Steve Forbes and ‘In Money We Trust’

Originally published on The American Thinker, January 10th, 2019

With legislators back in Washington for the 116th Congress, sparring over economic policy is heating up between Republicans and Democrats over tax rates, spending programs, and immigration. But while the fighting has focused on the Democrats’ desire for a 70% marginal tax rate or a “Green New Deal”, one area of economics remains sadly excluded from debate — monetary policy. Steve Forbes’ new PBS documentary “In Money We Trust” presents a solid case that it’s time for us to talk about the dollar again.

In Money We Trust” is based on Steve Forbes’ and Elizabeth Ames’ book Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy — and What We Can Do About It. This book is regarded by many supply-siders as the single best primer on sound money ever written, and much like the book, the PBS documentary provides an easily digestible introduction to monetary policy and the gold standard, even for those unfamiliar with the topics. “In Money We Trust” breaks down what money is, what makes it work, and most importantly, how to make sure it remains effective.

Money, as Steve Forbes explains, is first a measure of value. Much as a clock measures time, “money measures the value of products, services, and investment devices.” Author John Tamny notes that “it allows people with wildly disparate wants to produce and then trade with people.” Ultimately, the ability to trust a currency is integral to its success — whether the transaction is as small as a lemonade stand purchase or an international trade deal.

Maintaining trust in a currency has historically depended on how it is backed. The documentary explains that when a currency is backed by an unstable resource, buyers and sellers can’t be certain that the value of the money they have today will be worth the same tomorrow. Conversely, if money has a stable backing, like gold, parties will always know what their dollar is worth, which reduces uncertainty in investments.  Without stability, money is worthless. Forbes outlines it here:

“Changing the value of money destroys trust between buyer and seller, lender and borrower, because it changes the values that were agreed upon. One party got an underserved gain, and the other got an undeserved loss.”

“…when you change the value of money, you’re stealing property without due process of law.”

The documentary is strengthened by a cast that amounts to the New England Patriots of monetary policy. Presenters include historian Brian Domitrovic, columnist Nathan Lewis, the godfather of supply-side economist Arthur Laffer, Trump advisor Judy Shelton, columnist Amity Shlaes, and Jim Grant of “Grant’s Interest Rate Observer.”

As the new Congress commences its economic infighting, the arguments presented in this documentary deserve further review from lawmakers — is our unstable dollar a deterrent to economic growth? There may not currently be an appetite on Capitol Hill to discuss the dollar, but let’s hope “In Money We Trust” can be the springboard to start the conversation.

The Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Is Dead — And Should Stay That Way

Originally published on the National Pulse, January 3rd, 2019

At the conclusion of 2018 — perhaps resulting from the ongoing government shutdown — Congress managed to do the unthinkable: they actually allowed a bad government program to expire. Of course, in Washington bad ideas never die (they just hibernate), so in preparation for when Congress reconvenes, here is why the electric vehicle tax credit is a zombie that should stay dead.

The now-expired electric vehicle tax credit awarded “a $7,500 tax credit for [electric vehicle] purchasers, along with zero emission vehicle (or ZEV) credits for manufacturers.” On the consumer level, the benefits of this spending program were almost exclusively awarded to the rich. The Pacific Research Institute found that “more than half of the electric car buyers claiming the credit make more than $200,000 per year and nearly 80 percent make more than $100,000. Just 1 percent make $50,000 or less.”

On the manufacturer level, the electric vehicle tax credit made Elon Musk and Tesla Motors “one of the most prodigious harvesters of government favors and handouts… And Tesla isn’t shy about their dependence on your tax dollars to stay afloat, in its 2014 annual report Tesla stated ‘our growth depends in part on the availability and amounts of government subsidies and economic incentives.’”

Even the liberal Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has slammed Tesla for bilking taxpayer handouts, stating, “For far too long, we gave money to Tesla, we gave money to a ton of people and we got no return on our investment.”

The expiration of the electric vehicle tax credit amounts to a major fulfillment of President Trump’s promise during inauguration that “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” After all, why should the middle class have to subsidize wealthy Tesla buyers in California?

