Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Don’t Let The Revenue-Neutral Mongers Block Tax Cuts

We can’t have tax cuts, cry the economic naysayers, because they will explode the deficit, raise interest rates, crowd out private investment, and increase unemployment.  (Funny that these concerns never warrant reducing spending, or even stop spending increases, on politically popular infrastructure, defense, entitlements, and most other federal government programs.)

But these same naysayers tell us that we will have low interest rates as far as the eye can see (or farther, as in the 30-year T-bond rate).

In the past 15 years, the federal government‘s public debt has quadrupled from $5 trillion to $20 trillion.  But none of the alleged adverse effects of sharply rising public debt have materialized.   Indeed, the unemployment rate has fallen from 10% in late 2009 to 4.3% in May 2017, while the 30-year Treasury bond rate has declined from 5.28% in June-July 2007 to 2.8% in early July 2017.  Hmmmm!

Maybe the naysayers’ fears will materialize sometime in the not-too-distant future, but that future does not seem to be around the corner.  The above data suggest that we can have a trillion or more dollars in cuts in marginal tax rates on business and individuals in an attempt to spark growth from a paltry 2% or less over the past 10 years to a more robust 3%.  And, we will be able to sleep at night without having to worry about inflation and unemployment rearing their ugly heads.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Revenue-Neutral Tax Reform Is A Bad Joke On The American Taxpayer

On June 2, 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the May 2017 jobs report.  Against estimates of 175,000 net new jobs, it reported only 138,000. If economic forecasters are so far off on one month, how can the Congressional Budget Office produce a ten-year (120 months) forecast of revenue and expenditure that is even remotely accurate?

Answer?  It can’t.

The ten-year rule (Byrd Rule) of revenue neutrality that follows a reduction in tax rates, which determines if tax cuts expire or continue after ten years, is arbitrary.   There is no scientific way to project that revenue and expenditure will balance over one year, much less ten.  Let’s be honest about this.

Revenue-neutrality is a game Members of Congress play to pretend they are serious about not allowing tax cuts to increase public debt.  But they are rarely serious about balancing the federal budget under any circumstances. 

Congress enabled the Bush and Obama administrations to pile up $15 trillion in public debt.  Indeed, Congress has presided over a deficit-free (actually surplus) budget only 4 times since 1970. To sacrifice tax cuts on the altar of revenue neutrality, and the possibility of pushing growth up from 2%, where it has been stuck since the Great Recession of 2008, to 3%, is a case of crocodile tears

By definition, revenue neutral means no net tax cut.  In principle, broadening the tax base would permit lower tax rates with no loss in revenue, but good luck with that.  Republicans in blue states vigorously oppose eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes ($1.3 trillion in less revenue to the Treasury over 10 years), and almost no one wants to eliminate the health insurance exclusion.

In 1993, at the age of 23, Paul Ryan began working for Jack Kemp as a speechwriter and for two years at his research organization Empower America.  Ryan first entered Congress in 1999, four years later.  As Speaker, he seems to have forgotten everything Kemp taught him about tax cuts. 

Kevin Brady, for his part, is enjoying his position of power as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee too much to give up his love of the Border Adjusted Tax.  He projects it would collect $1 trillion in taxes over ten years facilitating revenue-neutral tax reform.

Et tu, Greg Mankiw?   (NYT, op-ed, June 3, 2017)  For Bush, tax cuts were OK but not for Trump.

Members of Congress keep searching for the Holy Grail of revenue-neutral tax cuts/tax reform, but your friendly proprietor really doubts they want to find it.  Gary Cohn, chairman of the National Economic Council in the White House, cannot answer with a straight face if he would accept a cut in the corporate tax rate if that were the only measure Congress would approve.  No, he has to maintain the fiction of comprehensive tax reform to claim that any cut in tax rates will not increase the public debt or expire over the next ten years. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

France Adopts English As Its Official Language

Really.  No kidding.  This is not an April Fool's joke.

On June 1, 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron harshly criticized President Trump's decision to withdraw the United states from the Paris Agreement on climate change. He said it was a mistake both for the U.S. and the planet.  It was an unprecedented English-language speech at the Elysee Palance.

In his speech largely addressed to Americans, he said:

"To all the scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision by the president of the United States, I want to say they will find in France a second homeland,...I call on them--come and work here with us, to work together on concrete solutions for our climate."

He neglected such little details as oppressive taxes, labor regulations, and a myriad of other economic problems afflicting France.  But never mind.

Imagine.  Being able to eat French food, drink French wine, and see great Art in an English-speaking France.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Permanent Tax Cuts Are An Illusion

The House Ways and Means Committee is holding hearings in the course of preparing to mark up a tax cut/tax reform bill.

There are several schools of thought on how to proceed.  The biggest division is between those who want bold, pro-growth cuts in business and personal tax rates without regard for deficits and those who want smaller cuts that will achieve budgetary balance after 10 years. If the 10-year cycle is in deficit after a decade, the tax cuts will expire. The alleged benefit of the ten-year balance rule is that the tax cuts will not expire (sunset) and thus will be permanent (under Congressional rules). The second group points to the example of the expiration of the 2001 Bush tax cuts in 2011 (extended for two years until 2013 by President Obama).

This argument is a will-o'-the-wisp.  The Congress can legislate changes in tax rates any time it can muster the votes.  To be clear, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PERMANENT TAX CUTS. Changes in tax rates have been a regular feature since the adoption of the (16th) Income Tax Amendment in 2013.

Your friendly proprietor is wondering whether the goal of "permanence" is just a ruse to block massive tax-rate cuts in order to block President Trump's agenda?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

More On Mark Cuban For President In 2020

The media are abuzz with stories on Mark Cuban's possible run for Democrat nominee for president. Read here, here, and here.

It's seems early to begin thinking about the 2020 presidential election, unless you are the one thinking of giving it a shot.  A prospective candidate will need to study issues, identify potential staff and policy experts, build a rolodex of financial supporters, and so forth.

So why Mark Cuban now?

Your friendly proprietor is quite sure that Cuban would like to avoid, or at least minimize, the grueling presidential campaign.  He can largely achieve that goal if he has all the big Democrat donors lined up behind him (e.g., Silicon Valley, New York bankers, etc.).  He would like to avoid a political fight with the Democrat establishments of the Clintons, the Obamas, and the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren far-left wing of the Democrat Party.

My guess is that Democrat Party, to the extent there is such a thing, would like to avoid the destruction that a far-left candidate would wring.  If Cuban signifies his availability, it seems reasonable to suppose that a consensus could build around his candidacy by late 2018.  If he can minimize the expenditure of time and money in running the gauntlet of primaries and caucuses, he would be free to amass a billion dollar-plus war chest, get his campaign in order, and travel the country to secure and expand the Democrat base.  Were that to be the case, he would be well-placed to take on Trump or any other Republican should Trump decide not to seek a second term.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mark Cuban For President In 2020

Mark Cuban is already the front-runner to secure the Democrat Party's nomination for president in 2020, and then challenge Donald Trump in the battle of billionaires for the White House.  On March 20, 2017, he told reporter Nicholas Ballasy at PJ Media (reported in Breitbart):

“I think health care should be a right. If there’s a legitimate way to modify the Constitution, I literally think there should be an amendment to the Constitution for healthcare for chronic illnesses and serious injury. We all play the genetic lottery,” Cuban said according to Ballasy.

In one fell swoop, Cuban picked up supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who want single-payer, Medicare-style, national health insurance.  Cuban went much further in proposing a Constitutional Amendment to guarantee care for chronic illnesses and serious injury.

Cuban is likely to command overwhelming support among Silicon Valley Democrats against all other rivals.

Cuban has positioned himself to secure the support of two core interest groups in the Democrat Party.

He may well have the nomination locked up before he declares his candidacy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

If Congress Fails To Enact Big Tax Cuts This Year (2017), Mark Cuban Will Be Elected President In November 2020

President Trump has frequently reiterated his three most important goals:  Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.  To that end, he has proposed Tax Cuts, Deregulation, and Repeal and Replace Obamacare.

