Friday Facts: October 22, 2021

It’s Friday! 

Memory Lane

The dignity of work: Since its earliest days, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation has stood for limited government, personal responsibility and individual initiative. In the 1990s, that meant advocating for welfare reform in Georgia. This 1996 editorial in the Savannah Morning News championing “welfare to work” cites the Foundation’s research on the issue. This year, the Foundation celebrates 30 years of “Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives,’’ and its work to reinforce the dignity of work and self-sufficiency among all Georgians continues.

Events

The 2021 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum takes place November 9 and 12, with Dr. Charles Bullock of the University of Georgia as the keynote speaker. The Forum, hosted by the Foundation since 2010, will feature sessions on taxes, education and energy in 2021. Find out more and get your ticket at www.georgiapolicy.org/events. Read this commentary on the Forum by Foundation Communications Director Keara Vickers.

Back to the Future! America’s Future, the organization formerly known as America’s Future Foundation, has relaunched its Atlanta chapter. Atlanta AF will hold its first event October 28 at the FEE offices in Atlanta. This event is open to all change makers 22-40 years old. Attire is business casual. Find out more here.

Quotes of note

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – Colin Powell, April 5, 1937–October 18, 2021

“When the leader is morally weak and his discipline not strict, when his instructions and guidance are not enlightened, when there are no consistent rules, neighboring rulers will take advantage of this.” – Sun Tzu

“Falling poll numbers concentrate the presidential mind, and the result can be startling. Look no further than this nominee for headline of the year from Politico this week: ‘Biden team asks oil industry for help to tame gas prices.’ Stranger things have happened, but we can’t recall one. For nine months President Biden has been pursuing policies to squeeze oil-and-gas producers to limit production and eventually go out of business.” – Wall Street Journal

Housing

Unaffordable: Housing affordability is worsening for the average homebuyer, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. It cites Federal Reserve of Atlanta data that found the median existing home price, as a three-month rolling average, was $343,472 nationally, a record high. Median-income households are spending 32.4% of their annual income on a median-priced home, the highest since November 2008. “Affordable” is defined as spending no more than 30% of a household’s income on housing-related expenses such as rent, mortgage, taxes and utility payments.

Lean and mean: Compared to September 2019 (before the pandemic) home prices are up roughly 33%, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. It’s considered a sellers’ market when there is less than six months’ supply of homes for sale; real estate companies told the newspaper they have less than 1.5 months’ supply available.

On hold: Zillow will stop buying and flipping homes for the rest of the year and focus on completing renovations and sales under way, The Wall Street Journal reports. Zillow cited backlogs of renovation materials and a shortage of labor. Zillow Offers, the house-flipping division, was responsible for more than half of the real estate giant’s revenue last year. As of the end of the second quarter, the online home-listing giant still had 3,142 unsold homes on hand with a total value of $1.17 billion.

Pensions and retirement

Portability: Vanguard Group has announced plans to provide its clients with an auto-portability service for their 401(k) plans. Expected to launch in mid-2011, the service is aimed at simplifying small-balance 401(k) rollovers and automatically moves an employee’s account from their former employer’s plan into their new employer’s plan. The Employee Benefit Research estimates plans lost $92.4 billion in 2015 because of “leakage” from workers cashing out their 401(k)s.

Taxes and spending

IRS monitoring: After uproar over the Biden administration’s proposal that banks be required to report to the IRS about customers’ annual cash-flow information, Democrats have revised the proposal. Now they want reporting to kick in at the $10,000 mark instead of covering transactions above a $600 threshold. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is among 20 state attorneys general who signed a letter to President Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen opposing the “burdensome” plan and noting it “raises significant privacy concerns.” Source: News reports

Elections

Practice makes perfect: Low turnout for early voting in Georgia’s municipal elections is allowing counties time to adapt to the new rules required by state election law, reports the Georgia Recorder. New rules require a state-issued ID to vote absentee and that absentee ballot drop boxes are placed inside county election offices and early voting polling places.

Economy

Going up: Proctor and Gamble plans to raise prices on consumer staples because costs for raw materials and freight have risen faster than anticipated, according to The Wall Street Journal. In addition to price increases, the company reports implementing cost-cutting strategies such as backup suppliers, re-routing freight around delays, reformulating products and sometimes limiting amounts sold to a single retailer.

Adding fuel to the fire: U.S. gasoline prices averaged $3.32 per gallon this week, up $1.17 over a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration. On-road diesel prices were $3.67, up $1.28 over a year ago.

Government

Legislature: The schedule of the General Assembly’s committee hearings can be found online, along with video links to the meetings. Visit legis.ga.gov/schedule/all.

Healthcare

Are we there yet? This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services extended the pandemic public health emergency for another 90 days, granting healthcare providers “resources and flexibility to care for COVID-19 patients, among other benefits,” Becker’s Hospital Review reported. This is the seventh time the agency renewed the emergency declaration it first declared on January 31, 2020.

COVID count: The Georgia Department of Public Health reports cases, deaths and vaccination rates on its website here.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In October 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Patients’ Compensation System.” It noted, “The current medical liability tort system is exceptionally expensive, complicated and only awards 20 percent of all legitimate malpractice claims – leaving many patients without the compensation they may need and deserve – in particular, the poor and minorities.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Supply Chain Snags and Silver Linings,” by Ed Crowell.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield 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 website at georgiapolicy.org.

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