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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 [...]
Source: CATO HEADLINES
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

Doug Bandow President Donald Trump criticized candidate Hillary Clinton for her interventionist tendencies. Now he plans to maintain U.S. forces amid battling Kurds, Turks, Russians, Iranians and contending Syrian factions. Washington’s policy is frankly mad. Having attained its primary objective, defeating the Islamic State, or ISIS, the Trump administration should wrap up American operations in Syria. As a superpower the United States has interests all over, but few of them are important, let alone vital. Syria is peripheral to America economically and militarily. It is a humanitarian tragedy, but the United States has remained aloof from worse conflicts. Although the Assad government is odious, the country’s civil war featured numerous murderous, undemocratic, radical and otherwise undesirable factions. President Barack Obama resisted the temptation to intervene directly in the Syrian imbroglio. In contrast, President Trump launched airstrikes against the Assad government. He quadrupled the number of U.S. troops to about two thousand. Moreover, reported Reuters, “U.S. forces in Syria have already faced direct threats from Syrian and Iranian-backed forces, leading to the shoot-down of Iranian drones and a Syrian jet last year, as well as to tensions with Russia.” Now the president is going all in, planning an extended occupation and expansive nation-building program, and risking conflict with multiple antagonists. Some analysts have even less realistic ambitions. Declared the Washington Post: “The United States cannot prevent a resurgence [...]
Fri, Feb 16, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Christopher A. Preble AMERICA’S FOUNDERS anticipated how a sprawling national-security state could subvert the popular will, and even endanger the nation’s interests. James Madison told his fellow delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.” History informed his judgement. “The means of defense against foreign danger,” he said, “have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” George Washington agreed. In his Farewell Address, the general turned president advised his countrymen to “avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.” Another general-president, Dwight Eisenhower, echoed these concerns. He worried that the evolving “military-industrial complex” would acquire “unwarranted influence” and “endanger our liberties or democratic processes.” “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry,” he continued, “can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” Alas, the citizenry is neither alert nor knowledgeable. Which means that the actual conduct of foreign policy falls to what Michael Glennon dubbed the Trumanites: “the network of several hundred high-level military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement officials within the executive branch who are responsible for making national security policymaking.” And within that [...]
Thu, Feb 15, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
John Glaser In eastern Syria last week, American air and ground forces attacked Syrian pro-government military units, killing roughly 100 people, including some Russian advisors. U.S. Army Colonel Thomas Veale described the attack as “taken in self-defense.” “Self-defense”? Had the regime of Bashar al-Assad bombarded Boston Harbor? No, but it had attacked a base, long held by Syrian rebels, with U.S. military advisors present. Despite the tit-for-tat chronology here, it’s hard to see how Veale’s “self-defense” claim is tenable. After all, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained last month, the Trump administration has committed to an indefinite military presence of roughly 2,000 U.S. boots on the Syrian battlefield. Are these troops present at the behest of the host government? Certainly not. Has Congress ratified their deployment in some way? Guess again. Are they there preempting an imminent threat of attack on America? Nope. Are they under the mandate of a UN Security Council resolution? No. And you thought our government toppling days were over. In fact, the U.S. military presence in Syria has no legal authorization whatsoever. Those American forces are cooperating with Syrian rebels to, as Tillerson put it, “help liberated peoples” in territory outside Assad’s control “stabilize their own communities” and defend themselves against regime forces. This is, he added, “a critical step to creating the conditions for a post-Assad political settlement.” Dispensing with [...]
Wed, Feb 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Doug Bandow North Korea’s Kim Jong-un plays the international game with style. He sent his sister, Kim Yo-jong, to the Olympic games in the Republic of Korea. And he extended an invitation for South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang. It’s impossible for the ROK leader to say no. Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration isn’t happy. Even before the North’s dramatic move, Vice President Mike Pence demonstrated his great displeasure at the North Koreans’ presence in the Olympics, which he called a “charade.” Then, the refused to stand when Pyongyang’s athletes entered the stadium and studiously ignored the presence of not only Kim Yo-jong but also the North’s nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam (no relation). Had Pence approached them with his hand outstretched he would have grabbed the initiative for the Trump administration. But instead he refused to even glance in the North Koreans’ direction, as if doing so would make them disappear. Of course, there is no reason to believe that Kim Jong-un has decided to mend his evil ways and abandon nuclear weapons, respect human rights, hold elections, and accept unconditional reunification. But the North Koreans really didn’t use their participation “to paper over the truth about their regime, which oppresses its own people & threatens other nations,” as Pence tweeted before leaving for Korea. After all, lots of thuggish dictators, [...]
Wed, Feb 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Stephen Moore and Ned Mamula Why is the United States reliant on China and Russia for strategic minerals when we have more of these valuable resources than both these nations combined? This has nothing to do with geological impediments. It is all politics. This is an underreported scandal that jeopardizes American security. As recently as 1990, the U.S. was No. 1 in the world in mining output. But according to the latest data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. is 100 percent import dependent for at least 20 critical and strategic minerals (not including each of the “rare earths”), and between 50 and 99 percent reliant for another group of 30 key minerals. Why aren’t alarm bells ringing? This import dependency has grown worse over the last decade. We now are dependent on imports for vital strategic metals that are necessary components for military weapon systems, cellphones, solar panels and scores of new-age high-technology products. We don’t even have a reliable reserve stockpile of these resources. Fortunately, the Trump administration is working to reverse decades of policies that have inhibited our ability to mine our own abundant resources, mostly in the western states — Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas. In December the Trump administration issued a long-overdue policy directive designed to open up federal lands and streamline the permitting process so America [...]
