Commentary: Bearing the Tax Burden of the Biden Administration

Joe Biden

As congressional Democrats push a $3.5 trillion social spending package, everyone is wondering: “How are we going to pay for that?” To President Joe Biden, the answer is simple: raise taxes.

Included in Biden’s proposed tax plans — erroneously named the American Families Plan — are hikes in personal income tax and capital gains tax rates. The plan would raise the top marginal income tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent and reclassify long-term capital gains and qualified dividends as ordinary income for those with taxable income above $1 million, resulting in a top marginal tax rate of 43.4 percent, according to the Tax Foundation.

Despite the frustration (or excitement) that Americans have towards Biden’s income and wealth tax proposals in the midst of an economic recovery, Americans should be paying closer attention to his other proposals, the American Jobs Plan and the Made in America Tax Plan.

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Commentary: The Bidenization of America

Joe Biden

Day by day, as the Biden Administration crashes into utter shambles and a cloud of dust reminiscent of 9/11, the Bidenization of America becomes more stark and horrifying. 

I can remember no more pitiful words from a senior American government official in 65 years than Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s complaint that the Taliban government in Kabul was disappointing in its lack of “inclusiveness.” (To be sure, that is not all it lacks, and that could hardly have been a surprise.) 

Nor can I think of any diplomatic initiative by a senior American government official more certainly doomed to ludicrous failure than environment ambassador John Kerry’s recent trip to China requesting the collaboration of the People’s Republic in this administration’s hell-bent-for-leather assault on what it is trying to identify as climate change. 

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Dow Plummets More Than 500 Points at Monday Open, Following Three Straight Weeks of Losses

U.S. stocks shed more than 500 points as the markets opened Monday morning as emerging risks continue to become the September story for Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 570 points – its biggest single day drop since mid-July. The S&P 500 lost 1.4%, while the tech-oriented Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.6%.

The sell-off comes as a the result of a number of investor concerns. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve will begin a two-day meeting, which investors are worried will result in a decision that will pull stimulus funds as inflation continues to surge.

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Retail Sales Surprisingly Increased Last Month after Plummeting in July

Woman checking out a business

Retail sales unexpectedly increased last month despite continued challenges facing the economy as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Sales ticked up 0.7% in August relative to July and totaled $618.7 billion, according to a Census Bureau report published Thursday. E-commerce, furniture, general merchandise, building materials and energy purchases drove last month’s sales increase.

Dow Jones economists had expected sales to decline 0.8%, CNBC reported. In July retail sales posted a sharp 1.8% decline as coronavirus cases surged, the Census report said Thursday.

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Commentary: Biden’s Medical Apartheid

Joe Biden

Events this weekend showcased the intense bifurcation of America into two separate realities. As our country observed the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, former presidents gathered, sans Donald Trump, in New York for a solemn ceremony — wearing masks even though they are fully vaccinated and were outside. In Shanksville, Pa., George W. Bush leveraged the occasion to take a not-very-veiled shot at the MAGA movement, comparing its most fervent adherents to the 9/11 terrorists.

Meanwhile, at stadiums across America, massive crowds of rowdy, unmasked college football fans tailgated, packed into stadiums, and also recalled the grim events of 2001, but in far more boisterous displays of patriotism.

This same-day divergence highlights the sharply divided nation of 2021. That chasm will now only widen as Joe Biden targets many of those same people, the ones unwilling to live under the thumb of onerous government virus mitigation restrictions. These ineffective mandates may nominally emanate from science, but they moreover stem from a preference for coercion and control by Democrat politicians, all with the assistance of powerful business interests, including Big Tech and Big Pharma.

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Brushing off Supreme Court Rulings, California County Fines Church as Commercial Enterprise

Hands praying on top of a Bible

While the state of California and multiple counties continue to settle with churches after imposing unconstitutional restrictions against them, one county is expanding its efforts to pursue damages against a church, claiming their worship services are a public nuisance.

In its latest request, filed Aug. 31, Calvary Chapel has asked the court to dismiss the public nuisance claim along with the $2.8 million in fines levied against it, arguing the county has not provided any evidence to support the accusation that the church has caused any harm to the public.

The battle between the county and the church began in late spring 2020 after the state and county encouraged residents to protest the death of George Floyd without numerical limitations or public health restrictions, even as the same authorities imposed severe constraints on houses of worship.

