Tag Archives: Basic Economics

New study: Bernie Sanders’ budget would raise taxes $13.6 trillion over a decade

Democrats took control of government spending in 2007
Democrats took control of government spending in 2007

It’s very strange to me that young people seem to like Bernie Sanders’ rhetoric so much. Have they really considered what his budget would require?

Here’s an article from the Washington Free Beacon that talks about a non-partisan study from the Tax Foundation think tank.

Excerpt:

(I., Vt.) proposed tax plan would raise taxes by $13.6 trillion over the next decade and reduce the economy’s size by 9.5 percent, according to an analysis by the Tax Foundation.

While on the campaign trail, the senator has proposed $18 trillion in spending over the next decade. His plan includes $15 trillion for a government-run single-payer health care plan and trillions more for Social Security, roads and bridges, higher education, paid family and medical leave, and private pension funds, to name just a few.

Sanders’ proposed tax plan will increase marginal tax rates and the cost of capital, a move that will significantly reduce GDP, lower wages, and eliminate jobs.

According to the Tax Foundation, Sanders aims most of his tax provisions at high-income households, creating four new income tax brackets with rates of 37 percent, 43 percent, 48 percent, and 52 percent. Additionally, Sanders would tax capital gains and dividends for households with income over $250,000 and create a 2.2 percent income-based health care premium.

However, as Sanders has admitted, his plan also includes tax increases on the middle class. “We will raise taxes. Yes, we will,” Sanders said at the CNN town hall last weekend.

“A majority of the revenue raised by Sanders plan would come from a new 6.2 percent employer-side payroll tax, a new 2.2 percent broad-based income tax and the elimination of tax expenditures relating to healthcare,” the analysis explains.

According to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office, even without Sanders’ tax plan the nation’s economy is projected to expand at a rate much lower than in recent decades. Sanders’ plan would lower the growth rate further, as its proposed marginal tax rate increases on labor and capital would reduce GDP by 9.5 percent in the long term.

“At the center of my campaign is how we’re going to raise wages,” Sanders said at the first Democratic debate. “Yes, of course, raise the minimum wage, but we have to do so much more, including finding ways so that companies share profits with the workers who helped to make them. And then we have to figure out how we’re going to make the tax system a fairer one.”

“And in my view what we need to do is create millions of jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; pay equity for women workers; and our disastrous trade policies, which have cost us millions of jobs; and make every public college and university in this country tuition-free,” he said.

After accounting for reductions in economic growth, Sanders’ plan would lead to 12.84 percent lower after-tax incomes for all taxpayers, 6 million fewer full-time jobs, and an 18.6 percent smaller capital stock.

Let’s take a look at a few of these from the perspective of a non-clown.

Minimum wage

You know, you don’t have to be an economics genius to understand that this man is a fool – the equivalent of a clown trying to take control of a nuclear power plant. Just look at his position on minimum wage. Every economist understands that raising the minimum wage causes businesses to lay off workers. Why? Because they have to pay for the higher minimum wage somehow. Either they lay off workers and scale back their business, or they charge consumers more. When you charge consumers more, they buy less of what you’re selling. So, usually it means laying off workers.

This Daily Signal article explains what happened when liberal cities raised their minimum wage rates.

Payroll tax

Raising the rate o the employer payroll tax means that employers will basically have to pay more for the same labor. They X labor out of their employees now, and paying Y wages. After Sanders, they will be getting X labor still, but paying a higher Y in wages. What will they do? They will simply let go of their least productive employees and scale back their business, maybe expanding abroad and sending jobs to a country where they are taxed less.

This article from the Fraser Institute explains what happens when companies have to pay more to employ workers.

Tariffs

Bernie Sanders thinks that consumers should pay more for consumer goods. That’s what happens when you slap tariffs on goods manufactured in other countries. Consumers and businesses end up paying more for the same product, leaving less money for other things that you need for your family.

Here’s a post that explains why free trade is best for consumers.

