Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Now the Real Work Begins

Two sources have confirmed that the Revenue Committee has killed all the tax proposals in the Taxmageddon package. 

This is a victory for all of us. This is a big victory. We should all thank the members of the Revenue Committee for this. 

And tonight we should celebrate. 

Then, tomorrow, the real work begins.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Open Letter to the Revenue Committee

As a last attempt to explain to the Revenue Committee members what their vote on Taxmageddon really means, I have sent all the committee members the following letter:

Proposal for Lincoln County GOP On ENDOW

Reprinted with permission.
Updated. Due to a glitch in communications, a previous version gave the impression that the resolution had been adopted by Lincoln County GOP. It is currently a proposal.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Outlook 2018: Turnaround or Taxmageddon

Yesterday, on KGAB AM650 with Glenn Woods, Taylor Haynes declared firmly that as governor he would hold the line and not raise taxes. His commitment followed Harriet Hageman's statement on the same radio show on January 2017 that this is the wrong time to be looking at tax increases. Though Hageman was not quite the bulwark that Haynes was, she did explain that Wyoming needs to compete for business with low taxes. She will get a lot of mileage out of that statement.

Larson in the Cayman Financial Review

My article for the Cayman Financial Review (page 22) is about tax competition and the European Union's blacklist of "tax havens", i.e., low-tax jurisdictions:

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Mead's Latest: Appropriations by Decree

I have good news on the Wyoming economy that I want to get out, but Governor Mead just won't let me catch a break. Barely had the greenback rain over Weatherby stopped before our beloved chief executive started appropriating state funds by decree.

Reports the Wyoming Tribune Eagle (January 27, print edition):

A Note on Deficits and Economic Stability

My latest essay on Larson's Political Economy:

Saturday, January 27, 2018

US and Venezuela Have Much In Common

In my latest piece for the American Institute for Economic Research I explain how our welfare state and the Venezuelan disaster have more in common than most people think:

Friday, January 26, 2018

Weatherby: Open Letter to Governor Mead

Dear Governor Mead,

Congratulations on attracting Weatherby to Wyoming, and on helping create 70 jobs.

Forgive me if I don't cork up the champaign just yet, but I cannot get past the $12.5 million grant that the company got.

WY Economy: Some Growth, No New Jobs

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released the latest state GDP numbers. Superficially, it is good news for Wyoming: year over year, inflation-adjusted GDP grew a remarkable 4.5 percent, a growth rate we have not seen since early 2009. With $1.5 billion in economic activity added in one year, things should look solidly upward, should they not?

Before we get to the bad news, first a rundown of the good news.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Is Taylor Haynes The Guy for the Job?

It was not very surprising that Taylor Haynes would get into the gubernatorial race. He has built a momentum for himself over the past several years, and carved out a distinct "home ground" as a strict constitutionalist. It is good to see him in the race, along with Harriet Hageman.

In fact, it is hard to see who could top the two of them and make this race even more interesting (unless a certain Lummis changes her mind...). Between Hageman and Haynes, we have two candidates who cover two of the three most important political issues of our time, here in Wyoming.

Monday, January 22, 2018

How Big Will the Services Sales Tax Be?

One of the tax increases on the Revenue Committee agenda is a sales tax on services. Next to the Gross Receipts Tax and the proposed increase in assessment values on private and industrial properties, this tax hike has not gained much attention. Initially, it is assumed to bring in some $81 million per year, which limits this tax to a strikingly small tax base of $1.8 billion.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Government Is Crowding Out Private Sector

Before Christmas, I published two blog articles where I analyzed the latest county-level wage and employment data. My focus then was on the message in those data regarding the current state of the Wyoming economy; the numbers confirmed that we are in a "new normal", a frail state of stability where the private sector needs all the peace and quiet it can get to solidify its new-found economic footing. 

Today, we take another look at those county data, but from another perspective, namely the relative size of government employment and payroll.

The Gross Receipts Tax Is Coming Closer

With less than a month to go until the budget session starts, it is time for a first look at the bills our legislators have submitted. 

One of those bills is casting an ominous shadow over our state's economic future.

However, before we get to it, let us put our statist legislators in, shall we say, a broader context. Here is a story from the San Francisco Chronicle - the kind of story you just can't make up:

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tax Reform Won't Solve U.S. Growth Problem

My latest on Larson's Political Economy explains why...

Friday, January 19, 2018

How to Fix A Structural Budget Deficit

There is a growing awareness among our legislators that this is not the time to raise taxes. There also seems to be at least an emerging awareness that we need long-term, permanent reductions in government spending. These insights are welcome and give us reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the coming legislative session. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

China Whispers - America Trembles

My latest article for American Institute for Economic Research explains how our government debt has become a national security problem:

Migration and Economic Growth

Here is another update from the treasure trove of IRS migration data. 

