Chris Edwards

Government Spending Up, Private GDP Down

It drives a lot of us at Cato nuts to read news stories almost every day which simply assume that government spending is good for the economy. Any defense or nondefense spending restraint will hurt economic growth, it is assumed. Even a recent AEI study seemed to accept this Keynesian concept.

Privatize the FAA

The federal budget sequester is interfering with the air traffic control (ATC) system and snarling up air traffic. As usual, politicians are pointing fingers of blame at everybody but themselves. But politicians are the ones who have strapped the ATC system to the chaotic federal budget. And they’re the ones who have insisted on running ATC as a bureaucracy, rather than freeing it to become the high-tech private business that it should be.

Food Stamp Fraud and Twinkies

The federal food stamp program—now called SNAP—is attracting a lot of media coverage. One reason for thus is that the program’s costs have exploded—spending more than quadrupled during the Bush-Obama years to $82 billion in 2013 (see here and here p. 16). The Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations all took steps to loosen the purse strings on food stamp eligibility, and those changes have led to the ballooning costs of recent years during the stagnant economy.

Simplifying the Tax Code by Fixing the Base

The Sunlight Foundation blogs today about the 6,503 registered tax lobbyists in Washington, and they provide 11 examples of the changes that these folks are pushing for.

Privatize the TVA

Perhaps President Obama has been reading about Margaret Thatcher’s policy successes. He is apparently considering selling off the federal government’s Tennessee Valley Authority. This is a great idea. As this story notes, it would allow the struggling electric utility more flexibility in dealing with the many challenges it faces.

Obama’s Budget: Spending Too High, But Bush Was Worse

President Barack Obama’s new budget proposes to spend $3.78 trillion in 2014, which would be 27 percent higher than spending in 2008. President Obama believes in expansive government, and he is proposing a range of new programs, including subsidies for infrastructure, preschool, and mental health care.

Keynesianism and Labor Markets: United States vs. Canada

Some more from the new Canadian budget: It has some interesting charts (page 38) comparing U.S. and Canadian labor markets (or “labour” markets as the Canadians would say).

New Estimates for Effective Corporate Tax Rates

The new Canadian budget includes estimates of marginal effective corporate tax rates for major countries (page 149). These rates measure the tax load on new investments, such as a manufacturing company buying new machines and expanding a plant.

Corporate Taxes: Low Rates, High Revenues in Canada

Canada’s federal government introduced a budget yesterday that includes new estimates of corporate tax revenues. I’ve discussed how Canada has cut its statutory corporate tax rate to a fraction of the U.S. rate, yet Canada raises more revenue. The new budget shows that the Canadian federal 15 percent tax raised 1.9 percent of GDP in revenue in 2012, while the U.S. federal tax at 35 percent raised just 1.6 percent, per CBO.

Crumbling Infrastructure?

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently said that “America is one big pothole.” President Obama, members of Congress, and pundits often claim that our infrastructure is “crumbling.” The Senate Budget Committee’s new spending plan, for example, uses that word no fewer than ten times in calling for a $100 billion infrastructure package. And in a report released yesterday, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation a grade of D+ on its infrastructure.

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