December 22, 2017
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January 23: More than 28,000 events will celebrate National School Choice Week 2018 from January 21-27. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation marks this event annually with a Leadership Breakfast. The keynote speaker is Senior Fellow Dr. Ben Scafidi; the topic is “Georgia 2020: Educational Opportunity for All K-12 Students in Georgia.” 8 a.m. at the Georgian Club. $30. Registration and information here.
Quotes of note
“How many observe Christ’s birth-day! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.” – Benjamin Franklin (1743)
“We must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. … We have the right as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.” – Davy Crockett
“In politics as in philosophy, my tenets are few and simple. The leading one of which, and indeed that which embraces most others, is to be honest and just ourselves and to exact it from others, meddling as little as possible in their affairs where our own are not involved. If this maxim was generally adopted, wars would cease and our swords would soon be converted into reap hooks and our harvests be more peaceful, abundant, and happy.” ― George Washington
Voting I: If you need a reason to vote, look no further than the Atlanta mayoral race won by fewer than 800 votes for the second time in a row, or a legislative race in Virginia this week that was decided by ONE vote, creating a 50-50 tie in the House of Delegates. Source: Washington Post.
Voting II: If you’re wondering why the tax cuts passed by Congress is not permanent for taxpayers, look no further than partisanship. Not a single Democrat in the House or Senate voted for the bills. The bill passed under the budget reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to pass a bill with just a simple majority (51 votes) and bypass a filibuster, under a strict set of rules.
Airport I: It took Georgia Power Co. about 12 hours to restore power to Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest airport shut down by a substation fire on Sunday December 17. It took the airport a lot longer to respond and recover as more than 1,500 flights were canceled. One affected passenger, former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, tweeted: “We all understand that Snafus happen and most of the folks down here are doing their jobs to the best of their ability. But, whatever the cause, it feels like this one was compounded by confusion and poor communication.”
Airport II: Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy insisted that the fast food franchise would never open its restaurants on Sundays. But exceptions are made for altruistic reasons. On December 17, after hours of the fire-related blackout at the Atlanta airport, Atlanta officials notified the thousands of stranded passengers that Chick-fil-A would provide food to those shuttled to the Georgia International Convention Center to stay overnight.
Taxes and spending
Tax cut: Some U.S. companies are already promising to pay one-time bonuses to their employees and bump up hourly pay when President Trump signs into law the tax reform bill approved this week along party lines by Congress. Estimate the impact on your taxes with this calculator. Source: USA Today
Jobs and more: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is expected to increase jobs (339,000 more), GDP (1.7 percent higher), capital investment (4.8 percent more) and wages (1.5 percent higher). In Georgia, it’s projected to add about 10,264 jobs and increase after-tax income by $588 for a middle-income Georgia family, according to an analysis by the Tax Foundation.
No small potatoes: Idaho was the nation’s fastest-growing state over the past year. Its population increased 2.2 percent to 1.7 million, according to the Census Bureau’s newest population estimates. Georgia, the nation’s eighth most populous state, is No. 6 in numerical growth (North Carolina, Texas and Florida were among the states ahead of Georgia) Georgia also did not make the top 10 for percentage increase in population. (Read the Foundation’s recent commentary, “Georgia’s ‘Good’ Grade on Economic Freedom Needs Improvement.”
Energy and environment
Breath of fresh air: The Georgia Public Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to continue construction of two new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle outside Augusta. The commission approved a revised schedule and capital costs at $7.3 billion. The reactors are scheduled for completion in 2021 and 2022, respectively. An op-ed in The New York Times this week noted, “America’s commercial nuclear industry safely and reliably produces 63 percent of our emission-free electric power. The cancellation of the Vogtle project would likely dim the future of this vital American industry.” The Foundation weighed in on financing back in February 2009.
Climate change: The Trump administration’s National Security Strategy includes rolling back former President Obama’s focus on climate change as a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy: “U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests. … The United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while expanding our economy. This achievement … flows from innovation, technology breakthroughs, and energy efficiency gains, not from onerous regulation.” Source: WhiteHouse.gov
Ending the mandate: The tax bill just passed by Congress eliminates the individual mandate penalty for not having health insurance starting in 2019. The penalty for going uncovered for 2018 will be the same as this year: $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of household income in excess of tax filing thresholds, whichever is higher. According to 2017 federal survey data, “high costs and lack of affordability” influenced consumers’ decisions to exit their plans.
ObamaCare extension: According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Georgia is eligible for a two-week emergency extension of the Dec. 15 open enrollment window because of the statewide emergency declaration for Hurricane Irma. In fact, almost half of the U.S. population lives in areas where it is still possible to sign up for 2018 coverage. The new deadline is Dec. 31. Source: News reports
Dying younger: Americans’ life expectancy is now down for the second straight year, something not seen in more than half a century. One culprit is opioid abuse, cutting down young adults at alarming and increasing rates, researchers say. Before 2015, the last one-year decline was in 1993, attributed partly to the AIDS epidemic. Source: USA Today
This month in the archives: In December five years ago, the Foundation published, “A Child Nods to Health Care Reform.” It noted:
“It sounded good when they said they wanted more and to be fed,
To get more stuff they thought was free, and now it is affecting me.”
From our families to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas!
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/. Find the Foundation on social media at Facebook, twitter.com/gppf and Instagram.