So far, we have established that Wyoming still attracts high-income earners, for whom our state still offers an attractively low-tax environment. We have also seen that our state is losing middle-class families, to whom the balance between what money they can make here, and the taxes and other cost-of-living items paints a completely different picture than it does for wealthy residents. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Wyoming Losing Middle-Class Taxpayers

Following up on Saturday's note on interstate migration, here are more numbers, this time covering the period 2012-2016. The raw database from the IRS is quite dense, so we will have to extract the relevant information one piece at a time. 

The net migration numbers - subtracting outbound migration from inbound - confirm what we have seen in other statistical products, namely that the Wyoming economy has gradually become weaker in the past few years. The first indication of this is in the net flow data of tax returns and income:

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Egalitarianism at Work in America

If conservatives and libertarians don't learn how to counter egalitarianism, we will set our country on autopilot to Greece:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Note on Interstate Migration

A short note on a sunny Saturday.

On January 2 I published an article reporting Census data on interstate migration. I got a couple of questions based on that article where readers pointed out that California, despite a negative interstate migration balance, still had a growing population. It was not until later that I realized that those who asked about this actually believed that California's population was determined entirely by interstate migration. 

That's fine. Public policy is for everyone, regardless of intellectual prowess.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Defense Dwarfed by Entitlements

My latest article for the 
American Institute for Economic Research:

Solving the Pension Debt Problem

Back before government grew so big that it became a real, long-term economic problem, many boneheaded decisions were made by lawmakers and governors. One of them was to create a pension system with basically an open-ended taxpayer liability. Obviously, government workers need a retirement plan, just like everyone else, but too many governments have made far too generous promises, somehow expecting future generations to simply pony up the money and honor their promises. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Privatize Economic Development

With all the criticism that I have presented against Governor Mead's ENDOW project, it is important to remember that it is not unique in its tying economic growth to government initiatives. The same line of thinking exists at all levels of government, including our cities and towns.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fiscal Sustainability and Budget Priorities

This video takes a more generalized approach to budget priorities, such as defense vs. entitlements, and explains how our Wyoming lawmakers, and our next governor, will face similar choices:

Monday, January 8, 2018

Wyoming Economy Stable but Vulnerable

On December 20 the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the latest set of data on state-level personal income. We also have some interesting new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Together, these numbers tell us that:

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Liz Cheney Wrong on Defense Spending

I don't like writing an article like this, because I think Liz Cheney is a fine Congressman and a politician who will do a lot of good for our country in coming years. However, I cannot in good conscience sit and watch how our Congressional Republicans screw up again. 

Speaker Ryan and Representative Cheney want to strengthen our national defense - and I wholeheartedly support them - but the way they want to go about it sets them up for yet another big failure. After the GOP botched Obamacare reform and barely got anything done on taxes, they just can't afford to turn their genuine quest for a stronger military into political hot air. 

If they genuinely want  a stronger military, they do it the right way, or they don't do it at all:

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Tax Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

If you get a raise, what is your first thought?

a) I can put more money into my savings;
b) I can trade in that old car that is costing a fortune in repairs; or
c) I can finally pay a lot more in taxes.

The real question, of course, is how many of Wyoming's families and small business owners have received any pay raise in the last couple of years. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Federal Funds: Challenge and Opportunity

One of the driving forces behind growth in government here in Wyoming is our dependency on federal funds to run certain government programs. We are not among the top states in dependency on federal funds...

Another Welfare State Fairy Tale

My latest article for the American Institute for Economic Research is a rebuttal to a New York Times article about Sweden:
Sweden is again surfacing as the idolized role model for the United States to follow. The latest contribution, from the New York Times on December 27, is clearly aimed at providing welfare statists in Congress – from Republicans to Democrats – with arguments to back up new entitlement programs. Unfortunately for both the Times and congressional welfare-statists, the article is a journalistic version of Swiss cheese: bland taste and full of holes.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The ENDOW Report: An Analysis

The much-anticipated final report from the ENDOW group has been published. Here is my analysis; apologies for the length, but it is very important that we understand this report in detail.

For my previous video on ENDOW, click here.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

U-Hauls Keep Leaving Cowboy State

A year ago I explained how Wyoming, having lost population from 2010 to 2014, suddenly saw an uptick in net migration in 2015. We had a net inbound migration from the Centennial State of 5,857 people, a substantial number that I attributed to rising cost of living in the northern Colorado I-25 corridor: