39 (Author at Cato Institute) https://www.cato.org/ en Michael D. Tanner’s “The Work versus Welfare Trade‐​Off: 2013” study is cited on WIND AM 560’s Chicago’s Morning Answer https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-work-versus-welfare-trade-2013-study-cited-wind Tue, 17 Dec 2019 11:24:09 -0500 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-work-versus-welfare-trade-2013-study-cited-wind Michael D. Tanner’s social security research is cited on The Larry Elder Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-social-security-research-cited-larry-elder-0 Tue, 03 Dec 2019 10:25:14 -0500 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-social-security-research-cited-larry-elder-0 It’s a Wonderful Time to Be Alive https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/its-wonderful-time-be-alive Michael D. Tanner <div class="lead text-default"> <p>For those of us who spend far too much time following the news these days, it is easy to feel that everything is falling apart. Regardless of your political ideology, there is no doubt that this country is politically divided and facing serious challenges. To make matters worse, we are entering an election season. Politicians will be trying their best to convince us that we are one vote away from choosing between Nazi Germany and Venezuela.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Yet, as we gather with friends and family this Thanksgiving, it is worth remembering that, beyond the headlines, things are actually pretty darn good. As both individuals and a&nbsp;country, we really have more than enough to be thankful for.</p> <p>Start with the economy. We can debate who — if anyone — is responsible, but we can’t argue with the fact that unemployment is down and wages are up. Unemployment is at the lowest level since 1969. There were 2.3 million more full time, year‐​round workers this year than last. And those workers are earning more. Median earnings for full‐​time workers rose by more than 3&nbsp;percent last year. Since 2009, average hourly earnings for all employees is up 5.6 percent, while real average weekly earnings rose by 6.9 percent.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Politics are not our life. The people we love, our faith, our families, the things we do that bring our lives joy and meaning — these things are far more important than politics.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Inequality remains a&nbsp;big political issue, but poverty rates continue to decline. In 2018, the official Census Bureau poverty measure fell to just 11.8 percent, down a&nbsp;full half percentage point from the year before, and the lowest rate since 2001. Using other, arguably more accurate poverty measures shows even better results. Consumption‐​based poverty measures put the real poverty level at as low as 2.8 percent.</p> <p>Of course, too many people still struggle, but we are doing our best to help them. Last year, Americans donated $427 billion to charity, and more than 63 million people gave their time and talent to help others — over 8&nbsp;billion volunteer hours.</p> <p>Politicians also like to conjure up images of crime and carnage. But we are safer today than we’ve been in decades. Violent crime has declined by 51 percent since 1993, while property crime has declined by even more (54 percent). The United States still imprisons far too many people — almost twice the incarceration rate of any country except the Seychelles. However, between falling crime rates and criminal‐​justice reform, 100,000 fewer Americans will spend this Thanksgiving in prison than did ten years ago.</p> <p>Health care is another issue the politicians fight over, and with good reason. Our health‐​care system is deeply flawed for many reasons. Yet we are healthier than ever. Infant mortality has declined by 14 percent since 2007. Death from cancer has dropped from 168 per 100,000 people in 2000 to just 146 per 100,000 today. More Americans are exercising and eating healthfully, and smoking is at the lowest level since 1965.</p> <p>Even in those areas where we still have improvement to make, we should not ignore how far we’ve come. Racism and other forms of bigotry are still far too prevalent, but let’s remember how much progress we’ve made. The alt‐​right and their fellow travelers are noxious and noisy, but they are still a&nbsp;tiny minority. The worst forms of overt discrimination have largely been consigned to the dustbin of history, and there is a&nbsp;growing push for still more fully realized justice and equality. Within my lifetime, both interracial and gay marriage were outlawed. Today all Americans are free to marry the person they love. Almost 9&nbsp;percent of Americans have two or more races in their background. It may be halting and uneven, but we are making progress toward a&nbsp;more inclusive society.</p> <p>Politics are not our life. The people we love, our faith, our families, the things we do that bring our lives joy and meaning — these things are far more important than politics. As George Will has pointed out: There are 357 million Americans; 350 million of them did not watch cable news or listen to talk radio yesterday.</p> <p>So, as we begin to carve our turkey — which costs 4&nbsp;percent less than last year — let’s tune out the politicians and their doom and gloom. It is a&nbsp;wonderful time to be alive. We really have so much to be thankful for.</p> </div> Wed, 27 Nov 2019 16:07:46 -0500 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/its-wonderful-time-be-alive Michael D. Tanner’s book event, The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor, is hosted by The Kansas City Public Library https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/michael-d-tanners-book-event-inclusive-economy-how-bring-wealth Michael D. Tanner <p>About the book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Inclusive-Economy-Bring-Wealth-Americas/dp/194864701X/?tag=catoinstitute-20"><em><span>The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor</span></em></a></p> Mon, 25 Nov 2019 11:25:23 -0500 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/michael-d-tanners-book-event-inclusive-economy-how-bring-wealth Michael D. Tanner discusses his book, “The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor,” on SiriusXM’s The Trendline with Kristen Soltis Anderson https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-book-inclusive-economy-how-bring-1 Sat, 16 Nov 2019 10:54:20 -0500 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-book-inclusive-economy-how-bring-1 Michael D. Tanner’s, “The Work versus Welfare Trade‐​Off: 2013,” study is cited on KPRL’s The Morning Exchange https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-work-versus-welfare-trade-2013-study-cited Thu, 14 Nov 2019 12:12:32 -0500 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-work-versus-welfare-trade-2013-study-cited Michael D. Tanner discusses his book, “The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor,” on KCUR’s Up to Date https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-book-inclusive-economy-how-bring-0 Thu, 14 Nov 2019 12:09:35 -0500 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-book-inclusive-economy-how-bring-0 Michael D. Tanner’s upcoming free lecture on poverty at the Show‐​Me Institute is promoted on KCMO’s The Pete Mundo Morning Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-upcoming-free-lecture-poverty-show-me-institute Wed, 13 Nov 2019 11:56:43 -0500 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-upcoming-free-lecture-poverty-show-me-institute Michael D. Tanner discusses his book, The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor, on KTRS’ The McGraw Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-book-inclusive-economy-how-bring Tue, 12 Nov 2019 11:46:22 -0500 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-book-inclusive-economy-how-bring Presidents Gone Wild — with Executive Orders https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/presidents-gone-wild-executive-orders Michael D. Tanner <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Barrels of ink and countless hours of news time have been devoted to President Trump’s casual embrace of unilateralism and authoritarianism — with good cause. This is, after all, someone who says, “Presidents can do whatever they want.” As president, he has now issued more executive orders than Barack Obama, of the infamous “phone and a&nbsp;pen,” did over the same period. He has asserted the power to redirect congressionally appropriated funds, wage war, and ignore subpoenas.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Rhetorically, Democrats have loudly criticized this latest iteration of the imperial presidency. Yet, out on the campaign trail, the Democratic presidential aspirants have been quick to embrace a&nbsp;view of almost unlimited presidential power.</p> <p>We now shrug off the grandiose promises of candidates to remake the economy, establish universal health care, and so on, as if Congress had no say in the matter. But when the need to build a&nbsp;legislative consensus does come up, the candidates simply promise to do it themselves.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Neither party acknowledges any limits on a&nbsp;president’s power to rule by decree.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Former vice president Joe Biden has criticized the use of executive orders. However, his website clearly states, “On day one, Biden will sign a&nbsp;series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama‐​Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track.”</p> <p>Elizabeth Warren has already promised more than a&nbsp;dozen specific executive orders on issues ranging from immigration to worker non‐​compete clauses, from banning fracking to “requir[ing] every federal agency to incorporate diversity as part of their core strategic plan and create support networks through a&nbsp;government‐​wide mentorship program that centers Black and Brown employees.” And that doesn’t count all the executive orders she plans to undo Trump’s executive orders, which were designed to undo Obama’s executive orders, which were … you get the idea.</p> <p>The other candidates are equally enamored of going it alone. Bernie Sanders would ban cuts to pension benefits through executive order, and Kamala Harris would impose a&nbsp;variety of gun‐​control measures. Julian Castro would unilaterally impose a&nbsp;carbon tax. And on and on.</p> <p>Some of these ideas might be good ones and could form the basis for important legislative debates. But the American system of government rejects the idea that the president is some sort of elected king. As James Madison warned in&nbsp;<em>Federalist</em>&nbsp;No. 48, “An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by others.”</p> <p>Article I&nbsp;of the Constitution says, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a&nbsp;Congress of the United States.” If Congress has repeatedly abdicated that authority, it doesn’t change the fact that, as Chief Justice Jackson wrote in the 1952 case of&nbsp;<em>Youngstown Sheet &amp;&nbsp;Tube Company v. Sawyer</em>, “In the framework of our Constitution, the President’s power to see the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a&nbsp;lawmaker.… The Constitution is neither silent nor equivocal about who shall make laws which the President is to execute.”</p> <p>Even when candidates turn to Congress, their authoritarian tendencies show through. Warren wants to eliminate the Senate filibuster and, along with Harris and Buttigieg, is considering packing the Supreme Court.</p> <p>Nor do the candidate’s authoritarian impulses stop with usurping the powers of Congress. They apparently also want to be the courts as well.&nbsp;President Trump was rightly criticized for leading chants of “Lock her [or him] up” about his political rivals. But Democrats seem to have no end of people they want to lock up: President Trump and members of his cabinet, of course, but also pharmaceutical executives, insurance‐​company heads, gun manufacturers, and others that Democrats disapprove of. Obviously, if crimes have been committed, the perpetrators should be vigorously prosecuted. But there is something deeply unsettling about presidential candidates opining on guilt or innocence.</p> <p>Nothing seems too small a&nbsp;matter for presidential oversight. Kamala Harris wants to censor Trump’s Twitter feed.</p> <p>Presidential power has been increasing for decades. We’ve reached the point where presidents can go to war, appropriate funds, impose revenue measures, and far more, all without congressional approval. President Trump is pushing the boundaries of presidential authority even further. Sadly, though, Democratic complaints seem to boil down to Trump using that power for policies that the Democrats disagree with. They are all too happy to grab that power for their own purposes.</p> <p>Unfortunately, this “might makes right” approach to governing is unlikely to end well.</p> </div> Wed, 23 Oct 2019 08:40:58 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/presidents-gone-wild-executive-orders Michael Tanner and Diego Zuluaga with Caleb Brown on housing policy https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-audio/michael-tanner-diego-zuluaga-caleb-brown-housing-policy Tue, 01 Oct 2019 03:00:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner, Diego Zuluaga, Caleb O. Brown https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-audio/michael-tanner-diego-zuluaga-caleb-brown-housing-policy The Democrats’ Health Care Plan Is a Unicorn Unfit for the US https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/democrats-health-care-plan-unicorn-unfit-us Michael D. Tanner <div class="lead text-default"> <p>We’ve now entered the unicorn phase of the political season, the time when candidates promise us everything we could possibly desire and explain that it not only won’t cost us anything, it will actually save us money. And there is no unicorn anywhere bigger than health care reform. Candidates are falling all over each other in their rush to tell us how they will cover everyone, provide more benefits, improve quality and reduce the cost of care all at once.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>But before we start building the corral for our unicorn, we should remember that the government already pays for more than 45 percent of health care in this country. If the government was really able to reduce health care spending, it would have done so.</p> <p>There are good reasons that there is no easy way to provide more health care for less money. Of course, the United States already spends more on health care than any other industrialized country both in dollars per capita and as a&nbsp;share of GDP. Waste and inefficiencies abound. And overutilization is a&nbsp;continuing issue.</p> <p>Yet there is no magic elixir for change.</p> <p>Contrary to the angry diatribes from Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, high health care costs are not the result of greedy insurance and pharmaceutical executives.</p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Contrary to the angry diatribes from Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, high health care costs are not the result of greedy insurance and pharmaceutical executives.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Yes, those are profitable companies and their executives are well compensated. No one is crying any tears for them.</p> <p>But health insurance companies’ profit margins range between 4&nbsp;to 5.25 percent, well within the mainstream of US companies and below that of industries such as oil/​gas (9.23 percent) or life insurance (11.24 percent).</p> <p>Pharmaceutical companies fare slightly better, with a&nbsp;profit margin of 10.94 percent but still rank behind financial services (20.1 percent) or legal services (15.4 percent).</p> <p>Surprisingly much of the cost of health care is due to labor costs. We may not think of it that way, but health care is a&nbsp;very labor‐​intensive industry. In fact, 56 percent of health care spending is for wages and benefits. Health care workers make up nearly 12 percent of the US workforce, and increases in productivity have not nearly offset labor costs. That’s one reason why increases in health care costs have largely tracked increases in wages, a&nbsp;phenomenon observed in other labor‐​heavy industries like education.</p> <p>At the same time, the cost of technology‐​based goods and services is dropping, making it appear that health care costs are rising even faster than they are. Ironically, candidates’ proposals to increase the minimum wage or otherwise raise the cost of employment are likely to drive the cost of health care even higher.</p> <p>It is also important to realize that we spend a&nbsp;lot of money on health care in this country simply because we can. Economists consider health care to be a “superior good,” meaning that spending rises as incomes rise. At the same time, there are natural limits to how much we can consume.</p> <p>For instance, no matter how wealthy we become, we can only eat so much more food. There are far fewer limits when it comes to health care. We all want to live forever and will consume as much health care as it takes. That is why, across all countries, wealthier people devote a&nbsp;greater share of wealth to health care.</p> <p>Looking at other countries, with their government‐​run health‐​care systems, provides no easy answers. Yes, as noted, other countries spend less than we do, but that is for the most part because they started at a&nbsp;lower base. If you look at year‐​over‐​year spending increases, the growth in US health care expenditures has been roughly in the middle of the pack over the last 20&nbsp;years.</p> <p>Systems commonly cited by advocates of single‐​payer health care have actually been growing faster than the United States. For example, from 2000 to 2015 (the last year for which comparable data is available), health care spending in the United States grew by an annual average of 5.1 percent. That’s considerably less than the 6.8 percent average in the United Kingdom or the 6.4 percent average in Sweden.</p> <p>US spending did grow slightly faster than Germany (4.7 percent) but slower than the Netherlands (6 percent), Japan (5.8 percent) and Norway (5.4 percent).</p> <p>None of this means that our health care costs are not distributed in ways that cause hardship for many Americans, that our spending is used in the most efficient and effective manner or that we always receive value commensurate with our spending. We can and should try to do better. In this regard, there are many good proposals for reform from both the left and right.</p> <p>But when candidates promise a&nbsp;system that will cover every American with benefits far more extensive than dreamed of in other countries for less money than we spend today … well, I&nbsp;would like my unicorn to have purple stripes please.</p> </div> Sat, 21 Sep 2019 08:45:46 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/democrats-health-care-plan-unicorn-unfit-us Michael D. Tanner’s research on welfare and poverty programs is cited on KIRO’s The Ron and Don Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-research-welfare-poverty-programs-cited-kiros Tue, 03 Sep 2019 09:58:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-research-welfare-poverty-programs-cited-kiros The Moral Dimension to Our National Debt https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/moral-dimension-our-national-debt Michael D. Tanner <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Oh Lord, give me chastity,” St. Augustine is reputed to have said. “But don’t give it yet.” So it is with Republicans who have vowed to show some fiscal discipline — sometime during President Trump’s second term.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>But while we are waiting, the Congressional Budget Office has announced that this year’s budget deficit will top $960 billion, $63 billion more than predicted in May of this year. And next year’s deficit will almost certainly exceed it. After that, the era of trillion‐​dollar deficits is here to stay. By 2029, CBO reports our $22 trillion national debt will top around $34 trillion.</p> <p>President Trump may accomplish the truly Herculean feat of becoming a&nbsp;bigger deficit spender than President Obama. And he’ll do it without a&nbsp;catastrophic recession to deal with.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Every child born today inherits a&nbsp;portion of that debt, and we are living at our children’s expense.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>How did we get here? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it wasn’t the Republican tax cut. In fact, when compared to 2018, tax revenues went up 3&nbsp;percent in the first nine months of fiscal year 2019. Would they be even higher in the absence of those cuts? Maybe. But the real problem, as usual, is out‐​of‐​control spending.</p> <p>The CBO estimates that federal outlays in 2019 will total $4.4 trillion, a $300 billion increase in nominal spending since 2018. Discretionary spending is up. Defense spending is up. Entitlement spending is up. There is no effort to prioritize or make the difficult choices of governing, there is only … more.</p> <p>While I&nbsp;realize that Congress controls the purse strings, it is also true that President Trump has shown exactly zero interest in restraining spending. The only time he speaks out on budget matters is to demand more money for his latest pet project.</p> <p>As bad as this is, we can hardly look to the Democrats for relief. Their spending plans would make Caligula look like Scrooge McDuck. Consider that with the release of his $16.3 trillion green‐​energy plan, Bernie Sanders has now promised more than $58 trillion in additional spending over the next ten years.</p> <p>Ok, you say, but Bernie is an avowed socialist, so we should expect as much. What then about Elizabeth Warren, who “has a&nbsp;plan for that,” proposing an estimated $40 trillion in new spending over the next decade. Or Kamala Harris, who would spend an additional $43 trillion over ten years. And Pete Buttigieg wants to spend an additional $6.9 trillion. Even supposed moderate Joe Biden has called for around $2.97 trillion in spending so far.</p> <p>Worse, the Iowa caucuses are still six months away. The giant pander‐​fest that is the Democratic primary is just getting started. The race is on to see which candidate can be the first to promise more than $100 trillion in spending the government can’t afford.</p> <p>One wonders how all those young people complaining about their student debt would react if they understood that their theoretical share of the national debt was about $67,000.</p> <p>The growing debt does not come without consequences. There are, of course, economic repercussions. Over time, debt can slow growth, reduce wages, and hinder our flexibility in responding to economic slowdowns.</p> <p>More important, there is a&nbsp;moral dimension as well. Every child born today inherits a&nbsp;portion of that debt. We are living at our children’s expense. You can’t get much more “taxation without representation” than that.</p> <p>If only someone in Washington cared.</p> </div> Wed, 28 Aug 2019 10:18:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/moral-dimension-our-national-debt Trump’s Trade Critics Don’t Offer Better Options https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/trumps-trade-critics-dont-offer-better-options Michael D. Tanner <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Democrats running for president have certainly not hesitated to criticize President Trump’s trade policies.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>There is a&nbsp;good reason for the rhetoric. Several recent studies, from researchers at Harvard, Columbia, the IMF, and two different branches of the Federal Reserve, have all concluded that the tariffs imposed by President Trump on China and others have indeed hurt American consumers and threatened economic growth domestically and internationally. For instance, scholars at Columbia, Princeton, and the New York Fed found that the Trump tariffs had reduced U.S. real income by $1.4 billion per month by the end of 2018.</p> <p>In response — or perhaps just because Americans have a&nbsp;reactive response to any Trump policy — polls suggest that support for free trade is on the rise. A&nbsp;Monmouth poll found that 52 percent of Americans in 2018 think free‐​trade agreements are good for the United States, a&nbsp;dramatic increase when compared to 24 percent in 2015.