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.

Welfare Reform: MIA

Senate Republicans and Progressive-Democrats agreed in principle to a two-year budget deal that sets outer bounds on spending allocations that are yet to be debated and passed in the two Houses.  The deal increases defense spending by $165 billion over the next two years, and it increases domestic spending by $131 billion over those two years.

But at what price?

One price is the potential for a return to $1 trillion deficits.  To an extent, that’ll be reduced by a growing economy as the tax reform law begins to take effect.

Deep States, Bureaucrats, and Incumbency

Whether the current idea of a Deep State plotting against the current administration is accurate or not, it has been clear for some period of years that bureaucrats who have been in Federal employ for too long become entrenched and begin working at cross purposes with those of their agency bosses.  The latter, being political appointees, are, at least indirectly, selected by the Federal government’s employer, us citizens.

While we can cure the overt incumbency problem of our politicians by electing others in their stead, the incumbency of bureaucrats, none of them elected, is both generally unseen and harder to correct.

The New Tax Law and Bankruptcy

The Wall Street Journal is quick to point out how the tax reform bill passed last December does little to help failing businesses.

The new tax law is a boon to most US businesses, but it will make life harder for one type of company: those that are struggling financially or at risk of filing for bankruptcy.

The new tax law was never intended to help failing businesses, though, it was designed to help the rest of us individuals and our businesses—and to help those who are failing do better next time.

Market Drops

The Dow Jones 30 Industrials dropped nearly 1200 points on Monday, a numerically large drop.  But what does it mean, really?  We’ve had a steady, and over the last few months steadily steep, rise in the Dow.  The simple fact is, investors are taking profits off the table.  The proximate cause—the excuse—is fear of inflation triggered (if I can use that term) by good employment numbers and rising wages (finally).  The underlying economy is sound, the tax bill just passed is making our economy more so. To put things in perspective, here are two graphs of the Dow consisting of daily data since 1 January 1980 through 2 February 2018.  The data are unadjusted, meaning they are just the daily close, without dividends figured in.

A New Welfare Trap

This one is in the offing at the State level, and comes as a result of the punitive tax for not buying health coverage was repealed last December.

At least nine states are considering their own versions of a requirement that residents must have health insurance….

And

Maryland lawmakers are pursuing a plan to replace the ACA mandate, which requires most people to pay a penalty if they don’t have coverage. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia, are publicly considering similar ideas.

Working for a Living

Indiana has joined Kentucky in getting approval to add a work requirement to its Medicaid program (separately: Federal approval should not be a requirement; the program should be a State-run and -funded program only).

Of course, there are objections.

Democrats and consumer groups are decrying the GOP push, saying it is antithetical to Medicaid’s goal of expanding health care.

Mid-Term Elections

At their retreat last week, Republicans indicated that they intend to run heavily on the tax reform they got through at the end of last year.  It’s good to have something positive on which to run, especially since, at least for the near term, the Progressive-Democratic Party has nothing on which to campaign other than its #NeverTrump and #NothingRepublicanNoWay platform and its standard disparagement of ordinary Americans like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D, CA) claim that the tax reform’s aftermath of bonuses and pay raises are just crumbs.

He’s Missed the Point

John Downs, President and CEO of the National Confectioners Association, wrote a Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor objecting to Maine Governor Paul LePage’s (R) effort to get junk food off the list of foods for which Maine’s food stamps can be used.

Downs supplied a lot of numbers indicating that everyone, food stamp recipient or other, eats junk food and touting the limits of sugar in the junk food consumed.  But he missed the point.