URLs du Jour


  • Twitter is for Snarking at Senators. I was irked enough by New Hampshire's Senator Maggie to tweet.

    I bet Maggie thinks honest language might make her position less palatable with voters.

  • Recipe for Citizen Abuse: First, Start With a Harvard Prof. The WSJ's editorialists correctly trace the genealogy of a Biden Administration proposal: it's Elizabeth Warren’s IRS Entitlement.

    The Internal Revenue Service leak of taxpayer returns to left-leaning media outlet ProPublica is a prime example of why Congress should refuse to give the tax agency more money and power. That includes President Biden’s little-noticed but politically consequential plan to put IRS funding on autopilot.

    An overlooked part of Mr. Biden’s plan to supercharge the IRS would exclude most of its funding over the next decade from Congress’s annual appropriations. His plan calls for a “dedicated stream of mandatory funds ($72.5 billion over a decade)” that will “provide for a sustained, multi-year commitment to revitalizing the IRS that will give the agency the certainty it needs to rebuild.” By “certainty” Mr. Biden means insulating the agency from accountability to Congress and its power of the purse.

    Like so much else in the Biden Presidency, this follows the Elizabeth Warren model. The Massachusetts Senator last month introduced a bill that would nearly triple the annual IRS budget to $31.5 billion, which would be indexed to inflation and come from money “in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated," such as from interest that the Federal Reserve earns from its asset portfolio. This is what Ms. Warren and Democrats did when they created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which gets its funding directly from the Fed.

    Warren knows that accountability is dangerous to her brand of rule-by-politicized-bureaucrats. (I was going to say "Warren and Biden" there, but it's not safe to assume Biden knows much.)

  • Did You Hear That Flushing Sound? It was taxpayer money down the toilet, as reported by Scott Shackford: Feds Restore $929 Million in Funds for California’s Billion-Dollar Bullet Train Boondoggle.

    California's wasteful high-speed rail project is getting a predictable boost under train-loving President Joe Biden. On Thursday, the Biden administration announced it was restoring $929 million in grants that had been revoked by the U.S. Department of Transportation under President Donald Trump.

    Trump used the terrible state of the rail project—years behind schedule, billions over budget, and without a realistic plan for actually connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco—as a reason to shut the funding down. His feud with California political leadership certainly played a role in the decision, but the reality is that the entire train project has been an expensive disaster that has lined a bunch of contractors' and consultants' pockets.

    Do you think you'll ever want to take a fast train from Stockton to Fresno? Me neither, but we're payin' for it anyway.

  • Bringing Californian Stupidity to New Hampshire. Gee, Thanks. Michael Graham notes that New Hampshire Congressional Democracts love their 19th-century tech: Kuster, Pappas Want to Bring California-Style Bullet Train Project to New England.

    New Hampshire U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas are backing a $105 billion high-speed rail project for New England, similar to the high-profile – and highly controversial bullet train project currently under construction in California.

    Reading on:

    High-speed rail advocates make the “if you built it, they will ride” argument, but they aren’t doing it now. As the Boston-based Pioneer Institute pointed out, “MBTA commuter rail ridership declined from 36.13 million in 2012 to 32.14 million in 2018, an 11 percent drop over six years.” And that was before COVID-19 and concerns about social distancing. Commuter rail ridership fell more than 65 percent during the pandemic.

    Passenger rail already needs massive taxpayer funding to keep ticket costs competitive, and that’s for rail systems like Amtrak that are far less expensive than the NAR proposal. Despite claims Amtrak is profitable, Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute notes that when you account for the revenues from state subidies, Amtrak lost more tham $1 billion in 2019.

    Well, "lost" is a euphemism. They know where it went.

  • He Giveth and He Taketh Away. Ronald Bailey notes another small problem with our current system of governance: Keystone Pipeline’s Cancellation Shows How Arbitrary Presidential Power Subverts the Rule of Law.

    The rule of law can be serviceably defined as restricting the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws. Unfortunately, politicians have learned how to subvert the rule of law by laundering their decisions through supine federal bureaucracies that interpret badly-defined laws and regulations to suit the desires of the president and his minions.

    The decade-long saga of the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a near-perfect example of how this works. (Don't get me started on arbitrary presidential power to impose tariffs and exercise secret emergency powers.)

    Earlier this week, bowing to President Biden's January declaration that its pipeline was not in the U.S.'s national interest, the builder of the pipeline, TC Energy, announced that it was permanently canceling construction of its Keystone pipeline. That project would have transported more than 800,000 barrels of Canadian oil daily to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

    Pretty soon investors will get the lesson: don't depend on government to let projects proceed if they irk the right set of politically well-connected folks. And we'll all be poorer for that realization.

  • A Good Argument For Not Buying Kindle Books. Kyle Smith notes the latest outrage: Authors Bow to Online Mobs, Change Passages in Published Novels.

    Here’s a bit of a watershed in American publishing: Social-media commenters are now successfully editing already-published books in order to alter the remarks of fictional characters.

    It’s unbelievable, yet true: Best-selling writer Elin Hilderbrand, who writes beach books with titles suggesting upper-middle-class-white-lady luxury, was so cowed by a few posts on Instagram complaining about a passage in one of her books that she agreed to strike the language from future editions.

    I left a comment at the NR site: "I eagerly await my revised copy of 1984. Always thought Orwell was way too tough on Big Brother."