Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Price for GOP Tax Reform Failure

In my latest piece for the American Institute for Economic Research, I highlight the consequences of a Republican failure to pass tax reform through Congress:

When Representative Cheney was on KGAB here in Cheyenne on Friday morning, she expressed confidence that Trump's tax reform plans will have a bigger chance to pass Congress than the repeal-and-replace Obamacare efforts. I like our Representative; Ms. Cheney is an intelligent politician with integrity, a worthy successor to Cynthia Lummis. However, as far as tax reform goes, I have my doubts. I will believe it when I see it.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Freezing Point of the Human Intellect

This article is about something I usually do not delve into, but I cannot let this one fly. I have seen Catherine Rampell's "opinion columns" in the Casper Star Tribune for a while, and they are always of such poor quality that it has not seemed worth the while to discuss them. But after having considered a subscription to the paper, I decided to take a closer look at Rampell's rants.

After doing so, I decided against a subscription. Why? Glad you asked.

Wyoming The Tax Hike State, Part 2

Yesterday I gave an overview of what tax increases we can expect at the state level: tallying up the worst-case, but increasingly likely scenario, we are looking at half-a-billion dollars in higher taxes. This tax shock - which, I repeat, is no longer unrealistic but increasingly probable - would probably be introduced over two years and would come in the form of assorted "small increases" this year and an entirely new tax the year after. 

In other words, it would be foolish - to say the least - to dismiss this scenario as something not-gonna-happen absurd concoction of conspiracy theorists. This is Taxmageddon on the horizon.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wyoming The Tax Hike State, Part 1

Between the legislature, Governor Mead, the Wyoming Association of Municipalities and assorted local tax efforts, we as a state could easily be facing half a billion dollars in higher taxes.

Half a billion dollars. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

GOP: Do You Realize What You've Done?

Dear Republican Members of Congress,

I seriously doubt that any one of you really understands what you have just done:

Work-Based Income Keeps Falling

For natural reasons, people often compare Wyoming to Alaska. Our dependency on minerals is comparable, both in terms of the overall economy and government dependency on minerals-based tax revenue. There are, of course, geographic differences that make economic life easier in Wyoming, but from an overall fiscal policy viewpoint, Alaska is a good object of comparison for us here in the Cowboy State. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Health Care Socialization: An Update

A while back I wrote an article about a troubling tendency in our state's health care industry. Of all hospital employees in our state, the share working for private employers is dwindling. While the total number of hospital employees has been rising, the number of them who are privately employed has hovered steadily around 3,000: 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kansas Tax Cuts: The Real Story

The welfare statists here in Wyoming, in their fear of tax cuts, are beginning to once again toss out references to the "failure" of tax cuts in Kansas. Among them, Better Wyoming's July 10 article is one example; back in June, Wyoming Public Media also gloated over the Republican back-pedaling in Kansas. 

That was this summer. As the fight for Wyoming's future tightens, the so-called failure of the Kansas tax cuts will most certainly jump to the frontline of the debate again. Yesterday, CNBC reporter Kate Rogers made her contribution at the national level:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Don't Rock the Economic Boat

Bad but nor surprising news: former U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis
has ruled out running next year for governor of Wyoming. Lummis says that she had seriously thought to running [sic] for governor but ultimately decided that she wanted more personal time and freedom from politics. 
The political grapevine had it already in early August that she was "probably" not going to run. Too bad. She is an unrepentant fiscal conservative and has a lot of backbone. We need someone of her caliber to lead our state out of the fiscal and macroeconomic mess we are in today. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Another Piece on Paid Family Leave

My overview of the paid-family leave idea for the American Institute for Economic Research:

For an in-depth analysis of this issue, see my first Paper on the Welfare State:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

America's Last Wake-Up Call

Great news!

In two short weeks, my new book 

The Rise of Big Government
How Egalitarianism Conquered America

will be available online and in book stores. 

This book is America's last wake-up call. It exposes the true nature of the American welfare state like you have never seen it before. It traces the roots of egalitarianism straight back to their ugly origin. And it minces no words explaining what a price we are about to pay for letting egalitarianism conquer the Greatest Nation on Earth.

In the name of fighting "inequality", the United States of America is sliding straight down into the dungeon of industrial poverty and serfdom. We are transforming our country with...

  • Runaway debt - which is already imposing an enormous extra tax burden on our children, just so we can all live in an egalitarian dreamland;
  • Perennially slow growth - for the first time in our history, children will grow up to a life less prosperous than their parents have, all in the name of creating and maintaining an egalitarian society; and
  • The demotion of life - the United States is closer than most people realize to a single-payer health care system, and when that system is a fact, life itself will become a cost item in the government budget.

Like never before, this book exposes the ideological origin of the American welfare state. That ideology has roots as ugly and immoral as you could ever have guessed: it prescribes eugenics, talks about people as "the population stock", wants parents to be reduced to mere feeder units for their children... 

The roots of the American welfare state go even further, advocating forced sterilization and other measures to "enhance" the quality of the workforce. All so that government can maximize its tax revenue.

So far, we have not seen the truly dark side of the welfare state. But soon enough, we will.

This book is America's last wake-up call. It is the last cry to convince the greatest nation on Earth to turn back from the road to egalitarianism and serfdom.

Thank you.

