Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ROBERT SAMUELSON:
Should the United States someday suffer a budget crisis, it will be hard not to conclude that Obama and his allies sowed the seeds, because they ignored conspicuous warnings. A further irony will not escape historians. For two years, Obama and members of Congress have angrily blamed the shortsightedness and selfishness of bankers and rating agencies for causing the recent financial crisis. The president and his supporters, historians will note, were equally shortsighted and self-centered -- though their quest was for political glory, not financial gain.

Let's be clear. A "budget crisis" is not some minor accounting exercise. It's a wrenching political, social and economic upheaval. Large deficits and rising debt -- the accumulation of past deficits -- spook investors, leading to higher interest rates on government loans. The higher rates expand the budget deficit and further unnerve investors. To reverse this calamitous cycle, the government has to cut spending deeply or raise taxes sharply. Lower spending and higher taxes in turn depress the economy and lead to higher unemployment. Not pretty.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Repeal Davis-Bacon? One way to save money

DAMON W. ROOT of Reason Magazine takes on the rent-seekers:
For nearly 80 years, contractors working on federally funded construction projects have been forced to pay their workers artificially inflated wages that rip off American taxpayers while lining the pockets of organized labor. The culprit is the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which requires all workers on federal projects worth more than $2,000 to be paid the "prevailing wage," which typically means the local union wage.

Here's what happens. Unskilled construction workers possess one clear advantage over their skilled, unionized competitors: They're willing to work for less money. But Davis-Bacon destroys that advantage. After all, why would contractors working on a federal project hire any unskilled workers when the government forces them to pay all of their workers what amounts to a union wage? Contractors make the rational choice and get their money's worth by hiring skilled unionized labor even when the project calls for much less.

Davis-Bacon is a blatant piece of special-interest, pro-union legislation. It hasn't come cheap for taxpayers. According to research by Suffolk University economists, Davis-Bacon has raised the construction wages on federal projects 22 percent above the market rate.
BHI's research on the prevailing wage.
Related material here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rush Limbaugh cites BHI op-ed

Rush Limbaugh, the master of EIB, cites today's National Review Online op-ed by David Tuerck and Grover Norquist on the false promise of jobs in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
WABC 3/18/2010 12:13:50 PM: ...What is up with Grover Norquist look at it from has a piece up today at national review online good though they budget for MSN at the health-care legislation will cost up to 700,000 jobs but will let you and that doesn't include the doctors were such are probably the auto of stories about nurses want to quit hospitals around the country hospitals rather than the original that's on top of the all know what this means yet is this just happened the national Council of rows of dosage of their opposition to the health-care bill setting immigration restrictions which disallow undocumented workers combined coverage on this federal money or troops you learned earlier support for the gangs is not as congenital as the label for a dog of a transfer payment for giveaways for our people and on the 21st of some to the immigration privately delivered until the storm Washington in the hope that quarter million people there or a big march and rally demanding illegal immigration amnesty on the day there theoretically would be voting on the health-care bill I stumbled up in the morning and helped her build file that they have the votes in the heavily actual numbers of the deadly when it was revealed as a woman or a everyday lives they have told you has been about dispiriting you depressing to hear that it's a lost cause but you give up regulators locally defined today they just gobble down about the only form of the CBO but they're no closer than they were and that's what all this means all this trickery while the chicanery all this behind the scenes look on the effort to create momentum word doesn't exist balder asking the president to delay his departure some to later in the week and reason are doing that is because the people who have the votes on something by somebody and it's going to complicate the summit is what's what's...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

BHI releases study on jobs and Obamacare

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will destroy jobs not create them. That's the finding of a new study from the Institute.

Monday, March 8, 2010

No relief! States increase sales taxes

FORBES: U.S. Sales Tax Rates Hit Record High
During 2009 seven states and the District of Columbia raised sales tax rates, with one jurisdiction--North Carolina--actually doing it twice. Only four states hiked rates in 2008 and only one in 2007. Given state budget problems, the 2009 state sales tax increases aren't surprising. States have also been raising income tax rates on the wealthyand on corporations and boosting excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco. With states now facing record budget shortfalls, more tax increases seem likely.

State level sales tax generally accounts for only about two-thirds of the total sales tax bill. The rest comes from levies assessed by counties, municipalities, Indian tribes and special-purpose taxing districts funding mass transit, urban renewal and even stadiums. Among lower level jurisdictions such as counties and towns, Vertex counted 649 new or increased sales tax rates during 2009 and just 192 reductions.

The result is a wide range of combined sales tax rates across the country. At the bottom: 0%, found in all of Delaware and New Hampshire, and most of Montana, Oregon and Alaska. The country's highest rate now is 12%, in the tiny portion of tiny Arab, Ala., (population 7,500) sticking into Cullman County. The rest of the northern Alabama town, in no-sales-tax Marshall County, pays just 8%.

Right now Chicago has the highest big-city rate, 10.25%. But in a move forced by Cook County lawmakers, the rate is scheduled to drop on July 1 to 9.75%, matching that of Los Angeles. In New York City the total bite is 8.875%. Other high big-city rates include San FranciscoandSeattle(9.5%), New Orleans (9%), Houston, Dallas and Charlotte (8.25%), Las Vegas (8.1%) and Philadelphia and Atlanta (8%).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

BHI Survey: Don't mandate key feature of PLAs

A poll conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center for the Beacon Hill Institute shows that Massachusetts voters, while holding a favorable impression of organized labor, oppose a key feature of a union-only Project Labor Agreements that have received the imprimatur of the Obama administration. Project Labor Agreements, which are often applied to public construction projects such as the Big Dig, require that all workers be hired through union halls.
Opposition to the idea of requiring construction contractors to hire through union hiring halls runs counter to voters’ otherwise sympathetic attitudes to unions. The same survey showed that a majority (52%) of Massachusetts voters have a favorable opinion of unions. It also found that only 19% of voters believe that public sector union workers are overpaid.

The requirement that construction contractors hire their workers through union hiring halls is opposed by almost every segment of the electorate. Eighty‐eight percent (88%) of Republicans, 76% of Independents and 52% of Democrats oppose the requirement. Even among households with union members, 59% are opposed. Opposition is consistent across voters segmented according to age, gender, race and attitudes toward candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate. Only the 15% of voters who have a "very favorable" view of unions support the requirement.
Press release.
Cross-tabs.

More from the Boston Herald.

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