With Bidenflation guzzling through the pockets of all Americans, especially at the gas station, we have heard more and more politicians promoting the idea of a gas tax holiday. Regardless of how popular the idea has become or how good it sounds among Republicans and Democrats alike, it’s still nothing more than a gimmick and talking point for campaigns.
A tax holiday isn’t a new idea. Several states have permanent sales tax holidays, commonly occurring for a week or two each year around the time kids return to school and parents are busy shopping for clothes and classroom items. But these permanent recurring tax holidays don’t accomplish what they seek to accomplish.
Most Americans would agree that taxes aren’t among the top ten things they love about this country — that is, unless you’re a corporation in Arizona looking ahead to SB1643. The bill offers corporations the option to cash out unused Research and Development (R&D) tax credits normally carried forward by taxpayers, totaling around $2 billion in 2019. SB1643 would allow corporations to cash them out at 60 cents on the dollar for “reinvestment” projects, with each corporation limited to $10 million a year or their amount of unused R&D credits, whichever is less. In order to implement this program, the state would appropriate over $50 million from its general fund. The bill would also increase the annual aggregate cap’s refundable portion of the R&D credit from $5 to $10 million. SB1643 passed in the State Senate several days after failing initially last month, and awaits final consideration in the House.
Valid reinvestment projects would include sustainability or water capital projects; building or updating research and development facilities; capital expenditure projects or workforce development projects with universities or career technical education districts, including tuition reimbursement, hiring employees for the institution of higher learning, and apprenticeships; and capital expenditure projects supported by matching funds from federal or national grant programs.
In practice, those reinvestment projects tend to encourage corporations to be fashioned in government and bureaucrat-friendly trappings. Sustainability efforts fall in line with initiatives fulfilling the climate justice portion of the Green New Deal: electric vehicle charging stations, windmills, public transit, solar panels, and greenhouse gas elimination on farms. The city of Phoenix has been the poster child for climate justice, implementing a “cool pavement” pilot program to mitigate urban heat, a phenomenon of higher temperatures in urbanized areas, as well as pledging to become 100 percent carbon-neutral by 2050, eliminating food deserts, and establishing 100 years of clean and reliable water supplies.
Workforce development initiatives would err on the side of social justice activism. One recent example would be defense technology giant Raytheon, whose workforce development initiative, “Stronger Together,” garnered international controversy for requiring employees to adopt critical race theory (CRT) beliefs through a training program. The program targeted white employees, listing white, straight, Christian men as the pinnacle of the “oppression hierarchy.” The company also segregated employees into race and identity groups.
Investigative journalist Christopher Rufo exposed Raytheon’s initiative last July. In an interview with Fox News, Rufo opined that the reason corporations like Raytheon push woke ideologies was to ensure that the government had less reasons to scrutinize them, allowing for an uninhibited flow of taxpayer dollars.
“Think of it as a protection racket similar to the Mafia, where you pay a small fee — in this case, you signal virtue, you hire the right consultants, you sign the right pledges to decolonize your bookshelf or to interrogate your unconscious bias — and then these companies hope to be left alone, that the social media mob, that the politicians in office, that the Biden Administration will keep that taxpayer money flowing because they’ve signaled the right beliefs,” said Rufo.
Raytheon has a headquarters in Tucson.
Banner Health, one of the state’s largest employers, clarifies that its workforce development and training course content is “culturally appropriate” and “trauma informed,” among other things. Those same keywords were present in Raytheon’s woke workforce development program.
Workforce development initiatives with universities under the tax credit program may look like the latest efforts out of Arizona State University (ASU) and its “New Economy Initiative,” which aims to increase the number of science, technology, and engineering workers and therefore attract more large technology companies. The state gave ASU $32.2 million over last year and this year, with an additional $21.2 forthcoming. ASU projected it would double these funds over the next decade, and create 40,000 new jobs by 2041.
If you don’t typically pay attention to the Arizona Corporation Commission, now is a good time to start.
The role of this government agency is to set rates and policies for utilities. That sounds simple enough, right? But for over a year now, the commission has been in the process of developing a “clean energy” plan that looks to ban all fossil fuels in our state. Next week, this renewable energy mandate will be brought up for a vote again. And the consequences could be a disaster.
Green New Deal mandates would cost ratepayers over $6 billion
In July 2020, the commission quietly released its plan to impose California-style energy mandates in our state. But it wasn’t until August of this year that an independent cost analysis had been completed. And the results were eye-opening.
In order to achieve the 100% clean energy mandate by 2050, utilities would need to phase out all fossil fuels, purchase more solar and wind generation, expand lithium-ion battery storage, and convert natural gas generation to green hydrogen. The cost for all this would be over $6 billion, which comes out to an estimated $60 per month or $720 per year for the average ratepayer.
Remember when the green energy lobby said that these mandates would actually save you money? It turns out that was just another lie. But the cost isn’t the only issue.
Most of the attention of our nation’s businesses entities is focused on attempts to win government favors. That’s typical of political economies sliding into corruption mode.
America’s unions have been a big winner of the competition. They poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns. Their bet paid off when Democrats swept the presidency and both houses of Congress. Not only that, ole’ Scranton Joe is a longtime friend.
So White House favors have flowed in a torrent. For example, a new law mandates union labor on virtually all federal projects, automatically adding 20 to 30% to the cost. There is also a provision making union dues tax deductible, another huge union subsidy.
The Green New Deal is union friendly. A $4500 tax credit is available for electric vehicles only if the car is union made. The $14,500 tax credit for homeowner energy-saving devices also requires the work be done by union members.
Worst of all, the “jobs bill“ would abolish the 26 state right-to-work laws. Tens of millions of workers would be forced to pay union dues and support union political causes.
There are legitimate reasons why workers may decline to join a union. The benefits of membership may not be worth the dues. They may not support the union’s political views.
Especially ambitious or capable workers may not want to be bound by union work rules, promotion and salary schedules, typically designed to protect the weakest performers. Moreover, many workers are repulsed by the 2,100 documented cases of union corruption, including embezzlement, racketeering and inflated salaries.
But it’s no secret that mandatory membership would massively increase union rolls and coffers. Joe Biden may have lied about a few things here and there, but his vow to have “the most pro-union administration in history” meant business.
But if the unions are experiencing a bonanza, how about the rest of us? After all, only 6.3% of private sector workers are union members (about half of government workers are unionized). How do the other 93.7%, and those of us not considered “workers“, fare?
Not that well. You may have heard of the supply chain shortage and the massive backup at our ports. You’ve seen prices rise and empty shelves starting to appear.
In response, President Biden recently announce a “gamechanger”, ordering more hours for the ports. Union work rules regarding off-hours pay make the option a significant burden for the port operators. But it would increase cargo movement by less than 10%, hardly solving the problem.
The dysfunction in America’s ports isn’t news. The World Bank rates LA and Long Beach 328 and 333 worldwide for speed and efficiency. Not one US port was in the top 50.
Here’s the reason. Our ports lack modern technology. Automated cranes and other laborsaving devices operate worldwide over twice as fast as our outdated equipment.
But unions demand the obsolescence to preserve make-work jobs. The International Longshoremen’s Association has a contract blocking the use of automated cargo handling equipment.
Biden could take action, but he won’t. His Build Back Better bill specially prohibits using any funds for automation.
Government unions, because they needn’t worry about any economic impact on their employer, are even more abusive of the public trust. The main reward for teachers’ union loyalty has been the party’s staunch, enduring opposition to school choice.
School choice for underprivileged children is rightly considered the civil rights issue of our time. Many leading Democrats, like the Obamas, Clintons and Kennedys send their own children to desirable schools but deny the same privilege to millions of children who will be economically handicapped for life by the school they attend.
The teachers’ unions displayed their impressive clout again during the recent pandemic. Long after research data had thoroughly discredited the wisdom, (children were essentially COVID-19 proof), they selfishly kept schools closed. The education fallout is proving to be catastrophic.
Unions historically have played a role in improving the plight of workers. Private sector unions particularly deserve the right to exist, to organize and to be treated fairly. But when the scales are tipped to afford them political benefits not enjoyed by other Americans, we all get hit.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.
Some ideas need to be put to sleep. Maybe someone should tell that to the Arizona Corporation Commission.
About a year ago, the commission quietly released its plan to impose California-style energy mandates in our state. While following in California’s footsteps for just about anything seems like a bad idea, that certainly rings true when it comes to energy.
After all, last August, not too long after the Arizona Corporation Commission released its plan, California instituted its first intentional rolling blackouts since 2001. And the state’s residents were also asked to conserve electricity during a significant heatwave last summer.
But this year, it may be even worse. While electricity prices explode across California, more blackouts are almost guaranteed to happen again this summer. And Arizona could very well be affected…