URLs du Jour


[Political Chicanery]

  • If you can't spot the patsy at the poker table… well, you know how that observation ends. But if you need further assistance, here are the WSJ editorialists: Schumer-Manchin’s Winners and Losers.

    West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin last fall sharply and rightly criticized a bonus tax credit for union-made electric vehicles in the Build Back Better bill. “We shouldn’t use everyone’s tax dollars to pick winners and losers,” he said. Yet that’s exactly what his tax and climate deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer does.

    The 725-page bill is riddled with green goodies that favor unions and projects located in specific regions. Most tax credits for renewable energy projects are five times more generous if contractors pay “prevailing wages”—that is, union-scale wages—and employ workers participating in apprenticeship programs. These are usually run by unions.

    The new base tax credit for solar and wind production would be $5.2 per megawatt hour (MWh), which is less than the existing $26 MWh subsidy. However, investors in projects that meet the bill’s labor specification would be able to claim $26 MWh and $28.6 MWh if 100% of their steel is made in the U.S. Didn’t President Biden antagonize steel-exporting Canada enough by canceling the Keystone XL pipeline?

    Tune in later this decade to find out how it all worked out. Poorly, I'd bet.

  • It's Thursday, so… it's a good day to link to Kevin D. Williamson's "Tuesday" column. At Some Point, You’ve Paid Enough Taxes. (You need to be NRPlus to RTWT, but as KDW says: "I think you’ll find it worth the modest expense.")

    Senator Joe Manchin, in his wisdom, has decided to join the Biden administration and his fellow Democrats in Congress to — wait! what? — raise the gasoline tax.

    In an underhanded way, of course.

    You will recall that in the early summer, as gasoline prices were skyrocketing, President Joe Biden, the fearful little man in the White House, called for a three-month suspension of the federal sales tax on gasoline. A little somethin’-somethin’ to help out all them pickup-driving Joe Sixpack types out there in the great expansive hydrocarbon-powered boonies — you know, voters. It was a dumb idea on its own, and it was a dumb idea because it was offered as a substitute for the smart idea, i.e., getting Uncle Stupid’s big fat foot off the neck of the U.S. energy industry so that prosperity may emerge organically. It was a quintessentially political proposal, one that would create the impression of doing something and offer a synthetic sense of urgency — the sort of action that is to real policy as stevia is to sugar.

    But there was a kind of reflexive economic truth to it: Policies that make gasoline more expensive make gasoline more expensive. And while Democrats do intend to make hydrocarbon energy not only more expensive but prohibitively expensive at some point in time, at that moment the rising price of fuel was politically inconvenient. Climate action can’t wait — except when it can.

    Our state's fearful little woman in the US Senate, Maggie Hassan, is running re-election ads touting her (apparently moribund) effort to suspend the gas tax, also trying to "create the impression of doing a little somethin'-somethin'".

  • Because politicians are experts at … running airlines? Well, at least they're pretty good at demanding solutions to the problems they caused. Veronique de Rugy observes that More Congressional Meddling Won't Put More Planes in the Sky.

    Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Alex Padilla, D-Calif., recently asked the Department of Transportation to fine airlines for delays and cancellations and prevent airline consolidation. The widespread delays and cancellations are indeed annoying, but the senators' demands won't help any more than Congress' last airline blunder did.

    Remember the last airline bailouts? During the pandemic, politicians were fooled into handing out billions so that, among other things, airlines could keep their workers and be travel-ready when more passengers started flying again. Airlines got the money, passengers eventually returned, and somehow the airlines still weren't staffed and prepared.

    The bailouts didn't cause the mess we are in, but they didn't prevent it. Recall just how much the airlines received. Throughout the pandemic, the 10 major passenger airlines pocketed direct payments of more than $54 billion (in rounds of $25 billion, $15 billion and $14 billion), plus another $25 billion in subsidized loans from the Treasury Department and a suspension of the 7.5% excise tax on domestic air travel. Also receiving handouts were airports and airport contractors.

    I'd disagree slightly with Vero about the bailouts not causing "the mess we're in." The incentives implied by "we'll give you a bunch of money without worrying much about its effectiveness" are huge and obvious.

  • And why should they? Jacob Sullum notes the overwhelming majority of "assault rifle" owners are law-abiding. But Democrats Don't Care.

    A week before the House of Representatives approved a ban on "assault weapons," a federal judge in Denver explained why such laws are unlikely to pass constitutional muster. House Democrats either were not paying attention or did not care because they view the Second Amendment as an outmoded provision that imposes no meaningful limits on gun control.

    Unfortunately for them, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held otherwise, ruling that the government may not prohibit law-abiding Americans from keeping handguns at home or carrying them in public for self-defense. The Court also has said the Second Amendment covers bearable arms "in common use" for "lawful purposes," which presents a problem for Democrats who want to ban many of the most popular rifles sold in the United States.

    NH's own CongressCritters not only voted for this blatantly unconstitutional legislation (violating their oath of office), they were cosponsors.

  • Another bad sequel to "How the Leopard Got His Spots" Andrey Mir describes How the Media Polarized Us.

    Public trust in the media has hit an all-time low. Common explanations for this crisis of credibility include bias, polarization, and fake news, but these causes are themselves effects of the tectonic, and generally overlooked, shift in the media’s business model. Throughout the twentieth century, journalism relied for its funding predominantly on advertising. In the early 2010s, as ad money fled the industry, publications sought to earn revenue through subscriptions instead of advertising. In the process, they became dependent on digital audiences—especially their most vocal representatives. The shift from advertising to digital subscriptions invalidated old standards of journalism and led to the emergence of post-journalism.

    Everything we once knew about journalism depended on the model of the ad-funded news media. Advertising accounted for most of the news industry’s revenue during the twentieth century.

    This business model provided a selective advantage to certain kinds of media. Since the revenue from copy sales was not sufficient to maintain news production, news outlets needed to attract advertising. As a result, media that relied mostly on the reader’s penny, such as the formerly influential working-class press, eventually lost out in the marketplace. The mass media that oriented themselves around the “buying audience”—the affluent middle class—received money from growing advertising and thrived.

    Blame Facebook, Twitter, "big tech" all you want. But the quick de-evolution of newspapers and TV channels into prior-belief enhancers were a major factor into getting us where we are today.

Last Modified 2024-01-30 7:37 AM EDT