First, let’s examine progress on deregulation.  On January 30, 2017, Trump ordered a freeze on federal employment and required that every new regulation be accompanied by removing two existing regulations.  On February 24, 2017, Trump issued an Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulation Reform Agenda.  He instructed every executive department and agency to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force to review existing regulations and send him a list for repeal, replacement, or modification within 90 days.  On March 13, 2017, he issued an Executive Order directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to reorganize the Executive Branch.  The order requires every federal department and agency to review existing programs and recommend those that should be eliminated, pruned, or revised within 180 days; the Director of OMB must then integrate these recommendations into a master government reorganization plan for the president within 180 days.  Other presidential orders addressed construction of the Keystone and Dakota pipelines.

Thus far, President Trump has reversed only a handful of regulations.  We will have to wait until mid-May or later to see the full list that each department and agency recommends for elimination, replacement, or modification.  Three months affords special interests time to organize to lobby to retain favorable regulations.

(Your friendly proprietor had hoped that Trump would have instructed his staff to use the time between his election and inauguration to prepare a lengthy list of Obama’s Executive Orders, which he could have repealed or modified on Day One.)

President Trump and Congressional Republicans seriously erred in placing Repeal and Replace Obamacare (RRO) before Tax Cuts.  RRO has become bogged down in Republican intraparty disagreements (Ryancare vs. the Freedom Caucus).  RRO is eating up time and Trump’s political capital.  RRO has become so contentious that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House Domestic Policy head Gary Cohn, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell all concur that tax cuts/tax reform is not likely before the August recess.  They have stated that it can be accomplished by Christmas; if not then, in early 2018.  Meanwhile, RRO is making enemies between Republicans that could complicate developing a consensus among Republicans on tax cuts when bills are marked up in the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees for consideration by the membership of both houses.  By September, factions within the Republican Party are likely to have stopped talking to each other.

Tax cuts are the centerpiece of Trump’s growth strategy.  Without them, the economy will putter along, perhaps at a faster pace than 2%, but not the 3-4% required to achieve Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs.  For want of tax cuts, an administration will fail.

The bold, sweeping tax cuts and reform that Trump proposed, and on which Members of Congress campaigned, are slowly slipping away.  Reducing corporate and individual tax rates requires broadening the tax base, i.e., eliminating and/or reducing deductions, exemptions, credits, subsidies, and loopholes.  Capping mortgage interest deductions and charitable contributions at, say, $200,000 has already been replaced with maintaining the current interest deduction on a million dollar mortgage with no limit on charitable contributions.  150 Representatives have submitted a letter seeking to retain tax exemption for municipal bond interest.  Ivanka Trump wants a tax credit for child-care expenses.  Ryancare includes tax credits for purchasing health care insurance.  Unions and employers want to preserve deduction of health insurance.  And on and on it goes for dozens of other special interests.  The erosion of the tax base from these “loopholes” means that Congressional hawks will insist on higher tax rates for businesses, say, 25% instead of 15% for corporations, and 33% for small businesses instead of 25%, in order to reduce the budget deficit.  Higher rates than proposed by President Trump will reduce the incentive to expand or locate in the United States.

Even if Congress succeeds in enacting tax cuts by Christmas, the resulting legislation risks becoming a mere shadow of Trump’s bold plans.  Congressional deficit hawks are likely to insist that tax cuts not take effect until January 1, 2018, to preserve revenue collected in 2017.  In that event, the boost in growth from tax cuts will be lost for all of 2017.  Firms that promised to invest and expand in the United States are likely to rethink their plans if Trump fails to cut tax rates to 20% or less.

New stories appear almost every day about Mark Cuban becoming the Democrat nominee for president, and how he could do a better job than Trump.  This story will get louder as Trump gets bogged down in the quicksand of RRO.  He must also allow time to modify the federal budget for the rest of the current fiscal year and prepare the fiscal year 2017-18 federal budget (October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2018).

As the time rolls by, President Trump will become increasingly occupied with foreign policy and national security.  He will be holding many one-on-one meetings with foreign leaders and attend numerous multinational gatherings of global leaders (G-7, G-20, United Nations, etc.).  And there are always unexpected events or crises that consume the president’s time.

Tempus fugit.  Ryan will have the House in session only 8 days in April.  Before you can say “supercalifragilisticexpealidocious,” May, June, and July will be here and gone.

The solution is obvious to those of us who support Trump’s growth agenda.  Let Members of Congress squabble behind closed doors over RRO.  Move tax cuts/tax reform to the front burner and raise the setting to the hottest number.  Speak out to voters.  Ask them to pressure their elected representatives stay in town to work like the rest of us do.  Whoever heard of an eight-day work month?

Trump must insist that Congress enact tax cuts before the August recess, backdating them to take effect on January 1, 2017.  He must sweep away burdensome regulations (he promised to eliminate 75% of regulations).  He must prune unnecessary and wasteful programs.  Then congress can resume deliberations over RRO.

If Trump can accomplish his agenda, the economy and new jobs will boom, and Mark Cuban will be waiting until 2024.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mark Cuban For President In 2020

A new poll (take it with a grain of salt) released on Friday, February 24, 2017, shows Mark Cuban trailing Donald Trump by one percentage point, 41%-40%, with 19% undecided.

The full story can be read here.

While it's way early to start thinking about the Democrat nominee for president in 2020. Mark Cuban is getting increased press coverage. Don't be surprised if he emerges as the consensus Democrat candidate well before the campaign actively begins in 2017.

In that case, political science textbooks will have to be rewritten to describe a new political order in which "the business of government is business."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Beware of Pollsters Forecasting (Wrong) Election Results

Pollsters have fallen on hard times.  They were wrong on Brexit (Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union).  They were wrong on Trump.  They are likely to be wrong on Marine Le Pen, who is campaigning for president of France.  Why have the pollsters been, and are likely to continue to be, wrong?

Polls are taken for two purposes.  One is to sample public opinion on candidates, elected officials, policy choices, etc.  The second is to make news, to use the results of polls to emphasize a political trend or point of view for or against a specific politician or policy.

Years ago, most polls consisted of the first kind, to know what the public really thought.  Today, most are of the second kind, to try to sway public opinion in favor of one candidate or set of issues over others.

But it’s not the case that poll results are wrong half the time in one direction (say, liberal) and half in the opposite direction (conservative).  Rather, they are increasing wrong in favor of the liberal-centrist established order.

There is in the United States and other Western democracies a left-leaning (with a bit of centrism mixed in) “Academic, Media, Political Industrial Complex,” APMIC for short.  This interwoven political system is guilty of lying to the electorate, as President Trump would say, BIG TIME.  The voter’s trust in politicians sits at, or near, an all-time low, mirroring that of the main street media and leftist professors holding court in colleges and universities.

The pollsters, with few exceptions, are an integral part of APMIC.  The political establishment is its clients.  It’s hard, for some impossible, to acknowledge that one is part of a dishonest (lying) enterprise.

Pollsters have gotten recent elections wrong because voters have taken to lying to them, either face-to-face, over the phone, or online.  The pollsters don’t know how to compensate for lying.  It’s not part of standard polling methodology.

If pollsters were honest and admitted that they have no scientific basis to correct their measurements for lying, they would be hard pressed to earn a living.  Better to blame a wrong forecast on a “shock” they couldn’t measure or anticipate, and which their colleagues also got wrong.

With few exceptions, pollsters want their results to support APMIC.  As members of APMIC, they are contemptuous of nationalist movements, denigrating them and their leaders by calling them populist.  A survey of the pollsters themselves would likely show that they accept an outcome in which Marine Le Pen will come in first in the initial round of the April French presidential election.  However, they will forecast that she will lose by a large margin in the second round to the more mainstream second place winner in a runoff election two weeks later in May.  Your friendly proprietor thinks that pollsters will be wrong on Le Pen, much as they were on Brexit and Trump.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How To Repeal And Replace Obamacare And Pass Tax Cuts/Tax Reform By April 15, 2017

The first law of Congressional dynamics states that Congress will delay action on any important policy as long as possible until it’s too late to pass legislation in any given two-year Congressional session.  As an illustration, the last overhaul of the federal income tax was President Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986, 31 years ago.

Republican members of Congress have discussed repealing and replacing Obamacare for the past six years, but have been (seemingly) unable (unwilling) to design its replacement.

What’s needed is a good, swift White House kick in the a** to force Republicans in Congress to act, NOW!

