Regulation and taxes are like two blades on a pair of scissors cutting holes in the family budget. With dairy products, a federal regulatory cartel acts to keep the prices of milk, cheese, and related products artificially high.
U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke stopped by the economically beleaguered state of Michigan to announce the opening of a new “Commerce Connect” office in the city of Plymouth. According to the Detroit Free Press, the office “will act as a one-stop shop for businesses to access all the federal government has to offer, from research and development tools, to grants, to licensing assistance.”
It didn’t take a Ph.D. in economics to recognize that the federal “Cash for Clunkers” program would put upward pressure on used-car prices. In nominating it “the dumbest program ever” back in August, Chris Edwards noted that “low-income families, who tend to buy used cars, were harmed because the clunkers program will push up used car prices.”
In the face of a projected $7 billion loss this year, Congress recently passed legislation allowing the U.S. Postal Service to forgo $4 billion in required payments to pre-fund retiree health benefits. This temporary band-aid did nothing to address the Postal Service’s struggling business model, which is weighed-down by excessive labor costs.
In 1798, President John Adams signed a law that required the owners of American ships to withhold 20 cents a month for each crewman’s pay and to forward the money to customs offices in various ports. Customs officers were required to forward the money to the secretary of the Treasury, who would use the money to pay the hospital bills of ailing sailors. The funding also supported a network of marine hospitals.
”Congress is on the verge of giving itself a bump in its annual budget — even as local governments, families and businesses across the country are tightening their belts in the worst recession in decades,” Politico reports.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration plans on spending $35 billion on state and local housing agencies to bolster lending to low- and moderate-income home buyers. The effort would come on the heels of other federal interventions to prop up the ailing housing market:
Republicans are all over the ACORN scandal and calling for an end to federal subsidies for the group. That would be a good step, but it’s not exactly going out on a limb and pushing for major budget reforms.
It looks like farm subsidy reform is unlikely for another few years. Senator Blanche Lincoln has been selected the new head of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Dow Jones notes: “Lincoln is a two-term moderate Democrat who described herself Wednesday as a ‘farmer’s daughter.’”
For the past couple of years the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been doing its best to re-inflate the housing bubble.