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GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino reveals yet further incoherence in the policy positions of Sen. Josh Hawley. Two slices:

Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) wants President Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to force an aluminum plant in Missouri to stay open, but he opposes a bill that would fund actual defense production, some of which would occur in Missouri.

On January 25, Hawley demanded that Biden prevent an aluminum plant that announced it would be closing from doing so. He cited national security as part of the justification, saying that the Department of Defense “has deemed aluminum a strategic material of interest.”

This is not a power that Biden actually has. As Eric Boehm pointed out at Reason, thank goodness for that. No one should want to live in a country where the president orders specific factories to work.


Hawley’s current position on defense production appears to be that the president should have unilateral power to order specific facilities to make specific things related to defense, but defense legislation with funding approved by Congress for weapons production in the U.S. is a no-go.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Rainer Zitelmann reminds us of Ronald Reagan’s vision of privately funded space exploration. A slice:

After the moon-landing successes, American space travel no longer made such rapid progress. It became clear that the state was too sluggish to overcome the next big challenges. Thus Reagan, in his radio address that Jan. 28, promised “to encourage American industry to move quickly and decisively into space.”

“Obstacles to private-sector space activities will be removed, and we’ll take appropriate steps to spur private enterprise in space,” he said. “We expect space-related investments to grow quickly in future years, creating many new jobs and greater prosperity for all Americans. Companies interested in putting payloads into space, for example, should have ready access to private sector launch services. . . . So, we’re going to bring into play America’s greatest asset—the vitality of our free enterprise system.”

That October he signed the Commercial Space Launch Act, which enabled private enterprises to commercialize space and space technology.

“One of the wonders of human society is how the individuals of our species found a way to coordinate our actions to collaborate without anyone being in command” – so begins a new EconLog post by Leonidas Zelmanovitz.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, has some questions for CBO director, Phillip Swagel. A slice:

Our spending as a share of GDP now looks permanently higher than it used to be. Nearly all of the rise in borrowing over the past 15 years has been because of higher spending and not because of lower revenue. Now that we are through our most recent recession, spending is still higher than it used to be, and CBO’s projections show that rising deficits are from this spending growth. Revenue is growing, too, but spending is growing faster. Somewhere along the way, after the pandemic, we committed to higher spending without a real public debate about whether we wanted government to represent a higher share of the economy. Given CBO’s projections of current law, do we have a permanently bigger government now than we had in the past? If so, does Swagel know which policy changes have most contributed to this growth?

Paul Schwennesen reports on some consequences of Europe’s dirigiste treatment of agriculture.

Eric Kober reports on that which should be – but, alas, that which to too many people isn’t – obvious: residential rent control reduces the supply of rental housing.

David Henderson catches someone, in a discussion of climate change, using an inappropriate analogy.

In response to New York Times columnist Apoorva Mandavilli’s objections to the CDC’s proposed relaxation of recommendations for isolating after testing positive for covid, Newman Nahas tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Regular testing of one’s purity & extended withdrawal as penance are basic Covidian sacraments. The CDC has no right to abrogate these rites. They were ordained by the Sanctimonious Synod. What it binds, only Rona himself can suspend.

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