The 529 Plan Expansion

Recall that the tax reform enacted last December expanded the usability of 529 Plans to include expenses for K-12 education.  Now some are worried that this will harm State tax collections.  It’s a bogus beef on a number of fronts.

In December, as part of a broad tax overhaul, Congress expanded the accounts to cover up to $10,000 a year in expenses for kindergarten through 12th grade.

State budget officials are now concerned that a large number of parents will use 529 accounts to pay private-school tuition, giving them a new write-off for their state taxes.

Be Like Europe?

Emulate Germany?  That’s the constant refrain of the Left and of their Progressive-Democratic Party.  After all, Germany is running large budget surpluses, taking the second largest bite out of German wages of all the OECD nations, at nearly 50%, overcoming government spending running 45% of GDP.  Here is an indication of the contempt with which German politicians—both “conservative” and Leftist—view German citizens:

[T]he perception of tax cuts in the country’s political mainstream ranges from slightly shameful to outright evil. Many conservatives see them as overindulgent toward voters, while the center-left views them as morally indefensible gifts to the rich. All parties, with the exception of the pro-business Free Democrats, favor a high degree of redistribution.

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.

A Party’s Failure on Immigration

The Party in question isn’t the Republican Party.  Those folks always have had a very stringent position on immigration, and they’ve not hidden their view from the public’s eye.  No, the failing party is the Progressive-Democratic Party.  Those folks have long claimed—a claim we now know to be a cynical pretense, a pretense consistent with the underlying philosophy of the party of Jim Crow and of racist and sexist affirmative action—to be champions of immigrants and of DACA children.  But last week, they voted against every bill, Republican-offered and “bipartisan,” that was brought up.  The Progressive-Democrats wouldn’t even vote for cloture so the bills could be openly debated on the Senate floor.

The Veterans Administration Is Not Getting Better

VA Secretary David Shulkin, according to an IG report, has been misappropriating VA funds for his and his family’s personal benefit, and he’s been abusing his authority to require a subordinate to act as his “personal travel concierge.”  He

improperly accepted a gift of Wimbledon tennis tickets….

And his Chief of Staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, apparently tampered with evidence:

made false claims to a VA ethics official by altering an email to get official approval for Dr Shulkin’s wife to take part in the trip as an “invitational traveler,” a status that meant the VA would cover her expenses. Her airfare cost taxpayers $4,312.

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.

Diplomacy and Northern Korea

The Wall Street Journal‘s Gerald Seib had a piece extolling the virtues of the Republic of Korea’s willingness to engage in formal, summit-level diplomacy with northern Korea coupled with President Donald Trump’s sub rosa willingness to talk.

There were, though, some serious misunderstandings in the article.  Here are a couple:

[T]here is no way to know for sure what the North Koreans are willing to give up without testing their intentions.

Apparently Seib has been doing a Rip van Winkle impression. For the last 25 years, the northern Korean government has said they’ll never give up their nuclear weapons goals.  We know for sure that what northern Korea is willing to give up is nothing.