind the standoff between Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
Larry and Glenda Legler think the state should be using much of its nearly $33 billion surplus to give Texans a break on their property taxes.
Larry Legler said, "The state's got an ungodly amount of money that they need to do something with."
But after months of promises to do that, Republican leaders still can't agree on the way to provide relief. "That's what's getting frustrating."
Governor Greg Abbott prefers ending the school maintenance and operations or "M&O" portion of your property taxes over ten years.
That portion alone is about 42% of your property tax bill.
To make that happen, the state would shift sales tax, other state revenues, and surplus money to pay for public schools.
That would allow the state to gradually reduce the rate for M&O property taxes until they're eliminated altogether.
Vance Ginn, a conservative economist and president of Ginn Economic Consulting, has pushed this idea for years. "It's the only way that you can get to $0 school district property taxes is by buying down those rates because that rate can go to zero which zero out of a hundred-dollar valuation for a home is $0. And so that is still $0, and you've eliminated that tax."
But Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate have a different plan.
While it uses more state revenues and less property taxes to pay for schools, it would also increase homestead exemptions for most homeowners from $40,000 to $100,000.
And for homeowners over 65, it would raise homestead exemptions from $70,000 to $110,000.
Patrick said it would provide nearly double the savings for homeowners than the Governor's plan.
CBS News Texas asked Patrick earlier this week if he doesn't support eliminating the school property tax.
He said, "You can't get there. You only have sales tax to prop up a state of 30 to 35 to 40 million people the next decade. What happens when we have a decline and sales taxes go down? You'll have no money to pay your bills. You can't be a one-legged horse."
Ginn disagreed. "The Comptroller said we're going to have about $27 billion in the rainy-day Fund. The rainy-day fund is there to cover unforeseen revenue shortfalls which would be exactly this sort of situation."
Abbott said 30 business and other groups support his plan.
The Leglers said because they're seniors, they prefer the plan from Patrick and the Senate. "Everything's gone sky high and when people can't get the medications they need, which is not our case, but many people we know, or they can't afford groceries, a loaf of bread at the grocery store, we got a problem."
Both the House and Senate have approved different legislation, and until they pass the same bill, the Governor cannot sign it into law.
Abbott will speak Friday about this, and other issues related to the regular and special legislative sessions.
Originally published by CBS Texas.
House Republicans have proposed a bill that would increase the debt ceiling but cut government spending. Biden has refused to negotiate the terms of the bill because of these cuts. Now U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the 14th Amendment could be invoked to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional. This would enable the United States to avoid default but would lead to what Yellen calls a “constitutional crisis.” NTD spoke with Vance Ginn, senior fellow at Americans for Tax Reform, to learn more about the issue.
Watch interview with NTD News here.
In "This Week's Economy" Ep. 1, I debut my brief weekly podcast on the hot button economic issues related the national, state, and local economic issues and public policy that will let people prosper.
Thank you for listening to the first episode of "This Week's Economy," a new series of the "Let People Prosper" podcast, where I quickly recap and share my expertise on all the economic news from the preceding week every Friday morning.
You can watch this episode on YouTube or listen to it on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, or Anchor (please share, subscribe, like, and leave a 5-star rating).
Today, I cover:
Biden's 'massive increases in spending' driving deficit problem: Vance Ginn on Fox Business w Neil Cavuto
Dec. 15, 2022 - 4:24 - Former chief White House Budget Office economist Vance Ginn addresses the nation's rising debt issue as the Fed continues to raise rates on 'Cavuto: Coast to Coast.'
New economic reports suggest an increasingly thriving economy thanks to changes in regulatory and tax policy and the Bernie Sanders promise of the government providing a job, an education, and health care is just a fantasy that ultimately ends in misery, according to Texas Public Policy Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Vance Ginn.
Numbers released Thursday from the Labor Department show, that in the final week of April, just 211,000 Americans filed first-time unemployment claims. That’s the lowest number since 1969. The monthly average for April was 221,500 new claims, the lowest since 1973, when the U.S. workforce was half the size it is now.
Ginn says there are pretty simple reasons for the low numbers.
“A big part of it has to do with the regulatory reform. The rollbacks by the Trump administration last year gave some more consumer and business confidence out there, that are near record highs. Along with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was passed in December, these things have (people) saying, ‘Let’s go ahead and invest. Let’s go ahead and hire more workers.
“People are spending more at the same time. That’s the way you really get more job creation and more economic growth over time,” said Ginn.
But the historically low unemployment claims don’t tell the whole story. Ginn says there is definitely room for improvement in the labor participation rate and the unemployment rate, known as U-6, that includes part-time workers and people who have given up looking for work.
“They are improving but there is still a ways to go. The unemployment rate – the reported number – is at 4.1 percent. But the U-6, which includes under-employed and discouraged workers, is still above eight percent. That’s above where we’re usually at at this time in an economic expansion. As of this month, this is the second-longest economic expansion in U.S. history,” said Ginn.
He’s also not satisfied from what he’s seeing from an economic indicator known as the employment to population ratio.
