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Shut Down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Unleash the Free Market

Remember the financial crisis and market meltdown from late last decade? That wasn’t a fun time, and we’re still dealing with some of the fallout. Let’s specifically look at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two privately owned but government-created housing finance institutions (also known as government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs). Fannie and Freddie received giant […]

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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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Trump’s Social-Engineering Scheme to Make the Tax Code More Complex and Increase the Cost of Child Care

When I wrote last year about “Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Increase the Cost of College,” I explained that colleges and universities boost tuition when the government hands out more subsidies to students, so the main effect is to make higher education even more expensive. Today, let’s look at Donald Trump’s plan to increase the cost […]

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Zelle, Duininck, extending NorthStar

The purpose of this op-ed, written by MnDOT Commissioner Charles Zelle and Met Council Chairman Adam Duininck, is to criticize Jim Knoblach. In the interest of full disclosure, Jim represents me in the legislature. He’s also one of the smartest policy makers in Minnesota. But I digress. While attacking Chairman Knoblach, Commissioner Zelle and Chairman […]

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Krugman, Higher Education, and the Myth of Spending Restraint

When I accuse my left-wing friends of deciding policy on the basis of feelings, intentions, and ideology, that’s not because I think those are bad motives. After all, I’m also guided by many of these factors. I have empathy for others, especially the disadvantaged. My goals are to have a more peaceful and prosperous society. […]

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Ted Cruz and Rand Paul Deserve Praise for their Admirable and Principled Opposition to Corrupt Ethanol Subsidies

Because I don’t like their plans for a value-added tax, some people seem to think that I am politically opposed to Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. That’s not true. Both Senators are generally strong proponents of free markets and limited government, so the fact that they have one bad policy position shouldn’t a disqualifying characteristic. […]

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Obama, Redistribution, and Jobs: Always Wrong, Never in Doubt

Let’s dig into the issue of whether the United States should become more like France. In a 2014 study for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Stanford University’s Robert Hall wrote about America’s sub-par economic performance. His opening line was basically a preemptive refutation of Obama’s claim – made during the State-of-the-Union Address – that […]

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The Department of Agriculture Is a Welfare Scam

I may have to change my mind. When asked a few years ago to pick which department in Washington most deserved to be eliminated, I chose the Department of Housing and Urban Development. And HUD unquestionably is a cesspool of waste, so it certainly should be shuttered. But the more I read about the bizarre […]

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If We Want Prosperity, Prices Should Be Determined by Markets rather than Politicians

The communist economic system was a total disaster, but it wasn’t because of excessive taxation. Communist countries generally didn’t even have tax systems. The real problem was that communism was based on central planning, which is the notion that supposedly wise bureaucrats and politicians could scientifically determine the allocation of resources. But it turns out […]

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Congressman Bera and Planned Parenthood Unwittingly Endorse End to Taxpayer Handouts

Maybe it’s my snarky sense of humor, but I greatly enjoy when statists accidentally promote free markets and small government. It seems to happens quite a bit at the New York Times. A New York Times columnist, for instance, pushed for a tax-hiking fiscal agreement back in 2011 based on a chart showing that the only successful budget deal […]

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Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Increase the Cost of College

Over the past few years, Hillary Clinton has taken advantage of several opportunities to demonstrate that she doesn’t understand economics. Though that’s not a problem. I have friends who routinely demonstrate their economic ignorance by saying things that don’t make sense. The problem is that Hillary may actually wind up in a position of power. […]

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A Five-Picture Explanation of the Greek Mess

I’ve shared lots of analysis (both serious and satirical) about the mess in Greece and I feel obliged to comment on the latest agreement for another bailout. But how many times can I write that the Greek government spends too much money and has a punitive tax system (and a crazy regulatory regime, a bloated […]

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The Corrupt, Cronyist Export-Import Bank Was Not Re-Authorized, so Let’s Celebrate a (Hopefully Permanent) Victory over Corporate Welfare

Advocates of economic liberty, free market, and small government haven’t enjoyed many victories in the 21st Century. Government got bigger and more expensive during Bush’s reign, starting in his first year with the No Bureaucrat Left Behind legislation and then ending in his final year with the odious TARP bailout. Then Obama came to office, […]

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Greta predicts King v. Burwell

During Tuesday night’s Off the Record segment, Greta van Susteren made a rare prediction: Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com Here’s what she said: GRETA: First, some Law 101. When 2 parties dispute a statute, here Obamacare, the Court must first decide who’s right. The Court first looks at the plain wording of the statute. […]

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Government-Subsidized Third-Party Payer Is a Great Recipe to Make a Sector of the Economy More Expensive and Less Efficient

What’s the most effective way of screwing up a sector of the economy? Since I’m a fiscal policy economist, I’m tempted to say that bad tax policy is the fastest way of causing damage. And France might be my top example. But other forms of government intervention also can have a poisonous effect. Regulation, for […]

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Amtrak Needs Privatization, not More Handouts and Subsidies

I almost feel sorry for my leftist friends. Whenever there’s a story about a crazed shooter, they invariably speculate that it’s someone affiliated with the Tea Party. So they must be sad when it turns out to be a random nut or in some cases a leftist. Similarly, when the news broke a few days […]

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Subsidized Water and Narrow-Minded Environmentalism: A Bad Combination for California

When writing about the Golden State, I generally focus on fiscal policy. After all, California is trying to become the France of America by imposing punitive tax rates and continuously expanding the burden of government spending. And since this leads to the loss of jobs and competitiveness, California offers a helpful reminder that bad policy […]

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Reduce Out-of-Control College Costs by Ending Government Subsidies

I’ve written many times about the shortcomings of government schools at the K-12 level. We spend more on our kids than any other nation, yet our test scores are comparatively dismal. And one of my points, based on this very sobering chart from one of my Cato colleagues, is that America’s educational performance took a […]

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Subsidized Terrorism Insurance: Another Example of Unjust Corporate Welfare

When I discuss corporate welfare, my first example is usually the Export-Import Bank. It galls me that taxpayers are coerced into subsidizing some of the world’s biggest corporations. And since I’m an economist, I also don’t like how these subsidies undermine the overall economy. But the Export-Import Bank is just the tip of the iceberg. […]

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Corporate Welfare: Can Republicans Kick the Habit?

I periodically try to explain that there’s a big difference between being pro-market and pro-business. Simply stated, policy makers shouldn’t try to penalize businesses with taxes, mandates, and regulations. But neither should politicians seek to subsidize businesses. That’s why I’m against bailouts, subsidies, and other distortions that provide special favors for politically connected companies. I […]

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