Tag Archives: Tax Credit

International tests show US children lagging despite record spending on education

Jay Richards tweeted this article from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Since 1998, the Program for International Student Assessment, or Pisa, has ranked 15-year-old kids around the world on common reading, math and science tests. The U.S. brings up the middle—again—among 65 education systems that make up fourth-fifths of the global economy. The triennial Pisa report also shows—again—that East Asian countries like Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea produce the best outcomes.

U.S. performance hasn’t budged in a decade. For 2012, U.S. students placed 26th in mathematics, a bit below the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average, and 17th in reading and 21st in science, close to the average. The U.S. slipped in all categories compared to international competitors, plunging from 11th in reading as recently as 2009.

American teenagers seem especially weak in core academic subjects with high cognitive demands, such as translating concepts into solutions for real-world problems. A quarter never become proficient in math. In Shanghai and Korea, the comparable figure is 10% or fewer. Some 7% of U.S. students reached the top two scientific performance levels, compared with 17% in Finland and an amazing 27% in Shanghai. Is it tiger moms or tiger schools, or maybe both?

The U.S. is way out front in one measure: per-student spending. Only Austria, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland spend more. Despite laying out $115,000 per head, the U.S. did no better than the Slovak Republic, which spends $53,000.

Perhaps most depressingly, the data show no statistically significant U.S. achievement improvement over time. None. In an era when it pays to be thankful for small mercies, at least we’re not getting worse, but America’s relative standing is falling as other countries improve.

[…]Massachusetts has been running public schools since 1635 and today is home to some of the best performers in the nation. The state entered Pisa as if it was its own country—but students of the same age in Shanghai performed as if they had two more years of math instruction than those in the Bay State.

[…]Pisa also adds another count to the bill of indictment for the Democrats who block reform to serve their teachers union patrons. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the report “a picture of educational stagnation,” but liberals are major impediments to more accountability, merit-based compensation and school-choice competition. The Justice Department has even gone so far as to sue Louisiana to block its modest voucher program, which is a moral crime against the students consigned to failing schools.

There are a few areas of economics that I think that Christians really ought to understand, and education is one of them. We definitely need to be concerned about policies that make it harder for poor, minority students to get ahead. We keep throwing money at the unionized public school system, and we get no results. We need to think about making education more like online shopping. What makes online shopping great is choice and competition. If schools were allowed to compete with one another, then the customer would be assured of getting more quality for less money. The public school system is a monopoly, and it serves the teachers and the education bureaucrats – not the children.

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Republican senator Mike Lee introduces bill to cut taxes on parents

National Review reports on a new tax cut plan from Republican senator Mike Lee.

Excerpt:

Today at AEI, Senator Mike Lee of Utah introduced an idea that’s been missing in Congress for a long time: A conservative tax-reform plan that aims to improve opportunity and reduce the bias against families inherent in the U.S. tax code.

It would significantly simplify how individual income taxes work, and result in a large tax cut on families with children, especially married ones: The system would be reduced to just two brackets — 15 percent on all income below $87,850 (at which the rate currently jumps from 25 percent to 28 percent) and 35 percent on all income above that. Most interestingly, though, it would provide much more compensation in the tax code for raising children: “The centerpiece” of the plan, as Lee put it, is a $2,500 tax credit per child under the age of 16, which would reduce what parents owe in income taxes dollar-for-dollar, and if that’s reduced to zero, what they owe in payroll taxes, too. (The tax code currently provides a combination of a tax deduction for children, which only reduces the amount of one’s income that’s subject to the income tax and isn’t, for most couples, nearly as valuable per dollar, and a smaller tax credit.)

That represents a significant tax cut on a lot of middle-income earners, but a number of tax expenditures (deductions and credits) would be eliminated, and some would be smartly restricted — the mortgage-interest deduction, for instance, would be capped at $300,000 in principal, as Lee says, “focusing the deduction on the families and communities who need it the most.” He highlights a “new charitable deduction that would be available to all taxpayers,” which would be available to people who don’t currently itemize their deductions (lower-income Americans, for one). The “marriage penalty” would be eliminated, because the bracket sizes would now just be doubled for married couples (preserving a “marriage bonus” for many couples).

