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

Climate Change Revisited..again

Tens of thousands of environmental protesters paraded through New York a week ago Sunday, in a people’s climate march designed to lobby world leaders arriving for the latest United Nations climate summit. President Obama spoke at the summit stating that “There is one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other. That is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.” Is there an urgent and growing threat of climate change? Is the problem so dire that we must impose huge new costs on carbon and energy production? Is this the number one priority for the United Nations? Should the US agree to new reductions in carbon emissions? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

Are Your TIF Dollars Being Spent Wisely?

Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs) are common entities across the state of Michigan. They use Tax Incremental Financing Authorities (TIFs) to capture property taxes for various projects to promote economic development. How effective are DDAs? Are basic municipal services suffering because of TIFs? Should changes be made to provide more accountability and to limit the use of TIFs? What is the “Right Thing to do?” Let’s look at some issues…

Continue Reading

Threatening Medical Innovation

A new drug, Sovaldi, for the liver disease hepatitis C is scaring people. Not because the drug is dangerous, but because it costs $1,000 per pill and $84,000 for a complete treatment. Advocacy groups have already sprung up objecting to the cost, some states are trying to limit its availability for people covered by Medicaid and a group of Senators has written to the manufacturer Gilead Sciences to suggest the price is too high. Should companies be free to set their prices for medical breakthroughs without government oversight? Are states attempting to ration health care by limiting the use of the drug? Is the price too high and how do we determine the “right” price? What is the Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

Do You Like Cherry Pie?

The much debated farm bill was passed earlier this year. Although direct price supports were basically eliminated and replaced with crop insurance, there are still regulations that impact Michigan farmers. Michigan is known for its tart cherry production which is heavily regulated, including limitations on how many cherries can be processed. Should the government be supporting farm markets? Should there be limitations on production and restrictions to market competition? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

Big Mac Attack

The National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel just ruled that McDonalds Corp, could be treated, in labor complaints, as a joint employer of its franchisees’ workers. You may remember that the general counsel is a recent appointment to the Board by President Obama. Is this a threat to not only McDonalds, but also to all franchises? Does a franchiser control the employee relations of it franchisees? Should the NLRB move to rule on this issue? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

Canada: How Long Can We Irritate Our Friends?

Canada is the US’s largest trading partner, largest supplier of energy and most loyal ally in war and peace, but it appears that the long nurtured special relationship is not so special after all. Has the US been neglecting this partnership and instead irritating Canada and taking the partnership for granted? Is this relationship and partnership especially important to Michigan economy? Are there important decisions that need to be made now? What is the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading

Abuse of Executive Power: When Is Enough, Enough?

Some have charged that President Obama has overstepped his constitutional authority 76 times, ranging from immigration, health care, banking, welfare, education, drug policy and more. He has done this through a series of executive orders. He has now asked all of the government departments and agencies to provide a list of additional executive orders. Has the President abused executive power or is he accomplishing what Congress is unable or unwilling to do? Is the President correct in describing the Congress as do-nothing, saying he won’t apologize for taking executive actions without Congress and daring the Republicans to “sue me.” What is the “Right Thing to do?” Should Congress sue the President in light of the recent Supreme Court decisions?

Continue Reading

A Debt Concern Switch

We did a show a month or so ago about the concern regarding the increasing cost to taxpayers for student loan defaults. President Obama was concerned that it was becoming a billion dollar problem–and a cost that was not included in the budget. It is amazing how in a matter of weeks that concern has faded and now the concern is that students may be saddled with so much debt that they may not be able to have a life student loan debt free. Last week we discussed the problem of the lost generation of those people just entering their thirties and the economic problems they face. One of the major issues was student debt. President Obama has now announced, yes another executive order, the expansion of his Pay as You Earn program. Is an expansion of the student debt forgiveness program the “Right Thing to do?”

Continue Reading