There is a model to achieve that goal.  Recall that a major financial crisis, which erupted in 2008, was threatening to shut down the U.S. banking system.  (Details are described in a NYT article by Mark Landler and Eric Dash entitled “Drama Behind a $250 Billion Banking Deal,” dated October 14, 2008.)

On Sunday, October 12, 2008, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. called the heads of the nine largest banks in the United States, inviting them to a meeting at the Treasury to be held at 3:00 p.m. on Monday October 13, 2017.  Joining them were Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Timothy F. Geithner.

The nine banking heads were presented with an ultimatum to accept a $700 billion bailout package, supplemented with a government guarantee of $1.5 billion in new senior bank issued debt, and government insurance for $500 billion in non-interest bearing deposit accounts held by the banks.  They were told these confidence measures were necessary to sustain bank lending.

The meeting was contentious, but by 6:30 p.m. the nine bank executives signed the agreement.

Back to Congress, which will return from a weeklong break on February 28, 2017.  The White House should issue an (mandatory) invitation to the chairmen and one or two other key members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees and the House and Senate Leadership (Speaker, House Majority Leader, Senate Majority Leader) to meet with top administration officials (Treasury Secretary, Chairman of the National Economic Council).  A few number-crunching and legislative drafting aides as required would be included.

President Trump would inform these men that, like a jury, they would be sequestered in a room until they agreed unanimously to specific legislation for tax cuts/tax reform and to repeal and replace Obamacare.  Each person would also be required to sign a pledge to support this agreed-upon legislation.  They would be provided with food, cots, clothing, an hour of outdoor exercise per day in a fenced area, and other necessities.  They would be permitted to retain their mobile phones to communicate with family at specific times of the day.  But like a jury, they would not be permitted to go home or discuss their deliberations with anyone until they reached a deal.

At that time, President Trump would join them at a press conference in which the signed agreements would be displayed.  Members of Congress would then return to their respective chambers and promptly proceed to pass the legislation to be delivered to the president for signing.  Any member who changed his mind would be placed in a stock for public humiliation and punishment, which would be part of the overall agreement.

Desperate times require desperate measures.  Congress must not be allowed to dilly-dally.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mark Cuban For President

On November 29, 2016, your friendly proprietor was among the first, if not the first, to predict that Mark Cuban would be the next Democrat Party nominee for president.  This would pit two billionaires against each other.

The story has now appeared in the February 12, 2017, edition of Newsmax.  Stay tuned.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tax Cuts For Trump Are Equivalent To D-Day’s Breakout At Omaha Beach

The allied invasion at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, is a model for Trump’s invasion of Washington, D.C.

D-Day consisted of America, Canadian, and British troops landing on five beaches codenamed Juno, Gold, Utah, Sword, and Omaha. The landings at the first four were relatively successful.  In marked contrast, things were going so badly at Omaha Beach that Supreme Allied Commander Eisenhower at one point considered retreat.

After large losses in men and material, U.S. forces finally broke through German defenses and seized higher ground.  However the objectives sought for D-Day required three more days for consolidation.  If Omaha Beach had not been secured, it is likely the invasion would have failed.  I leave it to historians to contemplate the counter-factual.

The Trump administration is working to change policy on a number of fronts.  The White House website lists several issues on the Trump agenda, but jobs, jobs, jobs tops them all.  The success of President Trump depends on higher economic growth and job creation.

Tax cuts and deregulation are the keys to growth.  Deregulation can be done piecemeal over time, but the effort to secure tax cuts needs an immediate, comprehensive, coordinated push on all fronts lest tax cuts get bogged down in hedgerows of interest group politics and conflicting personalities.  Each day that goes by without tax cuts, despite happy talk from Republican congressional leaders of a 200-day timetable, puts the objective of job-creating tax cuts at risk.

The White House and the House of Representatives agree on several features of tax cuts--lower rates on corporations (15-20%), small business (25%), individuals (top rate of 33%), and investment income (dividends, interest, capital gains). They agree on replacing multi-year depreciation with first-year write-off (expensing) of investment.  They agree on repealing the estate (death) tax.  They should wrap these measures up in a bill, with the tax cuts backdated to January 1, 2017, quickly move it through both houses of Congress, and send it to the president for his signature.