[…]The plan hasn’t been scored for its revenue effects, but it seems likely, overall, to reduce the receipts of the federal income tax slightly. Over the long term, though, while this isn’t the main intent, a rise in fertility and increased investment in raising children should go a ways to reducing America’s long-term fiscal gap (AEI’s Jim Pethokoukis likes to refer to such an idea as a “human-capital tax cut” — while, again, it’s about fixing a distortion in the tax code and not adding one, at the margins it’s a big tax cut for having children).

So often on this blog, I post articles critical of Democrats, but not much about what Republicans want to do. Here’s an example of what Republicans want to do.

Santorum campaign relies on donated buses and door-to-door campaigning

From socially liberal Business Week.

Excerpt:

With minimal campaign organization and less funds than his rivals, Santorum has boosted his campaign with the votes of a network of evangelical Christians, anti-abortion rights activists and home-schooling parents who are resisting frontrunner Mitt Romney. In a March 8-11 national Bloomberg Poll, likely voters who described themselves as “born again” or evangelical Christian backed Santorum by 42 percent compared with 28 percent for Romney.

“Romney’s inability to close out the race has given Santorum a golden opportunity to unite social conservatives behind him, and they are getting in line,” said Keith Appell, a Republican public relations executive who works with social conservative groups.

Parents who home school their children are spreading the message on Facebook. Southern Baptist pastors are promoting Santorum’s candidacy to their members. Anti-abortion rights advocates are boarding the “Rick Bus” for multi-state voter mobilization tours.

Two days before Tennessee’s primary, Santorum attended services on March 4 at the Bellevue Baptist Church, a 7,000- member organization in the Memphis suburbs.

[…]Santorum won the state’s primary.

Such efforts are helping the former Pennsylvania senator compensate for a campaign operation that trails Romney in every measure of strength: money, staff, and organization.

Romney raised $63 million for his campaign through January, compared with $7 million by Santorum. Santorum had spent $148,806 on salaries and benefits through January; Romney’s personnel costs have exceeded $4.5 million. Santorum recently opened a national campaign headquarters in Virginia; Romney’s offices near Boston Harbor have been open nearly a year.

He’s tapping into well organized yet loosely affiliated groups of activists whose leaders consider Santorum one of them. “Santorum has piggybacked on the top of other existing grassroots networks,” said Cleta Mitchell, his campaign counsel. “They’re basically activating their networks on his behalf.”

[…]Romney and a political action committee supporting him ran 64 percent of the commercials that aired in Mississippi and Alabama in the month before the primaries, compared to just 15 percent aired by Santorum’s backers, according to data from New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising.

The article tries to paint Santorum as a social conservative, and he is. But he also has a solid economic plan, that’s targeted to the middle class, and especially manufacturing. Basically, Romney is burning through millions and millions of dollars to buy the nomination. But ordinary conservatives, especially social conservatives, like Rick Santorum best.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum’s economic plan is good for Ohio and Ohioans

From the Wall Street Journal, a column by Rick Santorum.

Excerpt:

[I]n my first 100 days as president, I’ll submit to Congress and work to pass a comprehensive pro-growth and pro-family Economic Freedom Agenda. Here are 10 of its main initiatives:

  • Unleash America’s energy. I’ll approve the Keystone Pipeline for jobs and energy security, and sign an order on day one unleashing America’s domestic energy production, allowing states to choose where they want to explore for oil and natural gas and to set their own regulations for hydrofracking.
  • Stop job-killing regulation. All Obama administration regulations that have an economic burden over $100 million will be repealed, including the Environmental Protection Agency rule on CO2 emissions that’s already shut down six power plants. I’ll review all regulations, making sure they use sound science and cost benefit analysis.
  • A pro-growth, pro-family tax policy. I’ll submit to Congress comprehensive tax policies to strengthen opportunity in our country, with only two income tax rates of 10% and 28%. To help families, I’ll triple the personal deduction for children and eliminate the marriage tax penalty.
  • Restore America’s competitiveness. The corporate tax rate should be halved, to a flat rate of 17.5%. Corporations should be allowed to expense all business equipment and investment. Taxes on corporate earnings repatriated from overseas should be eliminated to bring home manufacturing. I’ll take the lead on tort reform to lower costs to consumers.
  • Rein in spending. I’ll propose spending cuts of $5 trillion over five years, including cuts for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. I’ll propose budgets that spend less money each year than prior years, and I’ll reduce the nondefense-related federal work force by at least 10%, without replacing them with private contractors.
  • Repeal and replace ObamaCare. I’ll submit legislation to repeal ObamaCare, and on day one issue an executive order ending related regulatory obligations on the states. I’ll work with Congress to replace ObamaCare with competitive insurance choices to improve quality and limit the costs of health care, while protecting those with uninsurable health conditions. In contrast, Gov. Romney signed into law RomneyCare, which provided the model for ObamaCare. Its best-known feature is its overreaching individual health-care mandate. But it shares over a dozen other similarities with ObamaCare and has given Massachusetts the highest health-care premiums in the nation, and longer waits for health care.
  • Balance the budget. I’ll submit to Congress a budget that will balance within four years and call on Congress to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution which limits federal spending to 18% of GDP.
  • Negotiate and submit free trade agreements. Because many Americans work for companies which export, I’ll initiate negotiations in the first 100 days and submit to Congress five free trade agreements during my first year in office to increase exports.
  • Reform entitlements. I’ll cut means-tested entitlement programs by 10% across the board, freeze them for four years, and block grant them to states—as I did as the author of welfare reform in 1996. I’ll reform Medicare and Social Security so they are fiscally sustainable for seniors and young people.
  • Revive housing. I’ll submit plans to Congress to phase out within several years Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s federal housing role, reform and make transparent the Federal Reserve, and allow families whose mortgages are “underwater” to deduct losses from the sale of their home in order to get a fresh start in difficult economic times.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Santorum’s a “supply-sider for the working man“.