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Feds Say California Too Expensive to Welcome Afghan Refugees

Hashoo Foundation (HF) is implementing a project for the Afghan Refugees residing in I-12 Islamabad who were deprived from the basic needs of life. Hashoo Foundation with the support of United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Gesellshaft Technische Zusamenarbeit (GTZ) has been able to establish two basic health units for males and females, initiate primary education system for the children and equip young people with some marketable skills such as tailoring, embroidery, motor winding and electrician.

by Cole Lauterbach   Afghan refugees looking to resettle in the U.S. are being discouraged from picking California as a destination, despite the state having significant Afghan population centers. In the days after the U.S. announced it would resettle refugees fleeing a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, governors across the country…

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The Political Time Bomb for Biden Inside the Latest Jobless Numbers

Joe Biden walking with "American Jobs Plan" sign

While the unemployment rate for Americans dropped in August, there is a political time bomb buried in the statistics for President Joe Biden and a Democratic Party increasingly focused on equity: black joblessness shot up significantly.

In other words, the president who fondly boasts of a domestic policy promising to leave nobody behind has an economic recovery that is leaving a key Democratic constituency in worse shape.

“The rise in black unemployment in August is certainly troubling, considering their unemployment rates were already much higher than any other group,” Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, said on Twitter.

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Americans Remain Hard Workers Even Through the Pandemic, Especially in Red States

Blue Collar Worker

With Labor Day upon us, it’s time to take a look at which are the hardest-working states in America, and why. It has been a year that daily and weekly work routines have dramatically changed for tens of millions of Americans.

Researchers for WalletHub, a personal finance website, have once again set out to determine which states are home to the hardest working Americans in their annual report. They compare the 50 states based on both direct and indirect work factors, and then apply 10 different metrics to reach an overall score to rank each state.

The direct work factors, according to WalletHub, include “average workweek hours, employment rate, the share of households where no adults work, the share of workers leaving vacation time unused, share of engaged workers, and idle youth.”

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Federal Reserve Could Soon Lose Control of Inflation Like in 1960s, Economic Historian Says

Prominent economic historian Niall Ferguson said current inflation could be in line with where it was in the 1960s during the period that preceded a decade of high consumer prices, CNBC reported.

“What is interesting about disasters is that one can lead to another,” Ferguson said in a Friday interview with CNBC. “You can go from a public health disaster to a fiscal, monetary and potentially inflationary disaster.”

During the 1960s, inflation stayed low before shooting up in the 1970s, according to government economic data. Consumer prices ultimately peaked in 1980 before rapidly declining.

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U.S. Economy Added Just 235,000 Jobs in August, Way Short of Economists’ Projections

Woman organizing table contents in restaurant

The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in August and the unemployment rate fell to 5.2%, according to Department of Labor data released Friday.

The number of unemployed people decreased to 8.4 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Economists projected 720,000 Americans — roughly three times the actual number — would be added to payrolls prior to Friday’s report, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Despite the delta variant, there is still an opening up of the service sector of the U.S. economy,” Nationwide Mutual Insurance Chief Economist David Berson told the WSJ. “While that started some months ago, it’s not nearly complete.”

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Apple and Google Face First Major Challenge to Their App Store Dominance

smartphone app store

Apple and Google might change their app store business practices because of a new South Korean law similar to recent legislative efforts by U.S. lawmakers.

The new law would prohibit app stores, including Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, from forcing developers to use the tech giants’ payment systems, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bill, passed by South Korea’s National Assembly, will become law once signed by President Moon Jae-in.

The Korean bill is similar to a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Amy Klobuchar, and Marsha Blackburn to the U.S. Senate earlier this month that seeks “to promote competition and reduce gatekeeper power in the app economy, increase choice, improve quality, and reduce costs for consumers.” Both bills prevent app stores from requiring the use of their billing systems and take aim at the tech giants’ commission structure.

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Inflation Measure Surges Again, Hits New Three-Decade High

People on an escalator in an indoor shopping mall

An index measuring inflation surged at an annual rate of 4.2% last month, reaching its highest level since 1991, according to the Department of Commerce.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, which measures prices, increased 4.2% in the 12-month period between August 2020 and July 2021, according to a Department of Commerce report published Friday. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the index spiked 3.6%, the report showed.

