Last Sunday, Simon appeared on Howard Kurtz's MediaBuzz, along with Jim Geraghty of the National Review. The two talked about recent comments by Hillary Clinton on the GOP field. Then Simon shared some of his perspective behind the rumors of a Joe Biden presidential run, and how the media has covered it.
This year’s presidential hopefuls all agree that America has serious problems, with each party blaming the other. As readers of this blog know, the Number One problem in my view is the end of strong income growth for a majority of American households since 2002. However the candidates define the problem, they all have answers (of sorts) ranging from sweeping tax cuts to major initiatives for training, higher education and infrastructure. None of them will say how to pay their agendas; but as it happens, they’re all in luck: A new book by Swedish economists Dag Detter and Stefan Foster, titled immodestly The Public Wealth of Nations, has found hundreds of billions of dollars, even trillions of dollars, hiding in plain sight.
It begins with two facts. Governments own more assets that all of their richest citizens put together; but unlike wealthy people, governments don’t manage their assets. The U.S. government owns more than one million buildings, vast networks of roads, military and space installations, public utilities and railroad facilities, and 25 percent of all the land in the country (including 43 percent of all forest land). No one in government even knows precisely what all of those assets are worth, because there is no standard or systematic accounting of public assets, much less professional management to enhance their value, like private assets.
Professionally managing a country’s public assets is an idea associated mainly with the national wealth funds created by Norway, Saudi Arabia and a few other countries that found themselves with more energy revenues than they could handle. The Swedish economists make a good case that the United States and other countries should apply this model to their physical assets.
Here’s what it could mean if we tried it. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the federal government’s non-financial assets are worth about 20 percent of GDP, or about $3.5 trillion today. (The physical assets of city and state governments, including their networks of schools, hospitals, prisons, roads, and so on, are worth some $10 trillion.) Detter and Foster reviewed the evidence and the literature, and conclude that the professional management of public assets can raise their returns by 3.5 percentage-points, which by any measure is a lot of money.
Let’s be conservative and say it would raise those returns in the United States by just 2 percentage-points. At that rate, the professional management of federal assets would generate an additional $70 billion per-year without raising a dollar in taxes or cutting a dollar in spending. With a reasonably growing economy, 10 years of such professional asset management should produce more than $800 billion for the government and its taxpayers, and 20 years would produce $1.9 trillion.
And if the Swedes are right that professional management could raise those returns by 3.5 percentage-points, it would generate more than $120 billion per-year, $1.4 trillion over 10 years, and $3.3 trillion over 20 years. That would cover about 40 percent of the projected funding shortfall of Social Security.
There also are models on how to do it, since versions are in place today in the United Kingdom, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Singapore. First, establish an independent enterprise with the authority to manage the government’s nonfinancial assets, overseen and operated by independent, publicly-accountable directors and executives. The closest domestic model we have is the Federal Reserve, and like Janet Yellen and her colleagues at the Fed, senior executives and board members would be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The executives and board would hire platoons of professionals in every area, all outside the civil service, to competently manage our public wealth.
It could mean, for example, that the Postal Service might use its assets as deftly as UPS or Fedex, or at least close enough so that its productivity gains were half those of UPS and Fedex instead of less than 30 percent. Or consider the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees 260 million acres of federal lands. Those holdings include the “Green River formation” in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, which happen to be the world’s largest known sources of shale oil and gas. Unlike the BLM, professional asset managers could lease some of those lands for shale production. And in another division, managers could weigh the case for moving various military facilities currently cited on some of the country’s most expensive land, like the barracks for dress Marines on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and leasing such desirable facilities to commercial tenants.
Most people would fire their investment managers, if they didn’t know what their clients held and had done nothing for decades to increase the value. If we applied the same standards to federal assets, we could find the means to carry out the ambitious initiatives the country so badly needs.
