Good Policy Matters: U.S. Wage Growth Is Soaring — Fastest At The Low End

Good policies result in good outcomes. And bad policies lead directly to bad outcomes.

So, Obamacare and attendant taxes and penalties as policies were a disaster, and the results of it were terrible for healthcare costs and a wreck for the economy, which saw the slowest recovery after a recession ever in history and general malaise over the American public. And is normally the case with progressive policies, those hurt the most were the ones supposedly meant to be helped.

On the other side, tax cuts and deregulation are good policies and, ipso facto, they are being great for the economy, businesses, the unemployment rate and wages. Yes, wages. An area where Democrats and progressives lecture us unceasingly about how the rich are the only ones benefiting from Trump tax cuts and the little guy is getting crushed while the middle class is shrinking. This is a talking point in every Democratic debate.

Except that was true during the Obama years. And they know this. A close observer will note that when any data is actually used in this discussion, it often encompasses the Bush (recession) and Obama years and stops there. Because bad policies. But in every conceivable metric, things are better in the Trump years because of good policy. It’s not about nice guys or mean guys, or black guys or white guys or presidential guys or non-presidential guys. It’s about policy. And we are in the grand slam realm with the economy.

You frequently hear that black and Hispanic unemployment are at all-time record lows, along with the unemployment rate. That’s true and due to good policy. But more rarely do you hear about the wages — except when Democrats push the $15-per-hour minimum wage, pretending everything is stagnant because they simply cannot run on the truth.

So here is another nail in the coffin of bad policy. Wages across the board are growing much faster than the cost of living, but growing the fastest at the low end. According to Nick Bunker, an Economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab who focuses on the U.S. labor market, writing in September (the numbers have all improved even faster since then, and even these numbers have since been adjusted upward):

Before assuming that the total job growth number in August is skewed because of Census hiring, remember that these are real jobs taken by real workers. Even if you remove government hiring, which accounts for around 34,000 jobs, this is still a number that is high enough to keep up with population growth. This month’s report reflects a slowing labor market but not necessarily one heading straight for a recession.

What’s interesting is that Bunker’s bio shows him to be a man of the progressive left. He was previously a Senior Policy Analyst at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a leftwing economics think tank. Prior to that, he was a Research Assistant at the Center for American Progress, a progressive activist think tank founded by Clinton confidant John Podesta.

But here’s his money paragraph:

In fact, wage growth continues to be strongest for workers in lower-wage industries. Labor force participation grew in the month, signaling a labor market still drawing workers off the sidelines. Job seekers are still benefiting from this job market, but let’s not count on this lasting forever.

So his look at the numbers shows that Trump’s policies are working incredibly well for low-wage workers — the very people that critics of tax reform and deregulation said would be hurt the most. His progressive heart’s spin is that it can’t last. But there’s a pretty good chance he’s been saying that all along. New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman has been talking about tanking markets and a recession or depression since the day Trump took office, literally, and still is. Progressives.

At least Bunker is honest enough to publish an accurate study of the numbers. And notice that he includes continued growth in the labor participation rate, which means people who may have given up back during the Obama years have jumped in and found work, and more continue to do so every month. This pool is part of the reason wages have not been rising faster. A lot of people had given up during the Obama years.

This is also shown in the Atlanta Fed’s Wage Growth Tracker. The first chart below shows that the median wage growth for the lowest quartile of wage-earners had been growing slower throughout the 2000s, until just the last few years, and then it began growing faster.


The faster median wage growth for lower-wage workers is also seen in what is called the relative median wage level of these workers. The chart below shows the median wage level for people in the lowest wage quartile (25 percent) relative to the median for all workers in the Wage Growth Tracker dataset. The chart again shows that for “workers in lower-wage jobs, their relative median wage over the 2000s has deteriorated, and that erosion has reversed course only in the last few years,” according to the Atlanta Fed.


So this shows that the lowest wage earners are moving ahead faster than the rest of the pack since roughly when Trump took office. Much faster. That is crippling to the Democrats’ argument that only rich people are getting ahead and working Americans are falling behind.

To wit, another wages metric is the “real wage,” which Bernie Sanders deplored during the last presidential debate as a lousy 1.1 percent. Sanders used sleight of hand of real wages on purpose to make Democratic voters think he was saying wages, and of course he could count on the media playing along or just being ignorant.

The real wage increase is the increase in wages minus the increase in costs of living. The goal here is to keep it in positive territory. Since 1980, it has averaged 0.3 percent. So it is actually right now nearly four times higher than the long-term average. Sanders was deceiving, but the reality is that that number shows just how successful good policies are.

Finally, in the 16 years prior to Trump’s presidency, inflation-adjusted incomes rose by about $1,500. In the eight years that George W. Bush was president, median income barely moved, up just $401 due largely to the wipeout by the deep recession of 2008. Taking out the first six months of Obama’s presidency as the recession effects lingered, incomes under Obama over 7½ years moved up only $1,043.

But in Trump’s less than three years in office, inflation-adjusted incomes galloped forward more than $5,000, according to the Census Bureau Current Population Survey data. In fact, median household income has now reached $65,976 – up more than 8 percent in 2019 dollars under the Trump presidency. And “median” captures the picture accurately because using “average” can be skewed at the extremes.

We play politics on the presentation. If you’re a Democrat, it’s about skin color and gender first, for everyone it is about likability, appearances, and other superficialities. That is about all the media covers in any depth. But it’s really more about creating policies to ensure that all Americans can pursue the dream of liberty in prosperity.

In that category, Trump has been the best president in a long time because his policies have delivered. There is no debating the results. They are astonishingly good for Americans.


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California’s Latest Act of Idiocy: Killing Freelance Work

If there’s one thing the California government is good for these days, it’s failing to address crises that glaringly exist while creating new crises that shouldn’t exist—and then shifting the blame when everything goes wrong.

A new California law set to go into effect in the new year is the latest example of misguided legislation hurting the very people it was aimed to “protect” in the Golden State.

The law, Assembly Bill 5, puts severe restrictions on who is qualified to be an independent contractor or freelancer. The law puts heavy restrictions on how much work freelancers can do before being considered full-time workers.

The legislation was passed to reduce the negative impact of the “gig economy,” where workers do various jobs on their own time but don’t get the benefits or long-term employment guarantees of a traditional, full-time job.

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The problem is, it appears that instead of aiming to hire more full-time workers, companies are simply getting rid of freelancers and independent contractors in favor of a smaller number of full-time employees.

Of course, the freelancer law has major implications for ride-sharing services like Uber—which is battling the law and working with other companies to amend it with a ballot initiative—but it’s having a huge impact on freelance writers in particular.

Vox Media, which supported the new law, announced that it would be doing away with most of its California contractors who provide content for its sports websites on SB Nation.

“In the early weeks and months of 2020, we will end our contracts with most contractors at California brands,” SB Nation Executive Director John Ness wrote in a postaccording to Fox Business.

“This shift is part of a business and staffing strategy that we have been exploring over the past two years, but one that is also necessary in light of California’s new independent contractor law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.”

There’s no question as to where the problem lies: The new law limits freelance contributions to 35-a-year to a single company, which in many cases is a tiny number for freelancers.

Billy Binion, writing for Reason, pointed out what this means for writers:

“The 35-piece per publication limit comes out to less than one piece per week. Anyone who writes a weekly column, for instance, is likely out of a job if their publisher cannot hire them as an employee.”

Businesses and publishers in general now have an incentive to stay away from California workers and writers.

“If I’m a publisher from out of state,” said David Swanson, a San Diego writer who is the outgoing president of the Society of American Travel Writers, according to the Los Angeles Times, “and I have a choice of hiring a writer from California to do a job, or somebody from Colorado or Texas or Canada or India—and I’d have no chance of being sued—who do you think I’m going to hire? AB 5 simply makes it unattractive to hire writers from California.”

The gig economy might not be the best arrangement for everyone, but needlessly killing thousands of jobs is the last thing California lawmakers should be doing. The impact on businesses will likely be bad, but for those now out of a job in the new year, it will be far worse.

For many, the flexibility of independent contract work is highly appealing and in some cases necessary.

As Laura Baxter wrote for The Federalist, the law could fall particularly hard on parents, students, and the disabled. For others, freelancing is an important supplement to income that will now be lost.

And for those who pursue the dream of writing for a living, freelance work is often the only opportunity to do so. With this law, many California writers are now being forced to choose between ending that dream or leaving the state.

California, the richest state in the union, is seemingly perfecting the art of encouraging mass homelessness and putting people out of work. (And right behind it is New York, which may soon be adopting a similar law.)

Instead of blaming their problems on President Donald Trump, maybe California leaders ought to reexamine the broken ideology that has caused their state—which has every advantage of wealth, climate, and geography—to become a national laughingstock whose residents can’t get out fast enough.



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A Note for our Readers:

As progressives on the far Left continue to push for greater government control under the disguise of “free stuff,” our lawmakers need conservative research and solutions to guide them towards promoting your principles instead.

That is why we’re asking conservatives to unite around the key values of limited government, individual liberty, traditional American values, and a strong national defense by making a special year-end gift to The Heritage Foundation before December 31.

Next year, absolutely everything is on the line. The Left won’t pull any punches. They stand ready to trade the principles of the American founding for the toxic European socialism that has failed so many times before.

That is why finishing this year strong is so critical. The Heritage Foundation is challenging you to rise up and claim more victories for conservative values as we battle socialism in 2020.


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6 Reasons for Optimism in 2020

We have much to be grateful for and many reasons to be ecstatic about continued human progress.

The 2010s have been the best decade ever. The evidence is overwhelming.”

Those are the words of Cato Institute senior fellow Johan Norberg, penned in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.

Norberg’s words seem hyperbolic at first glance, but he may be right. In many ways, the world is getting better every day, and at an explosive rate. This is contrary to mainstream sentiment, where pundits clamor about democracy falling apart, climate catastrophe threatening our very existence, and capitalism failing us.

Yet, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. Data show the past decade has been a story of human flourishing and progress. Here are 6 facts about human progress that give us reason to be optimistic heading into 2020:

Extreme poverty rates—defined as living on less than $1.90 per day—are falling and continue to fall. From 1990 to 2015, the global extreme poverty rate fell from 36 percent to 10 percent. In 2018, it fell to 8.6 percent. This means more than 137,000 people escape extreme poverty every day.

This might not shock you at first, but consider that September 2018 was the first time in human history that more than 50 percent of the global population was considered middle class, which amounts to about 3.8 billion people. One huge benefit of this is the demand the middle class places on the global economy, resulting in more entrepreneurial opportunities and increased commerce.

To put this in perspective, only 1.8 billion were considered middle class in 2009. That’s only 26 percent of the global population, meaning proportionally, the percentage of total global population considered middle class grew 92 percent from 2009 to 2018.

As Norberg also states in his WSJ column,

Global life expectancy increased by more than three years in the past 10 years, mostly thanks to prevention of childhood deaths. According to the U.N., the global mortality rate for children under 5 declined from 5.6% in 2008 to 3.9% in 2018. A longer perspective shows how far we’ve come. Since 1950, Chad has reduced the child mortality rate by 56%, and it’s the worst-performing country in the world. South Korea reduced it by 98%.

Norberg also addresses the question, “Hasn’t this all come at the cost of a despoiled environment?” “No,” he says. “At a certain point developed countries start polluting less.” To make the point, he cites the falling rate of climate-related mortalities.

Death rates from air pollution declined by almost a fifth world-wide and a quarter in China between 2007 and 2017, according to the online publication Our World in Data.

Annual deaths from climate-related disasters declined by one-third between 2000-09 and 2010-15, to 0.35 per 100,000 people, according to the International Database of Disasters—a 95% reduction since the 1960s. That’s not because of fewer disasters, but better capabilities to deal with them.

Data from the World Bank show continued progress in the world’s poorest countries, especially in the past two decades. Access to basic drinking water has increased, as has electricity, sanitation, and clean cooking fuel. Data also show decreasing rates of poverty and childhood mortality.

Burdensome and onerous regulations can prevent individuals from starting their own business, which is one of the best ways to alleviate poverty. Not only is it tricky for the entrepreneur to navigate around excessive red tape, it also ends up costing them more. Thankfully, the cost of starting a business has drastically declined, especially in developing economies. In low- and middle-income economies, the average cost of starting a business was 141.76 percent of income-per-capita in 2004. In 2019, it is now just 30.85 percent.

P.S. Here is an infograph Norberg shared on his Twitter account.


Tyler Brandt

Tyler Brandt is an Associate Editor at FEE. He is a graduate of UW-Madison with a B.A. in Political Science. In college, Tyler was a FEE Campus Ambassador, President of his campus YAL chapter, and Research Intern at the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy.


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EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Call For More Than $200 Trillion in Spending


W. James Antle III, editor of The American Conservative. A former Senior Writer at TAC, Antle also previously served as managing editor of the Daily Caller, editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation, and associate editor of the American Spectator. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Antle has appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, among other outlets, and has written for a wide variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Politico, the Week, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the Daily Beast, the Guardian, Reason, the Spectator of London, The National Interest, and National Review Online. He is also senior advisor to Defense Priorities.

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Charles Lehman is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He writes about policy, covering crime, law, drugs, immigration, and social issues.

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© All rights reserved.

California’s War on Gig Work Falls Hardest on Women

California’s Assembly Bill 5 has already had an adverse impact on the state’s freelance writers, approximately two-thirds of whom are women.

This year, California’s progressives decided to wage war on the nightmare of being your own boss. A new state law aimed at limiting the gig economy has already cost hundreds of people their jobs—and had a seriously harmful impact on women’s earnings and long-term happiness.

Assembly Bill 5 curbs the ability of companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their workers as independent contractors. The law, which codifies the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision into law, means companies in the $1 trillion gig economy would have to hire freelancers as employees and give them benefits, including healthcare coverage. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on September 18. It takes effect on January 1.

The companies say that kind of change threatens their business model and could mean bankruptcy. It also means their newly designated employees can be unionized, a boon for organized labor. Teamsters organizers have already begun laying the groundwork.

But the law contains a provision that limits freelance writers to submitting 35 articles per outlet each year. (The bill’s author admits the number is “arbitrary.”)

Media outlets that rely on independent content producers are scrambling to comply with the law before it takes effect in a few days—and one of them, Vox, announced it will engage in a round of mass firings.

The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, said her goal is to “preserve good jobs,” but only those that pay “a livable, sustainable wage job.” Vox apparently did not fall into that category.

The hundreds of workers Vox laid off have the opportunity to apply for the new, full-time jobs the company just announced—20 of them.

Freelancers who love what they do can keep writing, explained John Ness, executive director of the Vox-owned website SB Nation, but they “need to understand they will not be paid for future contributions.”

Thanks to government intervention, hundreds or thousands of authors will lose their most viable source of income.

Freelance authors blame the law, not their employers, for turning their lives upside down. CNBC reports:

A writer named Rebecca Lawson, who covered the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks from San Diego, wrote a post on Monday titled, “California’s terrible AB5 came for me today, and I’m devastated.” Lawson, who was editor-in-chief of the blog Mavs Moneyball, said she would be forced to step down as of March 31.

“SB Nation has chosen to do the easiest thing they can to comply with California law — not work with California-based independent contractors, or any contractors elsewhere writing for California-based teams,” Lawson wrote. “I don’t blame them at all.”

The Hollywood Reporter shares the story of Arianna Jeret:

[Jeret], who contributes to relationship websites and The Good Men Project, says freelance writing has helped support her two children and handle their different school schedules. Her current gigs — covering mental health, lifestyle and entertainment — allow her to work from home, from the office and even from her children’s various appointments. “There were just all of these benefits for my ability to still be an active parent in my kids’ lives and also support us financially that I just couldn’t find anywhere in a steady job with anybody,” she says.

Similarly, author Kassy Dillon tweeted:

Not all those opposed to the new law are women, by any stretch of the imagination. Aaron Pruner, whose clients include The Washington Post, said, “Working with a baby at home is easier to do when I have my own schedule to work from, as opposed to a 9 to 5.”

But women bear the brunt of the government-imposed limit. Two-thirds of U.S. freelancers across industries are female, according to PayPal’s “U.S. Freelancer Insights Report.”

Curiously, the bill carved out vast exemptions. The San Francisco Chronicle revealed that lawmakers exempted a series of higher-paying professions including

doctors, psychologists, dentists, podiatrists, insurance agents, stock brokers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, veterinarians, direct sellers, real estate agents, hairstylists and barbers, aestheticians, commercial fishermen, marketing professionals, travel agents, graphic designers, grant writers, fine artists, enrolled agents, payment processing agents, repossession agents and human resources administrators.

But the politicians made no provision for freelance writers, despite months of heavy lobbying.

Freelance work empowers women to choose how they spend their time. Female workers have repeatedly told pollsters from across the globe—as far as Australia and Denmark—that their top workplace desire is the flexibility to create greater work-life balance. Some 40 percent of women say they would take a lower salary in exchange for more control over their schedule.

Freelancing lets women choose the hours they work and gives them control over their schedule. They may opt out of working altogether when someone gets ill, only to work night-and-day at other times, based on their needs and wishes. But the right to unionize Uber drivers has denied them that goal.

Employment is about more than a paycheck. Surveys show unemployment has a longer, more harmful impact on members of both sexes than any other adverse life effect, including divorce and widowhood. “For unemployment, there is a negative shock both in the short and long-run,” reports Our World in Data.

Unemployment also affects the human person in ways too profound to be measured by an earnings statement, poll, or survey. “Unemployment almost always wounds its victim’s dignity and threatens the equilibrium of his life,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “Besides the harm done to him personally, it entails many risks for his family.” Pope Francis has been outspoken about the dangers of idleness. “There is no peace without employment,” he said on the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

There is no peace for California’s freelance writers, approximately two-thirds of whom are women. This is yet another example of how economic interventionism destroys jobs, harms women, and leaves hundreds of families unable to support themselves and saddled with long-term psychological burdens.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Acton Institute.

Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson is a senior editor at the Acton Institute. His work focuses on the principles necessary to create a free and virtuous society in the transatlantic sphere (the U.S., Canada, and Europe).

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

New York City Experienced Worst Decline in Restaurant Jobs since 9/11 After $15 Minimum Wage Win

The Big Apple’s fast-food industry, The New York Times recently reported, has long served as a laboratory for progressive politicians and the nation’s labor machine.

But new economic research suggests their latest experiment is not going as planned.

Data show that following the labor movement’s “Fight for $15” victory, which imposed steep annual increases in mandatory wages for workers, New York City experienced its sharpest decline in restaurant jobs in nearly 20 years.

Restaurants tend to operate on famously low profit margins, typically 2 to 6 percent. So a 40 percent mandatory wage increase over a two-year period is not trivial.

In response to the minimum wage hikes, New York City restaurants did what businesses tend to do when labor costs rise: they increased prices and reduced labor staff and hours.

For example, Lalito’s, a popular restaurant on Bayard Street, recently raised its menu prices 10-15 percent, Eater New York reports.

A New York City Hospitality Alliance survey also showed that three out of four full-service restaurants said they planned to reduce employee hours. Nearly half of those surveyed said they planned to eliminate some job positions in 2019.

In response, New York City council members are trying to shield restaurant employees from “unfair” firings. Labor lawyer Michael J. Lotito, whose firm represents the restaurant industry, told The Times that a “just cause” firing provision for fast food employers “would be a first in the country.”

Regardless of whether or not the firings are “fair,” the data are clear: restaurant workers are losing jobs.

Recently published data from the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning Washington, DC, think tank, show that full-service restaurant employment declined for the first time in a decade in 2018. That year also saw the sharpest month-to-month annual decline since the attacks of 9/11.

“December 2018 restaurant jobs were down by almost 3,000 (and by 1.64%) from the previous December,” wrote economist Mark Perry, “and the 2.5% annual decline in March 2018 was the worst annual decline since the sharp collapse in restaurant jobs following 9/11 in 2001.”

Perry says this “restaurant recession” is likely the result of the series of mandatory wage hikes that brought the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

New York’s experience is noteworthy since numerous states have passed or are in the process of passing a $15 pay floor. Illinois and New Jersey recently passed laws mandating a $15 minimum wage—they will be phased in over several years, similar to New York’s law—joining California, Massachusetts, and of course New York. The Maryland House of Delegates advanced a $15 pay floor by voice vote Wednesday. The District of Columbia and some cities, including Seattle and Minneapolis, have also passed $15 minimum wage laws.

Considering the latest results of New York’s $15 minimum wage experiment, lawmakers and activists should consider Mary Shelley’s great moral lesson: beware the monsters we create ourselves.


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Rick Scott is a U.S. senator from Florida. Twitter: .

The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>

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Here’s What the Tax Cuts Have Done for America in 2 Years

It’s been two years this month since Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, providing the first major tax reform since 1986.

It was a historic overhaul that has delivered tangible benefits for our national economy.

The tax cuts lowered our federal corporate income tax rate, which was hurting American job creators’ ability to compete on a global stage. Previously at 35%, the U.S. rate was one of the highest in the developed world.

Now at 21%, it is closer to the average corporate income tax rate among developed countries, which allows U.S. companies to compete on a more level playing field.

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also created innovative Opportunity Zones to provide tax incentives to boost long-term investment in historically distressed, underserved communities across our country.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but this is an important part of a long-term effort to strengthen America’s economy and afford greater economic opportunities to all of our citizens in the decades to come.

In addition to bolstering our national economy as a whole, tax reform provided real relief for American families on a personal level. This came in the form of an increased standard deduction, as well as doubling the Child Tax Credit and expanding eligibility so more families can participate.

It also included strengthening 529 savings plans, which are one of the most commonly utilized tools for planning and saving for education expenses.

Under the old rules, families could only apply their 529 savings plans toward eligible colleges or universities. Now, thanks to tax reform, the money invested in your 529 savings plan can be used to cover qualifying expenses for private, public, or religious schools from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade.

Each of these reforms is playing a part in reenergizing our economy, one family at a time.

Consumers are highly optimistic. Richard Curtin, the chief economist at the Surveys of Consumers Attitudes, recently said consumer sentiment has been at 95 or higher in 30 of the past 35 months, according to CNBC. That’s a 20-year high.

Curtin also noted that, despite political uncertainties, “Personal spending will be energized by record favorable evaluations by consumers of their personal financial situation, with gains expected across the entire income distribution … .”

Our tax code will always be a work in progress, but this overhaul was an important step forward in updating our antiquated and overly complicated system. It also serves as a powerful reminder of what can be accomplished when we are directing our energy toward fixing real problems for the American people.

Moving forward, we must ensure these tax relief provisions are made permanent and continue our efforts to simplify and streamline the tax code.

Congressional leaders should be focusing on innovative solutions to make the system work better for American small business owners who are trying to create jobs, middle-class families trying to provide a better future for their children, and underserved communities trying to break out of generational poverty. After all, that’s what our constituents elected us to come here and do.

Unfortunately, however, under Democratic leadership, this Congress has only turned about 70 bills and resolutions into law, according to In comparison, the last divided Congress, when Harry Reid controlled the Senate, was able to pass nearly 300 bills and resolutions into law between 2013 and 2014.

This is the opportunity cost of Democrats’ endless investigations and impeachment trials. It is not just about the cost of valuable time and taxpayer dollars being expended, but also about the loss of what we could otherwise be accomplishing to address real problems facing our country.

The two-year anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doesn’t just commemorate an important piece of legislation; it is also a call to Congress to get to work.

The American people hired us to be problems solvers, not circus performers. Let’s put an end to endless investigations to justify a predetermined push to impeach and focus on working to improve the lives of the people who put us here in the first place.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 proved that we can tackle an enormous challenge that had been festering for decades—and deliver real results. Now, we need to harness that energy toward the opportunities that remain to continue improving our tax code, modernizing our trade deals with agreements like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and addressing the challenges that impact underserved communities, families, and individuals across our country on a daily basis.

Let’s not let those opportunities go to waste.


Brad Wenstrup is the U.S. representative for Ohio’s 2nd congressional district. Twitter: .

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Is socialism really morally sound?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you and our fellow Americans better understand the 9 Ways That Socialism Will Morally Bankrupt America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!


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Amazon nixes positive review of ‘The Palestinian Delusion’, claims it violates its guidelines

Click here to see the Amazon review rejection.

The fix is in. What in that review conceivably violates Amazon guidelines? This is clear evidence that Amazon is not a bookstore, but part of the Left-fascist cabal that is working so hard today to crush all dissent from the Leftist agenda.

Amazon is trying to ensure that as few people as possible see and read The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Meanwhile, it remains by far the nation’s largest source for books, which makes its bias all the more insidious.

Strike a blow against the sinister Leftist establishment: if you have read The Palestinian Delusion and like it, please leave a favorable review at Amazon. If you haven’t read it, please buy a copy now. You could even buy it from Amazon, even as it is clearly trying to suppress this book: buying it from elsewhere is not going to dent this elephantine corporation’s earnings, while buying it from Amazon will show that their attempts to deep-six this book aren’t working.


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Support Your Values And The Homeless By Buying Hanes

Chick-fil-A’s abandonment of The Salvation Army has left a poor taste in the mouths of 2ndVote Americans. Thankfully, other companies refuse to bow to the Left’s absurdities – such as Hanes (3.9), which for the 10th year in a row is donating 250,000 pairs of socks to groups which fight homelessness, including The Salvation Army.

Hanes is functionally neutral in its corporate donations. It focuses on providing great products to its customers – and, as Christmas approaches, it continues its annual tradition of helping the poor.

You can help Hanes by buying socks online. They have announced that purchases made on will translate into more socks donated to homeless shelters during the month of December.

More than 10 Salvation Army locations will benefit from Hanes’ generosity. This is the season to do your part to show corporate America that just because Chick-fil-A caved doesn’t mean that you have to. You can prove that “woke” Twitter warriors aren’t the only act in town – and that you care deeply about helping others all year ‘round by supporting Hanes every time you buy socks, shirts, and underwear.

Interested in making a donation through Hanes? Check out their website to learn more.

Your example can slow the drive to leftism – and perhaps even be part of putting American values back into the workplace.


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7 Things I’d Do if I Wanted to Keep Poor People Poor

Spoiler: we’re already doing all of these things.

If I wanted to keep poor people poor, there are several government policies I would favor. Let’s count them down.

For starters, I would advocate for a robust and ever-expanding welfare state—programs like Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc.

I would recognize that an effective recipe for keeping poor people poor is to create incentives that push them into decisions that prevent them from climbing out of poverty.

Case in point: A 2012 study by Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Public Welfare analyzed the decisions confronting individuals and families enrolled in various government welfare programs. Specifically, the study concluded that in the case of a single mother with two children ages 1 and 4 earning $29,000 a year through work would be eligible for government benefits (such as Medicaid, housing vouchers, and subsidized daycare) equivalent to roughly an additional $28,000.

Such a scenario puts this woman in a bind. If she finds a better job paying more, or picks up more hours, she risks losing substantial amounts of benefits. She would make her family financially worse off even though her paycheck would be bigger. Just to come out even, once taxes are factored in, she would need to find work paying about $69,000 a year to compensate for the lost welfare benefits. Not many low-skilled workers can make such a leap.

This scenario is commonly referred to as the welfare cliff. Confronted with this situation, many individuals understandably opt to continue receiving the government benefits. Rather than help individuals, the perverse economic incentives created by the “social safety net” trap aid recipients on welfare. And the longer they remain out of the workforce, or at lower levels of employment, the less employable they become. It is a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle that keeps people poor and dependent on the state.

