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…

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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?”

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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?”

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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?”

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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?”

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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?

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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?”

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The Lost Generation

The financial crisis and recession exacted a heavy toll on the generation of Americans now entering their 30s. They face difficult job prospects, little or no income growth and historically unprecedented level of student loans. What are the causes of these problems and the implications for the economy? Is there a solution and “What is the Right Thing to do?” Let’s look at some issues…

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When You Can’t Legislate, Regulate

The economy continues to limp along, with estimates for GDP growth for the first quarter between 1% and 1 1/2%. There are may explanations for the slow growth, including the impact of regulation on the cost of doing business. In fact, you could say that there is one part of the US economy that is booming—federal regulation. Are we being regulated more because there seems to be an inability to pass laws to improve the economy? Are the regulations a positive step to improve economic prospects? Is this the “Right Thing to do?”

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Tax and Spend Again

The President unveiled his budget for fiscal year 2015 starting October 1, 2014. His budget calls for an increase in spending and taxes on upper income Americans. New policy goals were not included and instead included many of the measures that he had previously proposed. It did not include any changes to entitlements or any real move to reduce the deficit or any plans to improve the economy. Even though it is an election year and as a result the usual intention to provide spending for critical Congressional elections, should the budget contain overhauls necessary to spur the economy and reduce the debt? Is this budget the “Right Thing to do?”

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