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Economy

What the President gets right and wrong about GM

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What the President gets right and wrong about GM

Following an announcement that General Motors intends to close American plants while keeping plants in Mexico and China open, President Trump took to Twitter to threaten ending subsidies given by the government to the largest automaker in the United States.

What the President gets right

General Motors is making a smart business move to prepare for future downtrends in both the types of cars they manufacture and any economic failures the company or the nation may suffer in the near future. As CEO Mary Barra said, they are making the cuts to “get in front of it while the company is strong and while the economy is strong.”

This may be the case, but it’s a move that spits in the face of Americans whose tax dollars have been spent on multiple occasions over the past decade to make the company successful. It was the right business move but it dismissed the effects this would have on both the economy and job markets of the areas where the plants are located. They knew this would cause a backlash and they found that backlash to be preferable to the expensive transition that would have been required to keep the plants opened.

Logistically, it makes sense to close them. The vehicles and parts manufactured at the plants happened to be the ones on the chopping block while foreign plants are producing the more profitable items. GM would have also had to repay part or all of the incentives they received from China and Mexico that enticed them to operate there in the first place.

It would have been the fiscally wrong decision in the short run to keep all the plants open or to move production from foreign plants to domestic ones, but given the nature of the President, they should have stuck it out for at least two more years. Thinking they could kill off American jobs without repercussions from the President was a gamble and it appears they might lose.

What the President gets wrong

As I’ve made clear many times in the past, I’m not a fan of tariffs. They can be bargaining tools, but that’s it. The antiquated notion that they benefit us in the long run is dead. Tariffs are a tool of the past. They only work when there are captive audiences, and in a growing world economy there are very few who are forced to bow to anyone, even the United States.

These tariffs were the primary catalyst for GM’s decision. They may or may not acknowledge it, but the increased prices of aluminum and steel make it less practical to build cars in the United States. Tariffs may help the domestic steel and aluminum industries, but they hurt companies, like automakers, who use steel and aluminum in their products.

As for cutting subsidies, the President should not use them as retribution. If anything, he should cut them across the board.

Subsidies are used for two reasons. Some give domestic companies a leg up over foreign competition. Others are designed to steer industries towards progress, as is the case for the electric car subsidies designed to encourage consumers to buy eco-friendly vehicles.

The President has an opportunity here to cut subsidies for ALL automakers. That may not seem fair, but they’re not required and do less for consumers than most realize. Invariably they go to help the automakers themselves who are able to increase prices for cars that receive government kickbacks. It’s another broken model, similar to tariffs, that does not have the same importance they once had.

But the biggest mistake the President is making is going public with threats instead of working with GM to keep the plants open. By no means am I suggesting he should be “bribing” them with assistance, more subsidies, or another bailout. His need for the jobs to stay in America is second only to the workers’ themselves. This is a political disaster if GM starts an avalanche of plant closings in the automotive and other industries because of the tariffs.

Tax cuts are good. Tariffs are bad. Instead of punishing GM for making the smart move, he should promise to end the tariffs (behind closed doors) if GM reverses their decision. This can be spun to benefit the President if he plays his cards right.

 

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Economy

The CFPB must protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices

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The CFPB must protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices

Washington, D.C. – Dennis M. Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, issued the following statement with the filing of a comment letter on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (“CFPB’s”) proposed rules implementing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:

“Almost all Americans pay their debts and most of those who don’t are facing circumstances beyond their control like unemployment, a medical calamity, and other usually tragic occurrences. Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) to protect those vulnerable Americans from shocking, egregious, and abusive practices by the debt collection industry: calling homes repeatedly day and night; calling employers to get people fired; calling friends, neighbors, and relatives to embarrass people; and generally harassing people nonstop to boost their profits. The list of horror stories is long and revolting.

“The CFPB is now charged with implementing and enforcing the FDCPA and it must be guided by Congress’s clear and unequivocal objective to protect consumers not the debt collection industry. It must strongly and clearly regulate a business model that is embedded with incentives to pursue debtors ruthlessly using abusive tactics.

“The CFPB has proposed a rule to implement the provisions of the FDCPA. While it has a few modest consumer protections in it, the proposal also opens too many loopholes and ambiguities that will enable debt collectors to once again engage in too many near-abusive or outright abusive practices. For example, as we detailed in our comment letter, the proposal allows too many communications with debtors, essentially amounting to legalized harassment, and it would create an escape hatch from liability when debt collectors file lawsuits to collect on debts that are actually time-barred under the law.

“The CFPB must finalize a rule consistent with the letter and spirit of the FDCPA, which means it must put consumer interests over debt collectors and meaningfully constrain their impulse to engage in abusive but highly profitable practices.”

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Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.com.

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Democrats

‘Lite’ versions of Medicare-for-All are no better – and possibly worse – than the real thing

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Lite versions of Medicare-for-All are no better - and possibly worse - than the real thing

How do Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and other Democratic candidates plan on sinking Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders? By highlighting how their radical Medicare-for-All proposals are several steps too far to the left for America and by offering “lighter” versions of their semi-popular healthcare plans. But there’s a problem with their proposals. All of them will lead to the same conclusion – single-payer healthcare – and all of them may actually be more damaging to the economy along the way.

