Quotes of note
“The road to democracy is not a freeway. It is a toll road on which we pay by accepting and carrying out our civic responsibilities.” – Lucius D. Clay
“To those peoples in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required – not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” – John F. Kennedy
“What makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one.” – Barack Obama
Reality check: A new law allows Colorado’s local government employees to join the defined-contribution pension program previously available only to state employees, and gradually increases what public-sector employees must contribute to their pension fund from 8 percent to 11 percent. Lawmakers say the state’s unfunded liability is at least $32 billion, which exceeds the state budget. Source: Heartland Institute
Multiemployer pension plans: A pension crisis threatening the retirement savings of 1.5 million Americans poses the risk of driving the U.S. economy into a tailspin, panel witnesses (including from Atlanta-based UPS) told Congress this week. About 50-200 multiemployer pension plans are endangered. If they become insolvent, the companies that paid into those plans will be held liable, driving many into bankruptcy. Under current rules, employers leaving these plans must pay large sums or declare bankruptcy. Source: Akron Beacon Journal
A giving nation: Charitable donations in the United States in 2017 topped $400 billion for the first time, Giving USA reports. Giving from individuals, estates, foundations and corporations reached an estimated $410 billion in 2017, with 70 percent of contributions from individuals. The total was up 5.2 percent in current dollars over 2016.
United we stand: As the 2018 World Cup kicked off in Russia this week, the United States, Mexico and Canada won their joint bid to host soccer’s biggest global tournament in 2026. Expect a pitch from Atlanta, where the popular Atlanta United FC began playing in 2017 and is based at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which played a pivotal role, according to news reports.
Two wrongs: Criticizing President Trump’s tariff actions, Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center warns: “To be sure, most countries do impose trade barriers on imported U.S. goods and services. Yet Uncle Sam imposes tariffs on imported goods from these countries, too, even though our protectionist measures are often smaller. Here’s what the president doesn’t get: Protectionist policies by other governments are no justification for our government to inflict identical harm on the American people.”
Boomerang care: One Medicare patient in five sent from the hospital to a nursing home is hospitalized again within 30 days, often for potentially preventable conditions such as dehydration, infections and medication errors, federal records show. Such incidents occur 27 percent more frequently than for the Medicare population at large. Source: Kaiser Health News
Customizing care: At 79 million strong, millennials are now the nation’s largest population cohort. Eighty-two percent of babies born this year will be to millennial mothers. A new report finds that as they become the dominant health care consumers, this technology-driven generation is increasingly demanding alternatives to the static nature of health care options. That includes mobile education and engagement apps, including online reviews and crowdsourcing, personal-device patient monitoring, and telemedicine. Source: PatientEngagementHIT
Who will build the roads? That’s the age-old question to libertarians. Reason Foundation has the answer: Domino’s! The pizza company unveiled its “Paving for Pizza” initiative to partner with customer-nominated towns to fix potholes, repair road surfaces and otherwise help provide a service many Americans think of as an exclusively public responsibility. Athens, Ga., is one of four towns already benefiting, according to Domino’s. Nominate your town for a paving grant at pavingforpizza.com.
Taxes and spending
Spending diet: U.S. Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia earned kudos from Kimberley Strassel in The Wall Street Journal after his House Appropriations subcommittee passed a $23.4 billion fiscal 2019 spending bill, $585 million less than the set spending level. Graves used the bill to put the $585 million in a “Fund for America’s Kids and Grandkids” that cannot be spent on any other government program until the nation is deficit-free. “Just because you can spend it, doesn’t mean you should,” Graves said.
Where’s the money? Since 2009, Social Security has taken in less in taxes than it pays out in benefits, Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute writes in National Review. It has been using “attributed” interest to maintain a positive balance. But this year, benefits exceeded both taxes and interest, meaning that Social Security had to dip into the principal of the Social Security Trust Fund for the first time. Overall Social Security’s total unfunded liabilities now exceed $37 trillion, on a discounted-present-value basis over the infinite horizon. “And that’s the good news,” Tanner writes. “Medicare is in even worse shape.”
Do over: This week the Seattle City Council voted 7-2 to reverse the head tax it unanimously supported in May. About 600 employers would have had to pay a $275 penalty for each full-time employee of a company earning annual revenue of at least $20 million. Opposition to the tax, which was supposed to address the city’s homeless crisis, was led by Amazon and Starbucks. Source: Patriot Post
This month in the archives: In June 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Tolls Could Bail Metro Area Out of Congestion.” It noted, “A HOT network could make a sizeable dent in traffic in Atlanta, whose reputation for one of the nation’s longest average commutes is a reality that hinders car pooling and HOV lane use.” It’s happening; the next round of toll lanes open in metro Atlanta this summer!
Sept. 7: Mark your calendar for the 2018 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum. Details to follow! View last year’s program here.
Foundation in the news: The Brunswick News published Kyle Wingfield’s column on teacher pension reform. The Savannah Morning News published Kyle’s column on broadband regulation. The Thomasville Times Enterprise published Benita Dodd’s commentary on the anniversary of the Youth ChalleNGe Academy for at-risk students.
YouTube: Visit the Foundation’s YouTube channel to view “Telling the Human Story,” the May 23 Leadership Breakfast speech by Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute.
Have a great weekend and a Happy Father’s Day.
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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