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Democrats are right to disagree with Trump. Too bad they don’t bring any good ideas to the table.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>But what exactly are the Democratic presidential candidates proposing as an alternative? Their policies — as opposed to their words — don’t seem all that different. In fact, some of the Democratic plans may be even more restrictive.</p> <p>For example, many experts believe that the best way to restrain China would be to join with our regional allies in some sort of block, similar to the Trans‐​Pacific Partnership (TPP). And there is reason to believe that our allies would be happy to have us join the pact. But with the exception of extreme long‐​shot Representative John Delaney, every major Democratic candidate either joins Trump in opposing the TPP or is highly critical of the current negotiation. Even former vice president Joe Biden won’t commit to the treaty his administration negotiated.</p> <p>Biden’s change in position is just his latest concession to the special interests and unions that dominate the Democratic primaries. He once voted for normal trade relations in China, NAFTA, and pushed for the Trans‐​Pacific Partnership, but no longer.</p> <p>Nor is it just the TPP that Democrats oppose. Like Trump, most of the major Democrats oppose NAFTA. But, with the exception of Beto O’Rourke, they also oppose Trump’s renegotiation of NAFTA (renamed the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement, or USMCA). Most Democrats have also opposed other, bilateral trade deals, such as those with Korea and Colombia.</p> <p>The left flank of the Democratic party is even more anti‐​trade. Elizabeth Warren, for instance, wants the focus of trade to be on labor, the environment, and, ironically, consumers. She wants the U.S. to trade only with countries that have signed the Paris Agreement and meet onerous human‐​rights and labor standards.</p> <p>This policy would fall most heavily on poor nations who can least afford costly environmental or labor upgrades. Countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala would be devastated, sending a&nbsp;new flood of refugees streaming toward our border.</p> <p>And Bernie Sanders’s opinions are quite similar to Warren’s. Both of them are in favor of steel and aluminum tariffs and oppose all current trade deals. Sanders, like Warren, wants all future negotiations to be centered around labor, the environment, and human rights.</p> <p>This shouldn’t be a&nbsp;surprise. The Left has long opposed free trade. After all, the ability to buy and sell to whomever you wish is the antithesis of central planning.</p> <p>Unfortunately, though, for those of us who believe in the free market, the 2020 race continues to offer less of a&nbsp;choice, and more of an echo.</p> </div> Wed, 21 Aug 2019 08:20:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/trumps-trade-critics-dont-offer-better-options Michael D. Tanner discusses whether the wealth gap is really growing on WWL’s The Newell Normand Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-whether-wealth-gap-really-growing-wwls Tue, 20 Aug 2019 11:18:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-whether-wealth-gap-really-growing-wwls Michael D. Tanner discusses how social security privatization could improve black wealth in America on 910 AM Superstation’s The Nolan Finley Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-how-social-security-privatization-could Tue, 20 Aug 2019 11:16:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-how-social-security-privatization-could Michael D. Tanner’s welfare soundbite is used on Showtime’s The Loudest Voice https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/michael-d-tanners-welfare-soundbite-used-showtimes-loudest-voice Mon, 19 Aug 2019 10:23:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/michael-d-tanners-welfare-soundbite-used-showtimes-loudest-voice Some Thoughts on the El Paso Shooting https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/some-thoughts-el-paso-shooting Michael D. Tanner <div class="lead text-default"> <p>A few thoughts in the wake of the horrendous white‐​supremacist terrorist attack in El Paso:</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>We must be careful not to let fear (and grief and anger) drive us to rashness.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <ol><li>We should never forget that the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. To the degree that we succumb to fear, that we alter our lives, or that we give up our freedoms, the terrorists win. It is not to diminish the horror of such events to recognize that we remain remarkably safe in this country. Your chances of being murdered by a&nbsp;terrorist of any kind remain smaller than your chances of drowning in a&nbsp;bathtub. We should not stop going to stores, eating at restaurants, having a&nbsp;drink in bars, or otherwise living our lives.