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Polling question that needs to be asked: Can you cast a vote for Joe Biden without holding your nose?

Liberty Unyielding - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 8:59am

America is faced with a question no one is asking but that one or another pollster should: Can you vote for Biden without holding your nose? Put differently that question might be phrased as 'Do you know what you're getting America into by pulling the lever for a man who will be older on Inauguration Day than Ronald Reagan — America's oldest president — was the day he left office?'

The post Polling question that needs to be asked: Can you cast a vote for Joe Biden without holding your nose? appeared first on Liberty Unyielding.

No Unconditional Handouts to the States

Center for Freedom and Prosperity (CF&P) - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 3:54am

Originally published by Inside Sources on August 10, 2020.

The biggest sticking point in negotiations between the White House, Senate Republicans and House Democrats over the next COVID-19 relief bill is the treatment of the CARES Act’s recently expired $600 in added weekly unemployment benefits.

But added unemployment benefits are not the only point of contention and — in the long run — the question of financial aid to the states is likely to prove the most consequential.

The sides are far apart on the question of aid to the states. In their bill, Democrats provided $1 trillion, roughly the entire amount that Republicans proposed in new spending, just for state, local and tribal governments.

Republicans proposed no new funds for states but offered more flexibility for use of funds leftover from the $150 billion allocated in the CARES Act. A new report from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General shows that only about 25 percent have yet been spent.

State and local governments are taking on considerable responsibility in the fight against COVID-19, and for good reason, as they are closest to the problem and best positioned to quickly respond as conditions change.

It is thus understandable that Congress would consider some measure of financial support to state and local governments as part of the national effort to address the virus. But how states are permitted to spend any potential relief dollars is just as important to get right as the amount of aid they end up receiving.

Long before the arrival of COVID-19, many states were in dire straits financially.

Some, like New Jersey, Illinois and Massachusetts have taken on hundreds of billions of dollars in debt to finance large governments, while others make the hard decisions that lead to responsible and balanced budgets.

Some, like Wyoming, Alaska, California and North Dakota, even planned ahead and now have sizable “rainy-day” funds they can draw upon to fill budget gaps due to declining tax revenues during the pandemic.

And whereas some states responded to expected declines in tax revenue with furloughs and other spending cuts, Illinois continued its irresponsible ways by passing a budget with $2.4 billion more in spending than the previous year.

Is it right that the most responsible states should have to shoulder the added costs of supporting those that refuse to get their fiscal houses in order? Doing so would amount to a reward for failing to act responsibly.

Employee compensation accounts for half of all state and local spending, making unfunded pension liabilities a large part of the story when it comes to state financial mismanagement.

For decades, governments have failed to fully fund the often generous pension benefits for their employees, kicking the can down the road for future taxpayers to deal with. Unfunded liabilities of state pension plans now total roughly $5 trillion, according to U.S. Pension Tracker.

This is a problem that requires significant reforms. A condition free bailout of the states that allows governments to allocate federal dollars toward closing fiscal gaps caused by excessive spending — such as through state employee pension programs — would only serve to sap the political will necessary to make reform a reality.

To avoid this problem, Congress should scrutinize state requests for aid and provide only those funds necessary to help them address COVID-related challenges.

Or if being more generous is a necessary compromise, then funds should be conditioned on the adoption of fiscally responsible reforms that put pension programs on the path to sustainability, or that encourage the use of rainy-day funds to better prepare for the next crisis.

BLM/Antifa terrorists threaten to murder Portland residents for wanting to sleep

Liberty Unyielding - Mon, 08/10/2020 - 2:31pm

People who simply looked out the window to see what all the commotion was about are now targets for death threats by the low-information Marxists that have taken over the streets, thanks to the city's feckless and ineffective mayor, Tom Wheeler.

The post BLM/Antifa terrorists threaten to murder Portland residents for wanting to sleep appeared first on Liberty Unyielding.

Will America Learn from Japan’s Fiscal Decline?

Center for Freedom and Prosperity (CF&P) - Mon, 08/10/2020 - 12:58pm

Compared to most of the world, Japan is a rich country. But it’s important to understand that Japan became rich when the burden of government was very small and there was no welfare state.

