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.

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.

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.

Federal Funds Redistributions

The Department of Justice says it’s going to issue subpoenas, if necessary, to get sanctuary-related documents from cities who have proclaimed themselves sanctuary cities.  Sarah Isgur Flores, DoJ Public Affairs Director:

These are the jurisdictions that have politicians that release criminal aliens back onto the street.

In conjunction with that, she says that, if further necessary, DoJ will redirect Byrne Grant* funds to other jurisdictions that actively support law enforcement rather than picking and choosing those laws that are convenient to them and ignoring others.

Taxing and Spending in New York

Bookending (in more than one sense of the term) California’s move to confiscate business’ tax cuts, New York’s Progressive-Democrat governor Andrew Cuomo wants to increase the taxes levied on that State’s citizens by $1 billion.  He’s claiming, in all seriousness,

You can’t possibly get anywhere near where you want to be on education and health care unless you raise revenues.  It’s just too big a deficit, and the choice of cutting education or cutting health care I don’t think is a place anyone wants to go to this year. So you have to raise revenue.

Value in Spending vs Parity in Spending

The House and Senate leadership met Wednesday in Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R, WI) office, along with White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, to see if there’s any possibility of the Progressive-Democrats working with Republicans to get Federal spending under control.  It seems not.

Both parties claim to want to increase our ability to defend ourselves and our friends and allies, and so both claim to want to increase defense spending.  Only one of the two seems serious, however.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, CA):

Deficits as Cudgel?

Gerald Seib says that’s what the Progressive-Democrats in Congress fear the Republicans will use them for.

Democrats worry that Republicans will simply use the rising deficits they are creating as an excuse to cut government spending on domestic programs important to Democrats—in the vernacular, that the tax bill will “starve the beast” of the federal government of the money it needs to keep spending at current levels.

I certainly hope those deficits will be used as the reason for cutting government spending.  The Federal government spends way too much of our money, and it does so without regard for whose money it is and without regard for the amount of revenue that taxes bring in—deficit spending is enthusiastically pursued regardless of tax rates or revenues.

Higher Education Improvement

The Wall Street Journal has a summary of the House’s The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, to be proposed this week.  It’s aimed at

filling that gap [in college graduates’ skills, with 6 million jobs left begging] by both deregulating parts of the sector and laying the conditions for shorter, faster pathways to the workforce. The act focuses on ensuring students don’t just enroll in school, but actually graduate with skills that the labor market is seeking.

Highlights include these:

A State Runs a Budget Deficit

Louisiana, run by Progressive-Democrats since Bobby Jindall was term-limited out of office, is facing a $1.5 billion deficit as “temporary” tax increases implemented earlier begin to expire.  Jay Dardenne, the center-left Republican Commissioner of Administration, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards’ chief budget officer, says that “devastating” spending cuts would be necessary absent a renewal of the tax increases or enactment of other tax increases.

Tax Deductions

Republicans disagree among each other about the deductibility on Federal personal tax returns of property and sales taxes levied by States, with most of the objections coming from Republicans whose constituents are in high-tax States (which is to say, primarily Progressive-Democrat-led States like New York and California).  I’ve written elsewhere about the nature of that beef.

In my infinite wisdom, I offer a couple of alternatives for compromise.

One is to allow Federal income taxpayers to deduct either their State’s property tax or its sales tax, but not both.  Another is to allow the deductibility of both, but only part of the taxes—say 50%—not all of them.