Foolish

Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) has offered legislation, in coordination with Congressman Ro Khanna (D, CA), that is his latest bit of socialism.  His legislation would hit large businesses with a tax equal to 100% of the welfare payments any of their employees might receive while working.

Sanders and Khanna say—and they’re actually serious—that this would pay for the welfare programs involved.

Andy Puzder has a different view of such legislation.

A Change in Tone?

Recall the start of President Donald Trump’s response to the People’s Republic of China’s economic conflict with us, when he began imposing tariffs on PRC goods over their continued theft of American companies’ intellectual property.

Vice President Wang warned US business chieftains there would be corporate casualties. President Xi told others that Beijing would “punch back” at the US.

Now we’re getting sweet words.

Liu He, President Xi Jinping’s economic-policy chief, told visiting American business representatives that US companies’ China operations won’t be targeted in Beijing’s trade-brawl counterattacks. “We won’t allow retribution against foreign companies,” Mr Liu said[.]

Greece and Austerity

Greece finally is out from under its EU/IMF bailout yoke, and now it wants give its citizens relief from the austerity measures it implemented during its years-long crisis.

[Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras]…announced ambitions to cut taxes as well as increase spending to boost employment and on welfare programs.

Reducing taxes is consistent with reducing austerity—provided the government also tightens its tax collection regime.

Increasing spending, though, increases austerity: it crowds out private businesses as government, which doesn’t have to worry about the cost of money, outcompetes businesses, both for sales and for the resources needed for production. That increased spending also drives up the cost of money for those private enterprises.

Corporate Free Rides

Alex Sanchez, Florida Bankers Association President and CEO, is worried about corporate welfare.

The problem with modern American credit unions boils down to a simple question: why should a family of four pay more income taxes than a $90 billion financial institution? That’s the total amount of assets held by Navy Federal Credit Union. Yet it is exempt from federal and state corporate income taxes, as well as sales taxes (and, in my home state of Florida, intangible taxes). This is corporate welfare.

Serious or Not?

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker came to DC Wednesday, allegedly to talk about trade.  Juncker came with no offers, or even ideas, to propose concerning the European Union’s trade status with the US , and he was proud of that lack.  Apparently, he just came for some idle chit-chat and to see the sights.  EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, though, had some concrete things to say before Juncker left to come over.

If the tariff dispute were to include cars that would be a “disaster,”

Deutsche Welle cited her as saying.  And this, as paraphrased by DW:

Auto Tariffs Revisited

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström says the EU will respond to any increase in US tariffs on imported autos and auto parts with its own tariffs on autos and parts imported from the US.

And,

The EU cannot offer a bilateral deal only on autos, Ms. Malmström said, to address Mr Trumps complaints about the 28-member bloc’s 10% car tariffs—which are quadruple the US rate.

Never mind that applying its own auto and auto parts tariffs to imports from the US is precisely such a bilateral action.

Auto Tariffs

Auto makers, parts suppliers, and dealers are joining forces to push back against the Trump administration’s proposal to apply tariffs of up to 25% on vehicles and components imported into the US….

The auto industry is aiming at the wrong target.  The German auto industry and the US have already agreed in principle to a regime of no auto tariffs at all.  It’s the German government that’s waffling and the EU that’s ignoring the matter altogether.

These domestic execs need to be asking the German government and the EU why they’re so disinterested instead of whining about domestic matters.

A Good Start

Congress is considering RESA, the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act, a bill that would represent a massive change to our retirement system, in particular our 401(k) system.  This bill would, among other things,

encourage more small employers to offer retirement savings plans and make it easier for companies to offer annuities that turn workers’ savings into a guaranteed annual income.

Among specific things that the House wants in such a bill are

  • a universal savings account, funded with post-tax dollars but with tax-free earnings and more flexible withdrawal rules than existing retirement accounts.

In a Contest of Tariffs

In a piece purporting to show Where the Trade Battle Hurts the Most, Julie Wernau and Ira Iosebashvili had this comment:

Renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement are being closely watched in Canada, too. The Trump administration has used threats of auto tariffs to win concessions from Canada and Mexico, a strategy that hasn’t sat well with the two countries.

President Donald Trump also offered them, and the rest of the G-7, a regime of no tariffs at all. Their refusal even to discuss the offer doesn’t sit well with those of us outside the NLMSM.

Capital Gains Taxes

Folks styling themselves conservatives want Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to index capital gains taxes for inflation—and to do it by Executive Branch fiat.  Mnuchin, though, is reluctant to do so, not least because he’s unsure whether Treasury actually has the authority.  He’s also not convinced that Congress shouldn’t set such a requirement.

Mnuchin is right, though—this sort of thing should be determined legislatively rather than by Executive Branch regulation, Executive Order, or other diktat.  That’s the Conservative position.

Too, Congress should not be allowed to duck the matter: put the Congressmen on the record with their words and votes—every single one of them.