That would represent the equivalent of the breakthrough at Omaha Beach.  Thereafter, if it wishes, Congress can debate other aspects of taxation.  But if Congress gets bogged down with such peripheral issues as revenue neutrality and border adjustability, the overriding objective of tax cuts risks being trapped on Omaha Beach facing withering fire from artillery and machine guns.  Failure on tax cuts likely means failure on growth, jobs, and President Trump.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Death Of Think Tanks, Part Four

Holding aside the content-producing research fellows, the governance of think tanks consists of (1) a president (director) and his administrative staff, (2) a board of directors (trustees, overseers), and (3) large donors.

Presidents typically come from the political and diplomatic worlds (e.g., outgoing President Strobe Talbott of the Brookings Institution). They exemplify Washington’s revolving door of professional politicians/diplomats going back and forth between government jobs and think tanks or lobbying firms.  Most think tank presidents are part of the broadly defined political establishment.

Boards of directors also come from political establishments, either of the left or right depending on the orientation of a think tank. 

Large donors to think tanks often contribute to political campaigns or causes (environment, poverty, education, etc.).  Many regard think tanks as extensions of political parties.

Those who govern have been around the political block several times, or as President George W. Bush put it, to more than one rodeo.  They are in their element providing administrative and financial support to their elderly fellow counterparts.

Many think tanks have become Senior Citizens Centers of old politicians, diplomats, civil servants, and research fellows—a Closed Circle.  This is not a recipe for adaptation to paradigm changes in politics.

I have been fortunate to live on the campus of Stanford University for over 40 years.  Stanford has been and remains the intellectual center of Silicon Valley, a magnet for students who create billion-dollar firms that transform our lives in important ways, (e.g., communications, medicine, and so forth).  No important hi-tech firm has been started by anyone over 50, unless that firm was the second, third, or fourth in the career of a serial entrepreneur who started at a much younger age.  Those over 35 in Silicon Valley have graduated into the ranks of corporate managers or angel investors and venture capitalists.

Where are the savvy 30-40 year-olds when it comes to running think tanks, creating new agendas, and promoting new ideas?  There aren’t any.  Could it happen?  Not if the think tank industry has its way.  But then, Brexit and Trump happened.  I’m from Missouri, the “show-me state.”  We’ll see.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Death Of Think Tanks, Part Three

Look around at the researchers who staff the ranks of America's leading think tanks.  The vast majority tout their experience in the administrations of presidents Obama, both Bushes, Clinton, going as far back as Reagan.  Many who served with Bush 43 served with Bush 41. Many who served with Obama served with Clinton.

The defining characteristics of these think tankers is their increasing age.  The most prominent are 65 and older, some well into their 80s. There are only a handful of new, young policy superstars in the leading think tanks.

The median age in many think tanks is 70.  Many of these thinkers have not had a new policy idea in decades. Rather, they recycle, refurbish, and repeat previous work, spending much of their time defending policies they promoted decades ago.

There is a new political movement emerging in the West.  Why would Trump, or those hoping to replicate his success in Western and Eastern Europe, look to the old guard for old ideas?

Making matters worse, every day the old wonks tweet, post, blog, speak, give interviews, and write essays denouncing Trump for rejecting their advice and taking America in a new direction.  These critics are not likely to endear themselves and their ideas to Trump.

As I predicted in a previous post, place your bet on Mark Cuban, or some billionaire like him, becoming the Democrat nominee for president in 2020 and/or 2024.  Look for this trend to fill governorships, mayoralties, and state legislatures.  The new breed of candidates will campaign on its real world experience, differentiating themselves from establishment politicians who have spent their lives climbing the political ladder.

A new paradigm is transforming politics.  The train has left the station. You can stand in front of the train and get run over.  You can stand on the platform and wave goodbye.  Or you can get on the train.  The old order will not easily adapt to the third choice.  It will, like the state in Marxist theory, slowly fade away.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Death Of Think Tanks, Part Two

Throughout the presidential election, with the exception of The Heritage Foundation, the overwhelming majority of think tankers across the political spectrum from liberal to conservative vigorously (viciously) opposed Trump.