The last time consumer prices increased this much in one year was more than three decades ago in January 1991, CNBC reported. The figure reported Friday is in line with what economists expected.

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House Lawmakers Set to Square off with White House, Treasury Department over ‘Stifling’ Crypto Tax Plan

House lawmakers are set to return from recess Monday and will likely take up the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill the Senate passed last week — and with it, a controversial and last-minute cryptocurrency tax provision.

The bill contains a tax reporting mandate forcing cryptocurrency “brokers” to disclose gains and transactions to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of a scheme designed to help cover part of the infrastructure bill’s cost. However, the bill’s definition of “broker” has been criticized by the cryptocurrency community and pro-crypto lawmakers as vague, expansive and potentially unworkable, with many fearing it could stifle the industry and force crypto companies to collect personal information on their customers.

The provision defines a broker as “any person who is responsible for regularly providing any service effectuating transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person,” and forces brokers to report transactions to the IRS in a form similar to a 1099. This means brokers have to collect and report customer information such as names, addresses, and taxpayer identification numbers.

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Conservative Media Company Is the Fastest-Growing Advertising And Marketing Business in the U.S., According to Inc. 5000

Person setting up lighting in front of green screen filming location

A conservative digital media company’s focus on the culture wars in America appears to be paying off, as it is the fastest-growing private advertising and marketing business in the U.S., according to the 2021 Inc. 5000 list released Tuesday.

“We focus on working with groups that are advocating for or otherwise advancing conservative causes or conservative beliefs,” Olympic Media Founder and CEO Ryan Coyne told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday.

Olympic was founded in 2018 and has had many high-profile clients, such as Reps. Elise Stefanik, Jim Jordan, and Madison Cawthorn, Sen. Bill Hagerty and Turning Point USA.

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Retail Sales Dipped in July Amid Spiking Coronavirus Cases

Woman shopping

Retail sales in the U.S. declined in July as the number of coronavirus cases spiked, localities renewed some restrictions and businesses delayed their return to in-person work.

Sales dropped 1.1% in July compared to June and totaled $617.7 billion, according to the Census Bureau report released Tuesday. The decrease was driven mainly by declining used and new car sales, clothing purchases, building materials sales, sports goods sales and furniture purchases.

Economists expected retail sales to fall 0.3%, a relatively modest drop compared to the actual decline, CNBC reported. All major stock market indices declined between 0.5% and 0.8% on Tuesday morning following the worse-than-expected report.

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Commentary: The Biden Inflation Tax, Made Clear in One Chart

Joe Biden walking with "American Jobs Plan" sign

What is all this “Biden inflation tax” talk really about? What is the actual effect of inflation on the lives of real people? 

Well, below is a chart that compares yearly wage and inflation rates for each month from 2017 through July of this year using Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Wage rates are in blue and inflation (as measured by the consumer price index) is in red. When blue is on top, as it was during the entire Trump administration, workers’ wages are beating inflation and their standards of living are improving. When red is on top, they’re not.

While President Biden claims that it is “indisputable” that his jobs plan “is working,” this chart unequivocally shows that it is not, at least not for American workers. Rather, inflation is surging, more than wiping out any wage gains those workers might have experienced.

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Farmers Cry Foul over Biden’s Death Tax Proposal

Woman with ball cap on, out in the fields of a farm

President Joe Biden has proposed amending the inheritance tax, also known as the “death tax,” but farmers around the country are raising concerns about the plan.

In the American Families Plan introduced earlier this year, Biden proposed repealing the “step-up in basis” in tax law. The stepped-up basis is a tax provision that allows an heir to report the value of an asset at the time of inheriting it, essentially not paying gains taxes on how much the assets increased in value during the lifetime of the deceased. This allows heirs to avoid gains taxes altogether if they sell the inheritance immediately.

Under Biden’s change, heirs would be forced to pay taxes on the appreciation of the assets, potentially over the entire lifetime of the recently deceased relative. 

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U.S. Economy Added Whopping 943,000 Jobs in July as Recovery Accelerates

Group of people gathered, talking next to an office desk

The U.S. economy reported an increase of 943,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell to 5.4%, according to Department of Labor data released Friday.

Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 850,000 in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, and the number of unemployed persons decreased to 8.7 million. Economists projected 845,000 Americans would be added to payrolls prior to Friday’s report, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“The jobs recovery is continuing, but it’s different in character to any we’ve seen before,” payroll software firm ADP economist Nela Richardson told the WSJ. “I had been looking at September as a point when we could gain momentum—with schools back in session and vaccines widely available. But with the delta variant, we need to rethink that.”

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Senate Fails to Wrap Up Infrastructure Bill After Talks to Expedite Process Collapse

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set up a critical vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill Saturday after talks to expedite the process fell apart late Thursday.

Both Republicans and Democrats engaged in marathon talks Thursday in a bid to vote on a package of amendments and to advance the sweeping public works package. Doing so, however, required approval from all 100 senators, and Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Haggerty refused to go along even as his Republican colleagues urged him to do so.

In a statement, Hagerty attributed his objection to  the Congressional Budget Office’s estimation that the bill would add $256 billion to the national debt over 10 years.

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Newt Gingrich Commentary: The Higher Inflation and Bigger Debt Act

United States currency

The $3.5 trillion spending bill set up to follow the $1.1 trillion infrastructure bill (which has little to do with infrastructure) should be called what it really is: The Higher Inflation and Bigger Debt Act.

The Democrats would like you to believe it is only a reconciliation bill. This is vital to them because a reconciliation bill only takes 50 senators and the vice president to pass the U.S. Senate.

However, this additional $3.5 trillion comes after trillions of emergency spending prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider what the Congressional Budget Office has written about the fiscal situation before the $1.1 trillion and $3.5 trillion bills are passed:

Here is what the Congressional Budget Office forecasts (not counting Biden’s enormous spending plan): 

“By the end of 2021, federal debt held by the public is projected to equal 102 percent of GDP. Debt would reach 107 percent of GDP (surpassing its historical high) in 2031 and would almost double to 202 percent of GDP by 2051. Debt that is high and rising as a percentage of GDP boosts federal and private borrowing costs, slows the growth of economic output, and increases interest payments abroad. A growing debt burden could increase the risk of a fiscal crisis and higher inflation as well as undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar, making it more costly to finance public and private activity in international markets.”

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Critics Pan Biden Order Calling for Half of U.S. Vehicle Sales to Be Electric by 2030

Electric car being charged

A new executive order from the Biden administration has accelerated the timeline for electric vehicles and raised questions about the economic impacts of the transition away from gas-powered vehicles.

President Joe Biden signed the executive order Thursday aimed at making 50% of vehicles zero emission in the U.S. by 2030, an aggressive push toward electric vehicles. About 2% of new cars sold each year in the U.S. are currently electric, according to the Pew Research Center.

“The Executive Order also kicks off development of long-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards to save consumers money, cut pollution, boost public health, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis,” the White House said.

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Study: Democrats’ Capital Gains Tax Hike Could Cost More Than 745,000 Jobs

Chris Van Hollen

A new Democratic proposal to increase the capital gains tax could cost 745,000 jobs, a study published by the Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) projects.

The Sensible Taxation and Equity Promotion (STEP) Act, which would tax unrealized capital gains when heirs inherit assets, among other things, would have a “significantly negative impact” on the economy, including average job losses of 745,000 over 10 years, the report found.

The analysis, conducted for the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, found that sustained annual job losses from eliminating a tax benefit on appreciated assets known as the step-up in basis could eliminate between 537,000 to 949,000 jobs, with models predicting a base of 745,000 lost jobs through 2030.

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Report: 1.9 Million Households Owe $15 Billion in Back Rent as Eviction Moratorium Expires

Aerial view of a suburb

Up to 1.95 million households across America will owe a collective $15 billion in back rent when the eviction moratorium expires Saturday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia estimates.

That number will reach 2 million by December, according to the report released Friday. In Pennsylvania, about 60,000 renter households will owe $412 million come August. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made one final 30-day extension of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program through July 31. President Joe Biden’s administration said its “hands are tied” by the courts on the matter and any further relief must come from Congress itself. 

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Bezos Offers to Waive $2 Billion in Fees to Secure Lunar Landing Contract

Jeff Bezos

Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos offered to waive $2 billion in payments to secure his spaceflight company Blue Origin a NASA contract.

Bezos asked NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in an open letter Monday to award Blue Origin a contract to construct a Human Landing System (HLS), a lunar-landing vehicle, as part of the Artemis program, offering to waive up to $2 billion in fees. Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX had been awarded the $2.9 billion contract in April, beating out Blue Origin’s bid, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Artemis program is intended to return human astronauts to the Moon, with a manned mission to Mars planned as well. Though the program was initially planned as a joint contract, it was awarded solely to SpaceX due to budgetary constraints which Bezos’ offer sought to alleviate, according to the letter.

“Blue Origin will bridge the HLS budgetary funding shortfall by waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2 billion to get the program back on track right now,” Bezos wrote in the letter.

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Partnership Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency for Florida’s $56B Manufacturing Industry

Aerial shot of downtown Miami, Florida

According to an April-June McKinsey Global Survey poll of 60 senior supply-chain executives from across the nation, 73% encountered a shortage of suppliers – not just supplies – and 75% faced production/distribution shortfalls during the 2020 height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida’s 21,000 manufacturers – not to mention farmers, restauranteurs, hoteliers, retailers – were also affected by pandemic-induced supply disruptions, as they were by Hurricanes Irma in 2017 and Michael in 2018.

To mitigate disruption for the state’s $56 billion manufacturing industry, which employs about 400,000 Floridians, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), Space Florida and FloridaMakes have formed Connex Florida, an online database to link manufacturers connect with prospective suppliers and develop business opportunities.

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Rental Car Companies Across U.S. Struggle to Replace Diminished Fleets

Blue sedan during sunset at dealership in lot

The country is opening up and travel is increasing, but visitors are finding the rental car landscape a bit empty.

Rental car companies are continuing to have a hard time keeping up with demand after selling off fleets to stay afloat during the pandemic.

“The fundamental thing that’s causing it is the very rational corporate response to the pandemic and the almost shutting down of international and domestic travel for most of 2020 and the first half of 2021,” Gregory Scott, spokesperson for the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), told The Center Square. “Airport rentals dropped 70-90% in March and April of last year, and as a result there were literally tens of thousands of vehicles sitting unrented and unwanted because people stopped traveling.”

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Treasury Secretary Warns of ‘Rapid’ Inflation This Year

Janet Yellen

As more federal data show a major spike in inflation, another top federal official said the U.S. is in for more aggressive inflation for the rest of 2021.

Federal officials have been pressed to speak on rising inflation after \data released earlier this week showed that the all items index increased 5.4% over the last 12 months, the biggest spike since the 2008 financial crisis.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen commented on the rise in inflation, saying it would grow worse this year.

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Federal Reserve Chair: Inflation to be ‘Elevated for Months’

Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell tried to calm lawmakers’ fears about rising inflation but also said it would probably remain elevated for months to come.

Testifying before Congress this week, Powell said the Federal Reserve was willing to step in to address the situation, but that inflation should level out next year.

“As always, in assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, we will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if we saw signs that the path of inflation or longer-term inflation expectations were moving materially and persistently beyond levels consistent with our goal,” Powell said in his prepared testimony.

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Commentary: Inflation Has Arrived

Wildly excessive federal spending is causing major inflation and shortages, which may lead to a recession and perhaps a financial crisis. Despite the evidence of inflation, Congress is proposing to spend $3.5 trillion on top of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill passed earlier this year and the intended $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. For comparison, federal revenue is only expected to be $3.8 trillion this year.

Evidently, the Democratic Party and President Joe Biden have adopted Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to the peril of every American citizen. MMT, which is similar to Keynesian economics, says that the U.S. should not be constrained by revenues in federal government spending since the government is the monopoly issuer of the U.S. dollar. MMT is a destructive myth that provides cover for excessive government spending. And it’s not modern, since reckless government spending has been around for thousands of years.

Embracing MMT is similar to providing whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. We know the outcomes will not be good.

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U.S. Retail Sales Increased as States Ended Restrictions

Male checking out on Square program at retail store

U.S. retail sales jumped in June, boosted by states widely loosening coronavirus restrictions and businesses returning to full capacity.

