A retirement home has some resemblance to a college dorm. But that’s a good thing. Unlike a typical apartment complex, where one rarely knows one’s neighbors, a retirement home allows meeting many people—at meals, exercise classes, lectures and clubs.
More preschool services mean the country has to have less of everything that’s not preschool. More homecare means less of everything that’s not homecare. More free college means less of everything that’s not college.
European countries do this sort of thing with broad-based taxes on wages and consumption. After paying taxes, people have less money to spend on other stuff. The Biden administration, however, wants to pretend that people can have a bundle of new services and keep on consuming as they did before.
The only thing that will reduce the consumption of other stuff under the BBB agenda is higher prices – what ordinary people call inflation.
Public policies to curtail climate change can be a win-win for everyone, including present and future generations, says Goodman Institute Senior Fellow Laurence Kotlikoff in the New York Times. A carbon tax is by far the most efficient way to reduce CO2 emissions, he says. But that should be more than offset by a tax cut for the current generation. Future generations will get the benefit of climate control but they will have to pay off the debt created by the current generation tax cuts.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul is something almost all governments routinely do. And they have been doing it for years. If you haven’t seen a good argument for it, that’s because government theft is so fully ingrained in our way of life that no one thinks a justification is needed.
Congressional Democrats are proposing to spend an enormous amount of taxpayer dollars on what the New York Times calls a “cradle to the grave” addition to U.S. social welfare. When budgeting shenanigans are ignored, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the full cost is not the $3.5 trillion that has been widely advertised, but at least $5.0 trillion and possibly as much as $5.5 trillion.
After years of advocating a level playing field, on which traditional Medicare competes against private Medicare Advantage plans, Democrats are now proposing to tilt the scales. They are proposing a hearing, vison and dental benefit for traditional Medicare, while stiffing the private plans. The proposal will make seniors worse off whenever they switch to or from a Medicare Advantage plan.
Progressives in Congress are planning to spend an additional $1,000 per enrollee on beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, but spend no additional money on Medicare Advantage enrollees. In economic terms, the flip side of a subsidy is a penalty. If you give a subsidy to people who make one choice, you are effectively imposing a cost on everyone who makes a different choice. In this case, the Democrats’ proposal does more than tilt the playing field. It makes seniors worse off whenever they switch from one system to the other.
There are 5 million fewer people employed today than before the Covid epidemic struck and 7.7 million of those out of work are officially counted as unemployed. What’s going wrong? Federal policies are making it increasingly attractive not to work.
The Social Security Trustees have released their annual report on the system’s finances. The news is awful. Social Security’s unfunded liability is an enormous $59.8 trillion. That’s over 2.5 times the size of the U.S. economy. Even more disturbing is the change since last year’s report. The system’s unfunded liability grew by $6.8 trillion. In other words, while Congress has been arguing over whether we can afford $3.5T in new spending, the debt we are leaving to our children grew by almost twice that amount without Congress lifting a finger.
But unlike the change in official debt, Social Security’s deficits are carefully kept off the books — for political, not economic reasons. Consequently, not a single media outlet we know of has reported these numbers
Review of The Debt Trap: How Student Loans Became a National Catastrophe, by Josh Mitchell (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2021) 261 pp.