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The top federal capital gains tax rate is increasing this year. A new bulletin from Cato scholar Chris Edwards describes why policymakers should keep capital gains taxes low. If the U.S. capital gains tax rate rises next year as scheduled, these higher rates will harm investment, entrepreneurship, and growth, and will raise little, if any, added federal revenue. “Advantages of Low Capital Gains Tax Rates,” by Chris Edwards “Six Reasons to Keep Capital Gains Tax Rates Low,” by Chris Edwards [...]
Source: CATO HEADLINES
With new laws legalizing marijuana use on the books in Colorado and Washington, everyone is waiting to see how the Justice Department will react. Meanwhile, House legislation has been introduced to get the feds to back off states that pass legalization measures. A new Cato study and a forum featuring the former DEA chief examine where marijuana laws are headed nationwide. “On the Limits of Federal Supremacy: When States Relax (or Abandon) Marijuana Bans,” by Robert A. Mikos “Amendment 64 Becomes Law in Colorado,” by Tim Lynch “The Law and Politics of Marijuana Legalization,” Cato Event [...]
Source: CATO HEADLINES
The deal raises tax rates on entrepreneurs, investors, small business owners, and other “rich” taxpayers, and postpones the sequester budget cuts. Cato scholar Daniel J. Mitchell comments, “This deal is not good for the economy. It doesn’t do anything to cap the burden of government spending. It doesn’t reform entitlement programs. …This is sort of like a late Christmas present, but we must have been naughty all year long and taxpayers are getting lumps of coal.” “Grading the Fiscal Cliff Deal: Terrible, but Could Be Worse,” by Daniel J. Mitchell “The Spending Cliff,” by Michael D. Tanner “A CEO’s Advice to Congress,” by John A. Allison “On to the Next Manufactured Fiscal Crisis,” by Tad DeHaven [...]
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The Cato Institute would like to wish you a happy and safe holiday season. Amidst your celebrating, please take a moment to remember the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace. “Holiday Book Recommendations,” from Cato Scholars and Staff “Things to Be Thankful For,” by David Boaz Make a Year-End Gift to Cato [...]
Source: CATO HEADLINES
As the one hundredth birthday of the Federal Reserve System approaches, it seems appropriate to once again take stock of our monetary system. In the latest issue of Cato Policy Report, economists George Selgin, William D. Lastrapes, and Lawrence H. White survey the relevant research and conclude that the Federal Reserve System has not lived up to its original promise. Also in this issue, new president John A. Allison shares his thoughts on joining the Cato Institute. November/December 2012 Issue of Cato Policy Report [...]
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Until the last quarter of a millennium, mankind depended on living nature for all its food and clothing, most of its energy, and much of its material and medicines. Then mankind began to develop technologies to augment or displace living nature’s uncertain bounty. In a new study, author Indur Goklany shows how fossil fuels not only saved humanity from nature’s whims, but nature from humanity’s demands. “Humanity Unbound: How Fossil Fuels Saved Humanity from Nature and Nature from Humanity,” by Indur Goklany [...]
Source: CATO HEADLINES
Cato relies on tax-deductible contributions from generous Sponsors who share our commitment to a free and prosperous society. When you support the Cato Institute, you are more than a contributor—you are a valued colleague. As our colleague, you’ll be sent the latest Cato publications, reports, and invitations to special Cato events. We hope you’ll consider making a year-end gift to reinforce our mission. Thank you for your support and best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season! Support Cato Cato’s Impact The Gift of Stock [...]
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In recent days, several senior Republicans have allowed that they would be willing to compromise on a pledge they made to oppose tax increases. At least one of those lawmakers, Senator Lindsey Graham, has said that he would negotiate on “revenue generation” because he is unwilling to let sequester budget cuts “destroy the United States military.” But Cato scholars have long argued that the proposed cuts in military spending would allow the United States to maintain a substantial margin of military superiority, and would in fact pay dividends for the U.S. economy over the long run. “Budget Hawks or Military Hawks?,” Cato Video with Grover Norquist “The Bottom Line on Sequestration,” by Christopher Preble “The Pentagon Will Survive the Fiscal Cliff,” by Justin Logan [...]
Source: CATO HEADLINES
The United States faces two economic challenges: slow growth and an ever-increasing ratio of debt to GDP. Many policymakers believe they face a dilemma because the policy solutions to the two problems are opposite – lower taxes and/or Keynesian stimulus spending to spur growth only exacerbates the long-run fiscal imbalance. But in a new paper, Cato scholar Jeffrey A. Miron says that policymakers are wrong to see this as a dilemma. Argues Miron, “The United States has a simple path to a brighter economic future: slash expenditures and keep tax rates low.” “Should U.S. Fiscal Policy Address Slow Growth or the Debt? A Nondilemma,” by Jeffrey A. Miron [...]
Source: CATO HEADLINES
In his compelling new book, Ted Galen Carpenter details the growing horror overtaking Mexico and explains how the current U.S.-backed strategies for trying to stem Mexico’s drug violence have been a disaster. The only effective strategy, says Carpenter, is to defund the Mexican drug cartels by abandoning the failed drug prohibition policy, thereby eliminating the lucrative black-market premium and greatly reducing the financial resources of the drug cartels. [...]
Source: CATO HEADLINES

John Samples Everyone involved in politics has bad days, when one’s interests conflict with one’s ideals. Some conservatives had a bad day on Tuesday when Google CEO Sundar Pachai appeared before Congress to respond to allegations of anti-conservative bias at Google. Since at least the presidency of Ronald Reagan, conservatives have stood for limited, constitutional government. That commitment has not always been easy. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia voted to protect flag burning as free speech even though he hated the desecration of the flag. If conservatives don’t stand strong — even in tough cases — for limited government, who will? Content moderation at big tech companies certainly looks like a tough case. On the one hand, conservatives have long supported a free market where entrepreneurs and CEOs, not politicians, decide how to run businesses. If conservatives don’t stand strong - even in tough cases - for limited government, who will? On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg, noted earlier this year that the people who work in Silicon Valley generally lean to the left. So do university employees, and conservatives are well aware of the problems posed by the left’s dominance on campuses. So conservatives are tempted to use the tools of big government to make sure Google and Facebook don’t restrict speech that their employees do not like. We saw some conservatives giving in [...]
Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Chelsea Follett We owe many popular Christmas traditions to Victorian England, from carols and decorated trees to gift-giving. These cheerful traditions stand in stark contrast with our recognition of the nightmarish working conditions at the time. In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, for example, the miserly businessman Ebenezer Scrooge exemplifies the alleged spirit of the Victorian age: heartlessness, he maintains, is good for business. Underneath the veneer of destitution and exploitation of the era, however, things were changing for the better. The unlikely and seldom acknowledged benefactor of the poor in 19th century Britain was the factory. When asked to picture a scene of horrifying working conditions during the Victorian era, most people conjure up the image of a 19th century factory. Yet the life of a housemaid was, at that time, far bleaker than that of most “factory girls.” That is one of many surprising insights that can be found in Judith Flanders’ fascinating book, Inside the Victorian Home: factories helped improve working conditions, especially for women. Why, for young women especially, factory work was preferable to domestic labor in Dickensian times. In 1851, one in three women between the ages of 15 and 24 in London worked as a domestic servant. Their work was often excruciating, and it is no wonder that many of them rushed at the opportunity to join factories and leave domestic [...]
Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Michael D. Tanner Recently, The Daily Beast reported that when President Trump was briefed early last year about the future consequences of the federal debt, he replied bluntly, “Yeah, but I won’t be here.” It would be easy to shake our heads at yet another example of the president’s inability to think beyond the present. But Trump is hardly alone in his disregard for our looming debt crisis; with characteristic pithiness, his dismissive response expressed the basic attitude of most Washington lawmakers. Lawmakers and President Trump must look beyond their own immediate political prospects to imagine the country they’ll leave behind. Yet, if we don’t stem the rising tide of red ink it will pose an intolerable burden for our kids and grandkids. But to be fair to lawmakers, they’re not wrong: The bill for our profligacy won’t come due until well after the next election. Our children and grandchildren don’t vote. And anything done today to fix the problem — raising taxes, cutting spending, reforming entitlements, etc. — will anger one group or another of Americans who do vote. Because most lawmakers indulge such a short-sighted, self-interested stance, however, the federal deficit will exceed $779 billion this year and top $1 trillion in the next. The national debt now exceeds $21 trillion. And it will get worse. The federal debt will double as a [...]
Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Tanja Porčnik and Visio Institut With the rise of nationalism, populism, and hybrid forms of authoritarianism, freedom has been for years under assault in many parts of the world. Unsurprisingly, among the countries with the most substantial deteriorations in freedom in recent years are Turkey and Poland, both experiencing evident weakening of the rule of law, contracting religious freedom, and attacks on freedom of expression. Today we are releasing the fourth annual Human Freedom Index, the most comprehensive measure of freedom ever created for a large number of countries around the globe. The report documents global freedom on a continuing decline since 2008, the earliest year for which a robust enough index could be produced. Freedom has indeed taken root in various societies, and it is also spreading in numerous countries around the globe. On a country level, we have seen the most significant deteriorations during this time in Greece, Brazil, Venezuela, Egypt, and Syria. Also, notably, Russia’s rating fell from 6.53 in 2008 to 6.27 in 2016; Hungary’s rating fell from 8.05 to 7.74; Argentina’s score dropped from 7.04 to 6.47; and Turkey’s rating decreased from 6.92 to 6.47 (between 2011 and 2016, Turkey’s rating decreased even more markedly, falling from 7.22 to 6.47). On a positive side, countries that saw improvement in their level of human freedom most since 2008 are Côted’Ivoire, Angola, Zimbabwe, Taiwan, [...]
Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Doug Bandow Amid controversy over a maybe yes/maybe no ceasefire in Donald Trump’s trade war with China, the United States engineered the arrest by Canada of a top Chinese executive for allegedly busting U.S. sanctions on Iran. The detention sparked outrage in Beijing, which threatened Canada with “grave consequences” if Meng Wanzhou is not released. Huawei Technologies Co. is one of China’s international behemoths, a telecom firm that now sells more smartphones than Apple. The arrest of Meng, the founder’s daughter and Huawei’s chief financial officer, was not for committing a genuine crime against Americans, but rather for allegedly lying over Huawei’s connection to another firm that did business in Iran. The Trump administration is determined to dragoon other nations into its anti-Tehran crusade. Washington’s use of its economic clout to coerce the rest of the world reflects extraordinary hubris. Americans would be outraged if another nation did the same to us. By busting Meng Wanzhou, Trump is signaling that he expects to dictate to every nation, no matter how powerful. In recent years, the United States has imposed sanctions on numerous nations, including Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Russia, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia. Increasingly Washington insists that the rest of the world follow America’s lead or else. It seemed radical when the 1996 Helms-Burton Act targeted foreign firms trading with Cuba. Since then, secondary sanctions have become [...]
Tue, Dec 11, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Ryan Bourne Unlike many commentators, I believe that a no-deal Brexit still very possible. It is the default as the clock ticks, and parliament must vote for government-backed legislation to change path. For all the threats about a second referendum, the Conservatives would implode if they rowed back on delivering Brexit. And as regrettable as a no-deal scenario might be, it seems the only way of achieving a meaningful Brexit. Yes, adjustment will be disruptive. It requires an active government to prepare. But markets respond quickly in the face of necessity. But Brexiteers who consider this option the best path forward should admit that it would come with short-term dislocation, and prepare the country for it. The effect here would not be “uncertainty”. No-deal provides clarity relative to the chaos of Theresa May’s proposed withdrawal agreement or a second referendum. Rather, the impact would be practical disruptions as we shift towards a new trading environment. The visible effect widely discussed is at ports. Critics argue that delays caused by physical customs, administration, and regulatory checks will slow down the rate of vehicle pass-through. This could cause ferry and ship delays, in effect reducing capacity, mainly between Dover and Calais. Some at HMRC envisage far less disruption than Downing Street’s apocalyptic tales, and Tim Morris, chief executive at the UK Major Ports Group, has rubbished the idea that [...]
Tue, Dec 11, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Ryan Bourne To the extent bipartisan policy reform is possible, ideas must appeal to the instincts of both conservatives and liberal progressives. In that tradition, Sen. Cory Booker’s proposal for ‘baby bonds’ may be a stroke of political genius. Founding special accounts for newborn children with a taxpayer-funded deposit, and means-tested government additions through childhood, has obvious appeal to liberals. It redistributes money and reduces measured wealth inequality. But Booker is no doubt hoping it can pique conservative interest too. The so-called American Opportunity Accounts, on the face of it, introduce children to the concept of saving and support families, while providing young people with a nest egg to become more self-sufficient in achieving major life goals. Booker’s idea is this: When an eligible child is born, an account would be opened with a $1,000 deposit from the taxpayer. Each year until the child turns 18, the government would deposit a means-tested sum rising to a maximum $2,000 contribution. The funds in these accounts would generate returns free of tax but could not be withdrawn until the child turns 18. After that point, the money could be accessed but only be used for specified investments, such as down payments on a house, college tuition, professional training, or retirement savings. The eventual sums could be significant, with a maximum of nearly $50,000 for someone in receipt [...]
Mon, Dec 10, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Ilya Shapiro With Democrats seizing the House and Republicans keeping the Senate, bills beyond the proverbial post-office-naming will be hard-pressed to make it out of both chambers in the next Congress. The threat President Trump faces from Democrats, then, isn’t legislative obstruction, but the ready-aim-fire of the opposition’s “subpoena cannon.” That’s the term one senior Democratic source used last month in describing to Axios the opposition’s main anti-Trump weapon. Not all of the investigatory weapon’s payload will be fired at once, but the appetite for “resistance” is strong and will tie up significant White House and agency resources. (Full disclosure: My wife is a lawyer in the House general counsel’s office, but hasn’t participated in any discussions regarding the Democrats’ plans.) In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with spending time on congressional oversight. Indeed it’s a salutary check, flowing from the “legislative powers” that Article I grants Congress. The Framers assumed Congress would follow the lead of the British House of Commons in questioning executive action. James Wilson, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and future Supreme Court justice, had written that members of parliament were considered “grand inquisitors of the realm. The proudest ministers of the proudest monarchs have trembled at their censures.” Accordingly, George Mason argued at the Convention that members of Congress “must meet frequently to inspect the Conduct of the public [...]
Mon, Dec 10, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Doug Bandow BANGKOK-The friendly, informal nation of Thailand draws visitors from around the world. Filling some backstreet Bangkok neighborhoods of are impoverished Pakistani Christians, stranded in the Thai capital while hoping to gain religious asylum elsewhere. They survive with support from my friends at Christian Freedom International, which aids victims of religious persecution, and other humanitarian groups. The situation reflects social and legal discrimination and persecution, often violent, against religious minorities in Pakistan. Noted the Global Minorities Alliance: “an increase of attacks against minorities in Pakistan … has led to Christians heavy-heartedly fleeing their country,” many to Thailand. Even the Trump administration should welcome religious minorities fleeing Islamist oppression. There’s not much the U.S. government can do to ease Christians’ plight in Pakistan, other than press Islamabad to protect the lives, dignity, and liberties of all its peoples. But Washington could accept the few thousand Pakistanis stuck in Bangkok, essentially people without a country. Even the Trump administration should welcome religious minorities fleeing Islamist oppression. Pakistan long has been inhospitable to anyone other than Sunni Muslims. Open Doors ranked Pakistan as the world’s number five persecutor on its World Watch List. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom rated Pakistan a Country of Particular Concern. The State Department put Pakistan on its “Special Watch List.” The British All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief recently detailed the [...]
Mon, Dec 10, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
David Bier Three years ago, President Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Over time, this idea, in his words, “morphed into” various other policies that he calls “extreme vetting.” Despite challenges, courts have largely allowed these policies to take effect, and the results are now evident: The president is achieving his stated aim of slashing entries of Muslims into the United States. A new analysis from the Cato Institute — based on data from the State Department — makes the facts clear. On refugee policy — the area where the president has the most discretion to enact his vision — his administration has almost completely shut out Muslims. From 2016 to 2018, the government cut admissions for Muslim refugees - which Trump has called a “Trojan horse” designed to bring down America — by 91 percent. In 2016, the government accepted nearly 40,000 Muslim refugees around the world, compared with just 3,000 in 2018. And while refugee admissions overall have plummeted, the Muslim share dropped from 45 percent to 15 percent, meaning it’s fallen at an even faster rate. This reverses a prior trend: From 2009 to 2016, the Obama administration more than doubled Muslim refugee admissions. While the risks from Muslim immigrants are insignificant, the costs of keeping them out are real. This extends to legal immigration [...]
Mon, Dec 10, 2018
Source: OP-EDS

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