Dignity of Reopening: Restoring Faith in People
In this newsletter, I discuss a highly improving COVID situation, the need to open Texas, Gov. Abbott's SOTS, pro-growth policy in Texas and DC, & why we need better policies to be for.
I’m writing this before the Super Bowl, as I’ll be rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While I don’t really care which team wins, I do support Patrick Mahomes who attended my alma mater Texas Tech University and is a fantastic football player. That’s nothing against Tom Brady, who is likely the GOAT, but this could be the changing of the guard. We shall see.
Sometimes I wish that my classical liberal friends whether they be more on the conservative or libertarian part of the political spectrum had a bit more “air raid” like Mahomes’ offensive strategy of good pro-growth policy to be for instead of just saying no to bad policies. This is something that President Trump helped restore in many ways as he had policies that were popular and many policies that provided inclusive institutional changes that supported tangible prosperity from Americans of every walk of life. The policy approach was one of deregulation, tax cuts, better trade deals, and energy independence.
While I would have rather there been a different approach to trade than tariffs and flawed arguments over “trade deficits,” such as reducing the budget deficit thereby stopping artificially raising the value of the dollar so we could export more and through broadening our trade agreements through a restructured Trans-Pacific Partnership, the other policies brought about more growth that outweighed the weaker growth from higher tariffs and less gain from trade.
There will be much to be against by President Biden and the current Congress, and I note some of those below, but let’s continue to work toward policies that we can be for that will provide inclusive institutional changes whereby dignity, self-sufficiency, and prosperity will thrive. I believe this is possible even in these tough times and by working across the political spectrum as we typically have the same goals in mind just different paths for how to get there. Let’s try to find common ground when possible.
Let’s jump into this week’s material that will hopefully help us work toward better ways to let people prosper.
OPEN TEXAS (AND AMERICA)
Summary of COVID-19 Situation in Texas: TX DSHS Data Here
As of Feb. 7, 12 of 22 Trauma Service Areas (TSA) are on the Governor’s list for elevated restrictions as business operating capacity is cut from 75% to 50%, which 78% of Texans live in these TSAs so the economy is essentially running at 1/2 speed. TSAs A (Amarillo), B( Lubbock), D (Abilene), F (Paris), and G (Longview/Tyler) recently fell off the list, with L (Belton/Killeen), N (Bryan/College Station) likely falling off the list this week.
As of Feb. 6, 7-day mvg average of new COVID-19 cases is down substantially but remains about 30% above July highs
As of Jan. 29, latest data for 7-day mvg avg of reported fatalities show it’s below the July highs while new cases were 50% above its highs, meaning a much lower CFR
26.4% of hospital beds are available statewide, which is up recently and is at the 26% average since May and well above the low of 19% in July
Based on these data and others below, there remain valid concerns about the Governor’s metric of COVID-19 patients/total hospital beds to shut down businesses instead of available beds/total hospital beds as beds have increased over time by targeting resources where needed most, and about the continued mistake of blanket restrictions across Texas, which hurt lives & livelihoods.
Overview of COVID-19 in Texas
7-day avg of new confirmed cases in Texas is substantially down recently to 12K on Feb. 7, with the recent highs of 26,990 on Dec. 29 and of 26,543 on Jan. 5
7-day avg of new reported fatalities in Texas on Jan. 29 (latest data available) was about 200—more recorded death certificates to come which have increased the 7-day avg to around 250 in Jan
7-day avgs of cases in recent spike were twice as high as the highs in July (20K vs. 10K) while reported fatalities reached a high that was 20% higher than July highs (300 vs. 250), meaning the case-fatality rate has been substantially lower
There remains a relatively high rate of hospital beds available across most of Texas—26.4% available statewide—with every TSA having at least 18.1% available
7-day avg of testing is up to 115K per day and the positivity rate is down to 11.7% after recently peaking at 21% on 1/3 which was near July high
While debatable, improvements in the case-fatality rate could be from better therapeutics, younger and healthier population infected, better utilization of hospital resources, and Gov. Abbott’s more targeted policy approach
Texas Gov. Abbott’s Metric Overview
Per Gov Abbott’s metric of COVID-19 hospitalizations as a share of total hospital capacity for seven consecutive days, TSAs below 15% can have most business restrictions lifted to 75% operating capacity (up from 50%), keep state mask mandate (been in effect since July 2), and bars (and others) open to 50% capacity with county judge’s approval
12 of 22 TSAs are reported on the list of further restrictions: E (Dallas/Ft. Worth), H (Lufkin), I (El Paso), L (Belton/Killeen), M (Waco), N (Bryan/College Station), P (San Antonio), Q (Houston), R (Galveston), S (Victoria), T (Laredo), and V (Rio Grande Valley)
78% of Texans are at 50% capacity + other restrictions while 22% of Texans are at 75% capacity + other restrictions, so Texas economy is essentially at 50% capacity
This CV19-to-capacity metric statewide has been declining statewide to 14.2%, which is below July’s 17.0% average
Hospital Overview Statewide
COVID-19 hospitalizations down 14% (to 9,652 hospitalizations—lowest since 12/16) from 7 days ago & down 25.2% from 14 days ago, level near July’s 9,700 avg
Hospital beds available statewide is up to 26.4%, above the avg of 23.7% in July and just above the avg of 26% since May
Hospital capacity up 0.6% (to 67,956 beds) from 7 days ago and up 1.1% from 14 days ago, level is well above July’s 57,000 avg
These are questions we should be asking.
