Commentary: Industrial Power in Economics and War

Beginning in the 1980s, the American economy underwent substantial changes. Just as the earlier age of industrialization had transformed a rural and agriculture economy into an urban one focused on manufacturing, the industrial age gave way to the information age, with a greater priority for tasks like management, information processing, and finance. The workforce and concentrations of wealth followed suit, with finance and high-tech companies displacing the old industrial giants with their assembly lines and armies of workers. 

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Commentary: America’s Recycling Program Failed – and Scarred the Environment

In March 2019, The New York Times ran a shocking story exploring why many prominent US cities were abandoning their recycling programs.

“Philadelphia is now burning about half of its 1.5 million residents’ recycling material in an incinerator that converts waste to energy,” Times business writer Michael Corkery reported. “In Memphis, the international airport still has recycling bins around the terminals, but every collected can, bottle and newspaper is sent to a landfill.”

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Wisconsin Lawmakers May Overturn Rule Forcing Local Fairs to Pay Some Winners

Senator Howard Marklein

The state of Wisconsin wants to stop paying people who win multiple prizes at multiple county or district fairs, but lawmakers in Madison say that could kill those local fairs.

Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said they discovered a new rule from the state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection last week that would limit state-paid premiums to winners at just one local fair. After the first first-prize, other local fairs would be 100% responsible for all prizes for that same winner.

“This means that if someone wins an award at the Elroy Fair, the Juneau County Fair would not be able to be reimbursed for the premium if they won at the Juneau County Fair,” Marklein explained.

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Wisconsin Gov. Evers Signs Bill Appropriating $883K to Promoting Dairy Exports

Gov. Tony Evers

Wisconsin taxpayers will pay $883,000 for a new agricultural exports program to promote dairy products.

The tab results from a bill signed by Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, which was National Agriculture Day.

Wisconsin Act 207 (Senate Bill 827) requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to apply the existing, unused appropriation for a newly created agricultural exports program.

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Commentary: Schools’ COVID-Aid Joy Ride Could Send New Hires off a Fiscal Cliff – Again

As school districts across the country grapple with declining enrollments induced by the pandemic, many are engaged in spending sprees like those of the past leading to widespread layoffs and budget cuts when federal money ran out.

Bolstered by $190 billion in pandemic relief funding from Washington, the nation’s public schools are hiring new teachers and staff, raising salaries, and sweetening benefit packages. Some are buying new vehicles. Others are building theaters and sports facilities.

Using such temporary support for new staff and projects with long-term costs is setting the table for perilous “fiscal cliffs” after COVID funding expires in 2024, some education budget analysts say. And that’s on top of doubts about whether money to battle the pandemic is being properly spent in the first place.

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Central Bank Expected to Raise Interest Rates Wednesday

Person counting cash

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates after its meeting Wednesday to combat the country’s soaring inflation, Axios reported.

The central bank is believed to raise its target fed funds rate by a quarter percentage point from zero after the end of the two-day meeting ending Wednesday, Axios reported. The Fed’s decision will outline the bank’s monetary policy for the near future and determine whether the U.S. economy enters a recession or continues surging price hikes, according to Axios.

Inflation has soared to nearly 8% year-over-year as of February while unemployment stayed below 4%, indicating that the Fed has been behind the curve in its effort to address sustained inflation, Axios reported. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is now reportedly tasked with fixing a delicate economy without crashing it despite a war in Ukraine and renewed COVID-19 lockdowns in China.

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Commentary: Joe Biden’s Electric Car Plans Support the World’s Worst Humanitarian Abuses

Joe Biden

In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, President Joe Biden promoted electric vehicles (EVs), trumpeting his plans to establish “a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations.” In so doing, Biden is unwittingly supporting the worst humanitarian abuses in the world. This is because of the way in which the materials used in manufacturing the batteries that power today’s EVs are obtained.

To obtain a reasonable amount of power per pound of battery weight, EV manufacturers generally use various forms of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, so named because the battery’s positive electrode, called the cathode, is largely made up of the highly reactive metal lithium (Li). To keep the cathode stable when a battery is not in use, the lithium is combined in a metal oxide matrix, with different manufacturers using different combinations of metals.

Most EV manufacturers combine lithium with nickel, cobalt and manganese to create a Li-Ni-Mn-Co oxide matrix to form the cathode. Tesla substitutes aluminum (Al) for the manganese, yielding a Li-Ni-Co-Al oxide matrix for the cathode on their batteries. Tesla maintains that their formulae is more cost-effective as less cobalt is required.

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Farmers Hit Hard by Price Increases as Food Price Spike Looms

Man in white shirt and jeans planting seeds in the ground of a garden

Goods and services around the country are becoming increasingly more expensive, but farmers may be among the hardest hit as inflation, supply chain issues, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are expected to send food prices soaring even higher.

That impact is being felt by farmers around the country.

“The cost of fertilizer is up as much as 500% in some areas,” said Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron. “It would be unbelievable if I hadn’t seen it for myself as I priced fertilizer for our farm in southern Indiana. Fertilizer is a global commodity and can be influenced by multiple market factors, including the situation in Ukraine, and all of these are helping to drive up costs.”

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Gov. Evers Signs Law That Exempts Restaurant Revitalization Grants from State Taxes

Gov. Tony Evers holding up recently signed legislation

Another Republican-driven tax cut has been signed by Gov. Tony Evers.

Evers on Monday signed AB 717, which exempts any and all Restaurant Revitalization grants from state taxes.

“This will ensure that these funds are treated like the Paycheck Protection Loans by making them state-tax-exempt,” Evers said.

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Commentary: ‘Wokeness’ on Energy Is Weakness

As Joe Biden’s approval numbers sink further into the sewer, the only thing he’s building back better is 1970s-style inflation. Up until Biden, most polls usually named Jimmy Carter as one of the weakest and most inept presidents we’ve ever had. That was until Biden showed up and said, “Hold my beer!” Which you have to know has brought so much joy to Carter. Heck, he probably has a set of “Let’s go Brandon!” PJs that he wears every night as he thanks God for the gift of Biden. 

Fact is, this country is now being “led” by a man who absolutely will go down as one of the worst presidents in our history. In just over a year, Biden has brought inflation roaring back to levels not seen in 40 years, has destroyed our southern border as millions of illegal aliens, along with Chinese fentanyl, flood the country, and now we have been involved in two major international debacles with Afghanistan and Ukraine. The list could go on, but perhaps that’s too depressing. 

Rest assured, however, it’s not going to get better. Biden is like the anti-Midas, turning everything he touches into crap.

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Commentary: John Kerry Is Putin’s Useful Climate Idiot

Vladimir Putin and John Kerry shaking hands

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine marks the end of the West’s Era of Illusions. It was an era in which Western elites obsessed about solving climate change because the climate crisis was far more dangerous than issues of war and peace and the stability of the international system. They even convinced themselves that climate change causes war, so climate change policy could double as national security policy; and, for many years, the annual round of kumbaya UN climate talks was the apogee of international relations.

In a BBC World Service interview, presidential climate envoy John Kerry expressed concern about the amount of greenhouse gas being emitted from the war in Ukraine. Kerry was just getting warmed up with a string of platitudes that show him as a deluded climate relic, unable to come to terms with the reality that Putin has imposed on the world. “Equally importantly,” Kerry complained, “you’re going to lose people’s focus,” as if the first invasion of a sovereign European country since the Second World War is an annoying distraction. Hopefully, Kerry continued, Putin would realize that Russia’s land is thawing, and the people of Russia are at risk.  

Kerry concluded with an expression of pure self-deception, saying he hopes Putin “will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate.” Stay on track? Russia has never hidden its intention to avoid cutting its emissions. Russia’s second Nationally Determined Contribution, submitted in November 2020 under the Paris climate agreement, is to limit its 2030 emissions to “no more than 70% of 1990 levels.” The document is careful to avoid pledging to cut or reduce emissions. The 1990 baseline year was the last one before the collapse of the highly inefficient and heavily polluting centrally planned Soviet economy. Thus, the 70% limit actually enables Russia to increase its emissions by 34% – and that’s before taking account of any changes in forestry and land use that would allow Russia to claim credit for negative emissions. 

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U.S. Added 678K Jobs in February, While Unemployment Decreased Slightly

The U.S. economy added 678,000 jobs in February, according to a Friday report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), beating economists’ expectations.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 678,000 in February, according to the BLS report, while the unemployment rate dropped to 3.8%, a pandemic low. Job gains were most pronounced in the leisure and hospitality sectors, which added a total 179,000 jobs.

“The labor market continues to be quite hot,” Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed, told The Wall Street Journal. “It looks like the labor market is still primed for lots of strong employment growth.”

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Baltimore to Spend $90 Million in Federal Funds on Hotels for Homeless and Other Homeless Programs

Baltimore plans to spend $90.4 million of federal funds to buy hotels to replace existing homeless shelters and support other homelessness programs, The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday.

The city has not yet announced which hotels it will buy, but it plans to replace 275 existing beds in several shelters with private rooms in city-owned hotels, the Sun reported.

“Non-congregate shelter is a best practice we’re seeing throughout the nation,” Director of the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services Irene Agustin told the Sun. “We know this is an intervention that’s going to work within the city of Baltimore.”

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Another Key Inflation Indicator Surged to Highest Level Since 1983

woman in a grocery aisle with a mask and backpack on

A key inflation indicator increased to its highest level in 38 years while consumer demand remained strong despite soaring prices, the Commerce Department announced Friday.

The Commerce Department’s personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index grew 5.2% in January, exceeding the 5.1% Dow Jones estimate, the Commerce Department reported. The PCE is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, and January’s figure marks monthly the largest year-over-year increase since April 1983.

The PCE increased 0.5% on a monthly basis in January, the same pace as the previous three months, according to the Commerce Department. Including food and energy prices, overall PCE surged 6.1% since January 2021, marking the most annual growth since February 1982.

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‘Scientific Malfeasance’: Economists Point Out Flaws in Biden Nominee’s Signature Research

Dr. Lisa D. Cook

President Joe Biden’s latest nominee to the Fed has faced criticism for embellishing her resume, but recently some economists have raised the possibility that her most famous research contains fatal flaws.

Lisa Cook, a professor of international relations and economics at Michigan State University, was nominated to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on Jan 14. Three weeks later, on Feb. 5, an anonymous Twitter account pointed out a mistake in Cook’s 2014 paper, “Violence and economic activity: evidence from African-American patents, 1870-1940.”

The anonymous tweet sparked a flurry of blog posts criticizing Cook’s paper. Andrew Gelman, a statistics professor at Columbia University, compared Cook’s dataset with a more recent dataset from the Brookings Institution and said the results did not match. “Hey—this is a lot different!” wrote Gelman.

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Wholesale Prices Jump in January as Inflation Continues to Soar

Wholesale prices jumped a full percentage point in January and 9.7 percent over last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday, as inflation continues its rapid rise.

“On an unadjusted basis, final demand prices moved up 9.7 percent for the 12 months ended January 2022,” BLS said.

That increase comes after a 0.9% increase in November and a 0.4% increase in December.

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Survey: More Than One-Third of Wisconsin Businesses Plan to Pay More

woman working in a warehouse

It is a good time to be a worker with in-demand skills in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, on Monday said its latest Employer Survey shows many businesses across the state plan to raise wages by more than 4% at some point this year.

“Wages are rising much faster than they have in recent memory,” WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer said. “Wisconsin does not have enough people to fill the jobs we have available, and that creates an aggressive competition for talent. We are seeing wages rise at a faster rate, sign-on bonuses, work flexibility and many other strategies from companies to attract and retain talent.”

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State Budget Makers Approve $194 Million for Childcare in Wisconsin

three kids holding hands

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers are, perhaps surprisingly, on the same page when it comes to spending more money on childcare in Wisconsin.

The state’s budget-writing panel, the Joint Finance Committee, on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to spend $194 million in federal funds to support childcare across the state.

“$194 million is a lot of money,” Rep Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, told lawmakers. “This is our job as a committee and members of the legislature to have a voice in how these programs are supported or created or expanded. Or in some cases not created and not expanded.”

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Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi Sue Biden over Minimum Wage Hike for Federal Contractors

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration again Thursday, this time for requiring federal contractors to pay a $15 an hour minimum wage. It’s the 21st lawsuit the attorney general has filed against the administration. Joining him are the attorneys general from Louisiana and Mississippi.

“The president has no authority to overrule Congress, which has sole authority to set the minimum wage and which already rejected a minimum wage increase,” Paxton argues.

Their lawsuit follows one filed last December by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of outdoor adventure guides, Arkansas Valley Adventures (AVA), ​​a licensed river outfitter regulated by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, and the Colorado River Outfitters Association (CROA). The CROA, a nonprofit trade association, represents more than 150 independent operators who primarily conduct business on federal lands using special use permits through Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management.

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Commentary: The GOP Can Reclaim the Child Tax Credit – And Use it to Win in 2022

family of three eating pizza

As part of his Contract with America, House Speaker (and my former boss) Newt Gingrich helped first introduce the Child Tax Credit (CTC), passing it in 1997. Originally the idea of President Ronald Reagan, the CTC was founded on the conservative principles that raising children is God’s work, and parents should not be punished or held back for choosing family in a country that is always moving forward. President Trump continued this tradition by doubling the CTC in 2017. As Speaker Gingrich said during a 1995 speech, “We believe that parents ought to have the first claim on money to take care of their children rather than bureaucrats.”

Democrats reformed the CTC in 2021, as part of their wildly overdone American Rescue Plan. They’ve sought to continue their changes to the CTC in the even-more-overdone Build Back Better Act (BBB), a hulking Frankenstein of bad Democratic ideas. But the new version of the CTC may be an exception. It continues fulfilling Speaker Gingrich’s contract, empowering families to work and earn, and to raise their children with their own values. The spirit and core of that policy is even better reflected by flat, poverty-busting monthly disbursement of the credit. It’s the only salvageable ship in the sinking BBB fleet.

The CTC – in its 2021 form – does not stray too far from the $500-per-child tax cut that was initially passed in 1997. The payments, which provided eligible families with up to $300 per month for each qualifying child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each qualifying child aged 6 to 17, stimulated regional economies, protected families from rising costs, provided direct cash relief, and removed bureaucratic hurdles.

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Commentary: It’s an Unraveling, Not a Reset

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that a shortage of fertilizer is causing farms in the developing world to fail, threatening food shortages and hunger. Ironically, the lead photo is of mounds of phosphate fertilizer in a Russian warehouse.

Modern synthetic fertilizers are typically made using natural gas or from phosphorous-bearing ores. The former provides the nitrogen that is critical to re-use of fields in commercial agriculture. They constitute more than half of all synthetic fertilizer production. 

So what happens when oil and natural gas extraction are crippled in industrialized nations? One likely outcome is that the fertilizer manufacturing industry is also crippled, leaving both large commercial growers and smaller farms around the world starved of a key substance they need to grow food for hungry populations.

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Commentary: America’s Phony Debts Problem

The email from “Norton Protection” said I owed $999.99, which was “charged successfully and it will appear on your bank statement in 24 to 48 hours.” Although I have an account with a leading cybersecurity company, I’ve never paid that much for its products. To “cancel” the charge, I was instructed to call a number, conveniently highlighted in yellow.

All it took to bird-dog my fake debt email was a simple search-engine query of the invoice’s telephone number. It was based in Hawaii. Unfortunately, perhaps, for the real employees of Norton’s help desk, they are likely not stationed in the Aloha State.

In a nation swimming in real debt – with the average American owing an estimated $90,000 – it’s not surprising that “phantom debts” are one of the hottest scams.

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16 Republican AGs Seek Federal Pressure on China, Mexico over Fentanyl Crisis

Antony Blinken

Sixteen Republican state attorneys general are calling on Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to take action against China and Mexico for their role in creating a fentanyl crisis in the U.S.

“China’s complete unwillingness to police the production and distribution of fentanyl precursors and Mexico’s subsequent failure to control illegal manufacturing of fentanyl using those precursors,” the attorneys general argue, poses a daily threat to Americans.

West Virginia and Arizona are leading the effort. Joining them are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. They say they’ve witnessed an “extraordinary tide of senseless death from fentanyl” in their states.

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Crypto Market Sees $130 Billion Sell-off over Last 24 Hours

The cryptocurrency market lost nearly $130 billion in value over the last 24 hours as major digital coins continue their extended sell-off, multiple sources reported.

Bitcoin dropped 4.81% to $33,693.63 over the last 24 hours while Ethereum slid 9.41% to $2,206.22, according to Coinbase. Both assets fell to their lowest level since July 2021, and each has lost roughly 50% of its highest value.

Cryptocurrencies have trended similarly to stocks, which have seen a sell-off since the start of 2022. Investors have dumped their assets, especially technology stocks, in preparation for tighter monetary policies from the Federal Reserve, including interest rate hikes and halting of the central bank’s asset purchasing stimulus program.

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MidAmerican Energy Files $3.9B Renewable Energy Project with Iowa Utilities Board

Field of wind turbines

MidAmerican Energy announced Wednesday it filed plans with the Iowa Utilities Board to build a $3.9 billion renewable energy project in Iowa.

Wind PRIME would add 2,042 megawatts of wind generation and 50 megawatts of solar generation, a news release from the Des Moines-headquartered company claims.

MidAmerican estimates the project will create more than 1,100 full-time jobs during construction and another 125 ongoing full-time positions for operations and maintenance, along with $24 million in local property tax payments on wind turbines and solar facilities and $21 million in annual landowner easement payments. The company plans to complete construction by the end of 2024, if it receives IUB approval.

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Commentary: Get Ready for a New Roaring Twenties

Statue of Liberty

On New Year’s Eve of 2019, revelers gathered around the globe to ring in a new decade. Many jubilantly attended “Roaring Twenties” parties, adorned in elegant evening wear, cloche and Panama hats, and knickerbockers, harkening back to an exciting, culturally vibrant era of economic prosperity. But whatever veiled hopes partygoers had for a booming future soon met jarring realities: a once-in-a-century pandemic, global lockdowns, an economic recession, and widespread civil unrest stemming from an incident of police brutality. The Roaring 2020s were not to be, it seemed.

Take heart: Mark P. Mills, a physicist, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, faculty fellow at Northwestern University, and a partner in Montrose Lane, an energy-tech venture fund, is out to rekindle our collectively dashed hopes. In his new book, The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and a Roaring 2020s, Mills convincingly argues with verve, vitality, and – most importantly – evidence, that humanity is about to take a great step forward in the coming decade. And unlike the first Roaring Twenties, these won’t need to end with a Great Depression.

In the opening pages, Mills reminds us that the original Roaring Twenties didn’t start off so auspiciously, either. In fact, separated by a century, our situation seems eerily similar. The 1918 flu pandemic ran well into 1920, triggering a severe U.S. recession that lasted through summer 1921. Violent riots and political instability were also prevalent. Yet from this pit of public despair, Americans pulled themselves out. Propelled by remarkable advancements in mass production, medicine, electrification, communications via telephone and radio, movies, automobiles, and aviation, the United States saw its GDP rise by an astounding 43% between 1921 and 1929.

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Missouri Economic Leaders Give Glimpse of How $2.6 Billion in Federal Pandemic Funds Will be Spent

Maggie Kost

Missouri’s Department of Economic Development (DED) recently previewed how Gov. Mike Parson plans to allocate the state’s $2.6 billion portion of federal pandemic funds.

In late December, Maggie Kost, acting director of the DED, outlined major priorities for Missouri’s portion of the more than $195 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. A total of $350 billion will be delivered to the 50 states and the District of Columbia and local and Tribal governments throughout the nation to support the response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The total amount of ARPA funds, passed in March 2021, is $1.9 trillion.

“We want to give you an idea of what to expect as we get into the legislative and budget session here in January,” Kost said. “As you’re planning and setting priorities locally for communities, we want to make sure you have an idea of what’s to come so you can think about how to leverage state funds as you’re building out your local priorities.”

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Federal Judge Tosses Lawsuit Challenging Biden’s Authority to Block Keystone Pipeline

Keystone XL Pipeline

A federal district court judge granted the Biden administration’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by more than 20 Republican attorneys general challenging the Keystone XL Pipeline’s permit revocation.

Judge Jeffrey Brown, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, ruled that he couldn’t determine the constitutionality of President Joe Biden’s action because TC Energy, the pipeline’s developer, had abandoned the project. On June 9, TC Energy announced its intention to permanently halt construction of the pipeline, saying it would focus on other projects.

Biden canceled the pipeline’s federal permit immediately after taking office on Jan. 20 in an executive order. The order said the U.S. “must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy” and that the Keystone project would undermine the nation’s role as a climate leader on the world stage.

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Iowa Leaders React to Biden Administration’s $1 Billion for Expanding Independent Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity

Inside of a butcher shop with meat hanging up

The Biden Administration announced Monday it will spend $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds to increase independent meat and poultry processing capacity.

The administration will invest $375 million on independent processing plant projects that fill a need for diversified processing capacity, spend up to $275 million in working with lenders to increase availability of loans, particularly to underserved communities, for independent processors, and spend $100 million to back private lenders investing in independently owned food processing and distribution infrastructure to move product through supply chain.

It will spend and additional $100 million to support training, safe workplaces and jobs in meat and poultry processing facilities, $100 million in reducing overtime and holiday inspection costs for small and very small processing plants, and $50 million to provide independent business owners and producers with technical assistance and research and development.

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Connecticut Governor Lamont Directs Increase in Earned Income Tax Credit to Benefit Lower-Income Taxpayers

Ned Lamont

Nearly 200,000 households in Connecticut will benefit from an increase in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

The governor said in a news release that the Department of Revenue Services will increase the 2020 Earned Income Tax Credit from 23% to 41.5% as directed by the state budget.

Lamont said the increase will “provide needed economic support to low-to-moderate income working individuals and families” who faced negative economic impacts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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European Tech Firm Chooses Arizona as First American Location

A European solar power tech company has chosen Arizona as its first location in the United States.

Switzerland-based mechanical engineering company Meyer Burger Technology AG is establishing a production site for high-performance solar modules in Goodyear, Arizona. Production is expected to be operational by the end of 2022, creating an initial 250 jobs and more than 500 jobs at full capacity.

“I am very pleased to welcome Meyer Burger to our community,” Mayor of Goodyear Joe Pizzillo said in a news release.“The decision to make a large investment in our community shows Goodyear is an excellent location for advanced manufacturing businesses. Our highly skilled workforce, modern infrastructure, and low cost of doing business has created an environment where companies can thrive.”

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Iowa Farmers Prepare for California’s Prop 12

Man in gray tee and blue jeans walking in a field with two hogs behind him

Hogs born Jan. 1, 2022, or later are subject to California’s Prop 12.

Some Iowa agricultural leaders have criticized the law, which prohibits the sale of pork from hogs that are the offspring of sows that were raised in pens with less than 24 square feet of usable floorspace per pig.

California accounts for about 15% of the U.S. pork market, the National Pork Producers Council said in a September news release. The NPPC is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to determine Prop 12’s constitutionality.

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Manchin Reportedly Told the White House He Supports a Billionaire Tax

Joe Biden and Joe Manchin

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin told the White House last week that he was willing to endorse some type of billionaire tax in President Joe Biden’s domestic spending package before coming out against it days later, The Washington Post reported.

Manchin said that a tax on billionaires’ wealth could be a means to pay for the package, according to the Post, citing three people familiar with his offer to the White House. The outlet reported that it was unclear whether Manchin provided an estimate of how much money the provision would raise.

Programs in Manchin’s $1.8 trillion counteroffer included universal pre-K for ten years, expansions to the Affordable Care Act and billions of dollars for climate change mitigation measures, according to the Post, but it did not include the child tax credit, which many Democrats have touted as one of the single biggest policy achievements of the year.

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Newt Gingrich Commentary: Abolish the Georgia State Income Tax

Newt Gingrich

The time has come to abolish the Georgia state income tax.

Sen. David Perdue was exactly right in proposing to eliminate the state income tax. He was also right in suggesting that he could work with the Georgia state legislature and find ways to return money to the people of Georgia rather than focusing it on the state bureaucracies.

The money is clearly there. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported, “Despite pandemic, Georgia ends fiscal year with a record $3.2 billion jump in revenue.” The article went on to note, “The state saw revenue grow 13.5% over 2020. … Besides the boon in state tax collections, Georgia is also receiving about $4.7 billion or so from the latest federal COVID-19 relief plan.”

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Big Oil CEOs Thumb Nose at Green Energy Transition, Say Fossil Fuels Still Have ‘Essential Role’

Mike Worth, Darren Woods and Amin Nasser

Executives of major oil companies slammed the aggressive global push to renewable forms of energy and warned that such policies could crash economies.

Crude oil and natural gas continue to be key to the world economy’s health and cannot be discounted, CEOs of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Halliburton and Saudi Aramco said during the ongoing World Petroleum Congress in Texas on Monday. The executives agreed that climate change should be addressed, but not to the detriment of current energy needs.

“I understand that publicly admitting that oil and gas will play an essential and significant role during the transition and beyond will be hard for some,” Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said during his remarks at the summit, the Financial Times reported.  People “assume that the right transition strategy is in place. It’s not,” Nasser said, Reuters reported. “Energy security, economic development and affordability are clearly not receiving enough attention.”

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Studies: Trump Tax Cuts Helped Lower Income Families, Build Back Better Helps Wealthier Americans

family of three eating pizza

Democrats have argued that the tax reforms implemented through the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) only benefited the rich, and that the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) will help middle-and working-class Americans the most.

But several nonpartisan groups found that the TCJA reduced the tax burden for the middle- and working-class by up to 87% and, they argue, the $2.4 trillion BBBA – before the U.S. Senate this week – would increase taxes on the middle- and working-class by up to 40%.

A new analysis published by the Heartland Institute found that the TCJA reduced the average effective income tax rates for taxpayers in every income tax bracket – but the lower- and middle-class saw the greatest benefits – with the lowest-income filers receiving the largest tax cuts.

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Report: Pennsylvania Taxpayers Spend Tens of Millions on Government Lobbying

People shaking hands

A Pennsylvania government watchdog group is highlighting how the incestuous relationship between local government entities and lobbyists is costing taxpayers millions of dollars. The Commonwealth Foundation also is supporting legislation designed to put an end to the practice.

The Commonwealth Foundation issued a report Monday that reveals Pennsylvania taxpayers paid at least $42 million in lobbying expenses between 2007 and 2020 to advocate for more government spending, though the actual cost is likely substantially more.

The foundation sent public information requests to 1,518 government entities to collect data on taxpayer-funded lobbying, which involves boroughs, cities, counties, school districts and state agencies that hire lobbyists or pay dues to associations to lobby other areas of government.

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Fraudsters Used Paycheck Protection Program Loans for Bentleys, Diamonds, Luxury Homes: Watchdog

woman on laptop with eye glasses and mug next to her

This week’s Golden Horseshoe goes to the Small Business Administration for millions in Paycheck Protection Program loans it issued to fraudsters who used the money to purchase luxury homes, high-priced jewelry and expensive cars, including a Bentley and two Lamborghinis, according to a watchdog report.

The Paycheck Protection Program had the highest percentage of cases of criminal activity of all the pandemic relief programs, according to the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee’s recent Semiannual Report to Congress.

“A total of 14 OIGs have indictments/complaints, arrests, and/or convictions from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, related to the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response,” PRAC reported.

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Smithsonian’s New FUTURES Exhibit Asks Visitors When We’ll See ‘Single Global Government’

Bill Nye talks about the new FUTURES exhibit to go in Washington D.C.

The Smithsonian Institution’s new FUTURES exhibit asks attendees when they think we will see a “single global government.”

The global government question appears on a screen inside the exhibit that allows visitors to wave their hands in front of a camera to select an answer to the questions that show up.

“When might there be a single global government?” reads the question.

The answers that someone can choose from include time frames ranging from 10 years to 100 years or never.

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Thanksgiving Dinner, Travel, Black Friday Shopping More Expensive as Inflation Continues to Rise

People on an escalator in an indoor shopping mall

As Americans prepare for Thanksgiving this year, traveling and cooking a family dinner will be significantly more expensive.

Inflation has increased by more than 6.2% this year, according to the consumer price index (CPI), representing the highest rate of price hikes in nearly 31 years.

In January 2021, before Biden “took over the presidency, annual inflation was at a stable 1.4 percent,” Americans for Tax Reform notes. “While inflation has already hit American families hard, President [Joe] Biden is pushing policies which would make this problem even worse.”

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Commentary: The New ‘Blue Confederacy’

Why are progressive regions of the country—especially in the old major liberal cities (e.g., Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle)—institutionalizing de facto racial quotas through “proportional representation” based on “disparate impact”? Why are they promoting ethnic and racial chauvinism, such as allowing college students to select the race of their own roommates, calibrating graduation ceremonies by skin color and tribe, segregating campus “safe spaces” by race, and banning literature that does not meet commissariat diktats?

Why are they turning into one-party political fiefdoms separating the rich and poor, increasingly resembling feudal societies as members of the middle class flee or disappear? What does it mean that they are becoming more and more intolerant in their cancel culture, and quasi-religious intolerance of dissent, on issues from climate change and abortion-on-demand to critical race theory and wokeness?

Isn’t it strange that there are entire states and regions wholly reliant on the money and power of “one-crop” Big Tech monopolies? And why, in the 21st century no less, are Democratic-controlled counties, cities, and entire states nullifying federal law?

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House Passes Democrats’ Social Spending Bill After Congressional Budget Office Score

Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi

Congressional Democrats passed a $1.75 trillion social spending plan Friday, putting the bill’s fate in the hands of a deeply divided Senate.

The bill funds universal pre-kindergarten, climate change spending, Obamacare subsidies, an extension of the monthly child tax credit payment and more wide ranging spending items. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke more than eight hours on the House floor overnight to delay the vote until Friday morning, but afterward it passed 220-213 along party lines with one Democrat opposed.

“We are very excited for what it does for the children, for the families,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a press conference after the bill’s passage.

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Sen. Cruz: Skyrocketing Inflation in U.S. Comparable to 1970s under Carter

Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says that skyrocketing inflation and long lines at gas stations are a result of President Joe Biden’s policies and are returning the U.S. to the days of high inflation, high cost of living and gas lines under President Jimmy Carter.

Eleven months into Biden’s term, inflation reached a 31-year high and gas prices surpassed a seven-year high.

“I’ve got to tell you the trillions that are being spent, the trillions in debt that’s being racked up, it is historic and not in a good way,” Cruz told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Consider Dumping Daylight Savings Time

Russ Diamond

Pennsylvania state Rep. Russ Diamond says it’s time to “stop the madness of changing clocks twice a year” and permanently place the Keystone State on Eastern Standard Time.

Lawmakers in the General Assembly’s State Government Committee discussed his plan to ditch Daylight Savings Time in a hearing last week.

“The general consensus among Pennsylvanians is they’re tired of changing clocks,” Diamond, R-Lebanon, told his colleagues on the committee.

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Biden’s FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn Wants to ‘Silence Dissent,’ Top Senate Republicans Say

Gigi Sohn

Senate Commerce Republicans are whipping opposition to the nomination of Gigi Sohn, one of President Joe Biden’s picks for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Biden nominated Sohn, former FCC counsel under Tom Wheeler and Ford Foundation alum, to an empty spot on the commission in late October, along with current acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel to the permanent position.

While Republicans have been quiet in their response to the nomination of Rosenworcel, many are pointing to Sohn’s public statements on conservatives as reasons to oppose her confirmation.

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Commentary: I am Challenging the Vaccine Mandate to Protect My Workers’ Jobs

Blue Collar Worker

The Biden administration has finally published its anticipated ultimatum threatening companies like mine with severe fines and penalties for not firing any employee who declines to be vaccinated against or submit to invasive weekly testing for COVID-19. The new rule promulgated by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the guise of workplace safety may well bankrupt the business my father founded. So, as the CEO of the Phillips Manufacturing & Tower Company, I am joining with The Buckeye Institute to challenge OSHA’s vaccine mandate in court. Here’s why.

Phillips is a 54-year-old company based in Shelby, Ohio, that manufactures specialty welded steel tubing for automotive, appliance, and construction industries. OSHA’s emergency rule applies to companies with 100 or more employees — at our Shelby Welded Tube facility, we employ 104 people. As a family-owned business I take the health of my workers seriously — they are my neighbors and my friends. When I heard of the mandate, we conducted a survey of our workers to see what the impacts would be. It revealed that 28 Phillips employees are fully vaccinated, while antibody testing conducted at company expense found that another 16 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies and likely possess natural immunity. At least 47 employees have indicated that they have not and will not be vaccinated. Seventeen of those 47 unvaccinated workers said that they would quit or be fired before complying with the vaccine or testing mandate. Those are 17 skilled workers that Phillips cannot afford to lose.

Perhaps the Biden administration remains unaware of the labor shortage currently plaguing the U.S. labor market generally and industrial manufacturing especially. Like many companies, Phillips is already understaffed, with seven job openings we have been unable to fill. Employees already work overtime to keep pace with customer demand, working 10-hour shifts, six days a week on average. Firing 17 veteran members of the Phillips team certainly won’t help.

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Analysis: Five Controversial Policies Tucked Inside $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Passed by Congress

The final $1.2 trillion INVEST in America Act passed the Democrat-led House in a late night vote on Friday. Tucked away inside the infrastructure bill are some controversial policies, including these five:

1. The cryptocurrency tax provision in the Senate version of the bill was the subject of scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans. The language was not amended in the final bill that passed the House. The legislation includes an IRS reporting requirement for brokers of cryptocurrency transactions.

2. Under the “national motor vehicle per-mile user fee pilot” section of the bill, there is a pilot program to create a vehicle miles traveled system for taxing drivers based on their annual vehicle mileage. During his confirmation process, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg floated the idea of taxing motorists based on the number of miles they travel each year as a way to partly fund the legislation. The Biden administration backed off of full-scale development of the controversial proposal, settling instead for a pilot program.

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Inflation Increases at Record Rate for Second Month in a Row

Woman shopping

The Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures inflation at the wholesale level, rose 8.6% year-over-year as of October, growing at a record rate for a second straight month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced Thursday.

BLS reported Thursday that the PPI, which measures inflation before it hits consumers, grew 0.6% in October, in line with Dow Jones estimates, highlighting that inflationary pressure is still strong.

Over 60% of the month-over-month increase in producer prices resulted from a 1.2% spike in the price of goods rather than services, BLS reported. Goods prices rose 1.2% in October compared to a 0.2% increase in the cost of services.

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As Fuel Costs Rise Heading into the Winter, Biden May Utilize Strategic Reserves

Jennifer Granholm

As the supply chain crisis continues to worsen, Americans can expect to pay higher energy costs in order to maintain heating in the coming winter, says Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, Granholm said “this is going to happen…it will be more expensive this year than last year.”

While Granholm claimed that “we are in a slightly beneficial position…relative to Europe,” she nonetheless admitted that the United States has “the same problem in fuels that the supply chains have, which is that the oil and gas companies are not flipping the switch as quickly as the demand requires.”

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Commentary: Financial Stability Is Key to Being Able to Leave Job for Refusing Vaccine Mandate

Joshua Mawhorter

Until recently, I was a California teacher working in two charter schools, one as a full-time classroom teacher of Government/Economics and sometimes U.S. History, and the other as a part-time independent study teacher who assists families with a program primarily based around homeschooling. I have taught for about five years and love teaching.

Last week, I was fired from one school and put on unpaid administrative leave at the other because of my refusal either to take and demonstrate proof of the COVID-19 vaccine or test weekly. I even filed a religious exemption stating the following that was rejected:

“As a committed follower of Christ, I religiously and philosophically cannot submit to either a government vaccine mandate or weekly testing.

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