Moreover, there is the impact the welfare state has on the family unit. Welfare programs break up families by replacing a father’s paycheck with a government check and benefits. Nationally, since LBJ’s Great Society ratcheted up government welfare programs in the mid-1960s, the rate of unmarried births has tripled.

In my home state of North Carolina, families are roughly five times as likely to be in poverty when there is no father in the home.

If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I also would finance the welfare state poverty trap through punitive taxes on the job and wealth creators of society.

The key ingredient to economic growth, and thus a higher standard of living for society’s poor, is through productivity gains made possible by capital investment. High marginal taxes on profitable companies and small businesses alike discourage capital investment. As businesses decide to either not expand or take their businesses to more investment-friendly countries, job opportunities dry up.

If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would advocate for higher government-enforced minimum wages. The law of supply and demand tells us that the higher the price of a good or service, the less of it will be demanded (other things held equal, of course).

Higher minimum wages will price more and more low-skilled people out of the labor market.Meanwhile, the higher wages will attract more job seekers willing to supply their labor at the higher price. Employers will be able to be more selective in their hiring, and as such the lower-skilled job seekers will be crowded out of these opportunities by higher-skilled, less-needy candidates. Minimum wage laws are an effective tool to cut off the bottom rung of the career ladder for those most in need of establishing work experience.

If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would support government “green energy” initiatives that make energy more expensive. State and federal initiatives that mandate more expensive “renewable” energy mean that—in the words of President Obama—utility bills “necessarily skyrocket.” Poor people trying to scrape by just to stay even can scarcely afford higher electricity bills.

If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would see to it that government imposes many costly regulations on businesses.

meaning fewer job openings for those most in need of opportunity. And mountains of red tape force business to expend scarce resources on compliance costs rather than investing in their businesses and creating jobs. Higher-skilled compliance officer jobs will consume payroll that could have potentially gone toward opportunities for lower-skilled job seekers.

If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would support “quantitative easing” policies. Under such programs, the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air. The inflated money supply then erodes the value of the dollars sitting in your wallet or bank account. The poor are hit hardest by this inflation because their limited skill set makes it far more difficult for their incomes to keep up with the rising cost of living.

If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would impose heavy tariffs on foreign goods in order to limit imports. Sure, the domestic industries protected from competition by these tariffs would prosper, but at what cost? For example, tariffs on foreign steel may help the 170,000 American workers employed by the steel industry, but higher steel prices will harm those industries using steel as inputs—and the 6.5 million workers they employ. Ultimately, more jobs are likely to be destroyed than saved.

Furthermore, the price increases passed along to consumers disproportionately harm low-income households. The combination of fewer job opportunities and a higher cost of living certainly makes it harder for the poor to climb out of poverty.

Finally, if I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would most definitely not support a competitive, free market economy. As Milton Friedman once famously schooled Phil Donahue:

So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear that there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.


Brian Balfour

Brian Balfour is Executive Vice President for the Civitas Institute, a free-market advocacy organization in Raleigh, NC. He is the author of the high school economics iBook Economics in Action, creator of the Austrian Economics educational app, and has served as an adjunct economics instructor at Mount Olive University.


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Trump Is Delivering Economic Wins for Rural America

Following the Great Recession in 2008, many economists and liberal thinkers argued that rural America would never again be an engine for economic growth.

While more folks today reside in metropolitan areas, I can tell you from firsthand experience that rural communities continue to play an integral role in job creation and our national economy. Thankfully, President Donald Trump has been steadfast in advancing pro-growth policies that help residents living in these areas of our country.

According to the Brookings Institution, “redder, smaller, more rural communities really are ‘winning’ a little more.” Brookings found that rural areas outperformed their share of the economy to generate around 16.6% of the nation’s job growth during Trump’s first year in office.

The jobs numbers are pretty clear cut. Coming out of the recession, the economic picture for rural communities was bleak at best. Residents were growing older, population was in decline, and more people were moving to metropolitan areas.

The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>

And while the Obama administration did little to help the people in these communities, Trump has pursued a bold agenda that empowers these communities to grow and prosper. The keys to growth have been lower taxes, less burdensome regulations, and market certainty.

The results back this up, especially in manufacturing. In Trump’s first 30 months in office, manufacturing produced 314,000 more jobs than during the same period in Barack Obama’s presidency.

Manufacturing is especially important in rural communities because roughly 2.5 million manufacturing jobs exist in these areas. Many manufacturing firms are attracted to areas due to lower property taxes, operating expenses, and land prices.

At the end of the day, I realize that elites in Washington, New York, and Los Angeles aren’t going to highlight the successful policies that Trump has championed. But I can tell you that North Carolinians and folks from rural communities are thankful to have a president that listens to and fights for the American worker.

Many lawmakers in Washington come from very urban districts where the population is concentrated. I represent a district that is predominantly rural. I’ve had nearly three years to see how rural workers in manufacturing, health care, retail, textiles, and construction have benefited from Trump’s economic freedom agenda.

I will keep fighting for these policies because they represent economic hope for communities like mine.


Ted Budd is the U.S. representative for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District. He is a member of the House Financial Services Committee. Twitter: .


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A Note for our Readers:

With the demand for socialism at an all-time high among our young people—our future leaders and decisionmakers—the experts at Heritage stopped and asked a question that not many have asked:

Is socialism really morally sound?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you and our fellow Americans better understand the 9 Ways That Socialism Will Morally Bankrupt America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

President Trump keeps his promise to fix NAFTA!

President Donald J. Trump has fought for better trade deals for American workers since his first day in office. In addition to new agreements with Japan, South Korea, and the European Union, the President has long argued that NAFTA must be reformed.

More than a year ago, he kept that signature campaign promise when he signed a modern, rebalanced trade deal with Canada and Mexico. And today, after a year’s worth of stall tactics, House Democrats have finally acquiesced to the will of the American people and agreed to vote on the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA).

That’s big news. It’s time for Washington to put American workers first and get USMCA over the finish line!

When President Trump took office, he inherited all sorts of poorly negotiated trade deals that heavily favored global competitors over American citizens. Of all the agreements that put U.S. workers and businesses at a disadvantage, undoubtedly the biggest culprit was the outdated, deficient NAFTA.

For years, NAFTA rules have helped incentivize offshoring, which led to manufacturing jobs leaving the United States in bulk. As a result, politicians from both parties have called to reform our trade terms with Mexico and Canada ever since the deal first passed in the mid-1990s. As usual, Washington promised voters one thing and then did another.

It took President Trump to get Mexico and Canada to sign a new deal. Here are just a few ways it updates and improves NAFTA:

  • Auto and manufacturing: With new rules of origin, 75 percent of auto content must be produced in North America, stimulating U.S. vehicle and parts production.
  • Labor protections: Unlike NAFTA, labor rules are enforceable, not voluntary. Workers will benefit from provisions that incentivize the use of high-wage manufacturing labor—supporting better jobs for American workers.
  • Digital trade: USMCA includes the strongest terms on digital trade—a booming and growing sector of the U.S. economy—of any trade deal. NAFTA had none.
  • Farmers and ranchers: In just one example, USMCA protects our farmers by eliminating a loophole that allowed Canada to undersell American dairy products.

In short, Main Street won. Democrat leaders tried to stall, desperate to avoid giving President Trump a signature win on one of his core issues. But USMCA highlighted the divide between far-left Washington partisans and practical, results-minded local officials who supported the deal. In the end, a growing chorus of diverse voices—everyone from labor leaders to small business owners—finally forced Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hand.

USMCA is a promise kept to America’s working class. For that, we should all celebrate.

Something to share: President Trump has fought for better deals since day one!

House Democrats make their 3-year impeachment scheme official

The Swamp outdid themselves today, surprising no one that Washington can always find a way to stoop lower than ever before. At a time when Congress’ approval rating is mired in the low 20s, House Democrats announced they will proceed with a partisan impeachment of President Trump—despite finding no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham issued the following statement in part to reporters today:

House Democrats have long wanted to overturn the votes of 63 million Americans. They have determined that they must impeach President Trump because they cannot legitimately defeat him at the ballot box. The Democrats’ use of a phone call with the president of Ukraine – with a transcript the President himself released – served as their excuse for this partisan, gratuitous, and pathetic attempt to overthrow the Trump Administration and the results of the 2016 election.

The announcement of two baseless articles of impeachment does not hurt the President, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our Nation. The President will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong.

Ultimately, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats will have to answer to their constituents for manufacturing an impeachment inquiry and forcing unfounded accusations down the throats of the American people.

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Why Capitalism Is Morally Superior to Other Systems

Richard Ebeling, professor of economics at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and my longtime friend and colleague, has written an important article, “Business Ethics and Morality of the Marketplace,” appearing in the American Institute for Economic Research.

Its importance and timeliness is enhanced by so many of America’s youth, led by academic hacks, having fallen prey to the siren song of socialism.

In a key section of his article, Ebeling lays out what he calls the ethical principles of free markets. He says:

The hallmark of a truly free market is that all associations and relationships are based on voluntary agreement and mutual consent. Another way of saying this is that in the free market society, people are morally and legally viewed as sovereign individuals possessing rights to their life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, who may not be coerced into any transaction that they do not consider being to their personal betterment and advantage.

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Ebeling says that the rules of a free market are simple and easy to understand:

You don’t kill, you don’t steal, and you don’t cheat through fraud or misrepresentation. You can only improve your own position by improving the circumstances of others. Your talents, abilities, and efforts must all be focused on one thing: What will others take in trade from you for the revenues you want to earn as the source of your own income and profits?

For many people, profit has become a dirty word and as such has generated slogans such as “people before profits.” Many believe the pursuit of profits is the source of mankind’s troubles.

However, it’s often the absence of profit motivation that’s the true villain.

For example, contrast the number of complaints heard about profit-oriented establishments such as computer stores, supermarkets, and clothing stores to the complaints that one hears about nonprofit establishments such as the U.S. Post Office, the public education system, and departments of motor vehicles.

Computer stores, supermarkets, and clothing stores face competition and must satisfy customers to earn profits and stay in business. Postal workers, public teachers, and departments of motor vehicles employees depend on politicians and coercion to get their pay. They stay in business whether customers are satisfied with their services or not.

In a free market society, income is neither taken nor distributed. Income is earned by serving one’s fellow man.

Say I mow your lawn. When I’m finished, you pay me $50. Then, I go to my grocer and demand, “Give me two pounds of sirloin and a six-pack of beer that my fellow man produced.”

In effect, the grocer asks: “Williams, what did you do to deserve a claim on what your fellow man produced?”

I say, “I served him.” The grocer says, “Prove it.”

That’s when I pull out the $50. We might think of dollars as “certificates of performance,” proof of serving our fellow man.

Free markets are morally superior to other economic systems. To have a claim on what my fellow man produces, I’m forced to serve him.

Contrast that requirement to government handouts, where a politician says to me: “You don’t have to get out in that hot sun to mow your fellow man’s lawn. Vote for me and I’ll take what your fellow man produces and give it to you.”

Ebeling says that those deserving condemnation are those who use government coercion to gain at the expense of others.

