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Carbon Taxes: Worrisome in Theory, Bad in Reality

I don’t have strong views on global warming. Or climate change, or whatever it’s being called today. But I’ve generally been skeptical about government action for the simple reason that the people making the most noise are statists who would use any excuse to increase the size and power of government. To be blunt, I […]

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The United Kingdom and the Benefits of Spending Restraint

When I debate one of my leftist friends about deficits, it’s often a strange experience because none of us actually care that much about red ink. I’m motivated instead by a desire to shrink the burden of government spending, so I argue for spending restraint rather than tax hikes that would “feed the beast.” And […]

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Greece and the Folly of Trying to Solve an Overspending Problem with Tax Increases

I’ve put forth lots of arguments against tax increases, mostly focusing on why higher tax rates will depress growth and encourage more government spending. Today, let’s look at a practical, real-world example. I wrote a column for The Hill looking at why Greece is a fiscal and economic train wreck. I have lots of interesting […]

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Just Say No to the Debilitating Drug of Keynesian Stimulus

I’m glad that Donald Trump wants faster growth. The American people shouldn’t have to settle for the kind of anemic economic performance that the nation endured during the Obama years. But does he understand the right recipe for prosperity? That’s an open question. At times, Trump makes Obama-style arguments about the Keynesian elixir of government […]

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New CBO Numbers and the Simple Formula for Good Fiscal Policy, Part II

Based on new 10-year fiscal estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, I wrote yesterday that balancing the budget actually is very simple with a modest bit of spending restraint. If lawmakers simply limit annual spending increases to 1 percent annually, the budget is balanced by 2022. If spending is allowed to grow by 2 percent […]

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New CBO Numbers and the Simple Formula for Good Fiscal Policy, Part I

The Congressional Budget Office, as part of The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027, has just released fiscal projections for the next 10 years. This happens twice every year. As part of this biannual exercise, I regularly (most recently here and here) dig through the data and highlight the most relevant numbers. Let’s repeat […]

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Will Trumponomics Mean More Freedom and Prosperity?

I was sitting directly under a television in a Caribbean airport yesterday when Trump got inaugurated, so I inadvertently heard his speech. The bad news is that Trump didn’t say much about liberty or the Constitution. And, unlike Reagan, he certainly didn’t have much to say about shrinking the size and scope of Washington. On […]

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Advice for Donald Trump’s Fiscal Garden: Eliminate rather than Cut

Because of what he’s said on entitlements, infrastructure, child care, and other issues, I’ve been skeptical about Donald Trump. But if recent headlines are true, I may develop a man crush. Here’s a story from The Hill. Donald Trump is ready to take an ax to government spending. Staffers for the Trump transition team have […]

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Least Surprising Headline Ever – another Giant Cost Overrun and Huge Delay for a Pork-Barrel Infrastructure Project

When politicians create programs and announce projects, they routinely lie about the real costs. Their primary goal is to get initial approval for various boondoggles and they figure it will be too late to reverse path once it becomes apparent that something will cost for more than the initial low-ball estimates. Obamacare is a classic […]

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The Negative Macroeconomic Impact of Overpaid Bureaucrats

Last year, I shared some remarkable research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development about the negative relationship between government spending and economic performance. The economists at the Paris-based bureaucracy looked at data from its member nations (primarily Europe, North America, and the Pacific Rim), discovered that the countries with bigger government experienced less […]

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Trump, Entitlements, and America’s Potential Greek Future

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (or like Donald Sutherland in Animal House), I’m going to repeat myself for the umpteenth time and state that the United States has a big long-run problem. To be specific, the burden of government spending will inexorably climb in the absence of big reforms. This isn’t […]

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All I Want for Christmas Is…a Spending Cap

What could be more fun than to spend the day before Christmas reading about fiscal policy? I realize there are probably endless ways to answer that question, particularly since normal people are probably more concerned about the rumor that the feds are going to arrest Santa Claus. But America’s fiscal future is very grim, so […]

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Help Veterans by Abolishing the Veterans Administration

With Christmas approaching, people are putting together their lists for Santa Claus. I’m not sure I’ll find any of these things under my tree, but here’s what I want. Get rid of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Shut down the Department of Agriculture. Eliminate the Department of Transportation. Abolish the Department of Education. […]

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More Tax Dollars for Government Schools ≠ Better Education

While I have great fondness for some of the visuals I’ve created over the years (especially “two wagons” and “apple harvesting“), I confess that none of my creations have ever been as clear and convincing as the iconic graph on education spending and education outcomes created by the late Andrew Coulson. I can’t imagine anyone […]

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A Big Fiscal Victory: Constitutional Spending Caps for Brazil!

The good thing about being a libertarian (above and beyond respecting the rights and liberties of other people) is that you can always say “I told you so” when government intervention leads to bad results. Obamacare is a very good (albeit very painful) example. The bad thing about being a libertarian is that you don’t […]

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The Insane World of Agriculture Subsidies

I’ve argued before that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should be the top target of those seeking to shut down useless and counterproductive parts of the federal government. And if President-Elect Trump’s choice for HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, is as sound on housing issues as he is on tax issues, presumably he […]

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The “Austerity” Debate: More Academic Evidence against Big Government

In the world of fiscal policy, there are actually two big debates. One debate revolves around the appropriate size of government in the long run. Folks on the left argue that government spending generates a lot of value and that bigger government is a recipe for more prosperity. Libertarians and their allies, by contrast, point […]

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Great Moments in Pentagon Incompetence and Waste

Last month, I explained that America’s fiscal problems are almost entirely the result of domestic spending programs, particularly entitlements. Some critics immediately decided this meant I favored a blank check for the Pentagon, even though I specifically stated that “I’m very sympathetic to the proposition that trillions of dollars that have been misspent on foreign […]

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Shut Down the Department of Energy, Yesterday if Possible

President-Elect Trump has picked Ben Carson as his Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which immediately produced two thoughts. First, since he had the best tax plan of all the 2016 candidates, too bad he wasn’t named Secretary of Treasury. Second, I hope his job at HUD is to shut down […]

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OECD Economic Research Finds that Government Spending Harms Growth

At the risk of understatement, I’m not a fan of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Perhaps reflecting the mindset of the European governments that dominate its membership, the Paris-based international bureaucracy has morphed into a cheerleader for statist policies. All of which was just fine from the perspective of the Obama Administration, which […]

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