Single payer health care

Single payer health care is supported by economic illiterates in the Democrat and Republican parties – both Sanders and Trump support it. What single payer does is allow government workers to take a cut of every transaction between you and your doctor, effectively imposing a tax on medical treatment without adding any value. It would be as if every transaction between you and Amazon.com were to be funneled through the government to see if you were allowed to buy what you wanted, and for how much. Obviously, we would have to hire government workers to make decisions about your Amazon purchases, to make you wait in line behind others who wanted the same items, and to process payments to Amazon.

Just read this Boston Globe article about the costs of Vermont’s (failed) proposal to have single-payer health care.

Public Works

Henry Hazlitt’s book “Economics in One Lesson” explains the problem with taxing the private sector to build public works.

Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, chapter 4, entitled “Public Works Mean Taxes”.

Excerpt:

Therefore, for every public job created by the bridge project a private job has been destroyed somewhere else. We can see the men employed on the bridge. We can watch them at work. The employment argument of the government spenders becomes vivid, and probably for most people convincing. But there are other things that we do not see, because, alas, they have never been permitted to come into existence. They are the jobs destroyed by the $10 million taken from the taxpayers. All that has happened, at best, is that there has been a diversion of jobs because of the project. More bridge builders; fewer automobile workers, television technicians, clothing workers, farmers.

And consider Chapter 5 as well, entitled “Taxes Discourage Production”.

In our modern world there is never the same percentage of income tax levied on everybody. The great burden of income taxes is imposed on a minor percentage of the nation’s income; and these income taxes have to be supplemented by taxes of other kinds. These taxes inevitably affect the actions and incentives of those from whom they are taken. When a corporation loses a hundred cents of every dollar it loses, and is permitted to keep only fifty-two cents of every dollar it gains, and when it cannot adequately offset its years of losses against its years of gains, its policies are affected. It does not expand its operations, or it expands only those attended with a minimum of risk. People who recognize this situation are deterred from starting new enterprises. Thus old employers do not give more employment, or not as much more as they might have; and others decide not to become employers at all. Improved machinery and better-equipped factories come into existence much more slowly than they otherwise would. The result in the long run is that consumers are prevented from getting better and cheaper products to the extent that they otherwise would, and that real wages are held down, compared with what they might have been.

There is a similar effect when personal incomes are taxed 50, 60 or 70 percent. People begin to ask themselves why they should work six, eight or nine months of the entire year for the government, and only six, four or three months for themselves and their families. If they lose the whole dollar when they lose, but can keep only a fraction of it when they win, they decide that it is foolish to take risks with their capital. In addition, the capital available for risk-taking itself shrinks enormously. It is being taxed away before it can be accumulated. In brief, capital to provide new private jobs is first prevented from coming into existence, and the part that does come into existence is then discouraged from starting new enterprises. The government spenders create the very problem of unemployment that they profess to solve.

Why anyone would consider a man who has never held a private sector job for any length of time is beyond me. That article explains that Sanders has only ever collected unemployment or worked in government jobs. My cashier at Chick-Fil-A understands more about economics than this fool.

Trump supported the bank bailout and auto bailout, Cruz opposes all bailouts

Donald Trump and his friends, the Clintons
Donald Trump and his friends, the Clintons

I have two friends who are Trump supporters. I’ve been going over Trump’s record with them, and I thought that I would blog some of the evidence I presented here.

Now, the conservative view of bailouts is that we should not have them, because in a free market economy, companies that cannot serve customers efficiently (low price, high quality) must be allowed to go bankrupt. That includes banks and auto manufacturers.

Where does Trump stand? Here is a transcript of an appearance on Fox News from 2008, where he embraced the bank bailouts:

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, Donald Trump saying, anything close to that $700 billion bailout would be a black eye for an economy he says rushing into one big depression.

Real estate mogul Donald Trump joins me now on the phone.

[…]

TRUMP: […]Now, I did not know about a $700 billion bailout, in all fairness. And I think probably, it is something — it’s sad, but, probably, it’s something that has to get done, because your financial system is most likely going to come to a halt if it does not. So, it is a pretty sad day for this country.

