The Liberal Democratic Order In Crisis
by Larry Diamond via The American Interest
We are at a tipping point. Around the world, many democracies are hanging by a thread and autocrats are preparing more savage assaults on what remains of freedom.
Why America Is Going Broke (subs.)
John Cogan, Wall Street Journal
What Threatens the Economy?
Robert Samuelson, Washington Post
Africa’s Manmade Water Crisis
Asit Biswas & Cecilia Tortajada, Project Syndicate
Trump Budget Shows Peril of Escalating Costs
Brian Riedl, Washington Examiner
President Trump’s latest budget proposal shows that escalating budget deficits will not be reined in until Social Security and Medicare are addressed.
First, the bad news. Budget deficits will likely exceed $1 trillion by next year, and reach $2 trillion within a decade. If interest rates rise back to even 1990s levels, then the interest costs on the enormous debt will push the budget deficit closer to $3 trillion a decade from now. And even that assumes peace and prosperity. Read more here....
Too Soon to Panic Over Red Ink
The real problem with federal spending remains entitlements.
Update Nafta, Don’t Destroy It
Jacob Reyes, E21
President Trump’s position on Nafta has been clear: the United States must renegotiate the “disaster” of a trade deal or continue to lose jobs as a result of imbalanced trade. The president was outspoken about his concerns over “unfair” trade agreements during his recent State of the Union Address. His stance has seemingly unified some lawmakers in the defense of Nafta, especially in high-export states such as Texas. Read more here.
The myth of America’s ‘crumbling’ infrastructure
Jonah Goldberg | National Review Online
The Progressives' Legacy: Debt, Deficit, And Entitlements
by Bruce Thornton via Front Page Magazine
The high cost of rejecting human nature and simple mathematics.
What we import from China
Derek Scissors | AEIdeas
Here is a list of the top 10 goods imported from China last year. The first year of the Trump presidency saw a record US merchandise trade deficit with China: $375 billion. Exports were the most ever. Unfortunately for the president, so were imports, breaking $500 billion.
The GOP has begun to reckon with budgetary reality
James C. Capretta | The Hill
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the Treasury Department will run out of maneuvering room under the current debt limit in the first half of March. There is no getting around the fact that the debt limit has to be raised soon, too. The result is that Republicans have agreed to a massive increase in appropriated spending that runs directly counter to their previous budget plans.
Mansfield Examines Origins Of US Government
featuring Harvey C. Mansfield via The Heights
Harvey Mansfield, a political philosopher and professor at Harvard, gave a talk on Friday afternoon as part of BC’s John Marshall Project, which studies the citizenship and statesmanship required by a constitutional republic. Mansfield’s talk focused on The Federalist Papers and the way in which James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay formulated their argument for America’s current system of government.
Bezos and Berkshire jump in to reform health care
The health care initiative from Amazon, Berkshire, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a clear message, writes Joe Antos: Washington, you did not fix the problem. It’s the private sector’s turn now.
When speaking publicly, Michael Morell is often asked, “What single threat worries you the most? What keeps you up at night?”
Other than “terrorists with nuclear weapons,” Morell answers: the failure of our political leaders to deal with the most important issues facing the country, and to make compromises that move our economy and society forward.
Are Oil Prices Heading for Another Spike?
Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart see three reasons why energy costs will not spiral upward as the dollar weakens.
United States to Become Net Energy Exporter by 2022
Charles Hughes, E21
Historic energy milestone: US oil output surges to new record highs reflecting America’s deep pools of ingenuity, risk-taking, and entrepreneurship
Mark J. Perry | AEIdeas
U.S. Energy Production and Exports Surge
Joshua Hardman and Charles Hughes, E21
In this week’s Fine Print column, Walter Pincus examines the advice given to the Trump administration by Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and Richard Armitage—three former Republican foreign policy professionals who testified last week before the Senate Armed Services committee.
Pincus says each “presented ideas that could help reshape the Trumpian foreign policy by adding realistic vision, purpose, direction and strategy to meet today’s world.”
Cuomo’s Mirror The New York governor assails President Trump in terms more apt to describe himself.
Protectionism is really just statism
Jonah Goldberg | National Review Online
New York’s SALT Substitute
Anxious to retain one-percenters, Governor Cuomo rehearses some clumsy tax solutions.