This post was originally published on Dr. Shapiro's blog
On Sunday night, I gave the following quote to Greg Sargent of the Washington Post re Donald Trump and his immigration plan:
“No leading candidate for President in the last generation of US politics has been so explicit about blaming Mexico, Mexican immigrants and our recent high rates of immigration for America's economic troubles as Trump. It is a dramatic escalation in the argument against the current mainstream consensus on immigration by a powerful champion, and helps Trump both strengthen his anti-establishment credentials and speak to the economic anxiety of everyday people. While I disagree with his argument, it would be unwise to underestimate the sophistication, ambition - and divisiveness - of what Trump is attempting to do.
He is the most significant champion of the restrictionist approach to immigration the country has seen in this era of American politics."
You can read the story which Greg published yesterday morning here. It is a good piece. We also included a round up below of recent stories that have covered the response to Trump's plan.
America has a big incomes problem: The incomes of most Americans largely stopped growing around 2002. Wide public resentment over that hard fact already dominates the 2016 debate. On the Democratic side, income issues have been conflated with concerns about inequality, and every plan to cushion the impact on middle-class is financed by taxes on the unworthy wealthy. From the right, where the uber-wealthy, unworthy or otherwise, fund a flock of would-be presidents, income issues have been mixed up with the party dogma that most problems come from the corruption of liberal government and the pollution of foreigners. So GOP plans for restoring rising incomes usually boil down to tax cuts, especially for the uber-wealthy, that tacitly blame the people who liberal government traditionally help, and especially undocumented workers.
Both approaches have had only limited success. Hillary Clinton understands that today’s inequality is the result, not the cause, of broad-based income stagnation and decline. So she can never outflank Bernie Sanders, who brings to their debate the fervent (if quirky) enthusiasm of a genuine socialist. The GOP faces a tougher challenge, since much of the party’s base blame their economic problems on a corrupt establishment that includes big business as well as big government, and on the foreign labor that big business and big government need or protect. On this front, Bush, Rubio, Walker and even Cruz and Paul will never outflank a self-assured¸ self-financed xenophobe like Donald Trump, or not unless they can change the subject.
These half-baked responses are tailored for the base voters already fully engaged in the partisan wars. They won’t be enough when the candidates have to address the majority of Americans, who care more about their jobs and their personal lives than about party posturing. For the Democratic candidate, winning will depend on maximizing the support of women, minorities and young voters, while containing the disaffection of working class white men. The Republican faces the opposite and tougher challenge – energize the support of working class white men while attracting more support from women, minorities and millennials.
My recent report from the Brookings Institution laid out the basic facts that will be in many voters’ minds. Let’s consider households headed by people in their mid-to-late 30’s when each of the last five presidents took office. Among such households that were headed by women, for example, annual average income gains of 3.9 percent under Reagan and 5.8 percent under Clinton have been followed by much smaller progress, averaging 1.0 percent per-year under Bush and 2.0 percent per-year in Obama’s first term.
More tellingly, consider households headed by people without college degrees, which account for 70 percent of all American households. For example, among those headed by people in their mid-to-late ’30s when each president took office, and with only a high school diploma, annual income gains averaged 2.6 percent under Reagan and 2.4 percent under Clinton. Under Bush, however, comparable households experienced income losses averaging 0.3 percent per-year, followed by even greater losses averaging 1.8 percent per-year in Obama’s first term.
Similarly, households headed by Hispanics in their mid-to-late 30’s when each president took office made annual income progress averaging 2.2 percent under Reagan and 3.1 percent under Clinton, followed since then by barely any gains at all, averaging 0.3 percent per-year under Bush and 0.1 percent per-year in Obama’s first term.
The country’s broad economic disappointment has energized the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, and it now animates the bases of both political parties. The challenge for those who would be president is to bypass popular anger and partisan simplifications and present a serious agenda that can restore normal income progress.
This post was originally published on Dr. Shapiro's blog
We have an opening for my assistant here at NDN. That’s the good news.