Retail sales increased 0.6% and totaled $621.3 billion in June, according to the Department of Commerce report released Wednesday. The monthly increase was driven by general merchandise, including food service, clothing, personal care, electronics and gasoline sales, the report showed.

“Sectors that were buoyed by the pandemic are slowing down a little bit, but not to a degree that I’d be concerned about,” Square economist Felipe Chacon told The Wall Street Journal. “Household finances have been bolstered by a few rounds of stimulus spending, so it bodes pretty well.”

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Inflation Spikes Again, Marks Quickest Increase in 13 Years

Inflation surged 5.4% over the 12-month period ending in June, the quickest spike since August 2008, a Department of Labor report showed.

The consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.9% between May and June, according to the Labor Department report released Tuesday morning. Economists projected the report would show that CPI ticked up 4.7% between July 2020 and June, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“We’re in a transitional phase right now,” Joel Naroff, the chief economist at Naroff Economics, told the WSJ. “We are transitioning to a higher period of inflation and interest rates than we’ve had over the last 20 years.”

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California Spent $13 Million to Guard 120 Empty Homes

Several tents on the side of the street

The state government of California has been revealed to have spent $13 million on providing security for 120 empty houses for five months, even as a homeless crisis ravaged the state, Fox News reports.

In a report broken by local outlet Fox 11, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) paid $9 million to the highway patrol from November 2020 to April 2021, and gave another $4 million to a private security firm over the same period, all for the purpose of protecting the vacant houses in Pasadena.

In a statement addressing the report, CalTrans said that the houses had been purchased by the government 60 years ago, when there were plans for a change in the local infrastructure by connecting the 710 freeway to the 210. However, that project “is no longer moving forward,” the government statement declared.

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Republicans Push Back Against ‘Politicization’ of IRS

President Joe Biden has pushed for beefing up IRS audits of corporations to raise revenue for his new spending proposals, but Republicans are raising the alarm about the potential consequences of the plan.

Biden unveiled his “Made in America Tax Plan” earlier this year as a strategy to help fund his trillions of dollars in proposed new federal spending that includes several tax hikes. Despite this, a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. House and Senate have agreed to a basic framework for Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan, but one element has been the theme of the negotiations among Republicans: no new taxes.

The GOP pushback against raising taxes, though, puts more pressure on the Biden administration to find ways to fund his agenda. Aside from Biden’s controversial tax hike proposals, the president also has proposed adding $80 billion in funding to the IRS so it can increase audits of corporations.

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Amazon Calls for Higher Taxes on All Corporations Except Itself

Amazon logo on Samsung smartphone screen

While the tech giant Amazon has publicly endorsed proposals to raise the corporate tax rate in the United States, the company has been secretly lobbying to keep its own tax rates low, Politico reports.

Last year, during the 2020 presidential election, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos openly supported then-candidate Joe Biden’s proposals to raise taxes on American corporations. Those proposals have re-emerged in recent weeks as a possible means of funding a possible infrastructure bill, and Biden has been advocating for other countries around the world to adopt higher corporate tax rates as well.

But recently, Amazon has been stepping up its lobbying efforts to try to convince Congress and the White House to allow the company to keep using certain tax breaks in order to keep its own rates low. The retail giant hired a tax lobbyist named Joshua Odintz, who formerly worked as a Democratic aide on Capitol Hill and then as an official in the Obama Administration. In addition to Amazon’s own efforts, similar lobbying has been undertaken by a group known as the “R&D Coalition,” which consists of several companies and organizations including Amazon, Intel, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

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Business Groups Slam Biden’s ‘Flawed’ Competition, Antitrust Executive Order

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden’s competition and antitrust executive order will harm American consumers, groups representing both large and small businesses said.

The leading groups — including the Chamber of Commerce, Job Creators Network (JCN) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) — slammed Biden’s executive order, arguing that it will harm competition and present a host of challenges to small businesses. The business groups said the order is an example of big government attempting to exert control over the free market via onerous rules and regulations.

“This executive order amounts to a bizarre declaration against American businesses, from the largest to the smallest,” Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBE) Council Chief Economist Raymond Keating said in a statement. “It’s hard to understand why a White House would go down such a path, especially as the economy is digging out from the COVID-19 disaster.”