But even though the electric vehicle tax credit amounts to corporate welfare at its worst and a spending program for the rich, the safe assumption is that many will mount a full court press to reinstate this program when Congress returns to business-as-usual. Proponents will likely attempt to attach a revival of the electric vehicle tax credit to a bill extending other tax credits, so the Trump administration should be encouraged to hold firm on its previous commitment to ensuring that this spending program expires.

Taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize welfare kings like Elon Musk. Let’s turn the lights out on this tax credit.

Author’s note: Pat Hall also contributed to this article.

Fake News Alert: No, Trump’s Tax Cuts Aren’t Blowing Up the Debt

Originally published on the National Pulse, April, 24th, 2018

Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report stating the national debt will increase by an additional $1.9 trillion over the next 10 years due to Trump’s tax cuts. Unfortunately, while the growing national debt has led to hand-wringing from Republicans and Democrats, a logic-defying narrative has emerged on what is to blame. Therefore, it needs to be made clear: No, the Trump tax cuts are not blowing up the debt.

It should first be stated that the CBO’s numbers ought to be taken with a grain of salt, because the CBO is almost always wrong — quite often, spectacularly so. For my money, the economic growth projections in the CBO report skew pessimistic for what is achievable, but for argument’s sake, we will use the CBO’s numbers to find the real culprit behind our growing national debt.

The CBO claims the debt will increase by $1.9 trillion over 10 years (this is their “cost” of the tax cuts). Put another way, this amounts to a deficit increase of $200 billion per year. $200 billion is certainly a big number, but much less so in the context of our current $4 trillion annual budget.

But that’s not all — the CBO also projects our spending will grow exponentially, each year, for the next ten years. By 2028, the CBO projects our federal budget will exceed $7 trillion dollars. Again, for argument’s sake, let’s pretend that the Trump tax cuts will lead to a $200 billion annual deficit increase. That figure barely puts a dent in the $7 trillion budget for the year 2028. And again, greater economic growth could diminish that deficit significantly further.

And how about this: Between 2019 and 2028, the CBO anticipates that federal spending will exceed $56.5 trillion dollars. Still think that $200 billion per year from “tax cuts” is nuking our budget?

To claim that the Trump tax cuts are responsible for blowing up the national debt is simply absurd. If anything, the CBO’s report illustrates that the tax cuts, as positive as they are, amount to a mere drop in the bucket in terms of total federal spending.

So what is blowing up our national debt? Freedom Partners’ Nathan Nascimento summed it up perfectly:

The root cause of our nation’s growing deficit problem is the reckless spending in Washington, not the much-needed relief for American taxpayers. In continuing to vote for massive increases to government spending, like last month’s $1.3 trillion omnibus, and in failing to moderate the immense growth of our entitlement programs, lawmakers from both parties are responsible for these out-of-control deficits.

There you have it. The government’s spending addiction (and, I would add, the historically below-average economic growth post-2000) is to blame for our growing national debt. Don’t buy the erroneous claims that Trump’s tax cuts are responsible.

Author’s note: Pat Hall also contributed to this article.

Committee to Unleash Prosperity Blog Features American Thinker Column

Earlier this week, The Committee to Unleash Prosperity’s Supply Side Blog featured my American Thinker Column regarding Rep. Alex Mooney’s latest bill. I am incredibly grateful for this mention. CUP’s dedication to free market economics and constitutionally-backed monetary policy are a refreshing change of pace in Washington, and I look forward to witnessing their continued successes!

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Spirit of Kemp returns in Rep. Mooney’s gold standard act

Originally published on The American Thinker and The Supply Side Blog, March 29th, 2018

Yesterday, Congressman Alexander Mooney (R-W.Va.) introduced a bill to once again make the U.S. dollar convertible to a fixed weight of gold.  The legislation, H.R. 5404, was written in the spirit of Jack Kemp’s Gold Standard Act, and, as Rep. Mooney noted, it marks the first attempt since 1984 to restore a gold backing to the U.S. dollar.  While the passage of this legislation is a long shot in our current political climate (which, unfortunately, overlooks the importance of monetary policy in facilitating economic growth), this is a big deal.  Rep. Mooney’s gold standard act could reignite a much needed conversation about the importance of having a stable dollar to create soaring economic growth.

Currently, the Atlanta Fed estimates that the U.S. economy will expand at a sluggish 1.8% growth rate in the first quarter of 2018.  Conversely, the real rate of economic growth averaged nearly 4% a year when America was on the gold standard.  As Peter Ferrara noted on, since the United States got off the gold standard, real annual growth has slowed by roughly 25%.  Is it possible that the absence of real monetary integrity is to blame for this trend?  Writing for, Nathan Lewis reminds us that “the U.S. embraced the principle of stable money, and a currency based on gold, for 182 years, 1789-1971, and in the process became not only the most successful country of that time, but the most successful country of all time.  Since 1971, it has become a country that needs to be made great again.  Kemp showed us how.”  As Jack Kemp well understood, the magic formula for economic prosperity is both low taxes and stable money.  It worked for America for 182 years, and it will work for us again should we enact it.

Since economic growth has slowed since Nixon took us off the gold standard, it is prudent to examine whether our monetary policies bear at least partial responsibility for our relative stagnation.  Has the past decade of easy money really facilitated the best possible outcome for U.S. economic growth?  As Rep. Mooney wrote, the current “federal reserve note” has resulted in the U.S. seesawing “between too much and too little money in the economy.  The Fed has the impossible task of guessing the market’s demand in real time.  Its performance worsened in the 2000s because the Fed began to grade itself by how its money creation boosted the financial markets.  Today many people are so disillusioned with the dollar’s prospects that they have embraced cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.”  Rep. Mooney hit the nail right on the head.

Rep. Mooney’s gold standard act will provide policymakers and intellectual thought leaders with the opportunity to engage in a discussion on what monetary policy is the most prosperous path forward for America.  Cheers to you, Rep. Mooney, for fostering this much needed conversation.  With the introduction of this bill, the spirit of Jack Kemp and the original supply-side movement is once again illuminating the halls of Congress.

NEC Director Kudlow Praises American Thinker Column

On Tuesday afternoon, Larry Kudlow took to Twitter to thank me for supporting his appointment to the National Economic Council. I am extremely grateful for his acknowledgement. Larry’s graciousness and brilliant economic mind will serve the Trump administration–and the American people–exceptionally well. I look forward to witnessing what the future holds! Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 2.58.01 PM.png

Coming Soon: More Tax Cuts for American Workers?

Originally published on The National Pulse, March 22nd, 2018

Recently, there has been increased discussion that Congress is gearing up for a “Tax Cut, Phase II.” This is a terrific development — a second round of tax cuts will reveal in bright colors which members of Congress are for and against more money in workers’ wallets.

There are mountains of evidence to suggest that Americans have increasingly embraced the first round of President Trump’s tax cuts. In response to Trump’s legislation, over 440 companies (and counting) have offered their employees bonuses, pay raises, and increased benefits. On top of that, even CNN was forced to admit that the February jobs report was a blockbuster when they noted the 313,000 jobs added “was much stronger than economists expected and the biggest gain since July 2016.” February was also the first month that payroll withholdings were updated to reflect the new tax law.

As workers have witnessed the growth in their paychecks, they’ve become increasingly aware of the deceitful narrative sold to them during the initial tax debate. Approval ratings for Trump’s tax plan have grown to 51 percent, up from 37 percent when the law was first passed. Imagine that — only 37 percent of Americans initially supported legislation that would give them more money. The Democrat fear campaign ran strong.

Now that Americans have learned the tax cut boogeyman does not exist, Congress has tailwinds to continue putting more money in families’ wallets. As it currently stands, nearly all of Trump’s individual tax cuts are set to expire in 2025. The reason for this is that Senate Democrats filibustered Trump’s jobs bill, and the GOP was forced to craft a bill that adhered to arcane procedural rules to get around it.

A “Tax Cut, Phase II” should first and foremost make these individual tax cuts permanent (or as permanent as a tax cut can be). This will eliminate uncertainty and give American households a greater appreciation for the savings the overwhelming majority currently receive. Thankfully, House leadership has made it clear that it plans to make this point the focus of their renewed push. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-Texas) stated, “Permanence is a high priority for us” on individual tax cuts. Excellent.

Democrats in the House have already voted once against tax cut benefits for workers (not one Democrat voted yes). Are they prepared to do so again? If so, House Republicans find themselves in a unique position to draw a favorable contrast with Democrats — one side supports bigger paychecks, the other side does not.

With speculation that a phase II rollout could be coming as soon as April 15th, keep your eyes peeled for more tax cuts to benefit American households. And as with the last go-around, disregard the shameless scare tactics from those who deny this legislation will have a positive impact on the economy and your wallet.


Trump hits a home run with Kudlow appointment

Originally published on The American Thinker, March 20th, 2018

The economic reins of the Trump White House were up for grabs last week with the exit of Gary Cohn.  Despite concerns from the right (and, ironically, the left) that the president’s appointment would signal a doubling down on trade protectionism, President Trump surprised his detractors by adding an all-star member to his Cabinet in Larry Kudlow.

Kudlow is a supply-side stalwart who will bring unique economic experience to Trump’s administration.  He began his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he worked in open-market operations and bank supervision.  Quickly rising through the ranks, Kudlow eventually became the chief economist for Bear Stearns & Company after serving in the Executive Office of the President during the Reagan years.  Today, he is a syndicated columnist and a frequent contributor to CNBC.  Additionally, Kudlow is a founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, an organization that has played a critical role in educating the public on the benefits of supply-side policies.

Kudlow’s tremendous understanding of markets is evident during his frequent television appearances.  It should come as a surprise to no one that Trump views Kudlow as someone who could serve as an effective communicator of his economic policies to American families.

Perhaps the only area of disagreement between Kudlow and President Trump involves tariffs.  The president has favored blanket tariffs in a variety of industries, while Kudlow is first and foremost a free trader.  Kudlow has, however, advocated for highly targeted tariffs if they prove effective for negotiating broader policy reforms.  Conservatives and supply-siders are hopeful that Kudlow will use his economic expertise to steer the president toward a greater embrace of free-market economics.  President Trump addressed this disagreement, noting that “we don’t agree on everything, but in this case I think that’s good.”

Time and again, Trump has kept true to his promise to hire “the best people” for his administration.  In his selection on Kudlow, Trump’s excellent management skills were once again on full display – Kudlow’s appointment might be the president’s best selection since Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch.  Our new NEC director will only strengthen the renewed optimism Americans are presently feeling.  Thank you, President Trump, for saying “you’re hired” to Larry Kudlow.

President Trump Should Stick to His Guns

Originally published on The Patriot Post, March 8th, 2018.

Since he was elected, President Trump has earned a well-deserved reputation among his supporters for keeping campaign promises. But his latest gun control proposal is a worrisome contradiction to the MAGA movement. And it’s our responsibility to take him to task for it.

The president met with lawmakers from both sides of the isle last week to discuss gun regulation and the Second Amendment in the wake of the recent Parkland shooting. Republicans in the room — including Sen. Marco Rubio, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and Vice President Mike Pence — likely expected to hear the president deliberate on policy recommendations that would defend the Second Amendment while deterring the likelihood of another school shooting. Instead, President Trump sided with Democrats and railed against the Republican Party’s support for the NRA.

Specifically, Trump accused Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey of being “petrified” of the gun lobby. He then went on to recommend that lawmakers raise the legal purchasing age for AR-15s from 18 to 21 and for enhancing the federal background check system (which many believe will result in law-abiding gun owners being barred from purchasing firearms due to the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen rather than any legitimate threat).

However, the most startling of his remarks came in the form of a rebuttal to Vice President Pence, when the president bluntly stated we should “take the guns [from mentally ill citizens] first” and worry about due process later. Let’s face it: If president Obama (or any other president for that matter) were to make such a claim, the entire conservative base would be up in arms (pun intended) — and rightfully so. Due process of the law is one of the most paramount protections of our liberty, and any politician who threatens to infringe on it must be held accountable.

This turn of events was especially unfortunate since President Trump garnished exceptional backing from Second Amendment supporters throughout his 2016 presidential campaign. This was no coincidence. Then-candidate Trump was an ardent supporter of the DC v. Heller decision and routinely trashed Hillary Clinton for opposing it. He also favored solutions like reciprocity for concealed carry laws, armed security in public places, and the overall deregulation of firearms.