The less than good news is that Corey Cantor, my current assistant, will be moving on. It is our tradition here is to bring in an ambitious, smart young person to spend a year as my assistant, working closely with the entire NDN community. Unfortunately for all of us that year is coming up for Corey, and it is time for him to take what he has learned here and go out in the broader world here in DC. Recent assistants are doing really well out there – Anjani and Sam are at USTR, Andres is at Treasury, Jessie has become an important part of Mayor DeBlasio’s team, Chris is working as a legislative assistant in a House office.
Corey’s goal is to go into the Administration, join a Senate or House office, or work in some other policy-related capacity. He has been a terrific member of our team and would add value to any office he joins. If you have ideas for Corey, or want to interview him yourself, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have some plans for him as well and will be working hard to ensure he lands in a place where he can contribute and learn.
As for the assistant position, please help us find the very best person. See the job description below. Please send cover letter, resume, recommendations and anything else you would like to submit to Corey (email@example.com) by Friday, August 21st at 5 PM. No phone calls please.
Job Description: At NDN, the Assistant to the President is responsible for managing President Simon Rosenberg and the office’s day-to-day operations. This includes managing the President’s schedule; executing weekly emails including NDN’s newsletter, member updates, and other releases via NGP-Van; handling administrative tasks (such as event management, meeting arrangements, scanning documents, and other errands); researching legislation or other policy information for the President’s use. In this role, you will also work closely with other NDN members’ offices and Washington stakeholders. This position allows for growth as well as special projects assigned by the President. Additional responsibilities consist of handling office communications, including answering the main NDN phone-line, processing invoices, assisting with travel logistics, event coordination, and keeping track of written correspondence, and other duties as assigned.
So to sum up – we need your help in finding a new assistant for me, and a great next step for Corey. Anything you can do to help please let us know and thank you in advance. And please thank Corey for his excellent work here at NDN – he has done a great job for me, and for all of us.
Last Sunday, Simon joined Howard Kutz on Fox News' MediaBuzz. He appeared in two segments of a panel with Amy Holmes, anchor of the Host List on Blaze.com, and Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner.
They talked 2016 politics, including one on Donald Trump impact on the race and the media's response to him. Then the panel discussed the issues with the New York Times' report on Hillary Clinton's emails. You can check out both videos below, and be sure to follow Simon on Twitter for additional 2016 commentary.
Segment on Donald Trump, Immigration, and the Media
The discussion begins here at about minute 2:00, and Simon's first comments are at about 3:30.
Discussion on New York Times and Hillary Clinton's emails
As we prep for the House "sanctuary cities" bill important to note that due to House GOP's embrace of "King Amendment" that DHS would not be able to prioritize someone like the SF shooter for deportation.
This is no small point. If the House GOP wants to prevent future incidents like the one in SF, it requires that once a local community turns over a violent criminal to DHS, DHS would be able to rapidly deport this criminal. This of course has been central to the Administration's strategy since 2010. And of course the House GOP voted to roll back this approach, preventing DHS from prioritizing criminals for deportation in both 2013 and 2014. In fact, preventing DHS from prioritizing criminals for rapid deportation was the only immigration the House GOP passed in the last Congress.
This week we will see, even by Washington standards, a breathtaking level of cynicism from the national Republican Party on the issue of immigration enforcement (the data backing up the arguments in this piece can be found here, here and here).
For a decade now there has been broad consensus that the huge wave of undocumented immigrants who came into the United States from the early 1990s to the later part of 00s needed federal legislation to resolve; that this enormous influx has overwhelmed law enforcement and immigration courts responsible for managing domestic immigration enforcement, degrading the integrity of a system built for a much lower level of unauthorized migration; that local enforcement desperately wanted to spend their limited resources on going after serious criminals and not law-abiding, job holding undocumented immigrants; that enforcing immigration law is a federal not a local responsibility, something reinforced repeatedly in the courts over the past decade; that the passage of comprehensive reform would have created an orderly process allowing law enforcement agencies at all levels to better focus on the imprisonment and deportation of serious criminals.