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Jobless Claims Increase to 373,000, Above Economists’ Predictions

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased to 373,000 last week as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics figure released Thursday represented a slight increase in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending June 26, when 371,000 new jobless claims were reported. That number was revised up from the 364,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

Economists expected Thursday’s jobless claims number to come in around 350,000, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Commentary: China’s ‘One-Child Policy’ Left at Least One Million Bereaved Parents Childless and Alone in Old Age, with No One to Take Care of Them

Chinese child being held, peaking over shoulder of dad

A child’s death is devastating to all parents. But for Chinese parents, losing an only child can add financial ruin to emotional devastation.

That’s one conclusion of a research project on parental grief I’ve conducted in China since 2016.

From 1980 to 2015, the Chinese government limited couples to one child only. I have interviewed over 100 Chinese parents who started their families during this period and have since lost their only child – whether to illness, accident, suicide or murder. Having passed reproductive age at the time of their child’s death, these couples were unable to have another child.

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Florida Braces for Booming, Banging Return to July 4th ‘Normal’

fireworks

Independence Day 2020 was a lackluster affair for many, made all the sadder by attempts to celebrate July 4 amid pandemic-induced isolation without the parades, public firework shows and other communal and family gatherings that traditionally accompany the summer holiday.

The city of Miami and others staged “virtual fireworks displays” and at least 60 Florida communities made attempts to stage public events, including socially distanced parades, but with about 80% of traditional observations canceled, July 4, 2020, was nothing to celebrate.

Not so for July 4, 2021.

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Economy Added 850,000 Jobs in June, Well Above Economists’ Forecasts

Person using a laptop, pointing to the screen

The U.S. economy reported an increase of 850,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate ticked up to 5.9%, according to Department of Labor data released Friday.

Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 850,000 in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, and the number of unemployed persons increased to 9.5 million. Economists projected 700,000 Americans would be added to payrolls prior to Friday’s report, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“This is a trickier phase of the recovery,” Wells Fargo senior economist Sarah House told The New York Times.

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Business Owner Says She’ll Go Under If Border Restrictions Aren’t Lifted

inside of grocery store; close up of products in the aisle

The only grocery store in Point Roberts, Washington, will be forced to close if travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada aren’t lifted by July 15, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Point Roberts Marketplace store owner Ali Hayton said the market relies on shoppers who haven’t been able to visit for more than 15 months and that government assistance did little to help the struggling shop, the AP reported. The store received two loans from federal pandemic relief programs, though the funds were used in a week.

“Now that I see that there is absolutely no end in sight, I can’t do it anymore,” Hayton said, according to the AP. “I cannot financially keep subsidizing all of this by myself.”

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Majority of Americans Want the Government to Fight Income Inequality, Poll Finds

Group of people gathered, talking next to an office desk

A majority of respondents believe that the federal government should push policies that reduce income inequality in the United States, according to a poll released Friday by Axios.

The Axios poll shows 66% of respondents say the government should work to lower the level of income distributed unevenly, up 4% compared to 2019.

Republicans surveyed who agreed the government should tackle income inequality increased by 5%, and Independents who responded similarly increased by 2%, according to the poll. Democrats saw an increase of 7% in favor of such policies compared to 2019.

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Inflation Takes Biggest 12-Month Leap Since 1990s, Key Report Shows

Woman shopping, going up escalator

A key index used by the Federal Reserve to measure inflation showed that consumer prices leapt quicker over the last 12 months than they have in three decades.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index surged 3.9% in the 12-month period between June 2020 and May, according to the Department of Commerce report released Friday. The PCE index excluding volatile food and energy prices increased 3.4%, the biggest leap since the 1990s, CNBC reported.

Energy prices increased 27.4% while food prices increased 0.4% over the last 12 months, the report showed.

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Just 14 States Had Positive Job Growth in May

Just 14 states saw positive employment growth between April and May while the majority of the growth was concentrated in a handful of states, according to the Department of Labor.

Fourteen states led by California, Florida and Texas experienced significant job growth, 35 states experienced stagnant job growth and Wyoming saw a decline in employment last month, according to a Department of Labor report released Wednesday. Overall, the unemployment rates in 21 states decreased between April and May while every state’s employment improved compared to May 2020.

While the U.S. continues to report increased job growth, the report showed that the vast majority of the growth has come from about a dozen states.