The Wall Street Journal @WSJIf everyone in the U.S. who says they plan to get vaccinated gets the shot, it won’t be enough to end the pandemic, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows https://t.co/Q0sFxOansA
Vaccinations are up in Texas, shouldn’t it be time to open Texas? Yes!
Greg Abbott @GregAbbott_TXToday Texas set a new one-day record for the number of vaccinations administered: 179,910. Also today we surpassed 3,000,000 vaccinations administered. More vaccines will arrive in the coming weeks. Always voluntary.
I asked and answered these questions and more in a recent presentation:
TEXAS ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION
Here’s good news that we should see a Conservative Texas Budget as Governor Abbott recently noted the following in his State of the State address last week. Let’s keep searching for ways to provide tax relief and strengthen the Texas Model so we can be more resilient to the poor policies by President Biden and Congress like Texas was during the rough policy and economic climate during President Obama. Here is a link to Gov. Abbott’s 2022-23 budget recommendations.
Learn more in my latest commentary about TPPF’s work toward improving lives and livelihoods through the Opportunity Project that I’m leading in Texas.
More people continue to move to places like Texas from high tax, high spend, high regulate, and high shut down states like California:
U.S. ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION
Just say NO to the $1.9T political stunt.
The fiscal insanity in DC is already distorting economic activity, slowing growth, and bankrupting us in the process, we deserve better than this. Unfortunately, I’m not sure when we will get it as President Biden and Congress seek to make the situation far worse with their latest escapade of going alone with passing the massive $1.9 T package. What happened to unity?
National Debt Tweets @NationalDebt$27,851,050,265,776.27 (-) #NationalDebt
Lawrence H. Summers @LHSummersInteresting dialogue here. To be clear, my issue is not with $1.9T headline figure. If it were spread out over longer horizon and included substantial public investment in sustainable and inclusive growth it would be highly desirable. https://t.co/vTc6ePjfkG
The Congressional Budget Office substantially upgraded their forecast of the U.S. economy. This puts the large $1.9T COVID relief package into question. Congress should scrap this monstrosity that will increase distortions in the economy and bankrupt families and the country and instead just provide funding for any COVID vaccines needed so that there is a quick opening of the economy—which is the only path back to normal.
Real Time Economics @WSJeconThe CBO predicts GDP growth of 3.7% this year, but forecasts output below its potential until 2025. https://t.co/LEhNaz6USf
The massive amount of $4T+ that’s been authorized so far hasn’t even gone out the door yet so there’s no need to further expand government in our lives and the lives of our kids.
Marc TWO MILLION SHOTS PER DAY Goldwein @MarcGoldweinUPDATE: At least $2.9 trillion of COVID relief is now out the door, including ~40% of the end of year Response and Relief Act. Learn more from @BudgetHawks at https://t.co/YXQo6mDrtq https://t.co/NrAnEuUJ90
There is especially NO reason to provide more bailout money to state & local govts.
AEI Economics @AEIeconNew from @AEIdeas: @stanveuger and @jeffreypclemens use new @USCBO data to show how the outlook for state and local government budgets has improved during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://t.co/dI4sQze73q
Government should stop doing so much so Americans can do more.
David Ditch @DavidADitchIt's important to emphasize how much bigger the COVID package is than any conceivable need. It's spending for the sake of spending, and a gigantic overreaction to current economic conditions. https://t.co/EYkHeXSTpp
Just say NO to raising the federal minimum wage (or any government mandate)
ATR @taxreformerAmericans for Tax Reform is leading a coalition of 60 groups, activists, and legislators in opposition to a $15 federal minimum wage. The letter urges Congress to reject proposals to impose a nationwide $15/hour minimum wage. https://t.co/JdPM7yZ7sd
President Biden @POTUSIt’s long past time we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The American Rescue Plan will get it done.
Just say NO to a new wealth tax.
Just say NO to forgiving student loans.
Elizabeth Warren @ewarrenEconomists agree that canceling student loan debt would help boost our struggling economy and lead to greater home-buying rates and housing stability, higher college completion rates, and greater small business formation. This is a no-brainer for our economy.
Again, there’s a lot to be against, but I challenge you this week to consider what we can be for and work across the political spectrum to solve without giving up our principles. My classical liberal view of the world often has me desiring limited constitutional roles for the government but that doesn’t mean I’m against any government.
The question is which government roles can be more helpful than harmful, and those are few and far between. This is why my work is focused on reining in government spending because if something isn’t funded then it can’t be done and what is funded should be prioritized appropriately and watched like a hawk.
With that said, let me leave you with quotes from one of my favorite economists:
And finally, here’s a tribute to President Reagan who would have turned 110 this weekend.
Thanks again for reading! If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, please subscribe here at no charge and share with others. Many blessings to you and yours. Have a wonderful week and try to find things your for a little bit more this week.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D. | www.vanceginn.com | #LetPeopleProsper