Since his election and inauguration, these same thinkers, including those working in the traditionally conservative/Republican think tanks, have intensified their criticism of President Trump.  Some thinkers have called for his resignation or hope for his impeachment before his first, and G-d forbid, a second term expires.

Wonder why he does not look to think tanks for policy advice and White House advisers!

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Death Of Think Tanks

The blogosphere is alive with chatter about the possible death of think tanks.  In marked contrast with previous presidents, Trump has not drawn his economic advisers from think tank land.

Through his first two weeks in office, Trump has only appointed one economist with a Ph.D. to his White House team.  He is Peter Navarro, a 67-year old UC-Irvine professor, who supports President Trump's views on trade.  There are 18,000 members in the American Economics Association, of whom between 95-99% disagree with Trump and Navarro's protectionist approach to international trade.

Apart from Navarro, all of Trump's economic advisers come from the worlds of business, investment, and banking. Many are billionaires. Almost all are men.

The blogosphere has become concerned that Trump may not appoint any professional economists to his Council of Economic Advisers, leaving the three positions vacant.  What if he leaves them vacant for two terms?  (Given the extreme far left direction the Democrat Party is taking, Trump in good health will be easily reelected in 2020.)

Janet Yellen and Stanley Fischer's terms as Chair and Deputy Chair of the Federal Reserve Board expire in 2018.  What if Trump replaces them with businessmen (women), rather than economics professors?

What if the Democrats wise up in 2024 and nominate a businessman (women), instead of a politician, as their party's nominee for president? And what if s(he) chooses all his economic advisers from the business community?

The irrelevance of economic research in think tanks could put many of them out of business.  What if Trump appoints business men and women, instead of professors of education, crime, urban studies, and other fields, to other policy positions in The White House?

Think it can't happen?  But then you were sure that Trump couldn't be elected!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Great William E. Gladstone On Tax Cuts

"Let the money fructify in the pockets of the people."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Morning in America

Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen,
The clouded sky is now serene,
The god of day — the orb of love,
Has hung his ensign high above,
The sky is all ablaze.


(With thanks to Gilbert and Sullivan)

Friday, January 20, 2017

“Free At Last”

Free from the Clintons.

Free from Obama.

Free from the Bushes.

Free from those who brought us foolish costly wars in the Mideast and destabilized the region.

Free from those who brought us the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09 and the slowest recovery in modern history.

Free from those who opposed Trump every step of the way.  Free from their self-righteous tweets, posts, blogs, screeds, comments, articles, letters, and other outrageous charges.

Free from those who impose Political Correctness and stifle free speech.

And countless freedoms to come.

It’s morning in America!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Trump's Inauguration

During the campaign, many establishment Republicans and high-brow, pure conservatives viciously criticized Donald Trump, demanding that he cease his campaign or step aside for Mike Pence.

Now some of the most prominent of them are praising his nominations for secretaries of state and defense, other cabinet positions and executive agencies, and White House personnel.  Maybe Trump is not so bad after all?

These prominent individuals have not yet retracted their criticism of him or issued mea culpas.  Will they?  Who knows?  I'm not optimistic, but anything is possible in politics.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Wish For 2017

From the moment Donald Trump rode down the escalator in Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, to declare his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president, he has been subjected to a vicious stream of attacks and criticisms from the left, center, and Republican establishment all the way through his nomination, election, and transition.

My wish is that those of you who opposed Trump, especially those of you who are Republicans or conservatives that served or advised previous Republican presidents, or backed other Republican candidates in 2016, would just go away.  Please, no more nasty tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, articles, interviews, or comments, or offering advice on what he must do to succeed in economic or foreign policy.  You had your chance. You left the the Middle East in a mess after thousands of dead and wounded and trillions in spending, and the economy in the worst condition and slowest recovery since the great Depression.  Just go away.  ENOUGH!

I suggest a two-year moratorium.  If Trump succeeds, be honest enough to acknowledge his success. If he fails, you can resume your criticism and say I told you so.  But he won and deserves the chance to succeed without your petty knifing every step along the way.  Why not offer words of encouragement instead?

Be honest like Niall Ferguson, who confessed his error in opposing Brexit.  Take a cue from Thomas Sowell and end your columns (for at least the next two years).

When you wish upon a star.........