Round 3: Does Work Bring Optimism?
I highlight happenings in the Texas Legislature's 2nd special session and note the 3rd starts soon, failures of Biden's 3 big policies, and improvements in 3rd wave of COVID-19 in Texas.
I hope you’re flourishing and had a fantastic Labor Day doing some work! By the way, if you’re looking for a job, the Texas Public Policy Foundation is hiring. Thanks for joining me again as we embark on ways to adhere to my motto: Free-market capitalism best lets people prosper. Please share this newsletter and ask them to subscribe.
Personal take: I had a nice trip to the State Policy Network’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida last week. The week started with a day-long event with an overview of what is sound state budget and tax policy where I discussed the Conservative Texas Budget (CTB) approach that has worked well for years. I’m thankful that other state think tanks have started using this approach and more likely will soon, which is an excellent opportunity to provide better use of scarce taxpayer dollars across the nation. The rest of the meetings went well, but unfortunately, TPPF didn’t win the award for the biggest home state win for the CTB. Thank you to those who voted for it! While I enjoyed catching up with old friends and making new ones, it was great to return home to the family. Things are going well here, as we enjoyed our Labor Day with fishing and swinging, though my youngest had a rough tumble recently and had to get 5 stitches in his forehead…but he’s a trooper and will have the scar to prove it. Please keep my family in your prayers as things continue to go well with our baby girl.
Hot take: The Texas Legislature’s second special session ended last week and Governor Abbott announced the third special session will start on September 20. There’s never a dull moment in Texas. Too bad D.C. couldn’t learn a few more things of how to do things right like much of what’s done in Texas. I wish more could have been done with property tax relief, but there was some relief for those 65 and older, disabled, and first-time homebuyers along with the strengthening of our property tax revenue trigger and maintaining the relief from the 2019 session this year. There’s certainly more to do as we need to eliminate property taxes in Texas to become an economic juggernaut without a personal income tax or property tax one day. My ideal tax system in Texas would be only a final sales and use tax…we have to dream before we can achieve it, correct?!?
Now for the latest on Texas, D.C., and COVID-19 in Texas.
TEXAS ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION
The Texas Legislature will enter its third special session on September 20, 2021. The notable items are redistricting and appropriating the funds from Congress through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) earlier this year. A notable exception is property tax relief for the vast majority of Texans who didn’t receive it in the second special session and is supported by three-fourths of Texans including a strong coalition.
With that said, there were several key conservative wins in the second special session, including improving the election system and keeping a Conservative Texas Budget, making the bulk of the bills passed this year in the regular and special session a very conservative year. But of course, we always like to advocate for more in Texas so that we can lead the way for the nation and the world.
Regarding what to do with the $15.8 billion that Texas received in more flexible funding from Congress in ARPA, the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s priorities with the ARPA funds include only one-time expenditures that include: 1) Paying off the UI trust fund debt to the federal government to avoid interest payments and replenishing the UI trust fund (combined total is $9 billion) (see my latest commentary), building the rest of the border wall ($5 billion), and providing property tax relief ($1.8 billion)—likely the only shot to start eliminating property taxes this year.
Good piece on how Californians are fleeing to Texas.
U.S. ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION
Another one of my latest commentaries highlights a new report by the Fraser Institute which finds that economic freedom supports opportunity (and prosperity). This follows this point that I made recently.
The latest U.S. jobs report last week was very weak, especially compared with estimates. If we stopped paying people not to work and changed the expectations from doom to gloom through better policies and optimism, we would get much better results. And here’s more evidence that ending these payments matters.
The new temporary federal unemployment payments ended on Labor Day. That’s a good thing as we need a return to work, which is where we get increased productivity and actual increases in our income rather than just a redistributed payment that often leaves people dependent on the government. And while many progressives claim that those who remain unemployed will be left without anything to survive, they have plenty of options available, including state unemployment payments and, more importantly, plenty of jobs available.
This fallacy called “trickle-down economics” is too often claimed and should end because it’s ridiculous.
More on inflation and the need for fiscal and monetary rules by my colleague E.J. Antoni.
The new $5 trillion “human infrastructure” bill by the Democrats is so bad that even businesses are starting to push against it. And have you seen this nonsense in the bill that would track our financial transactions? We need pro-growth policies, not this un-American nonsense that we can’t afford.
WHAT’S UP WITH COVID-19 IN TEXAS AND BEYOND
Here is a summary of the latest in the COVID-19 situation in Texas. More on TX DSHS Covid-related data here. Data on demographics at the U.S. level. Research on the ineffectiveness of lockdowns in slowing the spread. Remember the first two major waves in Texas had restrictions in place, but people often forget just like many think the case-fatality rate in the U.S. is above 10%, especially Democrats, when it is really 1.6% according to Johns Hopkins University.
Gov. Greg Abbott lifted state restrictions on March 10, 2021, and blocked local restrictions on May 21, 2021. This 3rd major wave appears different than the first two, as noted below. Although the Delta variant may be more contagious, it isn’t as deadly from either a less severe variant, vaccinations or recoveries that provide antibodies are helping, or some other answer. Let’s hope the situation has peaked with Rt being less than 1 for several days.9/7/21 Rt=0.85<1 & 7-day mvg avgs indicate current Wave #3 already peaked Available staffed beds=13.1% ( =12.6%) Case-Fat Rate: Wave #1=2.5%, #2=1.8%, #3=1.3% Since 03/2020: Fat/Pop=0.2%, Case/Pop=10.5%, CFR=1.8%
Vance Ginn @VanceGinn8/15/21 #Texas #COVID19 Rt<1 for days~already peaked Available staffed beds=11.8% (#Austin=11.4%) 7-day: New cases flat & fatalities flattening CFR: Wave #1=2.5%, #2=1.8%, #3=0.9% Since 03/20: Fat/Pop=0.18%, Case/Pop=10%, CFR=1.8% @TPPF @ktrhnews @TheTexanNews #txlege https://t.co/aT7WdEcIiT https://t.co/iT2TnUmHKl
Thought-provoking quote by the one and only economist Thomas Sowell:
My prayers this week are focused on the following verse in reference to Labor Day:
Thank you for reading this newsletter and sharing it with your network. I pray that we find the work and do it enthusiastically so it is pleasing to the Lord. Many blessings to you and yours, and have a prosperous week.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D. | www.vanceginn.com | #LetPeopleProsper