Rick Santorum

What does Rick Santorum’s economic plan do?

From the Wall Street Journal, a column by Rick Santorum.

Excerpt:

[I]n my first 100 days as president, I’ll submit to Congress and work to pass a comprehensive pro-growth and pro-family Economic Freedom Agenda. Here are 10 of its main initiatives:

  • Unleash America’s energy. I’ll approve the Keystone Pipeline for jobs and energy security, and sign an order on day one unleashing America’s domestic energy production, allowing states to choose where they want to explore for oil and natural gas and to set their own regulations for hydrofracking.
  • Stop job-killing regulation. All Obama administration regulations that have an economic burden over $100 million will be repealed, including the Environmental Protection Agency rule on CO2 emissions that’s already shut down six power plants. I’ll review all regulations, making sure they use sound science and cost benefit analysis.
  • A pro-growth, pro-family tax policy. I’ll submit to Congress comprehensive tax policies to strengthen opportunity in our country, with only two income tax rates of 10% and 28%. To help families, I’ll triple the personal deduction for children and eliminate the marriage tax penalty.
  • Restore America’s competitiveness. The corporate tax rate should be halved, to a flat rate of 17.5%. Corporations should be allowed to expense all business equipment and investment. Taxes on corporate earnings repatriated from overseas should be eliminated to bring home manufacturing. I’ll take the lead on tort reform to lower costs to consumers.
  • Rein in spending. I’ll propose spending cuts of $5 trillion over five years, including cuts for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. I’ll propose budgets that spend less money each year than prior years, and I’ll reduce the nondefense-related federal work force by at least 10%, without replacing them with private contractors.
  • Repeal and replace ObamaCare. I’ll submit legislation to repeal ObamaCare, and on day one issue an executive order ending related regulatory obligations on the states. I’ll work with Congress to replace ObamaCare with competitive insurance choices to improve quality and limit the costs of health care, while protecting those with uninsurable health conditions. In contrast, Gov. Romney signed into law RomneyCare, which provided the model for ObamaCare. Its best-known feature is its overreaching individual health-care mandate. But it shares over a dozen other similarities with ObamaCare and has given Massachusetts the highest health-care premiums in the nation, and longer waits for health care.
  • Balance the budget. I’ll submit to Congress a budget that will balance within four years and call on Congress to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution which limits federal spending to 18% of GDP.
  • Negotiate and submit free trade agreements. Because many Americans work for companies which export, I’ll initiate negotiations in the first 100 days and submit to Congress five free trade agreements during my first year in office to increase exports.
  • Reform entitlements. I’ll cut means-tested entitlement programs by 10% across the board, freeze them for four years, and block grant them to states—as I did as the author of welfare reform in 1996. I’ll reform Medicare and Social Security so they are fiscally sustainable for seniors and young people.
  • Revive housing. I’ll submit plans to Congress to phase out within several years Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s federal housing role, reform and make transparent the Federal Reserve, and allow families whose mortgages are “underwater” to deduct losses from the sale of their home in order to get a fresh start in difficult economic times.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Santorum’s a “supply-sider for the working man“.

Rick Santorum