Politics, Moderate



Trump trade: A dead end?

WASHINGTON -- Most Americans likely think that our trade policies have been largely the same since the Republic's earliest days. The assumptions are that we're free traders now and always have been; also, that we've long been a manufacturing power, boosting exports. If we sometimes lose in global competition, the main cause is that other ...Read more

Are tax breaks immortal?

WASHINGTON -- If you want to understand why the tax code is so hard to overhaul, consider the case of the mortgage interest deduction. The issue is so sensitive that the House and Senate are dealing with it in completely opposite ways.

To its many defenders and beneficiaries, the mortgage interest deduction symbolizes and subsidizes the ...Read more

Under-taxed America

WASHINGTON -- We Americans are having the wrong debate. Almost all the arguing over the Trump administration's proposed tax cut centers on two issues. Will the tax reduction stimulate faster economic growth? And is the proposal too generous toward the wealthy and too stingy toward the middle class and poor?

Interesting questions, to be sure -- ...Read more

Welcome to the Powell Fed

WASHIINGTON -- It will be Powell's Fed.

Assuming he's confirmed by the Senate, Jerome ("Jay") Powell will become the 16th chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in early 2018. Almost by definition, he instantly becomes the most important economic policy-maker in the world. But who is he? Outside economic circles, hardly anyone knows.

So let's ...Read more

The future of health care?

WASHINGTON -- The big news in health care last week was the disclosure that CVS Health Corp. -- owner of a vast network of drug stores -- is considering buying Aetna Inc., one of the nation's largest health insurers, for roughly $66 billion. It's undeniably important, but why?

Clearly, economic concentration in health care is growing. The ...Read more

Tax cuts and economic growth

"Do we have any historical evidence that lowering tax rates, particularly among the richest strata, generates economic growth, as the Republicans always predict? Has this ever worked?"

-- a reader

WASHINGTON -- The answer is "no." As Congress tackles "tax reform," we really don't have conclusive historical evidence of the relationship ...Read more

A NAFTA showdown?

WASHINGTON -- The NAFTA war is heating up. It's a confusing conflict because perceptions are driven by political rhetoric, not economic reality.

NAFTA, of course, stands for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has eliminated most tariffs among the United States, Mexico and Canada. During the campaign, candidate Donald Trump denounced...Read more

A budget primer for the weary

WASHINGTON -- It's that time of year again when Congress debates the federal budget. For most Americans, it's a turnoff. The dollar amounts are monstrous -- trillions, not billions. The vocabulary of government finances (budget-speak) is baffling. Little wonder people tune out.

For the weary and confused, I offer a brief budget primer below. ...Read more


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