</li> <li>In the wake of 9/11, we allowed fear to lead us into a&nbsp;host of measures that threatened our civil liberties. Muslims and Muslim Americans were obviously the most likely to be targeted, but all Americans were caught up in increased surveillance and other law‐​enforcement measures. Recall that the Patriot Act passed by a&nbsp;margin of 91 – 1. Now we see similar knee‐​jerk calls for the government to “do something.” Already there have been calls to regulate the Internet, ban video games, curtail free speech, and generally increase police powers. Gun‐​control advocates ratchet up their proposals with little regard for practicality or empirical evidence. And that doesn’t even include bizarre proposals like Sean Hannity’s call for transforming America into a&nbsp;virtual armed camp, with paramilitary forces surrounding schools, stores, and other locations. But as Benjamin Franklin once warned, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a&nbsp;little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”</li> <li>None of this is to diminish the threat from nor the noxiousness of white supremacy. Nor is it a&nbsp;call for inaction. Certainly, there are things that the government can and should do. It is long past time to take violence from white supremacists as seriously as we do the threat from Islamic extremists. There may even be gun‐​control measures that can make us safer without infringing on our rights to self‐​defense or legitimate gun ownership. But whatever we do should be thoughtful and with full consideration of possible unintended consequences. Among other things, that means acting through the regular legislative process. Executive actions or hastily convened legislative sessions are invitations to abuse.</li> <li>A thoughtful decision needs to be based on data, not emotion. But that data is hard to come by, often biased, and subject to varying interpretations. To cite one example, President Trump stated that the rate of mass shootings has remained constant throughout the years. This is true if your definition of a&nbsp;mass shooting is just all homicides with more than four people. However, a&nbsp;stricter definition of mass shooting will show a&nbsp;sharp rise. Similarly, there is no agreement on the definition of terrorism or assault rifle. One thing that all sides should agree on is the need for better information.</li> <li>Perhaps the most important things we can do don’t involve the government. For instance, we can police our own speech and behavior. We can all be more civil with one another. Political disagreements are not “treason.” It is not political correctness to avoid personal insults or to show sensitivity, especially when discussing difficult issues such as race. And when we encounter racism or other forms of bigotry, it is incumbent on us to speak out, denounce it, and shun those who perpetuate it.</li> <li>And, yes, this is particularly important for our political leaders. President Trump is not responsible for the actions of the El Paso gunman, but it is clear the president’s rhetoric has contributed to the toxic stew in which the gunman’s sick beliefs festered.</li> </ol><p>We have experienced a&nbsp;terrible tragedy. We must be careful not to let fear (and grief and anger) drive us to rashness. That would be too much the victory for the terrorists.</p> </div> Wed, 07 Aug 2019 08:55:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/some-thoughts-el-paso-shooting Michael D. Tanner’s Newsweek article, “Baltimore Burning: It’s Not a Matter of Money. We Tried That,” is cited on the Rush Limbaugh Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-newsweek-article-baltimore-burning-its-not Mon, 29 Jul 2019 10:36:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanners-newsweek-article-baltimore-burning-its-not Michael D. Tanner discusses the USDA proposal to cut SNAP loopholes on Nexstar Media’s WWLP‐​22News https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/michael-d-tanner-discusses-usda-proposal-cut-snap-loopholes-nexstar Fri, 26 Jul 2019 10:50:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/michael-d-tanner-discusses-usda-proposal-cut-snap-loopholes-nexstar Michael D. Tanner discusses the budget deal on WVMetroNews’ Talkline https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-budget-deal-wvmetronews-talkline Wed, 24 Jul 2019 12:43:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-discusses-budget-deal-wvmetronews-talkline Donald Trump, the Profligate President https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/donald-trump-profligate-president Michael D. Tanner <div class="lead text-default"> <p>I&nbsp;realize that concern about the deficit and the debt is no longer fashionable in Washington. Democratic candidates for president are engaged in a&nbsp;ruthless game of one‐​up‐​manship over who can propose the most costly and unsustainable new spending program. In the meantime, Republicans, from the president on down, have adopted Rush Limbaugh’s new mantra that worries about the debt are “bogus.” Even the so‐​called Freedom Caucus spends far more effort defending the president’s latest tweet than in defending fiscal responsibility.