Monthly Archives: April 2014

Harry Reid deliberately fails to advance his job-killing bill.

If you’re wondering why Republican Senators were perfectly happy to kill Harry Reid’s job-killing bill masquerading as a minimum-wage hike earlier today, this is why:

[Senator John] Thune [R, South Dakota] cited a Bloomberg poll showing 57 percent of the public views the potential loss of 500,000 jobs, a figure projected by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), as an unacceptable tradeoff for raising the minimum wage to a $10.10 hourly rate. The CBO dealt a huge blow to the legislation, the centerpiece of the Democrats’ 2014 agenda, when it warned in February of its impact on jobs.

…it’s because Harry Reid screwed up. His policy of shutting out the opposition on anything that was even vaguely politically relevant has blown up in his face; the GOP probably would have signed off on something suitably ‘bipartisan,’ but Reid didn’t want to do that. Now he’s in a situation where the Senate Majority Leader has to fall back on the filibuster to avoid an up-or-down vote, because based on my impromptu assessment of the situation it’s not entirely clear that Reid even has 51 votes for passage. In fact, I suspect that he doesn’t.

Seriously, in this economy it’s a bad thing when your legislation can be linked to anything that looks like a job-killer. There’s a reason why Democrats are being counseled to avoid the R-word: it’s because nobody actually thinks that we’re in a recovery, so nobody wants to hear about anything that assumes that we are. This has implications for everything, by the way: until we see real economic growth AND a rise in the labor participation rate politicians would be well-advised to keep everything in terms of jobs, jobs, jobs. The Democrats, of course, won’t – they’re in that stage of a bad election cycle where you blindly mash the buttons and hope something works – but they’re still be well-advised to advocate actual job-growth policies instead of job-killing ones.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Remember: the Democrats have already half-killed the filibuster. The only thing stopping them from going the rest of the distance is them themselves. Put another way: the Democrats may say that they want a minimum wage increase, but they’re adamantly refusing to do anything real to get it.

The post Harry Reid deliberately fails to advance his job-killing bill. appeared first on RedState.

…read more    

Great Achievements in Central Planning: Cellulosic Biofuel

Over the years, we’ve ridiculed Congress’s cellulosic biofuel mandates and associated penalties (for example, here and here) which were enacted as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007. Cellulosic biofuel is mostly ethanol sourced not from corn but from switchgrass, wood pellets and other non-food sources. Refiners who missed mandated targets of cellulosic biofuel were required to purchase credits to cover their shortfall. Effectively, it was a fine.

Problem was, cellulosic technology was slow to make it out of the lab and into commercial plants. As the Energy Information Administration has noted, biofuel production costs are higher than fossil fuels and market resistance is the same as ethanol from other sources. Back in 2010, when the EPA started levying its penalties, cellulosic ethanol was unavailable because no plants were producing it.

A court decision in early 2013 found the EPA mandate-setting process “did not take neutral aim at accuracy” and “was an unreasonable exercise of agency discretion.” Forced by the court, the EPA reduced the 2013 target to 6 million gallons from the original 1.0 billion gallons. Just this week, the EPA retroactively reduced the 2013 mandates to the amount actually produced (810,185 gallons), effectively negating the penalty.

(For those keeping score, actual production for 2013 was a whopping 0.08% of the original goal. Or to put another perspective on 810,185 gallons, the U.S. consumes that volume of beer roughly every hour.)

The picture is even more ridiculous for 2014 (see chart). The original mandate called for production/consumption of 1.75 billion gallons. Since the court decision, the target has been cut to a still-quite-ridiculous 17 million gallons. Through the first quarter, actual production has been just 75,000 gallons; a neutral observer might agree that we have a way to go.

The target volume for 2022 is 16 billion gallons.

Cellulosic biofuel is a case of the Congress thinking it could create a market presence for a product by sheer force of will and legislation. Bad idea.

Cross-posted.

The post Great Achievements in Central Planning: Cellulosic Biofuel appeared first on RedState.

…read more    

Joe Barton’s Profoundly Dumb Amnesty Proposal

Texas Rep. Joe Barton must have been reading the new polling data this week that shows Republicans are headed for victory in November. Like any good establishment Republican, Barton could not let our prospective victory go unanswered and is seeking a way to stifle Republican turnout. What better way to accomplish “victory” than by introducing comprehensive amnesty legislation?

Joe Barton plans to file his bill this week, but he refuses to call it amnesty. After all, he claims, there is no pathway to citizenship.

But there are two fundamental problems with his assertion. His bill incorporates the so-called Dream Act, which grants full amnesty plus citizenship to a large swath of the illegal population. As we’ve noted before, these people are largely poor and low-skilled. They would be eligible for the entire smorgasbord of welfare programs. They certainly would not pay taxes on net, as some have suggested. They would actually enjoy a net negative tax liability.

Moreover, once you have amnesty for “Dreamers” it is de facto amnesty for everyone else because: A) they can bring in family members, and B) anyone can potentially be eligible, so ICE would have to suspend all deportations to allow illegals a reasonable opportunity to present their case. Sans a proposal to change birthright citizenship first, the Dream Act would expand our anchor baby magnet to an “anchor teenager” phenomenon.

This bill would be bad enough if it only contained the Dream Act. But it grants immediate legal status to everyone else. That is amnesty. People who violated our sovereignty are rewarded with the outcome they desired by breaking the law. Citizenship is merely the icing on the cake – Amnesty-PLUS. Furthermore, the notion that you can create a permanent legal status that will not morph into citizenship in short order – both from a political perspective and from a policy-standpoint – is absurd.

As Barton notes, he is pushing this in order to keep Texas Republican. Let’s put aside the fact that he has the electoral angle exactly backwards, his bill is counterintuitive even from his convoluted standpoint. The minute Schumer and the Dems sign his bill into law, they would decry the permanent second-class status bestowed on the newly-amnestied immigrants and campaign for voting rights. Will Barton be willing to stand up and deny these people that right?

Once …read more