This is saying a lot since the $32 trillion Medicare-for-All is an absolute existential threat to the United States economy. How could these lighter versions be worse?

Before we answer that, let’s look at what would happen if Buttigieg’s Medicare-for-All-Who-Wants-It, Biden’s Obamacare 2.0, or Harris’s Medicare-for-All plus private supplements ever become law in America. They all come at it from different angles, but what they’re describing is a public option for health insurance that would be taxpayer-funded and remove the out-of-pocket expenses from those who choose to take it instead of a private healthcare plan. This sounds reasonable to many Americans who want health insurance available to everyone, even those who cannot afford it, but who do not want to lose their own health insurance.

But what nobody’s mentioning is that the holes in a public option create problems for everyone, including:

  • Dichotomous healthcare services. There will be “good” healthcare offered to those with private insurance and “bad” healthcare offered to those taking the public option. We see this in action with the VA, which was intended to offer superior services to veterans. But the opposite has been proven to be the case. When government injects itself as an option against the private market, invariably the solutions they present are unambiguously inferior to the private variations. Americans will not be told of this dichotomy. Instead, they will find out when it’s too late that the healthcare they’re receiving is horrible compared to what they would have received under the private market option.
  • Increased costs across the board. What does a public option mean for the private market? Fewer customers. Fewer businesses enticing employees with health insurance benefits. Fewer healthy people paying for healthcare while higher-cost participants make private insurance more expensive for everyone. As for those on the public option, their acceptance of taxpayer-funded health insurance will, of course, drive up taxes for nearly everyone, including the middle class that nobody seems to want to admit will get hit with these taxes.
  • An eventual shift towards single-payerAs private health insurance becomes less lucrative and eventually becomes a money-loser, companies will start pulling out. We already saw this without the public option in Obamacare. Throw in a public option and it eventually becomes cost-prohibitive to offer anything other than supplemental insurance for uncovered procedures such as cosmetic surgery. The public option will become single payer by default within 3-5 years after it’s launched.

Nobody outside of the health insurance industry likes the health insurance industry, but over a hundred million Americans rely on this industry to keep themselves and their families from paying the extremely high costs for medical care. The combination of health insurance driving medical expenses and a government driving the health insurance industry has resulted in diapers costing $20 each after birth. They know most American will not care about the details as long as they’re not paying for it out of pocket, so they can encourage hospitals and doctors to charge outrageous rates. This all changes for the worst once single-payer is in place.

Back to the original premise – these “lighter” options could actually be worse for America than full-blown and immediate Medicare-for-All. With the latter, everything is upfront. They will tax us at extremely high rates to pay for their pet project. It will be horrible. But it will be understood from the beginning. With the half-measures proposed by the “moderates” in the group, the way it all pans out will be in a constant state of radical evolution. Prices will fluctuate so rapidly that changes will need to be made on the fly. It’s like inserting a knife into our backs slowly instead of just plunging it right in. The constant tearing of tissues over time may make us bleed out faster than if they just stabbed us quickly.

The various public option proposals are all single-payer-in-training. They will invariably become Medicare-for-All because private insurance will die a slow death as a result. Meanwhile, our healthcare quality and economy will die much more rapidly.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Democrats

How much longer will Elizabeth Warren dodge the middle-class tax increase question?

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How much longer will Elizabeth Warren dodge the middle-class tax increase question

Senator Elizabeth Warren refuses to acknowledge that her Medicare-for-All plan will require a middle-class tax increase. She implies it in her answer to the question by focusing on “costs will go down,” meaning people will pay less in healthcare expenses that, in her view, should compensate for the tax increases. But she absolutely, positively refuses to admit that taxes will go up, dodging the question clumsily every time she’s asked.

It’s starting to get uncomfortable. Even left-wing entertainer Stephen Colbert pressed her on the issue. He offered her a new way of pushing the message forward, equating the taxes we’d pay for her healthcare plan to the taxes we pay for public education. Even with the friendly host, Warren refused to admit her plan would require a middle-class tax cut. Unfortunately, this bodes ill for all American taxpayers as this refusal to say the words means it’s likely much worse than we can possibly imagine.

Watch her stumble through to not answer the question:

What is she hiding? She knows her plan requires middle-class tax increases and likely a downward extension in the tax bracket that will mean lower-income Americans who currently do not pay taxes will be forced to. But her focus has always been on making “rich corporations and wealthy individuals” pay for it. This message works because it creates an “us versus them” mentality within her base.

What Warren knows is that many in her base are not being crushed under the weight of medical expenses. She knows all of them will see their taxes go up, and unless they’re currently paying a ton out of pocket for their healthcare, their overall “costs” will not go down, as she promises. The burden of high medical costs is not as mainstream as she claims, which is why she refuses to acknowledge taxes will rise dramatically under her plan. She wants them to be focused on “free” medical care even if the “costs” for many if not most of her supporters will actually rise.

When a politician refuses to directly answer questions about their premier policy proposal, be afraid. Bernie Sanders might be a mess, but at least he’s honest about taxes rising across the board. Warren is not being honest at all.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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