The Year of American Energy -- Brigham McCown, Forbes
The Dark Side of America’s Oil Rise -- Javier Blas, Bloomberg Businessweek
By EPPC Senior Fellow Henry Olsen
Claremont Review of Books
Any attempt to make working-class voters a permanent part of a center-right coalition must start with a thorough, candid assessment of conservative ideology’s capacity to repel the working class as much as progressive ideology does. Read More
Culture vs. economics: What causes poverty?
Charles Murray | This Way Up
It’s an age-old debate between the left and the right. The left says poverty — inner-city poverty and working-class poverty — is mostly about economics. The right says culture has at least as much to do with it.
Right To Work Works
by David R. Henderson via EconLog
Labor unions play a central role in the Democratic party coalition, providing candidates with voters, volunteers, and contributions, as well as lobbying policymakers. Has the sustained decline of organized labor hurt Democrats in elections and shifted public policy? We use the enactment of right-to-work laws--which weaken unions by removing agency shop protections-- to estimate the effect of unions on politics from 1980 to 2016.
The Classicist: Tribal America Vs. E Pluribus Unum
interview with Victor Davis Hanson via The Classicist
How identity politics threatens to blow apart the American experiment.
Is Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America great again” mere campaign rhetoric in the tradition of Barack Obama’s “hope and change” and Ronald Reagan’s “It’s morning in America again”? Or do such renaissances really occur in history?
The Roman Republic and Empire together lasted for more than 1,000 years. Yet at various times throughout this period, Rome was declared finished—like during the Punic Wars (264-146 BC), the Civil Wars of the late Republic (49-31 BC), and the coups and cruelty of the 12 Caesars (49 BC-AD 96), especially during the reigns of Caligula, Nero, and Domitian. Inflation, revolts, barbarian invasions, corruption, and decadence were seen as insurmountable problems. Witnesses such as Livy, Tacitus, Petronius, and Suetonius all recorded that the Rome of their generation was simply too corrupt to continue . . .
Short-Term Funding Bills Put Pressure on Defense Hawks
By Ellen Mitchell & Rebecca Kheel, The Hill: “Democrats insist that any increase in defense spending be matched with an equal increase in nondefense spending.”
Oil's Uncertain Comeback
Mohamed El-Erian sees several reasons to doubt that the recent recovery in prices will continue through 2018.
8 ways to improve the tax code
Stan Veuger | The National Interest
Bridging Conservative Divides
by Peter Berkowitz via Real Clear Politics
Donald Trump’s disruptive presidency has exacerbated a long-festering intra-conservative controversy about American conservatism’s core principles and purposes. So big and diffuse has the conservative world become since the 1960s -- when William F. Buckley’s National Review set the agenda -- that thoughtful right-wingers themselves doubt that anything so discrete and organized as a movement exists today. They suspect, moreover, that the ambition to revive one represents a distracting exercise in nostalgia.
Dr. Kenneth Dekleva, a former psychiatrist for the U.S. Department of State, has written political psychology/leadership profiles of many world leaders, including from Vladimir Putin, Slobodan Milosevic, Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un.
This past week's commentary on the mental fitness of U.S. President Donald Trump prompted Dekleva to write on the "perils and challenges – both ethical and methodological – of predicting leadership behavior from afar," as well as the history of the practice of leadership analysis:
Crop insurance and other farm subsidy payments
Anton Bekkerman et al. | American Enterprise Institute
A new study from the Agricultural Policy in Disarray series examines the distribution of Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage program payments and crop insurance subsidy payments among US farms.
Maybe America's 'great stagnation' isn't so bad
James Pethokoukis | AEIdeas
Comparing America’s top five inbound versus top five outbound states
Mark J. Perry | AEIdeas
The SALT deduction and the ingenuity of the political class
Benjamin Zycher | AEIdeas
The predictable reply to the above assertion is that in its previous form, the tax code favored earners in high tax states. Since it did, near-repeal of SALT will remove a tax subsidy that largely benefited citizens of those states, at the expense of everyone else. Except that such an argument makes little sense.
