Real Changes for Food Stamps?

The topic of the food stamp program is always a hot button issue. Republicans are likely to once again try to reform the program. Democrats will charge that they are hurting those that can ill afford to have cuts. But is it time to make changes now that we have come out of the recession and there is less need for the additional support passed years ago? Are there legitimate concerns about food stamp cuts? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

Michigan Is Not Alone

In states across the country, corporate subsidy programs are coming under scrutiny from elected officials on both sides of the aisle because of the significant impact these initiatives are having on government’s ability to balance the books. On Wednesday last week, Governor Snyder slashed more than $100 million in state department spending to help plug the state’s budget gap, due largely to estimated corporate subsidies of $325 million this year that were previously promised. Do subsidies spur economic development? Are states keeping track and budgeting appropriately to account for these subsidies? What should states do, including Michigan, to deal with this emerging problem as state economies grow and corporations qualify for these incentives? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

President Obama’s Budget: DOA?

President Obama called for sweeping tax increases last Monday in a budget proposal that dropped any quest for fiscal grand bargains with Congress. Is his proposal for more than $1 trillion in new tax measures over the next decade dead on arrival in Congress? Why were there no new measures to curtail entitlement spending? No mention of trimming the deficit? Nothing to reduce the national debt? Are these issues no longer important for the economy? Will the Republican Congress pass the proposed budget? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

Add One More Issue to the List

The Republican controlled Congress has a long list of issues to deal with. The major issues include the funding for the Highway Trust Fund which will run out of money in May, the budget bill for the Department of Homeland Security due by the end of March, next year’s budget, trade authorization, energy regulations, possible tax reform, infrastructure funding, maybe even immigration and reform of Obama Care. But there is one more issue that they will have to deal with sometime in 2016, if not before–Social Security Disability Insurance funding.

Continue Reading

Gas Taxes: Where Does the Money Go?

Gas prices appear headed below a nationwide average of $2 a gallon in coming days, one of the swiftest declines on record. Average pump prices—$2.04 a gallon last Thursday—are now down more than 40% since last June, when they stood near $3.68 a gallon, according to the auto club AAA. Gas prices are below $2 a gallon in 27 states, including Michigan. Is this the perfect time to raise the Federal gas tax? Is there a concern that prices are too low, causing consumers to buy bigger vehicles with lower gas mileage per gallon? Will this hurt sales of hybrid and electric vehicles? Will higher Federal gas taxes help to correct this problem? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

Free Education for Everyone..Except the Taxpayers

President Obama greatly expanded benefits of the college student loan program. It is expected that he will announce a new plan to provide free community college tuition for students. As a result of these actions have we in effect provided free college education and now community college education? What are the costs to the taxpayers? What are the implications to the Federal budget building process? Should we be adding to the Federal deficit? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

There is a Chance for Cooperation

We have already heard a lot about the potential conflicts between the new Republican controlled Congress and President Obama. But is there at least one issue that may get both sides on the same page? President Obamawas trying last year to get a number of trade agreements approved in Congress. However, Harry Reid basically said any trade authorizations were dead on arrival in the Senate. Can the Republican controlled House and Senate work with President Obama to pass new trade deals? Will the Democrats try to derail the deals? Would new trade agreements help the US economy? Should these agreements be a top priority in 2015? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

Should We Provide Support for the Housing Market…Again?

The bursting of the housing bubble had a huge impact on the recession. As housing prices fell, millions of people found themselves underwater on their mortgages and millions more defaulted and lost their homes. Many analysts faulted the ease of credit and loose mortgage standards as a cause of the problem. There is now a new move to once again ease credit standards and possibly provide incentives to spur the lackluster housing market. Should mortgage standards be eased? Should new government incentives be passed to promote home ownership? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

U.S. Manufacturing is Coming Back…maybe.

US manufacturing is poised to make a comeback. We certainly have seen that occurring in Michigan with the revival of the auto and furniture industries. But according to a recent report the US is continuing to lose ground to global manufacturing rivals. Four years ago, President Obama aimed to double exports over 5 years. Can we meet that goal? Congress is fighting about the bill to extend the life of the Export/Import Bank which helps finance exports. Should Congress and the President move aggressively to support US manufacturing? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

To Spend More or Not Spend More (on Education), that is the Question

I expect most people have seen the political ad criticizing Governor Snyder for cutting $1 billion from public education. And with that criticism comes Mark Schauer’s promise to spend more on public education. This is a common campaign issue, one that has surfaced in Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas and elsewhere. Is there a problem with funding for public education? Is a call for spending more a no-brainer—we should do it. Or is this a case of lack of information to make a decision? There certainly is concern that that US has fallen far behind in basic education relative to the rest of the world. What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading