by Jon Decker
This week, the FCC rejected a petition from the far-left organization “Free Press” demanding media companies censor President Trump’s coronavirus press briefings. You read that right — a group called “Free Press” is actively lobbying for more government control over speech. Only in DC.
But it gets wackier. The rationale Free Press used to justify its case was that during the March 19th coronavirus briefing, President Trump touted hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment, and, shortly thereafter, an Arizona man ingested fish tank cleaner and died. His wife, a prolific donor to Democrats and anti-Trump PACs, said she and her late husband both ingested the fish tank cleaner because they thought it was the drug recommended by President Trump. Free Press claims, on this basis, that government censorship is needed to stop “deadly misinformation.”
On the one hand, nobody in their right mind would ever have interpreted President Trump’s remarks as an endorsement of ingesting tank-cleaning chemicals, so this seems like a shameless attempt to stifle the speech of a president they don’t support.
But on the other hand, these are Free Press employees we are talking about. It’s certainly not beyond imagination that they are capable of this level of idiocy. Maybe when President Trump holds his future briefings he can make a special disclaimer solely for Free Press staff to ensure there’s no confusion.
But Free Press’s attempt to censor television content reveals more than stupidity, because while it might seem easy to dismiss them as a radical fringe-left group they have significant policy influence during Democratic administrations.
by Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen
Excerpt from The Hill:
Economics is all about incentives. To keep the country prosperous, our public policies should reward productive behavior rather than punish it. But it is too bad the $2 trillion “stimulus bill” does just the opposite.
[T]he actual law that Trump signed is even worse. The legislative language that emerged in negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had no such limit on payments. Instead, the law sets unemployment benefits for the next 120 days at the level of state benefits plus an extra $600 a week.
by Phil Kerpen
From The Federalist:
Republicans and Democrats finally stopped squabbling long enough to spend an estimated $2 trillion on what they claim is emergency coronavirus relief. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of the bill.
1. Payroll Tax Deferral
Employer-side payroll tax payments are suspended through the end of the year, to be paid half by year-end 2021 and half by year-end 2022. This will increase business liquidity by about $700 billion.
While I would have preferred a cut to a deferral, this will significantly lessen the near-term tax burden on business payrolls, encouraging businesses to retain and restore jobs. (Treasury has already announced a deferral of corporate income taxes under existing authorities.)
2. More Federal Reserve Money
The Federal Reserve’s new lending facility is funded with up to $425 billion, which will be levered to provide up to $4 trillion in liquidity to distressed businesses.
3. Net Operating Losses
Five-year carryback for tax years 2018, 2019, and 2020, for corporations and pass-through businesses as well. This will allow this year large expected losses to be carried back for substantial refunds.
By Phil Kerpen
Price controls don't work, cause shortages, and have precipitated economic disaster in every sector and jurisdiction that has attempted to impose them on any significant scale. But their braindead simplicity – something is too expensive, so we'll mandate that it be cheaper – makes them forever seductive to politicians looking for easy political talking points.
So they remain in vogue, from proposals for national rent control to prescription drug "negotiations" in which government sets the price under threat of seizing all profits, to financial services – where Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have proposed an annualized interest rate cap of 15 percent, perhaps to make House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters, who has proposed a 36 percent cap, appear reasonable.
Either version would have severe negative consequences for the availability of credit to consumers, especially people with lower credit scores that represent higher default risks.
The Waters cap is hardly reasonable. First of all the headline number of 36 percent is deceptive because the "all-in" calculation includes all fees, making it equivalent to a retail annual rate cap of about 26 percent. An industry analysis found that would price at least 34 million consumers out of the credit card market – and that's at a time of historically low interest rates. When and if the Fed tightens and the prime rate rises, the cost of capital for lenders will go up and millions more consumers will be priced out of credit cards.
Waters and her bill sponsors, Democrat Chuy Garcia and token Republican Glen Grothman, have justified their bill by saying it extends the 36 percent cap, already imposed by the Military Lending Act to veterans, to all consumers. But the actual results of the MLA should serve as a warning.
According to a Harris Poll: "Military Lending Act (MLA) borrowing restrictions have resulted in a majority of active duty military households being turned down for credit (51% turned down due to the MLA) and these households have higher usage of non-bank credit or debt."
Of course, if we accept the logic of a federally imposed annualized rate cap, there will be relentless political pressure to ratchet it down over time.
Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders is already there. His legislation with AOC would impose a 15 percent annualized cap, which would affect hundreds of millions of credit card customers, some of whom would lose access to credit entirely and most of whom would lose popular rewards programs.
Pre-empting even liberal states like California and Virginia that have strictly regulated but allowed them to operate, the Waters and Sanders bills would effectively ban payday, vehicle title, and other small-dollar loans. These loans are inherently short-term and therefore cannot be priced on an all-in annualized basis, because most default risk is taken as soon as money is out the door. That means people in desperate circumstances will find themselves with no lawful options.
As Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson famously testified in 1969: "The concern for the...