Trump Tariffs Are Bad For Economy

Trump Tariffs Are Bad For Economy

By Rocco J. Polidoro

An economics professor at Temple University in the late 1970s taught us that the Economy is relative to each person differently. He said if your neighbor is unemployed and struggling then that’s a Recession. But if you are unemployed and struggling then that’s a Depression. Trump supporters are over-looking his divisiveness and his polarization in our Country by focusing on just the Economy. They say the Economy is doing great, so they are all looking the other way. But is the Economy really doing great ? The stock market is doing well and its been doing well for almost the past 9 years. However if you are not invested in the stock market, are you doing well ? And yes the unemployment rate is low but if you are unemployed, retired or disabled, is that low rate helping you ?

Trump supporters think that the lower tax rates are helping every one. Economist estimate that the average worker is saving about $1200 a year under the new tax law. But here’s the rest of the story. According to a Bank of America economist, gas & oil prices are up about 30% this year. And that is eating up about 25% of those tax savings. The Trump tariff war is driving up costs on many products for Americans such as cars, motorcycles, washing machines and other appliances. And these product increases are eating up some of the tax savings too. An economist at Forbes said that with the deregulation of banking rules, interest rates on mortgages, car loans, equity loans and credit cards are rising and these increases will be eating up some of those tax savings.

And its no surprise that deregulations in the financial industry are driving up costs for Americans. The financial industry donated a lot of money to Trump and republican lawmakers, and we now have to pay for that. So when this year is finally over, some economist believe that we will probably be paying more in these added costs than what we were saving with the tax rate reductions.

Finally the US Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported that the US trade deficit increased by another $22 Billion, a 7% increase in August alone. The Trump tariff war is actually making the trade deficit worse. And this will mean that American farmers and factory workers will see reductions in their productivity as time goes on. So when Trump supporters say that the Economy is doing well, its a smoke screen and not a complete picture of the whole Economy.

Mr. Polidoro is a resident of Springfield

Trump Tariffs Are Bad For Economy

Un-investable Would Have Been Result Of Wolf Policy

Un-investable Would Have Been Result Of Wolf Policy

By David N. Taylor

Even after two decades in Harrisburg, the cynicism of some politicians can still surprise me.

This afternoon, Governor Tom Wolf will hold a bill signing ceremony for Senate Bill 1056, now Act 72 of 2018. Even as we express our gratitude to Sen. Michelle Brooks (R-Mercer), Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), and all of our legislative allies, Act 72 became necessary ONLY due to the actions of Governor Wolf and his Department of Revenue.

In the quiet of the Friday before Christmas, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue published a policy change covering depreciation of capital investments, disallowing all depreciation on assets subject to 100 percent federal bonus depreciation. Furthermore, cost recovery of the asset would only be allowed at the time the asset would be sold or otherwise disposed of. For many manufacturers, this would never happen. Simply put, the tax policy changes enacted unilaterally by the Wolf Administration made Pennsylvania un-investable.

At the time, a Revenue spokesman wrote in an email that the new policy is needed to spare the General Fund from lower collections. Under the change, Pennsylvania businesses would have overpaid hundreds of millions in taxes, endured greater administrative burdens by having separate state and federal compliance records, and been an outlier among states with this new policy, forfeiting capital investments the federal changes were designed to encourage. Manufacturers, which are inherently capital-intensive, would have been particularly hard hit.

Even worse, the policy change issued by Governor Wolf’s Department of Revenue was made retroactive to the start of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Any business that was bringing home earnings from overseas, as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was designed to encourage, would never consider Pennsylvania as a place for investment and expansion under this rule. Because of this, we will never know how much business investment Pennsylvania missed out on from December 23, 2017 through the legislative fix signed on June 28, 2018.

Senator Brooks and Representative Ryan were both champions in their respective chambers to fix this harmful rule-making by Governor Wolf’s Department of Revenue. We thank them for their hard work in explaining this complex tax issue to their colleagues and implementing a legislative remedy. Governor Wolf, who was Ed Rendell’s Secretary of Revenue, deserves no credit for solving a problem he caused.

President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association

 

Un-investable Would Have Been Result Of Wolf Policy

Un-investable

Natural Gas Cuts Carbon Emissions

Natural Gas Cuts Carbon Emissions

By Debbie Harding 

Natural Gas? Do you think you know all about this abundant Pennsylvania resource?  Probably not, there has been a lot of misconceptions about this natural resource.

We all care about our environment and hopefully do our best to lower our carbon footprint.  Carbon emissions, which are the primary driver of climate change are the lowest they’ve been in large part because of advancements in natural gas.  The increased availability and use of natural gas is clean burning and in fact, the United States leads other top world economies in reducing carbon emissions from energy largely to natural gas along with new technologies.

The natural gas industry has invested $90 billion on emission-controlled technologies from 2000—to 20014. And, while American energy production has increased by 40 percent over the last decade, carbon emissions from natural gas systems have decreased by 4 percent.  Fossil fuels are essential in the building of renewable technology and provides critical baseload flexible energy to support wind and solar, so we can support a modern low carbon lifestyle.

Natural Gas Cuts Carbon Emissions

Natural Gas Cuts Carbon Emissions

Democrat Party Fascist Slide Is Happening

Democrat Party Fascist Slide Is Happening

By Lowman S. Henry  

In politics everything is relative.

What the mainstream media and Left-wing activists term the ‘far right’ at one time was the sensible center. For example, cutting tax rates to allow the private sector economy to flourish was once done by President John F. Kennedy. It was none other than President Bill Clinton who told congress “the era of big government is over.” Both ideas today are considered to be ‘far right’ positions.

It is not that the inherent sensibility of such policies have changed, rather it is the fact the Democrat Party has marched steadily Leftward, so much so that even the once extreme politics of George McGovern today would be considered too conservative for most Democrats.

The Democrats’ march to the extreme Left accelerated under the Presidency of Barack Obama whose political ideology was informed by the noted communist Frank Marshall Davis. Davis advocated, among other statist policies, universal health care which became the template for the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

Barack Obama would have been a transformative president had not he enacted most of his socialistic policies via executive order rather than by legislation. The election of Donald J. Trump as his successor allowed many of those policies to be reversed. That Hillary Clinton would not be chief executive and able to make the Obama policies a permanent part of the national fabric gave rise to the wave of outrage that has swept through the American Left.

That outrage has fueled the Democrat Party’s plunge into the abyss of socialism. The Millennial generation, which was not witness to the atrocities wrought by totalitarian regimes and who have not been taught the lessons of history by our public education system, seem especially susceptible to socialistic promises of free college educations and so-called “universal basic incomes.”

And so it was that a millennial, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, stunned the Democrat Party establishment by defeating Congressman Joseph Crowley in the recent New York primary. Ocasio-Cortez ran as an avowed socialist and since her victory sought to portray herself as the face of the party’s future.

Congressman Crowley was seen as the most likely successor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who has been both legislatively and politically ineffective. Crowley’s defeat sent shock waves through party’s establishment who now fear the radical socialism of candidates like Ocasio-Cortez will upend its chances of reclaiming a House majority this November.

Another example of how far the party has strayed from the mainstream was seen recently in California where U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein was deemed insufficiently liberal by party activists. State Senator Kevin de Leon easily defeated her for the party’s endorsement. That vote was propelled by so-called “progressive activists” who have accomplished the improbable task of moving the California Democrat Party even further to the Left.

Here in Pennsylvania the Costa Family is an Allegheny County institution. Senator Jay Costa serves as Minority Leader in the state Senate. Cousins Dom and Paul Costa represent state House districts. In last May’s primary they were defeated by challengers who had the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Likewise, Democrat Lt. Governor Mike Stack was defeated in his bid for re-nomination by the extreme Left-wing Mayor of Braddock John Fetterman. During a recent campaign visit to Pittsburgh the socialist U.S. Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, heaped praise on Fetterman. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Sanders told the assembled activists that Fetterman would “help usher in the Democratic Socialist agenda that he (Sanders) has been revolutionizing.”

Fetterman is now the running mate of incumbent Governor Tom Wolf. The Huffington Post has dubbed Wolf “the most liberal governor in America,” meaning state Democrats are running the most extreme Left-wing ticket they have ever nominated.

All this is playing out against the backdrop of a surging U.S. economy made possible by the pro-growth economic policies of the Trump Administration which include tax cuts and a roll-back of the regulatory excesses of the Obama years. With unemployment near record lows and Americans having more disposable income, the socialist agenda becomes less attractive to the middle of the political spectrum.

And so Democrats find themselves captive of their party’s most extremist elements precisely at a time the folly of their agenda is becoming more and more apparent to voters. Conservatives’ belief in equality of opportunity is proving to be successful. This makes the Left’s warm embrace of socialistic policies an electoral minefield for Democrats as the November elections approach.

Lowman Henry is chairman and CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. 

Democrat Party Fascist Slide
Democrat Party Fascist Slide
Democrat Socialist, Soviet Socialist, National Socialist, what’s the difference in the end?

Pennsylvania Budget Violates TPA

Pennsylvania Budget Violates TPA

By Leo Knepper

Last week the Pennsylvania House and Senate adopted the 2018-2019 budget by overwhelming margins. Thanks in large part to the economic growth generated by federal tax cuts enacted by the Trump administration, and the fact that it is an election year, the voices calling for tax increases were more subdued than usual this year. Because the underlying cost drivers were not dealt with in any meaningful way in this budget, the reprieve will be temporary.

The first problem with the budget was that it exceeded the growth cap established by the Taxpayer Protection Act (TPA). The TPA limits spending growth to the rate of inflation plus population growth. As noted by the Commonwealth Foundation:

“The budget plan increases General Fund spending by more than $718 million—an increase of 2.2 percent. (Note that House leaders place the increase at 1.7 percent—adding $159 million of ‘2017-18 spending enacted in 2016-17’ to the baseline.) That means Harrisburg is demanding nearly $300 million morefrom Pennsylvanians than it would under TPA.”

In addition to the accounting gimmicks used to hide a portion of the spending increase, this year’s budget continues to underfund the Commonwealth’s substantial pension obligations. Members of the General Assembly will argue that this budget meets the actuarily recommended contribution (ARC). Meeting the ARC would be meaningful if the calculations were based on realistic assumptions; sadly, that is not the case. The ARC is artificially constructed and significantly underestimates pension liabilities and overestimates the overall return on the pension assets.

An on-time budget would be something to celebrate if it made significant changes to the Commonwealth’s fiscal trajectory. The 2018-2019 budget avoids making any tough choices. It overspends and fails to prioritize in any meaningful way. We are running out of road for the proverbial can to be kicked down. The longer the General Assembly postpones reform, the fewer options we will have, and the more painful the changes will be for everyone.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Budget Violates TPA

Pennsylvania Budget Violates TPA

Education Access Now Piggy Bank

Education Access Now Piggy Bank

By Leo Knepper

The Education Access Program (EAP) budget item has increased by nearly 600 percent since the 2014-2015 budget cycle. Initially, the EAP had a $3.95 million budget. It grew to over $23 million last year. If you dig into it a little, you’ll find that the funds from the Program have been requested and spent on projects mainly to benefit Senate Democrats. In some cases, the funds go to school districts directly, but the majority of the funds have gone to support organizations like: The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, The Bryn Mawr Film Institute, and The Pittsburgh Opera.

Private individuals making donations to charitable organizations is a vital part of civil society. When government forces taxpayers to support particular organizations, that is another matter entirely. Lawmakers’ ability to present giant cardboard checks to local charities is a pernicious part of the “incumbent protection” program designed to make it harder to dislodge elected officials once they are elected to office. Furthermore, over the course of recent history, we have seen members of the General Assembly direct tax-dollars to “charities” that directly benefited them financially, or organizations that were run by their campaign contributors.

Beyond the problems associated with doling out tax dollars to favored charities for good public relations, sending funds to school districts via the EAP is never a one-time deal. One of the quirks in how Pennsylvania funds school districts is a “hold harmless” provision. Essentially, the amount of money sent to a school district from state taxpayers cannot be decreased. In other words, the payments from the EAP to school districts will always be included in the “Basic Education Funding” the school receives from the Commonwealth. A $10,000 grant automatically turns into an additional $10,000 included in the next year’s (and the next, etc.) baseline funding.

Despite an insistence almost every year that the state budget is “cut to the bone,” questionable spending through the EAP and other programs illustrates that that is not the case. Too many members of the General Assembly confuse wants and needs when it comes to spending tax dollars. As we move through the budget process, our elected officials would be wise to take a closer look at where our money is actually going.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Education Access Now Piggy Bank  By Leo Knepper  The Education Access Program (EAP) budget item has increased by nearly

Pennsylvania Spends More, Gets Less

Pennsylvania Spends More, Gets Less

By Leo Knepper

Every June an unholy alliance of Big Government special interests and politicians gathers in Harrisburg to decide how to spend your money. Governor Wolf provided an outline of what he wanted to see back in February. His focus was on more education spending, more taxes on natural gas, and a higher minimum wage. As we noted at the time:

Pennsylvania currently spends more on education than forty-one other states. More money is not going to help students in failing schools…The worst performing school district [in Pennsylvania], Wilkinsburg Borough, spends over $30,000 per pupil. However, only fifteen percent of their students are proficient in math, and twenty-six percent are proficient in reading. On top of poor performance in math and reading, less than half of Wilkinsburg’s students graduate. More money is not the solution for our education system’s failings…

“In his budget address, Wolf repeated the lie that natural gas companies aren’t paying their ‘fair share’ and he advocated for raising their taxes. He stated that Pennsylvania was the only state not collecting an extraction tax, but the Governor failed to mention that we are the only state to levy an impact fee. In 2017, the natural gas companies paid over $200 million into Pennsylvania’s coffers due to our impact fee. Natural gas companies are also subject to the Commonwealth’s corporate net income tax, which happens to be the second highest in the country. On top of that, the Treasury gets a cut of any royalties paid to individuals by the gas companies. At what point will Governor Wolf be satisfied that natural gas companies are paying their fair share?

“The final item trotted out by the Governor was an increase in the minimum wage. If Governor Wolf wants to make it harder for lower-skilled workers to find employment, setting an artificially high wage floor will undoubtedly make that happen. Minimum wage increases enacted by other states and localities have resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and Pennsylvania would not be exempt from that trend.”

As far as we can tell, none of the Governor’s proposals are entirely off the table. In fact, Senate Republican leaders and Democrats included another shale gas tax in their fiscal code last year, along with several other tax increases. The House nixed the worst of the fiscal code, including the shale tax increase. So far this year, we haven’t heard anything from Senate Republican leaders shutting the door on targeted tax increases.

We have yet to see a budget proposal from the Pennsylvania House or Senate. The General Assembly doesn’t provide a budget framework until closer to the June 30th deadline, making it harder for taxpayers to weigh in on how their money will be spent over the next year. We will be sure to update you as soon as there is anything to report.

Pennsylvania Spends More, Gets Less

Pennsylvania Spends More, Gets Less

SB 251 Lets Towns Fund Budgets With Speed Traps

SB 251 Lets Towns Fund Budgets With Speed Traps

By Christopher Fromme

Imagine driving down the PA Turnpike when suddenly, … a State Trooper pulls you over and issues you a ticket  The speeding ticket, even though it’s only a little bit over the limit, is hundreds of dollars… your day is absolutely ruined!

Now, imagine if this scenario played itself out every day, on every street in the Commonwealth, with the same efficiency as the highway patrol.  Instead, a local Law Enforcement Officer has pulled you over, not because you posed a threat to public safety, but to meet a quota, for the purpose of balancing the local municipal budget.

The General Assembly in Harrisburg is trying to make this nightmare a reality. Senate Bill 251 has already passed  in the Senate and just passed 22-2 in the House Transportation Committee.  If this bill passes, it would grant new powers to local police, so that every local police department would be able to use RADAR guns to determine vehicle speed. With SB251 Harrisburg is authorizing a 20% across-the-board municipal regressive tax increase, one that disproportionately affects those least able to afford it poor and middle class families with little disposable income.

This is not the way we should be funding our local communities, and we still have time to stop this.  We need to contact every State Representative to demand they withdraw their support of this bill, and vote NO on SB251.  Stopping this bill is vital to protecting families from a new and dangerous form of taxation on PA citizens.  This is worse than GAS TAX vote which helped defeat Senator Randy Vulakovich in the May primary

Further, SB 251 gives municipalities a big incentive to support this new taxation tool, because it allows for up to 20% of their budget to come from RADAR and LIDAR tickets.  To be clear, Harrisburg is authorizing a 20% across-the-board municipal tax increase!  They know that local leaders are being confronted with rising municipal costs, and are being forced to either raise property taxes or make due with less.  They want to pass this bill to give those leaders a new way to raise money, without the stigma of raising their existing property or income taxes. Unfortunately, the tax they are attempting to create with SB 251 is a regressive tax, one that disproportionately affects those least able to afford it: poor and middle class families with little disposable income.

SB 251 will force our LEOs to serve as tax collectors; establishing and meeting budget quotas,putting themselves in harm’s way to execute needless traffic stops, and collecting taxes at the point of a gun. Anger and violence will inevitably be directed at individual officers due to this practice, but the reality is that they have little to no accountability directly to citizens, as local police work for the municipalities in PA, and are not elected like our County Sheriffs.

This is not the way we should be funding our local communities, and luckily, we still have time to stop this.  We need to contact our State Representatives  to demand they withdraw their support of this bill, and vote NO on SB 251.  Stopping this bill is vital to protecting families, individual citizens and LEOs, and stopping a new and dangerous form of taxation on PA citizens.

For those living in Pennsylvania’s 38th Senate District  make sure to vote  for Jeremy Shaffer on Nov. 6. No negative ads just positive solutions.   www.jeremyshaffer.com

SB 251 Paves Way For Speed Traps

SB 251 Lets Towns Fund Budgets With Speed Traps

CAP Happy With Election Results

CAP Happy With Election Results

By Leo Knepper

(May 15) was a fantastic night for CAP (Citizens Alliance for Pennsylvania), and CAP PAC supported candidates. Scott Wagner, the CAP PAC endorsed candidate for Governor, won by a comfortable margin. We look forward to an exciting gubernatorial race in the fall. Pennsylvanians will be able to draw clear distinctions between the candidates. One option will be Gov. Tom Wolf, who has never met a tax increase he didn’t like. The other option will be Scott Wagner, a man who understands that every dollar that government spends is coming out of someone’s pocket.

Both of the candidates CAP PAC supported for the Senate won commanding victories. Kristin Phillips-Hill (York County) and Jeremy Shaffer (Allegheny County) both ran fantastic campaigns. Shaffer’s campaign is especially noteworthy. Jeremy defeated an incumbent Senator, Randy Vulakovich, by over 15 points! Senate Republican leadership pulled out all the stops to defend Vulakovich, including filing a baseless complaint against CAP. Senate Republican leadership is trying to weaponize the Pennsylvania Department of State. Their goal is to violate the privacy of the donors to our 501c4, despite the protections granted to donors by federal law and precedent. (We will keep you posted on this issue.)

We would also like to congratulate Representatives Dawn Keefer (York County) and Justin Simmons (Lehigh County) for their victories. The final triumph we’d like to report is Mike Jones (York County). Mike won nearly 85 percent of the primary vote. He had by far the most significant margin of victory for any of the CAP or CAP PAC supported candidates.

We are looking forward to an exciting November.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

CAP Happy With Election Results

CAP Happy With Election Results

Pa Judges Corrupt As Legislature, Governor

Pa Judges Corrupt As Legislature

By Lowman S. Henry

The myth has been exposed.

The judicial branch of state government is no different than the legislative and executive branches. Too much power corrupts, and actions are motivated more by political interests than by the public interest.

That partisan politics pervades Pennsylvania’s statewide judiciary was laid bare by the recent re-gerrymandering of the commonwealth’s congressional districts. In what amounted to a flagrant violation of both the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions, a redistricting plan was forced upon voters by judicial fiat.

Under the guise of claims they were correcting an excessive gerrymander, the justices played their role in an elaborate nationwide scheme to force the redraw of district maps in key states. The collusion began at the national level, was put into place when massive labor union campaign donations financed a Democratic takeover of the high court in the 2015 elections, Left-leaning interest groups filed suit, and the justices then issued an unprecedented series of rulings culminating in the institution of a nicer looking, but more highly gerrymandered map favorable to Democrats.

Did the justices right a wrong, or did they overstep their authority? The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. conducts a semi-annual Keystone Business Climate Survey of business owners and chief executive officers. In the Spring 2018 survey conducted during the month of March a total of 61% said the court overstepped its authority, 22% think it righted a wrong.

Speaking of wrong, three seats on the state Supreme Court were open in 2015 because of mis-deeds that forced the resignation of three justices. One was convicted of using taxpayer-paid staff to campaign, one was accused of attempting to blackmail a fellow justice, and another viewed material on his office computer that was, shall we say, not suitable for work.

The judiciary’s carefully cultivated aura of superiority now lies in tatters on the courtroom floor. Using that aura, judges and justices have been given certain perks not afforded the other two branches of state government. They get ten year terms, making them unaccountable to voters. They run for retention rather than for re-election, a process that but once has resulted in jurists being retained.

Should judges and justices serve ten year terms, or should the length of those terms be reduced? Twenty-five percent of respondents to the Spring 2018 Keystone Business Climate Survey said they should continue to serve ten year terms. However, 67 percent think shorter terms are in order. Thirty-six percent supports giving judges and justices six year terms, 31 percent  think they should serve four year terms.

A similar margin supports doing away with retention elections. Seventy-two percent think judges and justices should stand for re-election, 21 percent say the current retention system should itself be retained.

Pennsylvania has three appellate courts the Supreme Court, the Commonwealth Court and the Superior Court. Judges and justices on these courts are currently elected by voters statewide. These elections are low profile with voters often going into the polls having little or no knowledge of the candidates or their qualifications.

Two potential reforms have been proposed. One is a so called “merit selection” process in which voters would have no say in the selection of judges and justices who would then be picked by power brokers in the other two branches of government. The other would be to elect appellate court jurists by region or by district such as we do with members of congress and the state legislature.

Merit selection received little support from the business owners and CEOs with only 12 percent favoring such a process. Twenty-three percent said we should continue to elect judges and justices in a statewide election. A solid majority, 58 percent  said they favor electing jurists by district.

The general trend of the Keystone Business Climate Survey results relative to the court was to support giving voters more say in holding appellate court judges and justices accountable. Those Supreme Court justices who staged the re-districting coup won’t stand for retention for eight years. The only accountability mechanism currently available is impeachment by a 46 percent to 32 percent margin survey respondents said the legislature should impeach the offending justices.

Although some members of the General Assembly have proposed doing just that it won’t happen. Why? Because such a move requires political courage; and political courage in Pennsylvania is about as rare as unicorns and purple squirrels.

Mr. Henry is Chairman CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal

Pa Judges Corrupt As Legislature, Governor