This Daily Caller article explains Trump’s view on auto bailouts:

Faced with crushing debts caused by poor management and high labor costs, GM and Chrysler requested federal assistance to keep the firms afloat, and were granted a $25 billion loan in the fall of 2008. President George Bush then secured more than $17 billion for the companies.

This occurred months before the birth of the Tea Party, but conservatives were outraged.

Not Trump. A longtime advocate of sweetheart deals between corporation and state, the real-estate developer went all in for the deal.

“[Y]ou have to try and save the companies,” Trump said in a separate 2008 Fox News interview. “And I think you can easily save the companies.”

Ted Cruz opposes auto bailouts and bank bailouts.

Cruz was asked in a 2012 run-off debate if the federal government should have bailed out General Motors, and here is his answer:

Of course we shouldn’t have. We’ve got a problem in Washington. We’ve got career politicians in both parties that spend the taxpayer money. That’s how we’ve gotten a $16 trillion dollar debt that is bankrupting our country. I don’t support bailouts, period. I don’t support the bailout of the auto companies. I don’t support the bailout of the banks. Government shouldn’t be in the business of spending taxpayer money to help private corporations. The role of government is to protect our rights, to protect our national security, to ensure rule of law and to stay out of the way and let entrepreneurs create jobs. And the problem with Washington is career politicians spending money and digging us into a hole that is threatening the economic future of our nation.

Cruz doesn’t even like the government giving companies subsidies, much less bailouts. It’s taxpayer money, it should not go to corporations that cannot compete fair and square.

Trump also supported Obama’s pork-filled stimulus spending bill:

President Obama held his first prime-time press briefing — designed to build support for the economic stimulus package that was his top priority upon taking office — on Feb. 9, 2009. Later that same night, real estate mogul Donald Trump took to the airwaves to sing the plan’s — and the president’s — praises.

“I thought he did a terrific job,” Trump told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren. “This is a strong guy knows what he wants, and this is what we need.”

“First of all, I thought he did a great job tonight,” said Trump. “I thought he was strong and smart, and it looks like we have somebody that knows what he is doing finally in office, and he did inherit a tremendous problem. He really stepped into a mess, Greta.”

Van Susteren then asked Trump if a simple payroll tax holiday might be a better way to stimulate the flagging economy. Trump, however, held firm in his support for Obama’s plan, which he praised for the wide breadth of approaches it took to combatting the crisis.

[…]“Well, I have analyzed the bill as closely as it can be analyzed in this quick a period of time, but he’s really got a combination of both,” Trump replied. “He is doing the taxes, he is doing rebates, and he is also doing lots of public works.”

His support for public works spending reminded me of a chapter from Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson” on public works, in which he explains that public works can never stimulate the economy, since it takes money out of the productive private sector and spends it in the wasteful and corrupt public sector. The chapter is entitled “Public Works Means Taxes”.

It says:

Two arguments are put forward for the bridge, one of which is mainly heard before it is built, the other of which is mainly heard after it has been completed. The first argument is that it will provide employment. It will provide, say, 500 jobs for a year. The implication is that these are jobs that would not otherwise have come into existence.

This is what is immediately seen. But if we have trained ourselves to look beyond immediate to secondary consequences, and beyond those who are directly benefited by a government project to others who are indirectly affected, a different picture presents itself. It is true that a particular group of bridgeworkers may receive more employment than otherwise. But the bridge has to be paid for out of taxes. For every dollar that is spent on the bridge a dollar will be taken away from taxpayers. If the bridge costs $10 million the taxpayers will lose $10 million. They will have that much taken away from them which they would otherwise have spent on the things they needed most.

There is no free lunch. Someone has to pay.

Listen to me. This economy is not doing well. We are going to have more debt, higher taxes, and lower public services the further we go down the path of socialism. It’s fun to spend money on all sorts of bailouts, but the money is not unlimited. Bailing out private businesses and giving them subsidies costs taxpayer money. Eventually, that runs out. We need a candidate who understands this, and that candidate is Ted Cruz, not Donald Trump.

Is there any downside to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour?

They told me if I voted Republican, we'd lose jobs, and they were right!
They told me if I voted Republican, we’d lose jobs, and they were right!