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Jobless Claims Decrease Slightly as Economic Recovery Continues

Unemployment sign

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims decreased to 411,000 last week as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics figure released Thursday represented a decrease in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending June 12, when 418,000 new jobless claims were reported. That number was revised up from the 412,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

Economists expected Thursday’s jobless claims number to come in around 380,000, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Commentary: Making Sense of the Post-Pandemic Economy

Guy on phone with stocks on computer screen

Are you having a hard time understanding why the housing market is heating up, and why the cost of essentials such as milk, eggs, and gas is climbing? Are you in the market for a used car? Then you know how expensive those are right now. And why can’t businesses find employees, yet millions remain unemployed? Economists agree the recovery isn’t like anything we’ve seen before. That’s because we’ve never had a situation before where the heavy hand of government shut down private enterprises on a nationwide scale. The market distortions are enormous. As states reopen, there is a herky-jerky feel to the economy that has many people unsettled.

Former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alan Blinder wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently, “the recovery is not linear. Rather, it is proceeding in fits and starts. Sales of physical goods, for example, dipped only briefly when Covid hit, recovered quickly, and are now well above their pre-pandemic levels. In stark contrast, businesses that deliver personal services, such as restaurants and hotels, suffered a devastating depression and are still below their pre-pandemic levels.”

By far the most uneven outcome so far since the economy crashed in spring 2000, besides the 7.6 million fewer jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels, has been inflation, which is up 5 percent the past 12 months.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA on Payment for College Athletes

Paying college athletes has been a hotly debated topic for years, but now the U.S. Supreme Court has released a ruling on the issue.

A group of current and former student athletes brought the lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, arguing that the organization violated antitrust laws when it prevented student athletes from accepting certain education-related benefits.

The case, filed in 2018, challenged the NCAA and the biggest conferences including the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and ACC. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the students Monday, saying the NCAA could not deny those benefits, which could include things like “scholarships for graduate or vocational school, payments for academic tutoring, or paid posteligibility internships.”

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Commentary: New Harvard Data (Accidentally) Reveal How Lockdowns Crushed the Working Class While Leaving Elites Unscathed

"Closed until further notice" sign

Founding father and the second president of the United States John Adams once said that “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” What he meant was that objective, raw numbers don’t lie—and this remains true hundreds of years later.

We just got yet another example. A new data analysis from Harvard University, Brown University, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation calculates how different employment levels have been impacted during the pandemic to date. The findings reveal that government lockdown orders devastated workers at the bottom of the financial food chain but left the upper-tier actually better off.

The analysis examined employment levels in January 2020, before the coronavirus spread widely and before lockdown orders and other restrictions on the economy were implemented. It compared them to employment figures from March 31, 2021.

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After Skyrocketing to Record Highs, Lumber Prices Fall Back to Earth

Close up of wood after being cut down - lumber yard

Lumber prices have begun to drop following record highs, with futures closing Monday at their lowest price in over two months.

Lumber futures reached their highest-ever price in early May according to Nasdaq, trading at $1,711.20 per thousand board feet. Futures closed Monday at $966.20 per thousand board feet, still well above pre-pandemic levels which hovered around $400.

Prices skyrocketed due to a variety of factors, including supply chain disruption due to COVID-19 restrictions, labor shortages, and higher demand due to the surge in the housing market, according to a report by Wells Fargo economists. The report noted that while prices were unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels, restarting domestic lumber production and restoring domestic supply chains would stabilize the market.

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Biden Lifts Economic Ban on Chinese Military Tech Company

Sugon device

Joe Biden signed an executive order updating the United States’ list of blacklisted Chinese companies, dropping the ban on at least one company that was originally put on the list by President Donald Trump, the Washington Free Beacon reports.

Biden lifted the blacklist on the company Sugon, which was first banned by President Trump in November of 2020. The company is responsible for selling “supercomputers” to the Chinese military, for use in nuclear weapons research. Sugon also specializes in facial recognition software, cloud computing, and other surveillance technology that has been used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against the Uyghur Muslim population.

Although Biden’s updated list still maintains bans on such companies as Huawei and Hikvision, the removal of Sugon was noted as “strange” by Michael Sobolik, a fellow with the American Foreign Policy Council.

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