[Brian] Riedl, a student of ancient (or so it suddenly seems) U.S. fiscal history, remembers that the 2009 stimulus included a $25 addition to weekly unemployment checks. In 2020, Democrats wanted $600 bonuses, and Republicans were considered skinflints because they favored only $300 — 12 times the 2009 sum. During the Great Recession, the typical family of four (a family with income below the $150,000 threshold where the phaseout begins) received tax rebates of $2,600 ($1,800 in 2008 and $800 in 2009). If legislation the Biden administration wants and the House of Representatives will almost certainly pass becomes law, a typical family of four will have received $11,400 in 12 months. In previous deep recessions, state and local governments received up to $200 billion in federal aid. Today Democrats want to add $350 billion to the $360 billion approved last year.
Nearly half of states rolled in more tax revenue in calendar year 2020 than 2019, according to the Reason Foundation. On average, state revenues were a mere 0.01% lower across the board. Seventeen state treasurers recently moaned to Congress that “tax revenues have plummeted,” but collectively they’ve seen a 1.8% increase year-over-year, the Kansas Policy Institute reports.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently warned of a $15 billion budget deficit and threatened to raise New York’s top income tax rate to 14.7%—the nation’s highest—though New York’s revenues were down a mere 1.5% from 2019. He refuses to renegotiate union contracts or cut spending.
What was new this week was Democrats’ brazenness: their shocking and open targeting of news organizations. The left has long worked to shut down speech with which it disagrees, but officials in the past did it with more subterfuge. It came via legislation for “campaign finance reform,” or via their successful effort to push the IRS to target conservative nonprofits; or via Sen. Dick Durbin’s campaign to pressure companies out of funding free-market nonprofits. Liberal activists have honed intimidation campaigns, threatening boycotts and other actions against companies that advertise on disfavored platforms or donate to right-leaning groups.
The most important feature is the proposed change to the legal standard by which regulators approve business deals. It would allow the government to stop any deal that creates an “appreciable risk of materially lessening competition,” and it also defines exclusionary behavior as, “conduct that materially disadvantages one or more actual or potential competitors.”
These may sound like simple, semantic tweaks, but – much like some of the other policy ideas currently circulating – they would upend decades of settled law and create a sea change in U.S. antitrust enforcement. This change could undermine business dynamism, innovation and investment in ways that inhibit the global competitiveness of U.S. businesses.
Critics of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity by large tech firms include not only Sen. Klobuchar but also Republicans such as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). Hawley recent offered an amendment to a budget bill that would preemptively prohibit mergers and acquisitions by dominant online firms. Klobuchar and Hawley believe that M&A skews the market in favor of today’s largest firms, entrenching their market power and discouraging innovation.
History teaches a different lesson.