Archive for the ‘Budget’ Category

LinkSwarm for February 23, 2018

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Another week in which I had zero free time! Enjoy a LinkSwarm, and hopefully I’ll have something a little more substantial next week.

  • “Officials Identify More Rotherham Victims, Number Up to 1,510.”
  • Nancy Pelosi wants you to know that keeping more of your own paycheck is “unpatriotic.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Speaking of Pelosi, just how did she triple her net worth during the financial crisis?
  • “President Donald Trump’s immigration hard-liners proved [last] Thursday it is possible to win even when the outcome of a battle is, on paper, a draw.”
  • On a per-capita basis, the United States doesn’t even rank in the top 10 of mass shooting fatalities.
  • “Florida Shooting Survivor Claims CNN Denied His Questions on School Safety, Provided Scripted Questions.” CNN: Potemkin Village media.
  • The experience of Israel proves that the NRA is right on school shootings.
  • “Republicans now sympathize with Israel (as opposed to the Palestinians) by a whopping 52-point margin over Democrats—79 percent to 27 percent—the greatest spread between the two parties in the last 40 years. Republicans have never been more favorably disposed toward Israel, while for Democrats, the opposite holds true.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Remember: When a powerful female liberal Democratic politician sleeps with a married subordinate, it’s different. Because feminism. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Also:

    Within months of taking office, Mayor Megan Barry recommended the adult daughter of the head of her security detail — the man with whom she later admitted to having an affair — be hired for a job in the city’s legal department.

    The daughter got the job.

    The position as an entry-level city attorney was the first newly created job in Nashville’s legal department in two years. It was not part of the existing budget. Barry approved the new job opening. No other candidate was considered.

  • “Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said too many young people do not qualify for military service due in part to obesity and criminal records,” and being too stupid to pass the ASVAB. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Another way in which President Donald Trump is like other recent Republican Presidents: ignoring deficits.
  • Austin experiences a significant uptick in violent crime since 2013.
  • Vox lays off 50 people. I didn’t know they even had 50 people to lay off…
  • Payoffs to college basketball players are widespread.
  • School enrollment at Evergreen State College drops 18.5%. How’s that “All Social Justice Warrior, all the time” format working out for you?
  • Billy Graham, RIP.
  • Boston Dynamics teaches robot to fight back against humans. Joke that follows should be: A.)”, find Sarah Conner,” B.) “What could possibly go wrong?”, or C.) “I for one welcome our new robot overlords!”
  • UK Kentucky Fried Chickens running out of chicken. Verily the endtimes are upon us…
  • Tax Cut Passes, Millions Not Dead

    Thursday, December 21st, 2017

    So tax cut bill finally passed the House and the Senate and is headed to President Donald Trump’s desk to sign.

    Not a single Democrat voted for the bill, House or Senate.

    It’s not a perfect bill, but there are a lot of good features:

  • “Lower Individual Tax Rates. The framework lowers rates for almost every tax bracket. The current seven brackets remain, but with new, generally higher income thresholds and lower rates.” Here’s a table from Business Insider:

  • Larger Standard Deduction. The standard deduction is almost doubled, consolidating the additional standard deduction and personal exemptions into one larger deduction. For married joint filers, the deduction will be $24,000; for single filers, it will be $12,000. The expanded deduction simplifies tax filing by cutting the percentage of tax filers who will need to itemize their deductions in half. Approximately nine of 10 taxpayers will simply claim the new standard deduction.”
  • Lowered corporate tax rate to 21% down from a highest-in-the-world 35%.
  • Short-term business expensing incentives:

    Temporary Expensing. The bill expands the current-law 50 percent bonus depreciation for new short-lived capital investments to 100 percent or “full expensing” for five years and then phases out over the subsequent five years. Expensing allows companies to deduct the cost of investments immediately and removes a current tax bias against investment.

    The bill also expands expensing for small businesses under Section 179 by raising the cap on eligible investment from $500,000 to $1 million. The phaseout increases from a $2 million cap to a $2.5 million cap on total equipment purchases. In 2022, businesses will no longer be able expense their research and development costs; this is a step in the wrong direction toward longer write-off schedules rather than toward expensing.

  • “For a vast majority of Americans, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will lower their federal tax bill in 2018. This is accomplished through lower tax rates, a larger standard deduction, and an expanded child tax credit. Most of the individual tax changes revert to current law before 2025 to meet political constraints and Senate budget rules. Although temporary tax policy is never ideal, the expirations give Congress an incentive to revisit the tax code in the coming years to provide more far-reaching and permanent reform.”
  • The hated ObamaCare mandate has been eliminated.
  • The not-great part:

    Many Special-Interest Subsidies Remain. A large subsidy for domestic manufacturing is eliminated, but most other credits and deductions marked for repeal in the original House bill remain in the conference report. Among the surviving subsidies are tax credits for electric vehicles, wind-energy production, energy-efficient buildings, historic rehabilitation, orphan drugs, new market investments, and employer-provided child care. The conference report also adds a new tax credit for employers who provide paid family and medical leave.

    The tax foundation estimates that taxes will go down for almost every household.

    The reaction from various businesses was swift: AT&T, Comcast, Wells Fargo and Boeing all announced they’ll be handing out raises and bonuses in the wake of the bill’s passage.

    Despite predictions to the contrary, America still seems to be intact and millions have not been slain in the wake of its passage.

    Comparing the House and Senate Tax Plans

    Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

    If the turkey hasn’t already put you into a stupefied coma, then perhaps this detailed breakdown of the differences between the House and Senate tax bills should do the trick!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    LinkSwarm for October 27, 2017

    Friday, October 27th, 2017

    Let’s take a break from talking about Hillary Clinton’s scandals so we can talk about Barack Obama’s scandals. At the end of the day, though, there’s a significant chance they all tie up together in one giant knotted scandal tangle…

  • “‘Smoking gun’ email reveals Obama DOJ blocked conservative groups from settlement funds“:

    While Eric Holder was U.S. attorney general, the Justice Department allowed prosecutors to strike agreements compelling big companies to give money to outside groups not connected to their cases to meet settlement burdens. Republican lawmakers long have decried those payments as a “slush fund” that boosted liberal groups, and the Trump DOJ ended the practice earlier this year.

    But internal Justice Department emails released Tuesday by Goodlatte indicated that not only were officials involved in determining what organizations would get the money, but also Justice Department officials may have intervened to make sure the settlements didn’t go to conservative groups.

    In one such email in July 2014, a senior Justice Department official expressed “concerns” about what groups would receive settlement money from Citigroup — saying they didn’t want money going to a group that does “conservative property-rights legal services.”

  • The IRS has finally admitted that it illegally targeted conservatives:

    In an unprecedented victorious conclusion to our years-long legal battle against the IRS, the bureaucratic agency has just admitted in federal court that it wrongfully targeted Tea Party and conservative groups during the Obama Administration and issued an apology to our clients for doing so. In addition, the IRS is consenting to a court order that would prohibit it from ever engaging in this form of unconstitutional discrimination in the future.

    In a proposed Consent Order filed with the Court yesterday, the IRS has apologized for its treatment of our clients (36 Tea Party and other conservative organizations from 20 states that applied for 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) tax-exempt status with the IRS between 2009 and 2012) during the tax-exempt determinations process. Crucially, following years of denial by the IRS and blame-shifting by IRS officials, the agency now expressly admits that its treatment of our clients was wrong.

  • House Republicans manage to pass something resembling a budget. Is it a good or bad budget? “Answer cloudy, ask again later.”
  • How Democrats committed political suicide passing the assault weapons ban in 1994.

    “So mostly everybody is like jumping for joy. And I’m walking around like a zombie. But nobody really gave a damn what my feelings were. So I went back to the office and I got a call from Congressman [Jack] Brooks who is the congressman from Texas and Chairman of [the Judiciary] committee and he said, ‘Well you just lost me my seat.’ And he and I had a good relationship. I said, ‘Well, you voted against it. The president doesn’t want you to do anything going forward that would jeopardize you. And if we come back from the conference and all that stuff…’ And he was just really down, down, down… He said, ‘my seat is done.’”

    Snip.

    In all, eight Democratic Senators lost their races and 54 Democratic House members too. The list included those who opposed the assault weapons ban but reluctantly voted for it (like Speaker Tom Foley) and those who had tried to strip the crime bill of the assault weapons ban, like Brooks.

  • Left-wing heroes that treat women like garbage. In addition to Harvey and Teddy, there’s Bill Clinton, Andreas Baader, several Black Panthers, and assorted “male feminists,” though it occasionally veers into the weeds.
  • What Harvey Weinstein tells us about the liberal world.”

    Harvey Weinstein seemed to fit right in. This is a form of liberalism that routinely blends self-righteousness with upper-class entitlement. That makes its great pronouncements from Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons. That routinely understands the relationship between the common people and showbiz celebrities to be one of trust and intimacy.

    Countless people who should have known better are proclaiming their surprise at Harvey Weinstein’s alleged abuses. But in truth, their blindness is even more sweeping than that. They are lost these days in a hall of moral mirrors, weeping tears of admiration for their own virtue and good taste.