As we head into a week of significant debate then on immigration enforcement, it is important to remember a few things:
- Since Comprehensive Immigration Reform was first introduced by Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain in 2005, Republicans in Congress have blocked its passage on four separate occasions. The most significant instances came in 2006 and 2013/4, when the House Republicans refused to even consider sensible bi-partisan bills passed by the Senate and supported at the time by President Bush and then President Obama. Each of these bills would have helped unclogged an overwhelmed immigration enforcement system in the United States, making incidents like what happened in San Francisco far less likely.
- In 2010, recognizing that the primary method we had for helping unclog the overwhelmed immigration enforcement system – CIR – was not going to happen in the President’s first term, DHS implemented new enforcement priorities known as the “Morton Memos” which prioritized illegal border crossers and undocumented immigrants with serious criminal history for deportation. These reforms brought immediate change to the huge immigration enforcement system in the US, and have resulted in the deportation of more serious criminals and has helped keep illegal entries into the US at historic lows.
- In 2013 and again in 2014, the House Republicans passed legislation designed to overturn these smart reforms, making it impossible for example for DHS to prioritize felons like the suspect in the San Francisco shooting for rapid removal through the immigration enforcement system. And the House doubled down on this approach by threatening to shut all of DHS down earlier this year in a standoff over the implementation of these reforms, including the new Priority Enforcement Program. PEP as it is known was launched last year to forge a higher level of cooperation between federal and local law enforcement to more rapidly remove serious criminals from the country.
Finally, it must be said that the attacks on President Obama’s immigration enforcement record are ridiculous. The President has deported more unauthorized immigrants than any President in American history; after a decade and a half of the US absorbing half a million new undocumented immigrants into the county, the net flow of new immigrants on this President’s watch has dropped to zero (an extraordinary public policy achievement); crime along the entire US side of the border is way down, and the two safest large cities in the US today sit on the border, El Paso and San Diego; reforms initiated by DHS throughout the Obama Presidency, including a new round in late 2014, have made the deportation of violent criminals the highest priority for our immigration system. All of the policies used to achieve these outcomes have been opposed by the House Republicans, and further reform, comprehensive immigration reform, has been repeatedly blocked.
So a proper read of the last decade has been one party, the Democrats, have repeatedly advanced proposals and policy that have strengthened our immigration enforcement system and made the rapid deportation of criminals a priority. The other party, has repeatedly block sensible bi-partisan reforms which would strengthened our immigration enforcement system, and have passed additional legislation preventing DHS from continuing policies which have clearly made our border safer and immigration system far more focused on deporting murderers and not moms. If there is a national Party to blame for the tragic event in San Francisco it is far more the fault of the Republicans than the Democrats.
The national GOP’s effort to politicize the tragic shooting in San Francisco is an act of breathtaking and insulting cynicism. For a decade now they have blocked reforms and legislation designed to make incidents like this one far less likely. The new legislation being discussed to crack down on “Sanctuary Cities” will only make a terribly broken system worse, it will generate enormous political ill-will between local and federal law enforcement making the management of our entire national system far more difficult. These bills are hasty, political and ill-thought out. They will only make a serious national problem far worse and seemed far more designed to change the subject from Donald Trump’s recent attacks on legal, law abiding immigrants to the US than to solve a vexing national problem made far worse by their refusal to advance sensible reform over a decade of intense debate.
If indeed the national Republican Party is serious about building on the extraordinary gains we’ve made in immigration enforcement in recent years, it can:
1) Pass comprehensive reform. HR15 introduced by the Democrats last year included the GOP’s Homeland Security Committee’s package of immigration enforcement provisions. CIR will help allow law enforcement and immigration courts to better target and more rapidly remove serious threats to public safety
2) Fully fund and support the post Morton era reforms by DHS, including the expansion of PEP. These reforms have already produced real results and improvements in border security and domestic enforcement.
