Keep Texas Texan: TPPF's Policy Orientation & More

In this newsletter, I share my thoughts on TPPF's recent Policy Orientation, the start of the 87th Texas Legislature, Biden's $1.9T COVID bill, the economic and fiscal situation, and much more.

Hello Friend!

This last week was the beginning of the 87th Texas Legislature. I highlight what you need to know from the first week of the session in Texas and provide valuable insights on what’s happening in D.C., but I start with the COVID-19 situation in Texas.

Before we get started, here’s where you can find information on the Texas Legislature, and below is an overview of the fantastic 2021 Policy Orientation by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. After missing last year while I was at the White House for the first time since attending it as an intern in 2012, it was great to be back to meet with terrific people, learn from informative panels, and spend valuable time with my colleagues.

I’ve provided a few of the highlights below, but note that you can watch all of the panels and keynote speeches here. Here are tweets with links to the two panels that I moder\ated on the Texas budget and property taxes.

Here is other news that you may have missed along with my take. Enjoy!


OPEN TEXAS (AND AMERICA)

Summary of COVID-19 Situation in Texas

  • As of Jan. 17, 18 of 22 Trauma Service Areas (TSA) are on the Governor’s list for elevated restrictions as business operating capacity is reduced from 75% to 50% that includes 95% of Texans, so the Texas economy is running at half speed.

  • As of Jan. 16, 7-day mvg average of new COVID-19 cases is flat at 2X July highs

  • As of Jan. 3, latest data for 7-day mvg avg of reported fatalities show it’s 23% below the July highs while new cases were 45% above those highs (lower CFR)

  • 24.3% of hospital beds are available statewide, which is up some recently and is near the 26% average since May and well above the low of 19% in July

  • Based on these data and others below, there are valid concerns about the Governor’s metric of COVID-19 patients/total hospital beds 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 increase costs to Texans’ lives and livelihoods

Overview of COVID-19 in Texas

  • 7-day avg of new confirmed cases in Texas is flat recently but elevated at 19.5K on Jan. 16, with the highest new dailies of 26,990 on Dec. 29 and of 26,543 on Jan. 5—likely from more people congregating over Christmas and New Year’s

  • 7-day avg of new reported fatalities in Texas on Jan. 4 (latest data available) was about 200—more recorded death certificates to come which have increased the 7-day avg to near 200 since late Dec.

  • 7-day avgs of cases remain well above the highs in July (19.5K v 10K) while reported fatalities remain well below their highs then (250 vs. 200), meaning the case-fatality rate has so far been substantially lower now than the July highs

  • There remains a relatively high rate of hospital beds available across most of Texas with every TSA having at least 14.4% available—24.3% available statewide

  • 7-day avg of testing is up to 120K per day and the positivity rate remains elevated but trending down after peaking on 1/3 which was near the 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 Governor Abbott’s more targeted policy approach

Texas Governor Abbott’s Metric Overview

  • Per Governor Abbott’s metric of COVID-19 hospitalizations as a share of total hospital capacity for seven consecutive days, TSAs below 15% can have most businesses expand to 75% capacity, keep state mask mandate, and bars (and others) open to 50% capacity with the approval of the county’s judge

  • 18 of 22 TSAs are reported on the list of further restrictions: A (Amarillo), B (Lubbock), D (Abilene), E (Dallas/Ft. Worth), F (Paris), G (Longview/Tyler), H (Lufkin), I (El Paso), L (Belton/Killeen), M (Waco), N (Bryan/College Station), O (Austin), P (San Antonio), Q (Houston), R (Galveston), S (Victoria), T (Laredo), and V (Rio Grande Valley

  • 95% of Texans are at 50% capacity + other restrictions while 5% of Texans are at 75% capacity + other restrictions, so Texas economy running at 50% capacity

  • This CV19-to-capacity metric statewide has been declining recently statewide to 20.4%, which is above July’s 17.0% average

Hospital Overview Statewide

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations up 0.8% (to 13,728 hospitalizations—lowest since 1/5) from 7 days ago & up 9.3% from 14 days ago, level is above July’s 9,700 average

  • Hospital beds available statewide is up to 24.3%, remains near the average of 23.7% in July and the average of 26% since May

  • Hospital capacity up 10.7% (to 67,206 beds) from 7 days ago and up 3.9% from 14 days ago, level is well above July’s 57,000 average

TEXAS ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION

Big news for the Texas Lege was the TX Comptroller’s Biennial Revenue Estimate that provides the Lege with how much fo taxpayer money they can appropriate:

Check out what Texas business organizations are recommending this session even as Texas families are struggling…many biz orgs are detached from reality:

Texas needs a conservative session to strengthen the Texas Model:

U.S. ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION

Here’s my latest update on the U.S. economy and fiscal situation:

President-elect Biden’s proposed $1.9T COVID relief bill is terrible. Here’s why:

The latest CARES 3.0 pushed the amount of your and your kids’ money to fight an initially pandemic-induced and then a government-extended recession to about $4.5 trillion.

There’s talk about raising the federal minimum wage. We shouldn’t and ultimately should eliminate the federal minimum wage given every state’s cost of living is different, and the minimum wage influences that cost of living:

Check out these President Trump accomplishments noted by the Council of Economic Advisers and other information in the thread:

Here’s an update from a recent chart based on the work by Mark Perry at AEI:

We need less government welfare and more openings so people can work:

Closing Thoughts

Let me leave you with a quote from one of my favorite economists:

Thanks again for reading! If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, please register here at no charge and share with others. Many blessings to you and yours.

Vance Ginn, Ph.D. | www.vanceginn.com | #LetPeopleProsper