This article is from the libertarian Reason.com. They’re terrible at social issues, but really really good at economics.

They write:

Raising the minimum wage like this is an idea that’s become increasingly common amongst more liberal Democratic politicians and policymakers: The city of Seattle, Washington passed a law raising its minimum wage to $15 last year, and the Los Angeles city council voted to follow suit. Soon after, New York state announced a plan to raise the minimum wage of all fast food workers to $15, and the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, recently said he believes it should apply to all workers.

Many of these plans start from the assumption, implicitly or explicitly, that these minimum wage hikes would be relatively cost-free, pointing to several studies seeming to show that increases in the minimum wage don’t have much effect on jobs.

Here is what the author of some of the most influential of those studies, former Obama administration economic adviser Alan B. Krueger, had to say about raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour in an op-ed for The New York Times last week:

15 an hour is beyond international experience, and could well be counterproductive. Although some high-wage cities and states could probably absorb a $15-an-hour minimum wage with little or no job loss, it is far from clear that the same could be said for every state, city and town in the United States.

Krueger goes on to warn of greater risk, and the potential for “severe” trade-offs, if policymakers pursue a $15 minimum wage, warning that it would go beyond what any research supports. Ultimately, he concludes, it is  “a risk not worth taking.”

Krueger wasn’t disowning his own work or abandoning his position. He still supports raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour over a period of years, which he thinks could be done with essentially no job loss.

There are some reasons to be skeptical of that claim too: The Congressional Budget Office, which generally tries to take a moderate approach to economic evidence and put its estimates right in the middle of the consensus range, found that even a more modest hike to $10.10 an hour nationally would most likely cost about a half a million jobs, and while it’s possible such a raise might produce minimal job loss, it’s equally possible that it would cost a million jobs.

Overall, as David Neumark and William Wascher have found, the bulk of the evidence from research into the minimum wage suggests that hikes tend to decrease employment.

Let’s review the facts on minimum wage.

Abstract from a National Bureau of Economic Research study:

We estimate the minimum wage’s effects on low-skilled workers’ employment and income trajectories. Our approach exploits two dimensions of the data we analyze. First, we compare workers in states that were bound by recent increases in the federal minimum wage to workers in states that were not. Second, we use 12 months of baseline data to divide low-skilled workers into a “target” group, whose baseline wage rates were directly affected, and a “within-state control” group with slightly higher baseline wage rates. Over three subsequent years, we find that binding minimum wage increases had significant, negative effects on the employment and income growth of targeted workers.

[…]Over the late 2000s, the average effective minimum wage rose by 30 percent across the United States. We estimate that these minimum wage increases reduced the national employment-to-population ratio by 0.7 percentage point.

That comes out to 1.4 million workers who lost their jobs, thanks to minimum wage mandates. And those are primarily young, unskilled workers who are affected – people trying to get a start in the workplace and build their resumes, so they can move up.

Harvard economist Greg Mankiw explains the top 14 views that a majority professional economists agree on, and here’s #12:

12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)

This is not controversial. This is the kind of basic “how America works” economics stuff that people used to learn in their civics classes before the schools became so politicized.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse lectures on basic economics

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Here is a podcast on basic economics from Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.

About the speaker:

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the founder and President of the Ruth Institute — a project of the National Organization for Marriage — which seeks to promote life-long married love to college students by creating an intellectual and social climate favorable to marriage.

She is also the Senior Research Fellow in Economics at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.

She is the author of Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love in a Hook-up World, (2005) and Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn’t Work (2001), recently reissued in paperback, as Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village.

Dr. Morse served as a Research Fellow for Stanford University’s Hoover Institution from 1997-2005. She received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester in 1980 and spent a postdoctoral year at the University of Chicago during 1979-80. She taught economics at Yale University and George Mason University for 15 years.

The MP3 file is here.