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Yet even by these rather pathetic standards, the $1.37 trillion budget deal reached this week by President Trump and bipartisan congressional leaders stands out for its total abdication of fiscal discipline. The deal throws out the last vestiges of spending caps that were put in place as part of the two‐​year budget agreement. Those caps have proven largely ineffective — Congress has repeatedly waived them — but this year’s agreement would exceed those caps by $320 billion over the next 2&nbsp;years.</p> <p>Actual total spending will rise by some $49 billion. There is no attempt to establish priorities — everyone just agreed to spend more. Defense spending will rise by $22 billion, but domestic discretionary spending will go up by even more, roughly $27 billion. And, as for addressing the urgent need for entitlement reform (the majority of federal spending), not a&nbsp;peep.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Neither the president nor his party has displayed any interest in reining in spending.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Moreover, the deal runs through 2021, thereby protecting politicians in both parties from having to do their jobs during an election year. At least they have their priorities in place. The deal also includes a&nbsp;two‐​year waiver for the debt limit, removing any possible leverage against future reforms.</p> <p>As bad as the deal looks on its face, its even worse in context. With only 2&nbsp;months left in this fiscal year, the deficit has already hit $747 billion, a&nbsp;23 percent increase since last year. It will almost certainly top $1 trillion by year’s end. From here, it is likely simply to grow worse.</p> <p>The national debt has reached $22 trillion, a $3 trillion increase since President Trump took office. That’s a&nbsp;Barack Obama level of red ink — but during an economic expansion, not a&nbsp;recession. Of course, some might blame increased deficits on the 2018 tax cut, and there’s some truth to that. Indeed, the tax cut has not “paid for itself” through increased growth. But the real villain is increased government spending. It is estimated that, by the end of his first term, Trump will have increased discretionary spending by 22 percent.</p> <p>We now pay more in interest on the debt than we spend on education and military personnel. By 2028, interest payments are expected to reach $914 billion annually. Over the next ten years, net interest cost will total around $7 trillion. Regardless of political ideology, everyone should recognize that interest payments are simply throwing money down a&nbsp;hole.</p> <p>Worse, none of this includes the unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. According to Social Security’s own trustees, the program’s future shortfalls exceed $43 trillion. Medicare’s unfunded liabilities are harder to pin down but likely run into the tens of trillions of dollars. The real U.S. debt could easily run more than $100 trillion in all.</p> <p>Democrats look at this and say, “let’s spend more.” Republicans look at it and say, well, “let’s spend more.”</p> <p>It is true that the U.S. economy has proven more resilient than some of us thought. Warnings of an imminent financial disaster have proven premature. Yet it is axiomatic that that which cannot go on forever eventually stops. Eventually the sugar high of deficit spending will wear off, and there will be real consequences for the economy.</p> <p>One thing we’ve learned about Trump is that he revels in the idea that whatever he does is the “biggest ever.” Still, “biggest deficit ever, “most debt in history,” and “most profligate president ever” may not be superlatives to which he should aspire.</p> </div> Wed, 24 Jul 2019 09:25:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/donald-trump-profligate-president Michael D. Tanner’s quote in the CBN article, “Social Security, Medicare Heading for Bankruptcy, but What Does that Mean for Benefits?,” is cited on WCBM’s Wealth Without Risk https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-quoted-cbn-article-social-security-medicare Sun, 21 Jul 2019 13:51:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/michael-d-tanner-quoted-cbn-article-social-security-medicare Michael D. Tanner discusses raising the federal minimum wage on Nexstar Media https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/michael-d-tanner-discusses-raising-federal-minimum-wage-nexstar-media Wed, 10 Jul 2019 11:05:00 -0400 Michael D. Tanner https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/michael-d-tanner-discusses-raising-federal-minimum-wage-nexstar-media