    You know what’s really shocking? That piece is from liberal commentator Thomas What’s the Matter With Kansas Frank…

  • Besides Hollywood, you know what other powerful liberal establishment is full of sexual harassers? The EU Parliament.
  • Joe Bob Briggs on how illegal aliens knock Americans off the lowest rungs of the economic ladder:

    One of the cruelest things we do to prisoners is pump them up with the idea that, if they educate themselves in prison and learn a trade, they will be able to work when they get out. This is a lie. They probably won’t be able to work, because, aside from typical job-interview demerits like too many nasty facial tattoos, that felony conviction automatically eliminates them on most application forms. As late as the ’70s, in Arkansas, it was considered a badge of civic pride if you hired a couple of convicts and a couple of blind, deaf, or wheelchair-bound citizens at your business—which is why we didn’t use the term “hardcore” for any of the unemployed.

    Would it be a stretch to say all these convicts have been replaced by young able-bodied illegals? I don’t think so.

    Snip.

    “Get rid of the illegal Mexicans and see how fast that wage goes up to $15 on its own, no government intervention needed.”

  • “Tucker Carlson: If Robots Are Killing Jobs, Why Allow 1M Low-Skilled Workers To Immigrate Legally?” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Flake flakes.
  • Boston “fair wage” pizza shop dedicated to “economic justice and healthy food” fails. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Young Chinese are taking a pass on Communist propaganda.
  • Evidently actually reading the Constitution is not a requirement to be head of the DNC. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Another week, another fake hate crime. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • The “sexual assault” allegation against George H. W. Bush is just silly.
  • Program automatically produces Slashdot headlines. Too bad these are fake, as I would totally read “Sun Sues New Star Trek To Stop The Math.”
  • Evergreen cartoon:

  • Debt Limit Deal: Maybe Not Completely Awful?

    Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

    There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the debt deal President Donald Trump made with congressional Democratic leaders that pushes U.S. debt over the $20 trillion mark.

    Is it a bad deal? From my perspective, almost certainly. Debt is an existential threat to the Republic, and I believe that we should reduce spending by eliminating vast swathes of federal government programs (Federal housing sibsidies? End them. Department of Education? Eliminate it. Agribusiness subsides? End them all. Etc.) until the budget is balanced. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about hitting the debt limit at all.

    Sadly, my position seems to be a decidedly minority one in D.C. Since politics is the art of the possible, it’s better to ask: How bad is President Trump’s deal among the constellation of actual debt limit deal possibilities?

    The answer seems to be: Still not great, but maybe not as bad as first impressions.

    It’s possible that President Trump went for the deal because he had no choice, as Republican congressional leadership was woefully unprepared on the issue:

    With much of the Washington Republican establishment still grumbling about President Donald Trump’s decision earlier this week to strike a deal with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, one prominent member of the House Freedom Caucus took to the Sunday Talk Shows to deliver what sounded like the faction’s official response to the week’s events.

    In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan struck a delicate balance: criticizing the consequences of the president’s decision without impugning the man himself.

    Jordan explained that while the Trump-Schumer-Pelosi deal wouldn’t be “good for the American taxpayer” the president can be excused for agreeing to it because Republicans in Congress failed to provide him with a suitable alternative.

    And just like that, a member of the House’s most intransigent, conservative faction – the group that almost singlehandedly crushed the Trump administration’s health-care ambitions – turning the blame for Trump’s debt-ceiling can-kicking, and the powerful leverage that Democrats gained because of it, back on the president’s favorite opponents: Congressional Republicans.

    Here’s Jordan:

    I don’t think this was a good deal for the American taxpayer. We didn’t go anything to address the underlying $20 trillion debt but frankly what options did the president have in front of him? The first time the Republican conference talked about the debt ceiling was Sunday morning. And the Freedom Caucus had called for, nine and a half weeks ago, we said ‘don’t leave town until you have a plan on the debt ceiling’ and instead we went home for the longest August recess in a decade, longer even than in elections years.

    Indeed, the deal House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted was actually worse for conservatives:

    Trump on Wednesday agreed to the proposal of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to increase the national-debt limit for three months, and attach that to emergency aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey. But just days earlier, conservatives had been wringing their hands in fear that Schumer would turn the debt ceiling into the Democrats’ newest set of brass knuckles.

    If not for the high-profile urgency of, in essence, stapling the debt limit to Harvey assistance, the pressing need to re-charge Uncle Sam’s credit card would have given Schumer a fresh way to beat up Republicans. Absent Harvey, Schumer and his band of toughs would have kidnapped the debt limit in exchange for something else, perhaps “DACA or death!” Instead, the debt-limit increase slid through, behind Harvey’s shield, with no last-minute hostage drama.

    Trump rejected the offer of House speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to extend the debt limit for 18 months, past the 2018 mid-term elections. This would have removed federal borrowing from the list of issues on which the GOP could have run next year. Obama hiked the national debt from $10.6 trillion to $19.9 trillion — a staggering 87.8 percent. That mess, and how to escape it, would have been a worthy GOP issue. Ryan and McConnell largely would have obviated that opportunity.

    Ryan and McConnell’s 18-month proposal also would have deprived Republicans of a priceless “must pass” vehicle to which they could append items that Senate Democrats dislike. The GOP similarly handed Obama multiple long-term debt-limit extensions that prevented Republicans from sending him short-term debt-limit measures that he would have had to sign, notwithstanding amendments that rankled him. Republicans should not deploy the debt limit every month, in order to corner Schumer and Senate Democrats. But mothballing this weapon until spring 2019 smacks of unilateral disarmament.

    From all reports, Ryan and McConnell were ready to drop-kick the debt-limit 18 months down the road, in return for . . . nothing. Even worse, as conservatives correctly complain, they did not tie the debt-limit boost to any structural reforms, such as a cap on federal spending as a share of GDP, adoption of the brilliant Penny Plan (which would balance the budget by cutting total spending by 1 percent every year for eight years), a private-sector audit of every federal department and sub-cabinet agency, or even converting Washington’s books from cash-basis to accrual accounting. Ryan and McConnell promised 18 months of borrowing and spending on autopilot. Trump properly rejected such fiscal brain death.

    Now, in three months, fiscal conservatives can and should append reformist language to the next debt-limit increase. Ryan/McConnell would have denied them that opportunity until nearly two Easters hence.

    If Schumer wanted to demand “DACA or death!” I would have seen how he likes death: no debt limit vote, cut spending until the budget is balanced, and let Schumer explain why it was necessary for welfare recipients to lose their checks so Democrats could amnesty more illegal aliens.

    Like I said, mine seems to be a minority viewpoint.

    There are also reports that the deal is written in such a way that McConell might get the last laugh:

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote in some “extraordinary” provisions to the debt ceiling bill that could mean there won’t be another debt ceiling fight in 2017 after all, he revealed on “The New Washington” podcast Monday.

    McConnell insisted, in the face of Democrats’ objections, that the bill be written to preserve the Treasury’s ability to extend federal borrowing power by moving money around within government accounts. In layman’s terms, that means the Republicans can work around the December debt limit deadline and push that issue into 2018.

    All this is just rearranging deck chairs on the Debtanic as long as the driving motivation for current congressional leadership is avoiding bad poll numbers rather than actual conservative governance. But short of a debt deal that includes spine replacement surgery for congressional leadership, there seems precious little chance of congress fulfilling any of the myriad conservative promises they made when Obama occupied the White House.

    LinkSwarm for September 8, 2017

    Friday, September 8th, 2017

    It would be swell if I could stop leading the LinkSwarm off with hurricane-related news, but Irma is now a class five hurricane headed straight at Florida. If you’re in any evacuation zones, heed authorities, as this does not look like a storm you want to ride out in place unless you have to. Hsoi’s preparedness checklist is also a good thing to go over earlier rather than later.

  • One reason President Donald Trump had to act on DACA: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other states were threatening to sue to end Obama unconstitutional backdoor amnesty program.
  • “¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Obama lawyer who worked on DACA admits it’s probably unconstitutional.” And yes, the ASCII Shrugging Emoji is actually in the headline, so it just wouldn’t have felt honest to leave it out…
  • “Trump’s Crackdown on Illegal Aliens is Driving Wage-Growth in US Construction Industry by up to 30%.” In other news: Basic economics have not been repealed by liberal talking points. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Congress passes hurricane relief bill and debt ceiling hike. Both John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted in favor of the bill. I haven’t read the bill, but I’m hoping it’s less stuffed with pork than the Sandy bill.
  • J.J. Watt’s Hurricane Harvey flood relief fundraiser hits $29 million.
  • What it takes to keep HEB stores up and running after a hurricane.

    One of my stores, we had 300 employees; 140 of them were displaced by the flooding. So how do you put your store back together quickly? We asked for volunteers in the rest of the company. We brought over 2,000 partners from Austin, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley. They hopped into cars and they just drove to Houston. They said, we’re here to help. It’s shitty work. For 18 hours a day, they’re going to help us restock and then they’ll go sleep on the couch at somebody’s house.

  • The bribery trial for New jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez gets under way.
  • “It Appears That Out-of-State Voters Changed the Outcome of the New Hampshire U.S. Senate Race.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why Israel had to bomb Syria’s chemical weapons complex. For one thing, it looks like Iran, Assad and Hezbollah will all emerge strengthened from the Syrian civil war…
  • Speaking of Iran, they’re amassing new weaponry. “While all eyes are on North Korea, Iran is advancing its weapons technology. The country recently tested and announced the success of their new Bavar 373 long range, mobile, anti-missile defense system. Everything in the system is manufactured in Iran; it requires no support from outside sources.” However, since Iran has (to my knowledge) no wafer fabrication plants to produce integrated circuits, this statement is almost certainly false, at least as far as electronics goes. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Bulgaria is projected to have the fastest-shrinking population in the world.” I suspect this is a combination of communism (and its aftermath) sucking, of it wrecking disproportionately more damage on backward, mostly rural countries, and of the general trend in Europe toward a modern, unchurched, welfare state society, with its attendant population decline.
  • Betty DeVos vows to dismantle the Obama-era campus kangaroo rape courts. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Twitter Bans Activist Mommy for Tweeting Her Dislike of Teen Vogue’s Anal Sex Guide.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • This is disappointing.
  • Texans handled Harvey better than Louisianans handled Katrina because both their governments and societies are more functional.
  • Another day, another fake hate crime. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • The American Railway union was founded on segregation. “George Pullman famously hired African Americans to work for him. Eugene Debs infamously did not allow African Americans to join his union striking against Pullman’s company.”
  • Al Gore’s new book being outsold by scientist’s book debunking Al Gore.
  • I laughed.
  • TPPF Legislative Update Recap

    Thursday, June 8th, 2017

    Tuesday I attended the Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Legislative Update following the close of the regular 85th Texas Legislative Session. I meant to live-blog it, but I neglected to get the WiFi password before it started, so I ended up live-tweeting it from my iPhone instead.

    So here’s a recap in tweet form of what was discussed.

    The panel was introduced by TPPF Executive Vice President Dr. Kevin Roberts.

    Next was Dr. Vance Ginn, economist at the center for Public Policy.

    Next was James Quintero, who you may remember from this interview on the Texas municipal debt crisis.

    That was Gov. Abbott’s call for a special session, and one of the items on his agenda was indeed property tax reform.

    Next was Stephanie Matthews, Senior Policy Advisor of the Center for Education Freedom.

    ESA mentioned here stands for Education Savings Accounts.

    Next was Dr. Derek Cohen, Deputy Director of the Center for Effective Justice.

    The final panelist was Brandon Logan, Director of the Center for Families and Children.

    In case it’s unclear from the tweet, Logan was not enthused at the prospect of CPS using predictive analytics.

    I hope these tweets give you at least the gist of what was discussed.

    If you want to attend yourself, the Legislative Update has other dates around the state open to the public, so sign up for free tickets in advance if you’re interested.

    Gov. Abbott Calls Special Session

    Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

    On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special session of the Texas Legislature starting July 18:

    Abbott gave legislators an ambitious 19-item agenda to work on — including a so-called “bathroom bill” — after they approve must-pass legislation that they failed to advance during the regular session. An overtime round, Abbott said, was “entirely avoidable.”

    “Because of their inability or refusal to pass a simple law that would prevent the medical profession from shutting down, I’m announcing a special session to complete that unfinished business,” Abbott told reporters. “But if I’m going to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a special session, I intend to make it count.”

    (Ignore the usual Texas Tribune hand-wringing about the “controversial” nature of the bathroom law; it’s just a restoration of the status quo, reversing what the Obama Administration imposed on the nation via executive fiat.)

    Here are Governor Abbott’s 19 items:

  • Teacher pay increase of $1,000
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  • School finance reform commission
  • School choice for special needs students
  • Property tax reform
  • Caps on state and local spending
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  • Speeding up local government permitting process
  • Municipal annexation reform
  • Texting while driving preemption
  • Privacy
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  • Pro-life insurance reform
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  • Extending maternal mortality task force
  • That’s an ambitious agenda…if Texas Speaker Joe Straus, who did so much to thwart so many of those items, let’s any of them pass.

    In an effort to force the special session, [Lieutenant Governor] Patrick had held hostage legislation, known as a “sunset bill,” that would keep some state agencies from closing. That “will be the only legislation on the special session [agenda] until they pass out of the Senate in full,” Abbott said.

    That’s quite defensible from a governance perspective, but it is going to eliminate Lt. Gov. Patrick’s biggest piece of leverage against Straus.

    With fewer items on the agenda, maybe House Republicans will have a chance to concentrate and actually act like Republicans rather than let Straus’ liberal coalition run roughshod over them.

    Texas vs. California Update for May 22, 2017

    Monday, May 22nd, 2017

    We’re in the home stretch of hammering out the Texas biannual state budget, which has to be completed by May 29. Until then, enjoy another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Texas is once again ranked the best state for business, while California is ranked the worst. (Hat tip: Will Franklin’s Twitter feed.)
  • California’s big-government model eats its young:

    In this era of anti-Trump resistance, many progressives see California as a model of enlightenment. The Golden State’s post-2010 recovery has won plaudits in the progressive press from the New York Times’s Paul Krugman, among others. Yet if one looks at the effects of the state’s policies on key Democratic constituencies— millennials, minorities, and the poor—the picture is dismal. A recent United Way study found that close to one-third of state residents can barely pay their bills, largely due to housing costs. When adjusted for these costs, California leads all states—even historically poor Mississippi—in the percentage of its people living in poverty.

    California is home to 77 of the country’s 297 most “economically challenged” cities, based on poverty and unemployment levels. The population of these cities totals more than 12 million. In his new book on the nation’s urban crisis, author Richard Florida ranks three California metropolitan areas—Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego— among the five most unequal in the nation. California, with housing prices 230 percent above the national average, is home to many of the nation’s most unaffordable urban areas, including not only the predictably expensive large metros but also smaller cities such as Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. Unsurprisingly, the state’s middle class is disappearing the fastest of any state.

    California’s young population is particularly challenged. As we spell out in our new report from Chapman University and the California Association of Realtors, California has the third-lowest percentage of people aged 25 to 34 who own their own homes—only New York and Hawaii’s are lower. In San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, the 25-to-34 homeownership rates range from 19.6 percent to 22.6 percent—40 percent or more below the national average.

  • California continues to slouch toward socialized medicine. “California’s current system relies in large part on employer-sponsored insurance, which is still the source of health care coverage for tens of millions of people. That coverage would disappear under SB 562. Instead of receiving coverage financed by their employers, working Californians would see a tax increase of well over $10,000 per year for many middle-income families.” (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)
  • “If you live in California, have a job and pay taxes Governor Jerry Brown would like you to know that you’re a freeloader and he’s tired of your complaining.”
  • “Congratulations, California. You keep electing these same Democrats over and over again. and then you act surprised when they make you one of the most heavily taxed populations in the country. And when you finally raise your voices to protest the out of control taxation and spending, the state party’s titular leader is brazen enough to come straight out and tell you what he really thinks of you.”
  • Has the Democrats latest gas tax hike created an actual tax revolt in California? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • One lawmaker is the target of a recall petition over the tax hike: “Perceived as the most vulnerable of the legislative Democrats who passed Gov. Jerry Brown’s gas and vehicle tax package by a razor-thin margin, freshman state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, faced an intensifying campaign to turn him out of office, potentially depriving his party of the two-thirds majority that allowed them to pass Brown’s infrastructure bill in the first place.”
  • Vance Ginn’s monthly summary of Texas economic data. Lot’s of data, including the fact that all major Texas cities created jobs in 2016 except Houston, which was down just a smidge.
  • San Bernardino could go bankrupt again.
  • Buying a house in Southern California is insane. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • California starts selling bonds for the doomed “high speed rail.”
  • 40-60 “youth” flash mob robs passengers on Oakland BART train. The complete absence of descriptions or pictures cues the astute modern American reader in to the ethnic makeup of the mob. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “Gov. Jerry Brown and state Treasurer John Chiang have a plan to help cover the state’s soaring pension payments: Borrow money at low interest rates and invest it to make a profit. What could go wrong?” I can see it now: “Come on seven! Baby needs a new High Speed Rail!” Also this: “The problem was exacerbated because Brown’s so-called pension “reform” of 2012 failed to significantly rein in retirement costs. Statewide pension debt has increased 36 percent since his changes took effect.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Riverside utilities dispatcher triples salary to nearly $400,000 with state’s 10th largest overtime payout.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • And speaking of California public employees working overtime:

    The time cards Oakland city worker Kenny Lau turned in last year paint a stunning, if not improbable, picture of one man’s work ethic.

    Lau, a civil engineer, often started his days at 10 a.m. and clocked out at 4 a.m., only to get back to work at 10 a.m. for another marathon day. He never took a sick day. He worked every weekend and took no vacation days.

    He worked every holiday, including the most popular ones that shut down much of the nation’s businesses: 12 hours on Thanksgiving and eight hours on Christmas.

    In fact, his time cards show he worked all 366 days of the leap year, at times putting in 90-plus-hour workweeks. He worked so much that he quadrupled his salary. His regular compensation and overtime pay — including benefits, $485,275 — made him the city’s highest-paid worker and the fourth-highest overtime earner of California public employees in 2016.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • The Los Angeles Unified School District has decided it can break federal immigration laws at will. “No immigration officers will be allowed on campus without clearance from the superintendent of schools, who will consult with district lawyers. Until that happens, they won’t be let in, even if they arrive with a legally valid subpoena.” There’s no way such a genius decision could possibly backfire on them… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • How California hurts the poor by jacking up traffic fines. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “San Diego using loophole to hand out large raises during pay freeze.” It’s a blatant attempt to evade Proposition B.
  • An auditor funds the University of California President’s office of Janet Napolitano had a secret slush fund:
    • The Office of the President has accumulated more than $175 million in undisclosed restricted and discretionary reserves;
      as of fiscal year 2015–16, it had $83 million in its restricted reserve and $92 million in its discretionary reserve.

    • More than one-third of its discretionary reserve, or $32 million, came from unspent funds from the campus assessment—an annual charge that the Office of the President levies on campuses to fund the majority of its discretionary operations.
    • In certain years, the Office of the President requested and received approval from the Board of Regents (regents) to
      increase the campus assessment even though it had not spent all of the funds it received from campuses in prior years.

    • The Office of the President did not disclose the reserves it had accumulated, nor did it inform the regents of the annual undisclosed budget that it created to spend some of those funds. The undisclosed budget ranged from $77 million to
      $114 million during the four years we reviewed.

    • The Office of the President was unable to provide a complete listing of the systemwide initiatives, their costs, or an assessment of their continued benefit to the university.
    • While it appears that the Office of the President’s administrative spending increased by 28 percent, or $80 million, from fiscal years 2012–13 through 2015–16, the Office of the President continues to lack consistent definitions of and methods for tracking the university’s administrative expenses.

    An Ex-Obama Administration official with a secret slush fund? What are the odds?

  • Texas continues to attract net in-migration from every region.
  • California wants to tax rockets launched from California into orbit, based on miles traveled away from California. I’m sure many of Texas own spaceflight companies will welcome any business California drives out…
  • Speaking of spaceflight, Elon Musk’s Space X, just like Telsa, is more emblematic of subsidies and special favors than the free market:

    Tesla survives on the back of hefty subsidies paid for by hard-working Americans just barely getting by so that a select few can drive flashy, expensive electric sports cars. These subsidies were originally scheduled to expire later this year, and Tesla is lobbying hard to make sure that taxpayers continue to pay $7,500 per car or more to fund their business model. Tesla even tried to force taxpayers to pay for charging stations that would primarily benefit their business. That is not what Musk’s high priced image managers will tell you, but it’s the truth.

    SpaceX is even worse — its business model isn’t to invest its money developing competing space products that meet the same safety and reliability standards as the rest of the industry. Instead, its business model is to get billions in taxpayer money and push, bend, and demand regulatory special favors. Then, it produces a rocket that is more known for failed launches, long delays, and consistently missed deadlines.

  • How California’s air emission rules went to far.
  • “California may end ban on communists in government jobs.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Bachrach Clothing Stores File for Bankruptcy Protection in Los Angeles.”
  • “California solar installer HelioPower filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada.”
  • Hudson Products relocating from Tulsa to Rosenberg, Texas.
  • “Bay Area bookseller Bill Petrocelli is filing a lawsuit against the state of California, hoping to force a repeal of the state’s controversial ‘Autograph Law.’ The law, booksellers claim, threatens to bury bookstore author signings under red tape and potential liabilities. Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, filed Passage v. Becerra in U.S. District Court for the North District of California, pitting the bookstore against California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra.” As a bookseller on the side, I can tell you that California’s law is particularly asinine and is completely ignorant of the signed book trade.
  • LinkSwarm for May 5, 2017

    Friday, May 5th, 2017

    Happy Cinco de Mayo, the holiday that celebrates the French army getting their asses kicked by Mexicans!

    A bunch of big news that everyone and their dog has been covering at the top of the LinkSwarm:

  • Big News 1: Despite having the House, Senate and White House, House Republicans spinelessly cave on budget negotiations. “It is noteworthy for what it does not include: namely, most of Donald Trump’s and Republicans’ recent campaign promises. The bill does not defund Planned Parenthood. It does not include any of the president’s deep cuts to domestic agencies. Public broadcasting is funded at current levels. The National Endowment for the Arts’ budget is increased. There’s even funding for California’s high-speed rail.”
  • Big News 2: House Republicans also passed an ObamaCare replacement bill.
  • Consensus is that it sucks less than both ObamaCare and the March versions of the bill, but still sucks plenty. The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Chip Roy had this to say in a press release:

    “Today, conservative leaders in the House brought the American people a glimmer of hope that states might save American healthcare from the clutches of a federally controlled and regulated system under Obamacare,” said Roy. “This improved version of the American Health Care Act grants governors the ability to seek waivers from the onerous Obamacare regulations that unfortunately remain in place as the default rule even under this bill. This means governors would have both the opportunity and the burden of leading to free their states from these default regulations.”

    “Further reform remains necessary, however, as the bill retains far too much of Obamacare’s flawed Medicaid expansion, replaces one form of subsidy with an even more expansive one in the form of a refundable tax credit, creates a $138 billion slush fund for insurers, and leaves almost all of Obamacare’s cost-driving regulations and mandates as the federal standard,” Roy continued. “As the bill heads to the Senate, we hope it will be improved, at least by allowing states to opt in to Obamacare rather than forcing states to temporarily, partially opt out.”

  • By one account, the ObamaCare replacement amounts to a $1 trillion tax cut. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • French runoff Presidential elections happen Sunday. The overwhelming favorite Emmanuel Macron is being pummeled by leaked documents (sound familiar?) that suggest he’s been avoiding taxes using offshore accounts. Naturally French prosecutors are ready to pounce…on those spreading the allegations.
  • Texas legislation to repeal sanctuary cities heads to Governor Abbott’s desk.
  • And Travis County sheriff Sally Hernandez even says she’ll obey the law. Imagine that!
  • The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office want police to know that illegal aliens have more rights than American citizens and shouldn’t be prosecuted.
  • President Trump’s insistence on actually enforcing immigration laws is already paying dividends.

    The concrete, realpolitik reason that amnesty is dead is that the appropriate law enforcement policies have been set in motion and they are gaining momentum fast!

    I have long argued that the illegal alien community in the United States is highly fragile. President Trump’s executive order directing Immigration and Customs Authorities and Border Patrol officers to broadly interpret their jurisdiction for capturing and removing illegal aliens has had the immediate effect of decreasing attempts to cross the border as well as inspiring panic in illegal immigrant communities. Police officers and county sheriffs have told me that, even at the height of the Obama era of nonenforcement, illegal aliens shunned the police. Now, in the era of Trump, the possibility of going to work and ending your week in Mexico is a real and potent threat. (This is particularly true if you live, as I do, in Massachusetts). It is a commonplace that law enforcement professionals go to sleep muttering “5% enforcement equals 95% compliance.”

    At the same time, businesses cannot prosper in an environment of uncertainty. The initial impulse of business owners in agriculture and other illegal-alien-heavy industries is to demand, yet again, some succor from the government in terms of work permits for their illegal workers. Just such measures are championed by incoming Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. However, assuming this relief is not forthcoming in the near future (and I’ll get to that in a minute) the only rational policy is for business owners to begin exploring their other options — which might include automation or wage increases.

    When every small business owner in America finally takes paper and pencil and sits down at the kitchen table with their spouse and says “honey, we are going to have to figure out how to make our business work when we can’t hire illegal aliens anymore,” then and only then will the light appear at the end of the tunnel.

    But the key to the problem and the reason for optimism is this: with the law now being enforced, however incrementally, even without funds for more agents, even without funds for the Wall, even without E-Verify, the pressure to re-evaluate in the illegal alien and the business communities will only grow. The success of the policy in reducing the inflow and initiating “self-deportation” will feed back on itself. For years the only salient argument of the open borders advocates on both the right and the left was that enforcing the current laws on the books was impossible. As it becomes obvious how easy, in fact, enforcement is, those advocates will be forced to rely on their more avaricious motives for keeping illegal aliens here.

  • One in four federal inmates is foreign born. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why Hillary lost, Part 6974: Voters who went for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016.
  • Welcome back my friends to the 2016 election that never ends, we’re so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside. There behind the glass is a pile of Hillary’s foreign cash, be careful as you pass, move along, move along. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Even Dianne Feinstein says there’s no evidence of Russian meddling in the election. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • President Trump is more trusted than the national media.
  • Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro decides not to run against Ted Cruz. Smart move.
  • Did a Pakistani ISI assassin defect to India? Sources say: Maybe not.
  • Netflix deletes Bill Nye segment from 1996 that talks about how chromosomes determine sex. When science clashes with the current smelly orthodoxies of liberal dogma, it seems that science gets the axe.
  • Following Victims of Communism Day, here are ten films on the victims of Communism. These appear to be all documentaries.
  • VA official who kept secret wait lists veterans died on fired. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Puerto Rico declares bankruptcy.
  • Is Russia arming the Taliban?
  • “A New Instance of Android Malware is Discovered Every 10 Seconds.”
  • Leftists try to take over the Humble school board.
  • And don’t forget the Rond Rock Bond issue vote this Saturday.
  • Lunatic scumbag street-preacher/tax evader/child molester Tony Alamo dies in prison. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Auction for a treasure trove of early material on the Nation of Islam. Including two manuscripts handwritten by founder Wallace Fard Muhammad, who disappeared in 1934. Alas, the opening bid is a tad steep for my blood…