The Washington Post is reporting that the Obama administration will propose a 0.5 percent cost-of-living pay increase for federal workers in its upcoming budget. The paper says that the modest cost of living increase in federal compensation would be the first pay jump for federal workers since before President Obama ordered a two-year freeze in late 2010.
Even with a “freeze” in effect, federal pay rose faster than private-sector pay in fiscal 2011, according to the USA Today’s Dennis Cauchon. Crunching Bureau of Labor Statistic’s data, Cauchon found that average federal worker wages rose 1.3 percent in 2011, or slightly more than the 1.2 percent increase in average private wages. The federal increase—while modest—occurred despite the freeze Congress and the president put into effect because increases from “longevity, merit, and promotions” were not covered, according to Cauchon.
Extending the extra unemployment insurance benefits would be bad for the federal budget and bad for the economy, and there is a better long-term solution for unemployment than the current UI system.
In the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Alan Reynolds pointed out some of the flaws in the data being used in the income inequality debate. Far too many policymakers, analysts, and reporters assume that the data showing rising inequality is carved in stone, but it isn’t. Some portion of the supposed change in income inequality in recent decades is a statistical artifact due to changes in marginal tax rates and other factors.
Lawmakers are considering extending temporary payroll tax cuts. But the policy is based on faulty Keynesian theories and misplaced confidence in the government's ability to micromanage short-run growth.
The American Society of Civil Engineers does a flashy study every year called “America’s Infrastructure Report Card.” The wrench-turners give a grade of “D” to the mainly-government infrastructure they examine. Based on the low grade, they ask for taxpayers to cough up another $2.2 trillion so the engineers can fix the supposed mess.
When I testified to the Joint Economic Committee yesterday, the subject of bridges came up again and again. Numerous people said or implied that our bridges are crumbling and falling down, and that more funding was desperately needed.
I testified to the congressional Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday regarding infrastructure, which means roads, bridges, pipelines, railroads, and other such assets. Here are some of the points I raised:
In the Washington Post, Steven Mufson does a nice job describing how Solyndra is just one of many energy subsidy failures of recent decades.
One reason to shift infrastructure financing to the private sector is that governments and their contractors often give taxpayers the shaft. They say a big project will cost a certain amount, but then the project gets underway and they reveal that—whoops!—the project actually costs much more. No one gets fired, the money has been spent, taxes and debt have been increased, and officials move onto the next boondoggle.