A Proposed Budget Cut

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal contains a funding cut for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, with effect in 2019, of $125 million.  The Partnership supposedly “created or protected more than 100,000 jobs” just in the last fiscal year.

I’m not convinced that’s a bad idea.  The function is good, but should the Federal government be the one paying for it? After all, it’s our tax money, not the Feds’.  Besides, the Partnership, as originally conceived, wasn’t intended to get Federal dollars; the existing subsidies are relatively new.

Investment Acumen

Investment managers at Harvard and the State of Hawaii—and a potful of others—have made big bets [sic] on the low volatility of the stock and bond markets and on the apparent permanence of that low volatility.

After interest rates collapsed on the heels of the financial crisis, they [pension funds, endowments, and family offices] ran into challenges paying pensioners and filling university budgets, and added riskier bets on hedge funds and venture capital in the hopes of winning better returns.

Don’t Pay It

The Federal National Mortgage Association, Fannie Mae, the government-run (never mind that it’s supposedly only government-sponsored, it began life as a government agency, it was set out on its own and failed, and now it’s under Federal Housing Finance Agency management regulation) mortgage securitizor, is failing again.  And now this agency wants a taxpayer bailout.

Fannie said Wednesday its regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, would seek a fresh taxpayer infusion of $3.7 billion from the Treasury Department as a result of the loss [of $6.5 billion in the last quarter alone]….

A New Insurance Plan

Idaho has one.  Blue Cross of Idaho says it’s going to take advantage of newly issued State regulations to start marketing a plan that won’t meet Obamacare requirements, and they’re going to sell the plan alongside its existing Obamacare-compliant plans.

The Idaho Department of Insurance last month became the first state regulator to say it would let insurers begin offering “state-based plans” for consumers that involved practices generally banned for individual insurance under the ACA, including tying premium rates to enrollees’ pre-existing health conditions.

In particular,

Infrastructure Funding

Much has been made about the deteriorating state of our nation’s infrastructure, from past todos that worked out to be just political chit-chat with nothing done to today’s efforts and commentary.

The commentary, as far as it goes, isn’t far wrong: our infrastructure, our roads, bridges, railroads, airports, even our communications infrastructure are in terrible shape.  But the commentary continues to be largely chit-chat, and the NLMSM isn’t helping.

Take this opening from a piece on President Donald Trump’s latest budget proposal from Fox News, for instance.

Private Moves and Regulations

The Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management is moving to rescind and replace an Obama administration regulation that would drastically limit methane gas emissions by companies drilling for hydrocarbons on Federal land.

While the move is salutary—the Obama regulation would have imposed too much cost, would have stunted energy innovation, and would have limited energy supply with resulting higher prices to us consumers—there’s one tidbit in the Wall Street Journal article carrying that news that needs emphasis.

Environmentalists rejected that claim [of impeding energy development] and decried the decision, pointing out that several companies had already moved on their own to start cutting methane emissions.

Bigger Budgets and Spending Cuts

Last week, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed, a budget covering the next two years that has significantly larger spending caps than the last several budgets have had, including in particular a large increase in domestic spending.  Of course, that means spending must rise, right?  Every dollar budgeted must be spent; the budget is a spending floor, not a cap?

Not at all, as the budget proposal Trump has sent over to Congress for FY2019 demonstrates.

The Trump budget is proposing to reduce nondefense discretionary spending caps by 41% over the coming decade.

Costs, and Costs

The fight to drive the Daesh out of Iraq (while killing too few of them IMNSHO) has caused more than $45 billion in infrastructure damage to Iraq.

That’s roughly half the cost of the damage a couple of hurricanes did in Texas and Florida last year, an even smaller ratio when Puerto Rico is figured in.  But it’s a lot of damage for a nation like Iraq.

What might that imply, besides the relative wealth of the two nations?

One is the relative dependence we have on our more highly developed, and so expensive, infrastructure compared to Iraq.  Iraq is scraping by with that level of damage and already beginning to recover.

Against Their Own Interest

Fast food workers began protesting yesterday, demanding higher wages and the right to join a union.  Ashley Cathey, a 29-year-old Memphis fast food person, had this:

Fast-food cooks and cashiers like me are fighting for higher pay and union rights, the same things striking sanitation workers fought for 50 years ago.  We’re not striking and marching just to commemorate what they did—we’re carrying their fight forward. And we won’t stop until everyone in this country can be paid $15 an hour and has the right to join a union.

The Budget Deal

…was just passed in the small hours of Friday morning.  The high points of what it does is provide funding for the Federal government into late March, provide a budget good for two years, raise the debt ceiling a smidge, and increase spending authorization for defense by $165 billion over the next two years and for domestic items by $131 billion over those two years.  It does not include anything regarding immigration, particularly DACA, despite House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D, CA) 8-hour speech Thursday, nor does it include anything regarding welfare reform.