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For Pete’s Sake, Ensure Tax Fairness for the Workers
Thursday May 23, 2019 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

In a Fox News town hall on May 19, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was asked about the federal deficit and responded with a call for tax hikes. The South Bend, Indiana, major said he favored a “fairer, which means higher,” marginal tax rate. Moderator Chris Wallace, son of the late Mike Wallace of CBS’s 60 Minutes fame, failed to challenge the candidate on this claim. A marginal tax rate is essentially the tax on the last dollar earned. A worker will play a higher rate when she earns the dollar that brings her income to $100,000 than she would on the dollar that brought her income to $50,000. Mayor Buttigieg believes it is “fairer” to take more money from the worker who earns more. Workers could be forgiven for thinking that higher tax rates for more productive workers are inherently unfair, and punitive, but moderator Wallace, a Harvard grad, failed to follow up. (more…)

Reducing the U.S. Government’s Regulatory Burden
Wednesday May 22, 2019 | Craig Eyermann

“If one assumed that all costs of federal regulation and intervention flowed all the way down to households, U.S. households would “pay” $14,615 annually on average in a regulatory hidden tax.” That’s a stunning finding from Wayne Crews, the author of the 2019 edition of 10 Thousand Commandments, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual report on the costs of regulations imposed by the U.S. government. This $14,615 figure is Crews’ estimate of the average amount by which the prices of everything that American households buy have been increased because of regulatory restrictions issued by every department and agency within the U.S. federal government. (more…)

Saudi Call for the United States to Attack Iran Is Out Of Line
Tuesday May 21, 2019 | Randall G. Holcombe

A Saudi Arabian newspaper aligned with the state published an editorial on May 16 saying that the United States should initiate airstrikes against Iran. Despite President Trump’s aggressive stance toward Iran, the encouragement from Saudi Arabia is out of line for several reasons. First, the Saudis are reacting to attacks on their energy infrastructure, which they blame on Iran. Why should the United States respond to these attacks rather than the Saudis themselves? Saudi Arabia has a substantial military arsenal. Why would they think the United States should fight their battles? (more…)

Wisconsin Choice Schools Deliver Better Achievement for Less Money
Tuesday May 21, 2019 | Vicki E. Alger

Private schools and independent public charter schools are more productive than district public schools, according to a new report. “The United States invests over $660 billion on K-12 education, or over $13,000 per student, each year,” according to report author Corey DeAngelis, who adds:

That is equal to over $169,000 for each child’s K-12 education. Interestingly, real education expenditures in the U.S. have nearly quadrupled in the last half century without consistent improvements in student outcomes...Because education dollars are scarce resources, and because students’ academic success is important for society, it’s vital to examine which education sector delivers the most “bang for the buck.”

California Luddite Legislators Disrespect Crime Victims
Monday May 20, 2019 | K. Lloyd Billingsley

Back in 1980, an assailant broke into an Orange County home, bound University of California, Irvine, medical student Keith Harrington, 24, and his wife Patti, then raped the woman before beating the couple to death. Police had no suspects, and Keith’s brother Bruce Harrington became convinced that the only way to solve the crime was through DNA. In 2002, when DNA was proving effective in other states, Harrington testified before the state Assembly and the Senate public safety committees. His pleas fell on deaf ears. “All I see and hear from Senator Burton, his staff and his cronies,” Harrington said, “is a buzz saw of opposition and obfuscation, focused more on the rights of prisoners than on the rights of their victims.” Harrington backed Proposition 69, which authorized DNA testing of felons. The measure drew opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union, but it passed in 2004. On April 2, 2018, the California Supreme Court upheld DNA testing of those arrested or charged with a felony. On April 25, 2018, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced that DNA comparisons led to the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, suspected of being the Golden State Killer who had murdered Keith Harrington and many others. Bruce Harrington duly recalled the opposition to his “Keep California Safe” DNA proposition, telling Sen. Burton and his committee, “You were wrong.” (more…)

What Happens If China Triggers Its Nuclear Option for U.S. National Debt?
Friday May 17, 2019 | Craig Eyermann

The U.S. government directly owes the nation of China over 1.1 trillion dollars. What would happen if the Chinese government were to weaponize its holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds by suddenly selling off all of them? That’s an option that has been suggested by Hu Xijin, the editor of the government-controlled Global Times. Dumping its U.S. national debt holdings is considered to be China’s “nuclear option” for retaliating against the U.S. government in the trade war between the two countries that has been going on for more than a year. CNBC‘s Jeff Cox describes how Beijing might come to deploy this particular economic weapon in its trade war with the United States:

As the two sides engage in a tit-for-tat tariff exchange, the possibility that China might raise the stakes and stop being the world’s biggest consumer of U.S. debt again reared its imposing head Monday. China currently owns $1.13 trillion in Treasurys, a fraction of the total $22 trillion in U.S. debt outstanding but 17.7% of the various securities held by foreign governments, according to data from the Treasury and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Should the Chinese decide to walk away or reduce their role in the market, that, at least in theory, could create a substantial dislocation for a country such as the U.S. that relies so much on sovereign entities to buy its paper.... “To me, that is the biggest worry. This is really the biggest weapon they have,” said Sung Won Sohn, professor of economics at Loyola Marymount University and president of SS Economics. “They need to do more to counter the United States. So if push comes to shove, that’s what they are going to resort to.”

Child Safety Accounts Would Protect School Children in Washington, DC
Thursday May 16, 2019 | Vicki E. Alger

Thousands of public-school students in the nation’s capital could soon be a whole lot safer at school thanks to new legislation being considered in Congress. Last week, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced a bill that would create Child Safety Accounts (CSAs) for public-school students in Washington, DC, which is the only school district under congressional authority. The idea is a unique reform that Heartland Institute policy analyst Timothy Benson and I recommended in a policy report published last year, Protecting Students with Child Safety Accounts. As Congressman Banks explains:

School safety and the well-being of children is every parent’s number one concern. In today’s complex world, school safety problems have become more prevalent. Unfortunately, too many students are trapped in unsafe schools.

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