Indeed, as recently as 1970, Japan’s fiscal policy was rated by Economic Freedom of the World as being better than what exists today in Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, the country has since moved in the wrong direction. Back in 2016, I shared the “most depressing chart about Japan” because it showed that the overall tax burden doubled in just 45 years.

As you might expect, that rising tax burden was accompanied by a rising burden of government spending (fueled in part by enactment of a value-added tax).

And that has not been a good combination for the Japanese economy, as Douglas Carr explains in an article for National Review.

From 1993 to 2019, the U.S. averaged 2.6 percent growth, …far ahead of Japan’s meager 0.9 percent. …What happened? Big government happened… Japanese government spending was just 17.5 percent of the country’s GDP in 1960 but has grown, as illustrated below, to 38.8 percent of GDP today. …the island nation’s growth never recovered. The theory that government spending boosts long-term growth has failed… What government spending does is crowd out investment.

Amen. Japan has become a parody of Keynesian spending.

Here’s a chart from Mr. Carr’s article, which could be entitled “the other most depressing chart about Japan.”

As you can see, the burden of government spending began to climb about 1970 and is now represents a bigger drag on their economy than what we’re enduring in the United States.

Unfortunately, the United States is soon going to follow Japan in that wrong direction according to fiscal projections from the Congressional Budget Office.

Carr warns that bigger government in America won’t work any better than big government in Japan.

Rather than a problem confined to the other side of the world, Japan’s death spiral is a pointed warning to the U.S. The U.S. and Japanese economies are on the same trajectory; Japan is simply further along the big-government, low-growth path. …The United States is at risk of entering a Japanese death spiral.

Here’s another chart from the article showing the inverse relationship between government spending and economic growth.

Moreover, the U.S. numbers may be even worse because of coronavirus-related spending and whatever new handouts that might be created after the election.

The negative relationship of government spending with growth and investment holds with adjustments for cyclical influences such as using ten-year averages or the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates of cyclically adjusted U.S. government spending. CBO data highlight how close the U.S. is to a Japanese-style death spiral. …Of course, CBO’s recent forecast was prepared before the coronavirus shock and does not incorporate spending by a new Democratic government, so this dismal outlook is likely to worsen.

So what’s the solution? Can the United States avoid a Greek-style future?

The author explains how America can be saved.

Boosting growth means restraining government. Restraining government means reengineering entitlements… Economically, it shouldn’t be too difficult to do better. We have an insolvent, low-return government-retirement program along with an insolvent retiree-health program — part of a Rube Goldberg health-care system.

He’s right. To avoid stagnation and decline, we desperately need spending restraint and genuine entitlement reform in the United States.

Sadly, Trump is on the wrong side on that issue and Biden wants to add fuel to the fire by making the programs even bigger.

P.S. Here’s another depressing chart about Japan.

P.P.S. Unsurprisingly, the OECD and IMF have been cheerleading for Japan’s fiscal decline.

P.P.P.S. Japan’s government may win the prize for the strangest regulation and the prize for the most useless government giveaway.

———
Image credit: victorpalmer | Pixabay License.

Vermont police collected DNA to help ID man who committed crime. What did the man do?

Liberty Unyielding - Mon, 08/10/2020 - 11:14am

It sounds as though the police investigation was pretty thorough, testing the ‘weapons’ for DNA and all. And while one can imagine the horror and sleepless nights endured by townspeople while the guilty party remained at large, did the ‘crime’ really merit all that effort?

The post Vermont police collected DNA to help ID man who committed crime. What did the man do? appeared first on Liberty Unyielding.

Media call Biden a ‘devout Catholic.’ Where does he actually stand with the Catholic Church?

Liberty Unyielding - Mon, 08/10/2020 - 10:35am

Biden has since changed his abortion stances and today champions almost unlimited abortion access as a presidential candidate, prompting a priest to deny Holy Communion to Biden during mass at a Catholic church in South Carolina in October 2019.

The post Media call Biden a ‘devout Catholic.’ Where does he actually stand with the Catholic Church? appeared first on Liberty Unyielding.

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