While the economy grows, the political left has a very different vision for America’s economic future. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who narrowly lost the 2016 Democratic Party nomination to Hillary Clinton, is now pushing a plan to provide a government job to every American, along with taxpayer-funded health care and college tuition.
While conservatives recoil at such an agenda, a new Rasmussen poll shows 46 percent of Americans like the Sanders plan.
Ginn is not surprised.
“What it tells us is that people like to get things for free or what they perceive to be free. But it also tells me that 54 percent of people understand the opportunity cost and what direct cost this will have,” he said.
“So even with it being “free,” they still oppose it because they understand this is going to come with some sort of cost. Somebody’s got to pay for it and all the details aren’t out yet,” said Ginn.
He says a majority of Americans still realize this cannot be done.
“Making sure that the jobs pay $15 an hour or making sure that there’s health care benefits, maybe even having “free college,” all these things come with a huge cost,” said Ginn, who says that money would have to come from tax hikes on businesses and individuals.
“If you’re raising the cost of doing business, that means fewer jobs available in the private sector. So are we going to have more federal government jobs. How exactly will these people be employed?” asked Ginn, who also notes that many people may not like the jobs the federal government would assign them.
But conservatives like Ginn face an uphill climb. While firmly believing data and experience are on the side of limited government and free markets, Ginn says it’s a lot easier to promise “free” stuff than to articulate the beauty of markets.
“Often times that can be difficult. When you say you’re cutting taxes and then you show that the corporate income tax rate went from 35 percent to 21 percent, how is that not for the “rich?” (We know) businesses simply submit taxes. They don’t actually pay for them. People pay for them through the form of higher prices, lower wages, and fewer jobs available.
“Often times that’s a difficult message to sell but that’s the economic reality and I think we’ve got to stick to those core principles throughout each and every one of these policy initiatives,” said Ginn.
Last week the Texas Public Policy Foundation held the 16th Annual Policy Orientation. This three day event included a number of keynote speeches and panels on key policy issues (watch YouTube Channel for all panels).
I had the honor of moderating the following panels dealing with the Center for Economic Prosperity:
Please watch and share as you see fit. This is truly one of my favorite times of the year. May you enjoy and learn as much from these videos as I did.
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.
Here's my interview on KEYE TV regarding the most recent steep drop in oil prices and its potential effect on the stock market and Texas economy.
By the end of trading on Friday, the New York Stock Exchange was down 391 points for the day, 1,437 points from two weeks ago. The reason: the plummeting price of crude oil and a faltering Chinese economy.
"There are some major headwinds moving forward," said Dr. Vance Ginn, economist for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. "We're almost in correction territory and when you look at the oil prices are down more than 20 percent since the beginning of the year which is what we call a bear market."
The price of crude oil has been a concern in Texas for months, as oil and gas companies lay off people. But for now, Dr. Ginn says don't panic about your 401k. "We're seeing substantial volatility, so this may not be the time to pull everything out," he said, adding it might be a good idea to wait and watch. Dr. Ginn says you should check with your financial advisor if you're nervous.
The bright spot right now is those low, low gas prices. At the Buccee's in Bastrop, KEYE TV caught up with drivers filling up. "At the high prices, it was 50 bucks. And now it's about 20, 30," said one man who was filling up his SUV.
Latrice Newton stopped on her way from San Antonio. "This is a wonderful thing for my budget. I live in San Antonio and I'm seeing $1.60 so to stop and see it at $1.44, it's great," she said.
But while gas prices might be freeing up some of your budget, Dr. Ginn says you might want to be putting that savings away. "It's important for Texans to be able to save for a rainy day just in case something does happen in the future," he said.
Here's my interview on KEYE TV with video here: http://keyetv.com/news/local/falling-oil-prices-could-spell-trouble-for-austin.
For the last year and a half, drivers across the nation have enjoyed paying less and less for a gallon of gasoline. "Lower gasoline prices help us to have more money to go buy food or put food on the table," said Dr. Vance Ginn, economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
But Dr. Ginn notes, here in Texas, that good news is countered by bad news. "If it continues to stay low, there is going to be some larger effects moving forward," he said. "Oil and gas is the lifeblood of the Texas economy, and really, the nation."
Eighteen months after oil prices began to slump due to a global oversupply and a strong dollar, Dr. Ginn is using the R-word on Texas cities that depend more on the oil and gas industry. "In Houston or Midland-Odessa, they're really going to struggle. And we could see more regional types of recessions," he said.
Texas has diversified its industries since the oil bust of the 1980s -- more tech in Austin, financial services in Dallas-Fort Worth. And if you just look at job growth numbers, all seems well. "Over the last year, Austin job growth has increased by 4.1 percent. That's pretty fast," Dr. Ginn said. But Austin, even though it's heavy on tech, can't hold out on oil and gas trouble forever. "There is less consumption," said Dr. Ginn. "There's a slowdown in hiring, things of that nature that also has an effect on Austin itself." Already, the state is seeing a dip in revenues coming from the oil and gas industry.
So while Austinites enjoy the low gas prices, remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
"Fourteen percent of the private economy being dependent on oil and gas activity across the state of Texas, you are going to see that spread across the state including in Austin," Dr. Ginn said.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D.