Commentaries by Pete du Pont first published in the Wall Street Journal

The FDA is Preventing a Solution to Covid

Forbes

With paper-strip tests, Americans could test themselves every day in their own homes, at a cost of $1 to $2 per test. The government could even make the tests available for free. Unlike lengthy swabs and finger prick tests (which cause personal discomfort), paper strip testing involves no more than spitting into a tube or the use of a short nasal swab – with results in a few minutes. By contrast, the standard PCR test currently being used costs from $50 to $100 and sometimes more. Results can take more than a week – and that makes them virtually useless. Also, testing tends to be a one-time, irregular event. More

BofA Behaving Badly – Again

Forbes

Back in April, I wrote about Bank of America’s horrible handling of Payroll Protection Loans…. I received one email after another written by business owners who experienced the same nightmare. I then wrote a column, copying some of these emails, and calling on BofA President, Brian Monyihan, to listen to the truly awful manner in which he and his colleagues were treating his customers, many, like me, who had been customers for decades. More

A Manhattan Project for Covid

Forbes

Same-day, time-stamped cell-phone pictures … of negative test — tests, which were approved and supplied to everyone for free by Uncle Sam — would be required to enter the workplace, fly on an airplane plane, frequent a restaurant, enter a store, or attend a school, college, or university. If home tests weren’t perfectly precise, you’d likely need to show several days of negative test results. These requirements would be established by market players, not by government decree. More

Corporate Tax Reform that Pays for Itself

Republican tax reform could have been better. An ideal reform, originally proposed by Paul Ryan would have produced a of 20.5 percent increase in the nation’s capital stock and a 6.8 percent increase in GDP. Wages would have increased by 6.3 percent for high-income workers and by 7.5 percent for low-income workers. The reasons: a highly elastic global supply of capital, which moves across borders at the first sign of a tax advantage and the inefficiency of the U.S. corporate income tax, which, as of 2014, our year of calibration, had a very high marginal, but very low average tax rate. More

Goodman and Herrick: Obamacare Has Made Things Worse

Ignoring the tax subsidies (both at work and in the individual market), things have gotten worse for people with chronic health conditions – because of Obamacare. Premiums have doubled. Deductibles have tripled. And narrow networks exclude the best doctors and the best hospitals. The reason: Obamacare gives insurers perverse incentives to attract the healthy and avoid the sick. People with health problems are being mistreated because no health plan wants them.
John Goodman and Devon Herrick, study for the Heritage Foundation.

Tax Law Changes: Good, Bad and Ugly

Forbes

The good: People can contribute to IRAs regardless of age, 401(k) balances can be converted into annuities and retirees can go another year and a half before there are required withdrawals from tax deferred accounts. The bad: heirs are required to withdraw deferred accounts more quickly (10 years). The ugly: industries that agreed to be taxed in order to fund Obamacare get their taxes rescinded, without any reform of the mess they helped create. More.

A Jewish Economist Saves Christmas

Forbes

How many of you are dreading the breakout of political warfare over Christmas dinner? I am and I’m not even formally eligible to celebrate the holiday. I’ve seen no reliable count, but I sense that tens to hundreds of thousands of families have already come apart thanks to the Great Divider. More.

Tax Reform For The Middle Class

Forbes

We need to remove the most unfair, most anti-work, most anti-saving provisions of the tax code – ones that burden the middle-class. These include a social Security earnings penalty that can push senior workers into a 95% marginal tax rate, a tax on nonsocial security income that even hits tax exempt bonds, and unfair restrictions on part-time workers and the self-employed. More.

Kotlikoff: Real Federal Debt is $239 trillion

Uncle Sam’s fiscal gap (promises minus expected revenues, looking indefinitely into the future) is now $239 trillion. That’s ten times the size of our Gross Domestic Product. Eliminating our current fiscal gap requires either a 50 percent immediate and permanent hike in all federal taxes or a 33 percent immediate and permanent cut in all federal outlays, apart from debt service. The longer we wait, the more painful the solution gets. More.

Surprising Economics of Surprise Medical Bills

Forbes

Surprise medical bills arise when hospital patients discover that certain fees are not covered by their health insurance. The reason for the surprise is that the patient’s insurance company and the hospital itself list the hospital as “in network.” Then, when the bill is presented, the patient discovers that certain doctors or certain services were “out of network.” As I wrote previously, in a free health insurance market this would rarely happen. Do you know of any other insurance market where this is a problem? I don’t. More.