Seemingly forgotten by Republicans who pay lip service to the worthy goal of decreasing the size and scope of government is that we all benefit when the federal government collects fewer dollars. A tax hike on “others” is a tax hike on all of us. ]
When Congress has less money to spend, it by definition has a reduced ability to dictate the direction of the goods, services and people that comprise the economy. No one gains when federal tax collections increase. Those revenue increases amount to a tax on private economic activity that reduces opportunity for everyone. This is particularly true when the tax hits the highest earners the most. They, by virtue of being the highest earners, logically have the most to invest. There are no companies and no jobs without investment first.
David Gordon and Michael O'Hanlon write: But largely because of the strength and coherence of the foreign policy team that Trump assembled, 2017 in fact witnessed a far less dramatic departure in American foreign policy than has often been alleged. - USA Today
Gary Abernathy writes: In fact, how to successfully deal with threats from abroad has been beyond many past administrations. It has long appeared to be U.S. policy to live in fear of upsetting our enemies. Trump’s approach — one for which millions of Americans have longed — is to treat them like the sniveling bullies they are. - Washington Post
Reconnecting health care policy with economics: Finding and fixing distortive incentives
Thomas P. Miller | AEI eventOn Thursday, AEI welcomed Charles Phelps, provost emeritus at the University of Rochester, to discuss his new book, “The Economics of US Health Care Policy” (Routledge, 2017). Thomas Miller began by surveying the nature of health policymaking in Washington, noting that economics often takes a back seat to path-dependent policy additions. Phelps then provided a survey of the book’s contents, focusing on the book’s three major parts: the private insurance market, Medicare and Medicaid, and issues facing the entire health system. Mark Hall from Wake Forest University provided comments, stressing that the book not only describes how health policy deviates from economic theory and practice but also provides substantive prescriptions for improvements.
Improving innovation in health services through better payment reforms
James C. Capretta | Regulatory Transparency ProjectJames Capretta reviews the basics surrounding the health care debate. He identifies several areas of agreement that often get overshadowed by the areas of disagreement. He argues that both sides see Medicare’s dominant fee-for-service payment systems as contributing to the fragmentation and inefficiency of current arrangements. He argues that to make changes to Medicare to improve the efficiency of service provision, an alternative approach could be to harness the power of economic incentives to drive higher productivity in the health sector.
Implications of Medicaid financing reform for state government budgets
Jeffrey Clemens and Benedic N. Ippolito | National Bureau of Economic ResearchIn their most recent working paper, Jeffrey Clemens and Benedic Ippolito analyze the potential reforms to Medicaid financing through the lens of fiscal federalism. They argue that because Medicaid plays a prominent role in state government finances, Medicaid financing reforms have significant fiscal implications. Their paper assesses the implications of alternative Medicaid financing structures along several dimensions. The authors’ analysis helps illustrate how the design of federal transfers shapes states’ incentives and therefore helps determine the generosity of the redistribution that occurs through states’ Medicaid programs.
TRUMP & OIL: THE PETROLEUM BUST DAMAGING THE HOUSE OF SAUD & INFRASTRUCTURE GROWTH WITH PUBLIC - PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS
Rebuilding with public-private partnerships
R. Richard Geddes | Real Clear PolicySome argue that the recently passed tax bill may create some challenges for the municipal bond market and the infrastructure sector in the new year. Richard Geddes argues that public-private partnerships (PPPs) could ensure that new technologies aiming to enhance infrastructure resilience are actually adopted by state and local governments. A PPP contract is an agreement that is made between the public-sector partner that must rebuild its infrastructure and a private partner that provides the rebuilding and other services. Geddes argues in favor of PPPs and explains the various benefits a PPP contract could have on American infrastructure policy.
Private participation in US infrastructure: The role of PPP units
R. Richard Geddes and Carter B. Casaday | American Enterprise InstituteRichard Geddes and Carter Casaday argue that the US is suffering from a multitude of endemic infrastructure problems. They believe that creating and properly executing public-private partnerships (PPPs) can help address these problems. The authors recommend creating seven regional PPP units in the United States to reform our transportation system. They believe that properly designed, executed, and enforced PPPs can create substantial social value.
Infrastructure reforms for growth
R. Richard Geddes | InsideSourcesRichard Geddes discusses various infrastructure reforms that could generate growth. He argues that rather than spending money on a one-time stimulus package, Congress should work on a series of microeconomic reforms that would set the stage for decades of growth while strengthening and invigorating US infrastructure for many years.