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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.
View related content: Economics
Yesterday, the Kansas Legislature authorized the state to borrow $1 billion, at an interest rate of up to 5%, which it will invest in stocks and other risky assets in hopes of making 8% returns. The idea is to bolster the financially-ailing Kansas Public Employee Retirement System though what is called a “Pension Obligation Bond,” or POB. On paper it produces immediate gains, since Kansas PERS can assume an 8% return from the get-go and, based on that assumption, lower the contributions the Legislature must make to the plan. In reality, whether pension bond is a good idea depends on whether Kansas is good at running its own hedge fund.
Democrats, unions and left-wing activists frequently argue that government (actually taxpayers) subsidizes Wal-Mart and other companies that employ low-wage workers since many of those workers receive government welfare benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid. And the mainstream media pretty much accept this reasoning. Here is CBS News: “Walmart’s highly publicized pay hike is a victory of sorts for its 1.3 million employees, but American taxpayers will foot the bill for the large subsidies that will still be needed to compensate for the discount retailer’s low wages.” […]