Wed, Feb 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Alberto Mingardi When Silvio Berlusconi exited the public arena to universal relief in 2011, few would have predicted the scandal-ridden politician’s return would be met with the same emotion. Berlusconi’s background as a media mogul, not to mention his adventurous private life, aroused lasting suspicions. And his political style — defined by a certain directness in appealing to voters and a total disregard for the liturgy of politics — anticipated contemporary “populism.” But the world is now welcoming back a new Berlusconi. No longer able to hold public office - a law bars people who have been sentenced to more than two years in jail — his name will nevertheless be on the ballot, written in large block letters in the logo of “Forza Italia,” when voters go to the polls next month. If Italians back his center-right coalition, they will effectively be choosing him as its puppet-master. It’s easy enough to see why Italians may be drawn to Berlusconi out of nostalgia (though his tenure was by no means impeccable). What’s perhaps more surprising is that European partners and international observers seem to have developed a new sympathy for the scandal-ridden former prime minister, whom they see as a safe card in next month’s election. While he occasionally embraced some uncompromising, conservative positions (most recently on immigration, after a Nigerian man was accused [...]
Wed, Feb 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Michael D. Tanner Yippee! Last week’s sell off on Wall Street wiped out more than $3 trillion in wealth. Overnight, economic equality increased. True, you and I aren’t any better off - in fact, some of those losses came out of our 401(k)s and pension plans - but the important thing is that the biggest losers were evil rich people. Warren Buffet lost more than $5 billion, Jeff Bezos more than $3 billion. All together, the world’s 500 wealthiest people lost more than $180 billion. Aren’t you happy? Of course not. But doesn’t the mindset increasingly heard on the progressive left and the populist right dictate that you should be? We have become obsessed with economic equality at the expense of economic growth. Inequality is said to be the transcendent issue of our time. Yet a society that is rich and unequal still beats one that is poor and equal any day of the week. It is inarguably true that modern free-market capitalism leads to inequality. It is equally true that it makes all of us richer. By most measures, most Americans were poor at the start of the last century. Indeed, if we use a definition corresponding to today’s poverty measures, 60-80 percent of the U.S. population was poor in 1900. Today just 23 percent of Americans are poor, [...]
Wed, Feb 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
David Bier President Trump has said an end to “chain migration” is one of the must-have elements of any immigration deal in Congress. Many analysts believe this demand could impede an agreement. But if we are to debate the right policy on chain migration, we should first understand what the debate is about. And right now various myths about the concept are muddling the already contentious conversation. MYTH NO. 1 ‘Chain migration’ is an offensive term for ‘family reunification.’ Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is among those who consider the mere phrase offensive, tweeting that it is “a made up term by the hardline anti-immigration crowd” whose “purpose is to dehumanize immigrants.” In fact, it was academics John and Leatrice MacDonald who popularized the term in the early 1960s to describe immigrants who follow earlier immigrants, just as links follow one another in a chain. In any case, explaining relationships with metaphors is not dehumanizing. No one sees “step”-child as an epithet. Some liberal groups insist that “family reunification” is the only proper term. But the chain metaphor is more descriptive, referring to a specific type of family reunification: when the family member is following another immigrant. A foreigner who marries someone born in the United States and comes to live with them here, sometimes after waiting months or even a year while their application is pending, [...]
Wed, Feb 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Jeffrey A. Singer Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to a group of U.S. Attorneys in Tampa, Fla., last week, and demonstrated his ignorance about the root causes of the opioid overdose crisis. “I am operating on the assumption that this country prescribes too many opioids,” Sessions said. “People need to take some aspirin sometimes.” A day earlier, Sessions told a gathering celebrating the birthday of President Ronald Reagan, “Sometimes you just need to take two Bufferin or something and go to bed.” Bob Twillman, the executive director of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, said, “That remark reflects a failure to recognize the severity of pain in some patients.” Twillman went on, “It further illustrates how out of touch parts of the administration are with opioids and pain management.” I think “out of touch” is an understatement. Sessions seems unaware that high-dose opioid prescriptions are down 41% since 2010, and that the majority of overdose deaths are due to heroin and fentanyl. He probably doesn’t know that the overdose rate from street fentanyl rose by 88% per year from 2013 to 2016; for heroin it rose by an average of 32% per year from 2010 to 2016. Yet it remained unchanged and stable for prescription opioids from 2009 to 2016. As long as policymakers remain as clueless as Sessions about the causes and [...]
Tue, Feb 13, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Ryan Bourne So much for US Republicans starving the government beast. When the party’s major tax reform package passed in December, Democrats worried that projections for a $1 trillion debt increase over a decade would be used by Republicans to justify spending cuts and reforms to old-age entitlements. Instead, with a looming government shutdown, Republican and Democrat leaders last week conspired to pass a budget-cap busting spending package. This increased outlays by around $300bn over two years — a rise that no doubt will become the new baseline thereafter. People decry a lack of bipartisanship in the US, but Congress has shown that when you get a cross-party consensus, taxpayers suffer. Under these plans, military spending would be raised by $80bn in 2018, and then $85bn in 2019. At Republicans’ request, the US will have added around one-and-a-half times the UK defence budget to its military spending its year. Not only is the long-term outlook unsustainable with untouchable entitlement growth, but the country is now running up huge debts even in a strong and growing economy. And now we know what “working across the aisle” really means — chucking money your opponents’ way. Democrats pushed for matching increases in non-defence spending, and eventually settled for an extra $63bn in 2018 and $68bn in 2019. This cross-party spending spree will result in a budget deficit that Jeremy Corbyn [...]
Tue, Feb 13, 2018
Source: OP-EDS

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