Category Archives: Debt and deficits

Paying for this storm, and the storms to come

Hill, Maria, hurricanes
Rep. French Hill represents Arkansas’ 2nd District.

By Steve Brawner

American citizens in Puerto Rico are suffering, but unlike when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the victims can’t drive across the border to a welcoming state like Arkansas. Texans, Floridians and others are hurting from hurricanes, too, and Californians have lost their homes due to wildfires.

In such situations, should members of Congress vote for any aid package, even if they think it’s a bad one?

Rep. French Hill, R-Arkansas, said no last week. The congressman who represents central Arkansas was one of only 69 members of the U.S. House who voted against a bill providing $36.5 billion for relief and recovery efforts after Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma and the California wildfires. The package drew a yes vote from 353 members.

Continue reading Paying for this storm, and the storms to come

Stealing from our grandkids

tax, taxes, debt, deficitsBy Steve Brawner

Be warned: Elected officials in Washington will try to buy your vote with your grandchildren’s money.

If recent history is any guide, they’ll do that by cutting  taxes without cutting spending by at least the same amount, increasing the national debt. And a big reason why they would do it is because they cannot seem to do anything else. After failing to repeal Obamacare, they think they’ve got to do something.

The details of the proposal released by President Trump and congressional Republicans Sept. 27 are still vague. But among the highlights are, it would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three, the highest being 35 percent instead of the current 39.6 percent. Congress would have the option of creating a fourth, higher tax bracket for the wealthy. (Don’t hold your breath.) To offset some of the lost revenue, it would repeal many itemized deductions. (Lots of lobbyists will fight this one.) It also would end the estate tax and reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Continue reading Stealing from our grandkids

Time for a new ‘ism’ – ‘future generationism’

By Steve Brawner

Are you the type whose beliefs don’t always fit neatly into a conservative or liberal label, but “moderate” sounds too mushy and none of the other “isms” fit?

Or what if one of those labels does fit, but you’re worried about the overall state of American politics, where it’s all about today’s winners and losers? Meanwhile, negative consequences are passed down to our children and grandchildren whenever possible because, hey, they don’t vote.

If any of that describes you, may I suggest calling yourself a “future generationist”? Continue reading Time for a new ‘ism’ – ‘future generationism’

When Uncle Sam stops being Uncle Sugar Daddy

Bennett, infrastructure, highways
Scott Bennett is director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

By Steve Brawner

President Trump has talked about spending up to $1 trillion on highways and other infrastructure projects, but most of what would be spent in Arkansas wouldn’t come from Uncle Sam.

Instead, it would be up to Scott Bennett, and others like him, to find the money elsewhere – mostly from Arkansas taxpayers and drivers.

Bennett, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, met at the White House Aug. 31 with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, and other state transportation directors.

“One of their guiding principles is leveraging private investment. … They’re looking for $200 million projects where you put together all the state, local and private investment you can, and you’re still $20 million short. Those are the projects that they want to fund,” Bennett said.

“Devolution” and public-private partnerships

The idea of pushing projects down to the state level is known as “devolution,” and it’s something Republicans talk about, though sometimes quietly. “Public-private partnerships,” where private companies perform traditionally public services, is also a trendy idea sometimes embraced by both parties. Toll roads are often operated by private companies, and so are prisons. Continue reading When Uncle Sam stops being Uncle Sugar Daddy