A tragedy like Parkland should not initiate a change in attitude, nor should the liberal media’s shameless co-opting of children to further their totalitarian agenda. President Trump should instead return to what he campaigned and won on: protecting the Second Amendment at all costs.

Luckily for the president, there are a variety of proposed pro-gun bills that he can support without abandoning his base. Sen. Marco Rubio is in the process of drafting two bills — one dealing with straw purchasing (buying a firearm for someone who legally cannot), and another allowing citizens to apply for court orders to ban “red flag” individuals from obtaining a firearm. Both have bipartisan support.

Furthermore, various House and Senate Republicans are authoring legislation that would offer a wide array of improvements to school security, including metal detectors, armed guards, and third-party security reviews. All of these proposals would allow Trump to get back on the right track — should he choose to do so.

All hope is not lost for gun owners in America. So long as president Trump backs away from the intoxicating aurora of “dealmaking,” the executive and legislative branches could enact some refreshingly effective policies that would put a sizable dent in the likelihood of another mass shooting. But Trump’s supporters must hold him accountable. If they don’t, Trump could very well latch on to a restrictive piece of legislation that will have devastating impacts on our personal freedoms.

Co-opting children for political gain

Originally published on The American Thinker, March 6th, 2018.

Liberal activists are allowing – even encouraging – students to leave class, protest, and generally disregard their hierarchies of authority in the wake of the Parkland shooting.  The mainstream media are actively cheerleading for this educational anarchy by providing these children with constant airtime on national programs and social media.  Regardless of where one stands on the Second Amendment, the media’s shameless exploitation of children in the aftermath of a tragedy is entirely reprehensible – and we must call them out on it.

The first component of the media’s effort to co-opt children establishes high school students as experts on gun policy.  Framing students as credible experts on gun policy is simply irresponsible.  Media titans are fully aware that these students are not the most knowledgeable sources to showcase in this debate, but they choose to pass them off as such nonetheless.  Would the media rely on high school students as experts on the stock market, national security, or any other complex issue?

For the leftist media, these children afford a barrier between themselves and their critics.  News outlets hide behind distraught families and devastated young children because they understand the impact this emotional appeal has to their audience.  The media’s effort to conscript children for political gain is also visible in the total coverage this tragedy has received.  Prominent news networks are spotlighting this shooting to an unprecedented degree: more than twice that of the Las Vegas shooting from just a few months prior.  Notably, there were 32% more mentions of “gun control” on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, and 55% more mentions on ABC, CBS, and NBC broadcasts nationally, in the wake of Parkland than in the aftermath of Las Vegas.  The question, then, is, why did the mainstream media decide to up their ante with Parkland (which, while unthinkably tragic, had significantly fewer victims)?  Because children are involved, and the media know that kids generate better ratings and will make their case for gun control more persuasive.

Lastly, the media are also using child victims in order to promote a false paradigm – they ascribe unsympathetic motives to supporters of the Second Amendment in framing the debate as “those who believe in gun ownership don’t care about dead children.”  This sleight of hand is disgraceful.

The media intentionally exclude arguments from supporters of the Second Amendment on how to reduce gun violence.  During NPR’s coverage of the Parkland incident last week, the network did not include a single pro-gun guest or opinion.  The anchors also based much of their criticism on a selectively edited excerpt from an NRA statement about corporate support for the organization.

In all, the media’s handling of the incident is evidence that they don’t want viewers to see a balanced debate on how to prevent mass shootings; they want the public to turn against the Second Amendment at the sight of traumatized children.

The media coverage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting is proof that the anti-American media are willing to run roughshod over any obstacle in the pursuit of their agenda.  The irony of this approach is that the industry could, potentially, make an argument for greater gun regulation without sacrificing its credibility by shamelessly co-opting children for political gain.  If the power-players in the media want to both ethically and effectively convince audiences that their resolution is the correct one, they should stick to a reasoned policy debate.  Then, and only then, will critics and indifferent onlookers alike view their recommendations in a legitimate light.