Topics:

  • The study of economics is anti-postmodern – there is objective truth independent of what people think
  • The study of economics believes in fixed principles of human nature
  • Economics studies the allocation of scarce resources that have alternative uses
  • Economics studies how people exchange resources
  • How both people who engage in a voluntary trade always believe that they will be better off
  • How both people who engage in a voluntary trade both benefit from the exchange
  • How incentives motivate people to act
  • Understanding supply and demand
  • Understanding how “free” government services are rationed
  • Understanding opportunity costs
  • How prices signal producers to produce more or less, and consumers to buy or not buy
  • Market-driven prices versus price controls
  • The role of substitution
  • The necessity of allowing failure in a free market

The requirements of economic growth:

  • private property
  • contracts
  • the profit motive
  • competition
  • free trade
  • entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation
  • the rule of law

If you want to learn more about basic economics, I recommend picking up a book or two by Thomas Sowell – the first book I usually give away is “Intellectuals and Society”, and then next “Basic Economics”.

Do tax hikes, welfare spending and minimum wage hikes lower income inequality?

Here’s Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore to explain.

He writes:

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently appeared on one of the late night talk shows, beating the class warfare drum and arguing for billions of dollars in new social programs paid for with higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires. In recent years, though, blue states such as California, Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland and Minnesota adopted this very strategy, and they raised taxes on their wealthy residents. How did it work out? Almost all of these states lag behind the national average in growth of jobs and incomes.

So, if income redistribution policies are the solution to shrinking the gap between rich and poor, why do they fail so miserably in the states?

The blue states that try to lift up the poor with high taxes, high welfare benefits, high minimum wages and other Robin Hood policies tend to be the places where the rich end up the richest and the poor the poorest.

California is the prototypical example. It has the highest tax rates of any state. It has very generous welfare benefits. Many of its cities have a high minimum wage. But day after day, the middle class keeps leaving. The wealthy areas such as San Francisco and the Silicon Valley boom. Yet the state has nearly the highest poverty rate in the nation. The Golden State, alas, has become the inequality state.

In a new report called “Rich States, Poor States” that I write each year for the American Legislative Exchange Council with Arthur Laffer and Jonathan Williams, we find that five of the highest-tax blue states in the nation—California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois—lost some 4 million more U.S. residents than entered these states over the last decade. Meanwhile, the big low-tax red states—Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia—gained about this many new residents.

What’s wrong? Isn’t raising taxes, growing government and spending more on welfare supposed to make reduce income inequality? Well, the trouble is that you need to think about things from the point of view of the people who create the jobs. People who want to start a business prefer to move to states where they can keep more of the money they earned. So, that’s why there is a mass exodus from states that don’t allow job creators to keep the money they earn. And naturally, they hire workers in their new state once they get there. Eventually people in the high-tax states move to where the jobs are, too.

Stephen Moore has actually measured it:

The least “regressive” tax states [high tax states] had average population growth from 2003 to 2013 that lagged below the national trend. The 10 most highly “regressive” tax states [low tax states], including nine with no state income tax, had population growth on average 4 percent above the U.S. average. Why was that? Because states without income taxes have twice the job growth of states with high tax rates. 

[…]Ohio University economist Richard Vedder and I compared the income gap in states with higher tax rates, higher minimum wages and more welfare benefits with states on the other side of the policy spectrum. There was no evidence that states with these liberal policies had helped the poor much and, in many cases, these states recorded more income inequality than other states as measured by the left’s favorite statistic called the Gini Coefficient.

[…]The 19 states with minimum wages above the $7.25 per hour federal minimum do not have lower income inequality. States with a super minimum wage—such as Connecticut ($9.15), California ($9.00), New York ($8.75), and Vermont ($9.15)—have significantly wider gaps between rich and poor than states without a super minimum wage.

No, I am not an economist, but I think that this is because the real minimum wage is ZERO, and that’s what more people in high minimum wage states make compared to people in low minimum wage states. If Seattle raises the minimum wage to $15 and the workers end up making the real minimum wage (ZERO) because job creators can’t pay them, then naturally the gap between rich and poor increases.

I think it’s always a good idea for people to think about things from the point of view of the small business job creator, and it all makes sense. If you want to get trained in how to do this, I recommend picking up introductory books by economists like Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman or even F.A. Hayek. The goal here is to achieve good results, not to have good intentions.