Federal Redistributions of State Funds

In response to Robert Poole’s Wall Street Journal bit about making some aspects of our infrastructure more affordable, a couple of folks wrote Letters to the Editor.  And so I have my own response.

[A]sset recycling is not about finding more efficient ways to modernize and expand infrastructure. It’s about raising money for cash-starved treasuries….


The solution is to allow all states to retain the federal gas tax generated by each state.


Various nations around Europe and Asia are looking at ways to add to the tax burden on multinational technology companies doing business in those nations.

Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy and Finance, rationalized the movement this way:

It is a question of fairness.

Leave it to a European politician to not understand the concept.

No. Fairness is cutting taxes, not raising them, thereby leaving more of the citizens’ money in their hands.

Right Answer, Wrong Dissent

The Washington State Supreme Court issued a ruling favorable to the State’s charter schools last Thursday.  The question before the court was whether those charter schools were violating the State’s constitution by receiving funding from the State’s lottery facilities.  Writing for the court, Justice Mary Yu wrote in plain words,

Charter schools are not rendered unconstitutional just because they do not operate identically to common school[.]

She expanded on that in addressing the plaintiffs’ argument that the charter schools lacked voter control, holding that, as The Seattle Times paraphrased her,

Trade and the People’s Republic of China

The Wall Street Journal wrote in its Thursday edition that the US was “refusing” to resume trade negotiations with the PRC until the latter made a formal offer to us.  That’s a bit of a misnomer, though, since there’s nothing about which to negotiate until the PRC makes an offer.  Absent that, any discussion about trade would be just idle musings over an afternoon tea, a whiling away of some time between more important things.

A couple of other things jumped out at me in that article, too.

Raising Stakes

The EU-Italy kerfuffle over Italy’s effronting budget is getting serious.

The mandarins of Brussels on Tuesday issued an unprecedented demand that Italy rewrite its bad budget in line with Brussels’ bad fiscal principles.

As the WSJ predicts,

[t]he two sides will now descend into political and bureaucratic wrangling. The main risks are that Brussels imposes a fine of 0.2% of GDP or that Rome is forced to abandon the pro-growth flat tax.

There’s no need for this, though. Italy should simply refuse to debate the matter—their budget, for good or ill, is a national thing, a matter of sovereignty. Along those lines, Italy also should refuse to pay the Brussels vig.

A Health Care Coverage Step

Alexander Acosta, Steven Mnuchin, and Alex Azar, respectively Secretaries of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services, are in the process of offering one.  They’re putting together a rule that would expand HRAs, Health Reimbursement Arrangements.  These are plans that allow employers to reimburse employees for certain qualified health expenses.  Their expansion consists of two parts:

  • permit[ting] employers to offer HRAs to reimburse employees for health insurance purchased in the individual market—allowing employers to provide a contribution as significant as they would have made for the premiums of a traditional employer-sponsored plan.

It’s Not Their Budget

They’re not the ones who have to live with it.  Brussels is just sitting on the safety of the sidelines, carping.

The European Union took the unprecedented step Tuesday of rejecting Italy’s draft budget as incompatible with the bloc’s rules on fiscal discipline, escalating a battle between Europe’s establishment and populists in Rome.

Italy’s economic woes impact other members of the eurozone, of the EU at large?  They don’t have to.  The EU has no more obligation to bail out Italy—if the eventuality eventuates—than it had with Greece.  Italy has no more need to put other nations ahead of its own economic well-being than had Greece.

Carbon Dioxide and Bias at the EPA

Cass Sunstein thinks there’s bias in the Trump EPA in the way the agency handles CO2.  He’s right, but not in the way he thinks.

The only way to solve the climate-change problem, and to prevent massive harm in the US, is for all the world’s big emitters [of CO2] to agree to take account of the global damage.

There’s the heart of the political concern and a demonstration of Sunstein’s bias.

Carbon’s role in the environment is its contribution to acid rain through its role as a constituent of CO2. That problem has been solved, years ago.

Italy and the EU

Recall Italy’s proposed budget, which defied Brussels by having a larger deficit relative to its GDP than EU budget rules allow.  I decried that budget then, and I stand by that disdain.

Now, however,

Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria has told the European Commission that Italy will raise its deficit to 2.4% of gross domestic product (GDP), defying eurozone budget rules. In a letter sent to Brussels in response to a formal warning from the EU.

Brussels continues to not like the budget.

Union Selfishness

In The Wall Street Journal‘s Allysia Finley piece about Progressive-Democrats’ targeting California Republicans, this bit jumped out at me:

The Los Angeles Unified School District is making emergency budget cuts and layoffs to avoid bankruptcy, yet the teachers union is threatening to strike if its members don’t receive a 6% raise.



h/t Ralph