March 26: Join Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Kyle Wingfield and Eric Cochling, vice president of Policy Development at the Georgia Center for Opportunity, at the Foundation’s 8 a.m. Leadership Breakfast, “Georgia Legislative Roundup.” The discussion at Cobb County’s Georgian Club will focus on the 2014 Georgia Legislative Session and the General Assembly’s business on tap for 2015. This event is open to the public and is $25 to attend: Find out more and register at www.georgiapolicy.org/?p=12276.
Quotes of Note
“[T]he first lesson to teach the poor man is that, as a whole, the wealth in the community is distinctly beneficial to him; that he is better off in the long run because other men are well off; and that the surest way to destroy what measure of prosperity he may have is to paralyze industry and the well-being of those men who have achieved success. ” – Theodore Roosevelt
“[E]ducation is not about the districts and not about the pensions and not about the unions and not about the lobbyists and not about the PR firms – education is about the students, and the students come first.” – Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York
“I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution; I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its constitution. I mean an additional article taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.” – Thomas Jefferson
Signups lagging: Someone has to sign up every 1.4 seconds in March for the Obama administration to reach its (adjusted) 6 million sign-up goal for ObamaCare. Enrollment season ends March 31; at the end of February sign-ups were at 4.2 million. Signups are around 140,000, with 28 percent between ages 18-34; experts say the enrollment needs about 40 percent young people to be economically viable for insurers to balance the risk of older enrollees. No reports yet on how many have actually paid the premium after signing up.
Did you know? The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that delaying the Affordable Care Act individual mandate by one year would save $9 billion, while repealing it altogether would save $282 billion over 10 years.
Struggling exchanges: The Reason Foundation reports that, “Of the 14 states, plus the District of Columbia, that established their own health insurance coverage under ObamaCare, seven remain dysfunctional, disabled, or severely underperforming. Development of those exchanges was funded heavily by the federal government through a series of grants that totaled more than $1.2 billion – almost double the $677 million cost of development for the federal exchange,” to which Georgia belongs.
Medicaid expansion? Read the Foundation’s paper, “Nine Reasons to Question Medicaid Expansion.”
Energy and Environment
Fracking’s big: According to the International Energy Administration, surging shale production will make the United States the world’s top oil producer by 2015. By 2020, the country will produce 11.6 million barrels a day, up from 9.2 million in 2012. The trigger has been advances in drilling technology, including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, usually referred to as fracking. Source: Investing Daily
Common sense endangered: Unhappy with their inability to halt the nation’s growing oil and gas industry, environmental activist groups are pushing the Department of the Interior to add a record 757 new species to the Endangered Species Act in an attempt to close off 50-100 million acres to any kind of economic development. One bird for which they seek “protection” is the sage grouse, found in 11 Western states, raising the question that if it lives in such a wide swath of territory, just how endangered can it be? Source: Patriot Post
Why so high? Despite increased federal aid, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion. The reason is that colleges have responded to an influx of federal money by increasing costs, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Taxes and spending
Double-dipping: Corporate dividends are paid from after-tax profits to stockholders, who then must pay personal income taxes on the dividends. The tax is a double tax on corporate profits, creating a bias toward retained earnings and leading to lower levels of saving and investment, according to the Tax Foundation. At the federal level, the top marginal tax rate on dividend income is 23.8 percent. State dividend tax rates range from zero to 13.3 percent (6 percent in Georgia), making the average top marginal rate in the United States 28.6 percent, or ninth highest worldwide.
Mr. Postman, look and see: At the end of fiscal year 2013, the Postal Service had about $100 billion in unfunded liabilities, according to the Government Accountability Office. The amount comprises $85 billion for benefits, including retiree health and pension and workers’ compensation liabilities, and $15 billion in outstanding debt to the U.S. Treasury – the statutory limit. These unfunded liabilities increased from 83 percent of USPS revenues in fiscal year 2007 to 148 percent of revenues in FY 2013. (See the Foundation’s newest Issue Analysis on Georgia’s unfunded liabilities.)
Money on the table: Many of the nation’s young public school teachers won’t be vested in their defined-benefit pension plans or reach the normal age of retirement before they leave the profession – factors that will cost them thousands of dollars in pension wealth, a new analysis concludes. Source: Education Week
Web site of the week: www.spn.org is the site for the State Policy Network, the nation’s only 50-state distribution network for market-oriented public policy ideas. Find out what the Foundation’s sister think tanks in every state are doing to limit government and advance market-friendly public policy.
YouTube: We’re closing in on 44,000 views on the Foundation’s YouTube channel. View video coverage of speakers at the Foundation’s March 5 Annual Dinner, including keynote speaker Daniel Garza of The LIBRE Initiative and four others who told their personal stories about achieving the American Dream.
Social media: The Foundation has 2,225 “likes” on Facebook and 1,160 Twitter followers!
The Forum: It’s down to the wire at the Georgia Legislature, where Tuesday and Thursday are days 39 and 40 of the 2013-14 session. The chambers passed two very different proposals on foster care reform, with no guarantees either will become law, Foundation Editor Mike Klein writes in The Forum. Read this and other recent posts at georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Hispanics Understand Free-Market Principles,” by Daniel Garza.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our Web site at www.georgiapolicy.org. Join The Forum at http://forum.georgiapolicy.org/. Become a fan of the Foundation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/gppf.
When I served four terms in the state Senate, one of the few places where you could go to always and get concrete information about real solutions was the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. That hasn’t changed. [The Foundation] is really right up there at the top of the state think tanks, so you should be very proud of the work that they are doing!