Wyoming Economy Stable but Weak

It is time for another Jobs in Wyoming update. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released preliminary employment data for August, and the overall message in these numbers is, as I have been saying six months now, that:

Monday, September 18, 2017

Trump, Tax Cuts and Republican Inertia

Last week I received a fundraising email from the Republican National Committee. It appeared to be a joint effort by the RNC and President Trump; my interest in supporting the RNC is barely above freezing, but since I like the president I pitched in a small donation.

When the thank-you note arrived, it was not exactly what I had expected (and bear in mind that I got this email a few days ago):

Friday, September 15, 2017

Prosperity or Taxmageddon

Yesterday's article about the potential for growth and prosperity here in Wyoming attracted a lot of interest. Thank you! I cannot stress enough how important it is that we continue to expand the conversation about our state's economic future. From now through the election next year, we have the opportunity to decide our state's future in a way we have not seen in a very long time. Either we go down the path of the welfare statists and squeeze every drip of blood we can out of the taxpayers in this state; or we decide to be bold, brave and free and set course for prosperity and limited government. 

There are some key events where we will get to decide which route to take. There are legislative committee meetings this fall, among them the Revenue Committee meeting in November where they will decide on what package of tax increases to send on to the 2018 legislative session (here is the latest idea). Will they suggest tax hikes of $200 million? $300 million? $400 million?

But that is not the only meeting worth keeping an eye on; click here for a full list of legislative committee meetings from now through the end of the year.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Two Futures for Wyoming: Part 2

In my nine years here in Wyoming I have not seen such a distinct dividing line between two futures as I see today. On the one hand we have the welfare-statist track, which includes $3-400 million in higher state taxes - and, if we are just a tad unlucky, a pile of local tax increases.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Welfare State Research Paper

In October, I will be presenting a research paper on the welfare state and economic decline at a conference at Johns Hopkins University. The conference paper is an abbreviated version of this paper, which is now available to the public:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Two Futures for Wyoming: Part 1

I am working on an article to demonstrate the strong positive effects that would follow if our legislators, and our governor, chose to open A New Chapter for Wyoming. I meant to publish this blog today, but I got some questions after yesterday's article that I would like to address. They actually work nicely as a segway into the article about the macroeconomic effects of structural spending reforms. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Trump Economy: Not in Wyoming

As I explained over the weekend, the American economy has responded well to the Trump presidency. There is an initial upswing in economic activity, especially in business investments, that could be the start of a long growth period and a return to 3+ percent GDP growth. However, in order for that to happen, Congress needs to do its fair share of working with President Trump. A lot of the business optimism has to do with Trump's vow to repeal and replace Obamacare and to overhaul business and personal income taxation. Those high, and initially well-merited expectations, will quickly come crashing down if Congress continues to behave like a greenhouse full of political vegetables. 

To be blunt:

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Trump Economy: Looking Better

Last month the Bureau of Economic Analysis released data on GDP, personal income and private consumption that give us a first look at how the economy is responding to the Trump presidency. So far, it looks like our 45th president has done a good job inspiring - and clearing the ground for - a resilient economy.

This article takes a look at the major trends and explains why we have reasons to be cautiously optimistic (and why Congress better start working with Trump, instead of trying to sabotage his policy agenda). A follow-up article will place these new macroeconomic data in a Wyoming context. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

The ENDOW Report, Part 3

This is the last installment of my analysis of the ENDOW socio-economic assessment report. My final conclusion about this report is that the ENDOW group:

-has determined its conclusions already by defining the problem;
-fails to produce a coherent economic analysis; and
-spends far too much time on irrelevant statistics while ignoring the statistical elephant in the room.

More on that elephant toward the end of this article.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The ENDOW Report, Part 2

One of the most important pillars of a constitutional republic is that elected officials can be held accountable by their electorate. Accountability comes in many different forms, one of which is transparency in the legislative process. Ideas for new legislation, put forward by our elected officials, should proceed through the proper channels in a predictable fashion, allowing voters due time and forums to consider, discuss and opine on the ideas. 

Strictly speaking, this applies to all legislative initiatives. In practice, it becomes more important the more impactful a legislative proposal is on people's lives; with the big government we have today, we simply do not have time to run around and keep track of every single idea our elected officials have for how to further "improve" our lives.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The ENDOW Report: Part 1

Apologies in advance if this week's articles get a bit tedious, but I need to spend a fair amount of time and effort on the Socio-Economic Assessment report from Governor Mead's ENDOW group. There is little doubt in my mind that this group is going to have strong influence on the coming legislative session; without a critical, independent analysis, there is a considerable risk that the legislature will adopt the ENDOW group's recommendations without much thinking. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Mead's ENDOW Wants State-Run Airline

Just when you thought the tax-and-spenders among our legislators could not invent more ways to dole out our money... the Committee on Minerals, Business and Economic Development finds a way to surprise you:

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Wyoming Is Still Not A Low-Tax State

In August, this blog had 9,000 hits. That is an all-time-high, and 50 percent up from the legislative session. Readership is increasing monthly. 

To all readers: Thank you!! You make it all worth it!

Even though today is Labor Day, politics does not stop moving, especially in the direction of higher taxes. The debate over our state's economic future continues to heat up, and focus is still very much on having the state government somehow engineer that future. The latest contribution is from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, whose Saturday article is a well-designed pitch for higher taxes. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

School Tax Poll: Setting the Record Straight

There is a saying in Swedish that "what you shout is what you will hear". It means that if you don't want to listen to others, just shout your opinion, the only thing you will hear is the echo of your own voice. 

Opinion polls work the same way. As an experiment, ask ten people this question: