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As I write, the Senate Finance Committee is about to go through a mark-up of the bipartisan trade promotion act, after opening hearings on the bill on April 21. Here are a few reactions to recent events and the posture and antics of various individuals involved in the process. First, Chris Matthews snagged President Obama for a long interview on his program last night—surrounded by several business types who support the TPA bill and both the TPP and TTIP.
This is cybersecurity week in Congress. Both the House and the Senate are expected to take up two important pieces of cybersecurity legislation: an information sharing bill and a revised version of the USA Freedom Act. My AEI colleague, Shane Tews, has described the urgent rationales behind the information sharing bills: “The fundamental purpose of […]
Here are reactions to several of the most hotly debated sections of the new TPA bill: 1.) Labor and the Environment. The administration has touted the provisions on labor and the environment as the first and most advanced rules in any trade agreement for labor standards and adherence to international environmental agreements. In truth, this TPA […]
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I’m okay on raising the retirement age along with longevity, though I didn’t include it in the plan I outlined in National Affairs. Also in National Affairs, I wrote against means-testing Social Security benefits. A means-test is an effective tax on work and saving, and those are things we want more of. I also don’t believe any politically-viable mean-test will produce significant savings, so I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. The payroll tax cut for older workers, however, is a good idea that I championed in the Wall Street Journal. Social Security pays very poor returns to workers on the cusp of retirement, but these individuals are very sensitive to changes in after-tax wages. Reducing the payroll tax could significantly increase labor supply from near-retirees, improving both the economy and their own retirement security. […]
It’s an economic puzzlement. The US producer inflation index suggests computer chip prices have been flattish in recent years after a rapid decline from the mid-1980s through the early 2000s. Yet there is also evidence that microprocessor performance has continued to improve. Given the apparent relationship between declining chip prices and the pace of innovation, it would be really bad news if the slowing pace of price declines means innovation is slowing too. And really bad news for the overall economy. After all, semiconductors are “general purpose” technology behind advances in areas such as machine learning, robotics, and big data. As researchers David Byrne, [AEI’s] Stephen Oliner, and Daniel Sichel explain in “How Fast are Semiconductor Prices Falling?”:
As with the World Bank and other project lenders, the AIIB will evaluate roads, dams, and so on, then evaluate global engineering firms for building them. The leaders in Asian infrastructure are Chinese state-owned engineering giants such as Power Construction Corp. and Sinomach.