There are thousands of such examples: government subsidies at taxpayers’ expense, paying farmers not to grow crops or guaranteeing them a minimum price paid for through tax dollars and higher prices for consumers, regulations that limit entry into various professions and occupations, regulations that limit consumer choice, and corporate handouts and bailouts.

In a word or so, our protest should not be against capitalism. People should protest crony capitalism, where people use the political arena to buy government favors.

If millennials and others want to wage war against government favors and crony capitalism, I’m with them 100%. But I’m all too afraid that anti-capitalists just want their share of the government loot.


Walter E. Williams is a columnist for The Daily Signal and a professor of economics at George Mason University. Twitter: .


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A Note for our Readers:

With the demand for socialism at an all-time high among our young people—our future leaders and decisionmakers—the experts at Heritage stopped and asked a question that not many have asked:

Is socialism really morally sound?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you and our fellow Americans better understand the 9 Ways That Socialism Will Morally Bankrupt America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Anti-Capitalism: Trendy but Wrong

We should remember; the data simply doesn’t support the anti-capitalists.

You can’t escape it; capitalism has a bad rap.

Last night, thousands of anti-capitalist protestors took to the streets in capital cities across the world. Wearing V for Vendetta-inspired Guy Fawkes masks (most of which are made in China), these self-styled “anti-establishment” demonstrators, who took part in annual Million Mask March, sought to express their dissatisfaction with the capitalist system and the unfair outcomes it allegedly creates.

Large anti-capitalist protests like those we saw last night are, of course, nothing unusual. In August, French police resorted to using water cannons and tear gas to disperse thousands of anti-capitalist demonstrators who were protesting in the French coastal town of Bayonne, during the G7 summit which was taking place in a nearby resort.

But it is not just during protests that we see disdain for capitalism. All over our newspapers there are headlines such as, “Capitalism is in crisis,” “Capitalism is failing,” or most recently “Capitalism is dead,”—the latter being a recent quote from billionaire Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, who amassed his fortune thanks to the capitalist system.

The consistent bombardment of capitalism in our media and on our streets has culminated in a recent YouGov poll showing that nearly half of all Millennials and Gen-Z’ers hold an unfavorable view of capitalism. The same poll also found that more than 70 percent of Millennials would likely vote for a socialist candidate.

It is fundamentally trendy to be socialist, and to decry the alleged ills of capitalism. But does this persistent condemnation of capitalism hold up to scrutiny?

Every year, the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank publishes its Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) report in order to find out which countries have the freest (i.e. most capitalist) economies. The EFW ranks the level of freedom of 162 economies, using 43 indices, across major policy areas: size of government, legal systems and property rights, sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation.

The idea behind the EFW report is that if you can find out which countries have the most capitalist economies, you can then use this information to see if more capitalist countries have better outcomes for their citizens when compared to their more socialist (or at least: less capitalist) counterparts. To analyze the correlation between economic freedom and human wellbeing, the EFW splits the 162 economies into quartiles, based on their level of economic freedom. And the results are staggering.

The average income in the most capitalist quartile of countries is an astonishing six times higher, in real terms, than the average income in the least capitalist economies ($36,770 and $6,140 respectively). For the poorest in society, this gap widens even more. The bottom 10 percent of income earners in the most capitalist countries make, on average, seven times more than the poorest ten percent in the least free economies.Similarly, more than 27 percent of people in the most socialist economies live in extreme poverty (as defined by the World Bank as an income of less than $1.90 a day), whereas just 1.8 percent of people in freest economies live in extreme poverty—a figure that is still too high (the optimal number is zero), but vastly better than the level that persists in the least free countries.

Economic measures aside, people living in the most capitalist countries also live on average 14 years longer, have an infant mortality rate six times lower, enjoy greater political and civil liberties, gender equality, and to the extent you can measure such things, greater happiness too—when compared to the least capitalist economies.

Take Hong Kong, for example, which is the world’s freest economy according the EFW report. In 1941, journalist and travel writer Martha Gellhorn visited the city-state with her husband, Ernest Hemmingway and noted “the real Hong Kong…was the most cruel poverty, worse than any I had seen before. Worse still because of an air of eternity; life had always been like this, always would be.” But just a few years after Gellhorn’s visit, the surrender of the Japanese in 1945 meant that British rule returned to the island and with it came a largely laissez-faire approach to the city’s economy.

In 1950, the average citizen in Hong Kong earned just 36 percent of what the average citizen in the United Kingdom earned. But as Hong Kong embraced economic freedom (according the EFW, Hong Kong has had the most capitalist economy every year bar one since 1970), it became substantially richer. Today, Hong Kong’s GDP per capita is a whooping than 68 percent higher than the UK’s. As Marian Tupy, editor of, notes, “the poverty that Gellhorn bemoaned is gone – thanks to economic freedom.”We can see far bigger gaps whenever we pair a broadly capitalist country with an otherwise similar socialist country: Chile vs. VenezuelaWest Germany vs. East GermanySouth Korea vs. North Korea, Taiwan vs. Maoist China, Costa Rica vs Cuba, and so on. (Yes, I know: none of that was “real” socialism. But then, it always is real socialism, until it isn’t.)

Decrying the ills of capitalism on a placard or in a newspaper headline is a trend with little sign of going away any time soon, but when we see such unsubstantiated claims, we should remember; the data simply doesn’t support the anti-capitalists.

This article is republished from the Institute of Economic Affairs.


Alexander Hammond

Alexander C. R. Hammond is a researcher at a Washington D.C. think tank and Senior Fellow for African Liberty. He is also a Young Voices contributor and frequently writes about economic freedom, African development, and globalization.


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EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.