3) Fund the Administration’s Central America proposal to help staunch the flow of unauthorized migrants from nearby El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Last summer the House GOP deeply politicized the border crisis, and is now unwilling to follow through on sensible investments which will make future events like this far less likely while improving regional security and economic growth.
This latest focus on "Sanctuary Cities" is another disappointing episode in the GOP's decade long commitment on immigration reform to put politics over smart, sound solutions to a vexing national challenge.
On Friday, July 17th, Simon appeared on the O'Reilly Factor to discuss President Obama's use of language and the impact of his policies on combating terrorism. Simon makes a strong argument about how to correctly describe who the U.S. is fighting against. Check out the full segment below:
Today, NDN is proud to release a timely new study of the economic implications of the “Invest in Transportation Act” sponsored by Senator Rand Paul and Barbara Boxer. The study, “The Revenue And Economic Effects of the Paul Boxer Plan To Encourage the Repatriation of Foreign-Source Earnings by U.S. Multinational Corporations,” is co-authored by Dr. Robert Shapiro of NDN and the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, and Dr. Aparna Mathur of the American Enterprise Institute. Their rigorous study predicts that the passage and implementation of the Paul-Boxer bill would provide substantial revenues for future highway and infrastructure investment, boost GDP growth and potentially create large numbers of new U.S. jobs.
A PDF version of the study can be found at the bottom of this post.
The study analyzes extensive data from the 2004 Homeland Investment Act, the repatriation-related part of the American Job Creation Act of 2004, as a benchmark to project what would happen with the implementation of Paul-Boxer. Among the study’s main findings:
$1.45 trillion would be repatriated from foreign sources to the United States over the 5-year term of Paul-Boxer.
These huge repatriations would generate revenue gains totaling $68.9 billion over five years for the Highway Trust Fund. This addition $68.9 billion in infrastructure investment would generate between $138b and $172b in additional GDP.
The Paul-Boxer provision directing that 25% of repatriated funds must be used for specified purposes, including job creation and capital investment, would direct $350b over five years for those purposes, producing an additional $520b in GDP.
The $1.1 trillion in repatriated funds not subject to those requirements would generate at least $1.1 trillion in additional GDP.
All told, the GDP gains related to the bill would be sufficient to increase GDP by 1.7 percent per-year over the five years.
Based on past experience and the terms of Paul-Boxer, the additional funds used for job-related purposes --- hiring, wage increases, and training costs – could support the creation of millions of new jobs over five years.
The use of the funds repatriated under Paul-Boxer would generate additional revenues of some $63.4 billion over five years.
These findings are drawn directly from IRS data on what actually happened under the 2004 Homeland Investment , and directly challenge the way in the Joint Committee on Taxation has approached the repatriation of foreign source earnings. From the study’s conclusion:
“This study has analyzed the assumptions used by the JCT to produce those forecasts and tested them against the experience with the one instance in which Congress enacted a one-year tax incentive encouraging such repatriations, the Homeland Investment Act of 2004. The IRS data from that experiment are inconsistent with the JCT revenue estimates. The HIA induced U.S. multinationals to repatriate much greater foreign earnings than forecast by the JCT, including earnings eligible for the HIA's temporary deduction and earnings that did not qualify for the special tax incentives. As a result, the revenues gains during the term of the HIA were substantially greater than JCT had assumed. In addition, the IRS data showed that in the five years following the HIA, U.S. firms did not reduce their repatriations relative to the pre-HIA baseline, as JCT had assumed they would, but actually accelerated relative to the baseline. As a result, the revenue losses that JCT had assumed would occur once the HIA expired did not occur…..This analysis, based on all of the available data and other evidence, demonstrate that the JCT forecast of the revenue effects of Paul-Boxer is fundamentally flawed. The proposal would result in the injection of at least $1.45 trillion in additional resources for the U.S. economy, producing substantial revenue gains and economic benefits.”
It is our hope that this more accurate forecast of the economic and revenue effects of repatriated foreign source earnings of US multinationals will make the passage of a bipartisan, long term Highway Trust Fund bill more likely this year.