Consumer spending accounts for approximately two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and this helpful chart…
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Shattering the Decade of "New Normal" Economic Sluggishness

Consumer spending accounts for approximately two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and this helpful chart from the U.S. Senate's Joint Economic Committee illustrates why our economy suddenly turbocharged over the past two years from its decade of sluggishness that we were told was the "new normal":

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="439" caption="Turbocharging the U.S. Consumer Economy"][/caption]…[more]

October 15, 2018 • 11:46 am

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Congress Must Reform Federal Sugar Policy Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, May 17 2018
There simply may not exist a program in the entire federal government that more vividly represents its bloat, waste and crony capitalism than current federal sugar policy.

Should the federal government exist for the purpose of destroying American jobs, raising the cost of living for American consumers by billions of dollars every year, cultivating crony capitalism, wasting taxpayer dollars and dishing out corporate welfare? 

If you believe that it should, then our existing federal sugar policy is right up your alley.  It demonstrably accomplishes each of those ends. 

For everyone else, federal sugar policy cries out for reform. 

Fortunately, that may be about to occur at long last.  An amendment to the farm bill currently before Congress, introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R - North Carolina), would reform some of the worst aspects of our current sugar subsidy complex. 

Currently, federal regulations limit production and sales by cane mills and beet processors in order to artificially prevent sugar from entering the domestic U.S. market.  As with any governmental market quota, that has the inevitable consequence of raising prices for everyday American consumers. 

Existing sugar policy also imposes import quotas on the amount of sugar that can be sold to willing buyers in the U.S., singling out forty nations isolated as sugar exporters three long decades ago.  If domestic food manufacturers or refiners do buy sugar in excess of those arbitrary quotas, they're taxed in the form of punitive tariffs.  Naturally, those unnecessary tariff costs are also passed along to American consumers who buy anything containing sugar. 

Additionally, our federal sugar monstrosity includes price supports by way of minimum purchase costs for domestic sugar buyers, which any freshman economics student would recognize as destructive.  By imposing price floors, the government in turn forces American consumers to pay higher food prices for anything containing sugar compared to consumers in other nations.  According to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), those costs to consumers reach between $2.4 billion and $4 billion every year, and we pay an 84% premium on raw sugar compared to the rest of the world. 

Moreover, since 2008, something called the "Feedstock Flexibility Program" also requires the federal government to purchase surplus sugar whenever it exists, and resell it to ethanol producers - at a loss.  Guess who picks up that tab?  American taxpayers. 

Thus, existing federal sugar policy represents the unholy trinity of quotas, subsidies and taxes. 

Although the scheme's defenders claim that it protects domestic jobs in the sugar industry, the simple fact is that it ends up killing three times as many jobs as it saves.  After all, if a product containing sugar costs more here due to sugar quotas and subsidies, then those jobs shift overseas where costs aren't as unnecessarily high.  Cumulatively, that eliminates an estimated 100,000 American jobs.  And as noted above, it costs American consumers billions of dollars in higher costs every single year. 

There's positive news to report, however.  As noted above, Representative Foxx has introduced beneficial amendments to the farm bill, and support appears to be reaching critical mass. 

Contrary to the hysteria generated by proponents of existing federal sugar policy, those amendments would merely introduce gradual, commonsense, market-based reforms to the program to eliminate some of its most egregious aspects.  By easing current limits upon sugar sales, and ending the irrational program of buying up surplus sugar for resale to ethanol companies at a loss to taxpayers, Representative Foxx's amendments constitute significant reform. 

There simply may not exist a program in the entire federal government that more vividly represents its bloat, waste and crony capitalism than current federal sugar policy.  It serves only to favor powerful special interests at the expense of American taxpayers and consumers year after year. 

Meanwhile, in recent weeks alone we've witnessed significant breaks from business as usual, from finally relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as promised for decades, to exiting the Obama Administration's nuclear agreement with Iran. 

It's time Congress do its part by passing Representative Foxx's amendments to the farm bill, finally reforming indefensible federal sugar policy and offering relief at long last to American manufacturers, consumers and workers. 

Question of the Week   
Between 1946 and 2016, what percentage of U.S. Supreme Court decisions have split evenly (4-4)?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"With the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, for the first time in generations there is a majority of justices on the Supreme Court who, to varying degrees, practice originalism and textualism. This means that the Court can systematically begin to restore the Constitution to its original meaning. This constitutional restoration does not mean that the Constitution's original meaning is the best choice…[more]
 
 
—John Yoo and James C. Phillips
— John Yoo and James C. Phillips
 
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During a campaign season, particularly one as intense as the current midterm cycle, do you respond to telephone political polling?