Isabelle Morales

Bernie Sanders Wants to Impose National Rent Control

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Friday, January 24th, 2020, 12:00 PM PERMALINK

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wants to impose national rent control. He unveiled the policy proposal last September and reiterated his support via Twitter on January 19.

Specifically, Bernie Sanders proposes a national cap on annual rent increases to 1.5 times the rate of inflation or 3 percent—whichever is higher.

Ironically, the article Sanders tweeted out attributes the cause of higher rent prices, in part, to government control over the private housing market. This simply reinforces what many economists already know to be true: the left’s prescriptions for lowering housing prices are precisely what keeps prices high and supply low.

"Some dumb ideas are new. Rent control is an old, dumb idea. Price controls have failed for thousands of years," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

A national rent control scheme would have the following effects:

1. It would be a flagrant infringement of American property rights and a vast expansion of the federal government's control over the private housing market. 

The government should have no role in determining rental costs. All governments are ill-equipped to consider the many visible and invisible factors that determine the market price of a rental property.

What enforcement mechanisms would come down on the American people under a national rent control bureaucracy? If a local landlord, for whatever reason, fails to comply with the new federal standard, what kind of punishment would ensue? Might the IRS garnish his wages? Would federal law enforcement lock down his property? Would he be fined out of business? Put in jail? The reason why none of that passes the smell test is because none of it feels like it's an appropriate use of the federal government's power nor is it even within the scope of power that the government ought to operate in.

2. National rent control would require the creation of an elaborate bureaucracy with substantial administrative costs. 

Enforcing rent control requires an elaborate bureaucracy—especially on a national level. In Santa Monica, the Rent Control Board in 1996 had a $4 million a year budget for enforcing rents on only 28,000 apartments. This fiscal year, San Francisco's Rent Arbitration Board can expect to bring in over $5 million. The system only gets more complicated as it grows. The National Multifamily Housing Council explains, “Rental property must be registered; detailed information on the rental property must be collected; and elaborate systems for determining rents and hearing complaints and appeals must be established.”

3. It would reduce housing supply across the country. 

Evidence shows the 1994 rent-control expansion in San Francisco actually led to landlords converting their properties to condos or a Tenancy in Common, both of which are exempt from rent control. This is reflected by a 15 percent decline in the number of renters living in these buildings and a 25 percent reduction in the number of renters living in rent-controlled units. Instead of encouraging affordable housing, the government incentivized conversion away from it.

Rent control discourages the construction of new rental housing, even when controls don't apply to new developments. Investors anticipate future policy changes that would subject their developments to similar, pricey controls. 

This is why in Cambridge, Mass., when rent control was abolished, economists found that direct dollar investments in housing units doubled in just a few years. This led to an increase in housing supply. According to a Cato Institute policy analysis by William Tucker, non-rent-controlled cities have normal vacancy rates at or above 7 percent, while rent-controlled cities experience vacancy rates at around 5 percent.This speaks to a central problem with rent control: its tendency to suppress housing supply. This creates severe, visible consequences: restricted housing options and even homelessness.

4. It would increase rent prices across the country. 

The San Francisco study also found that, as a result of rent control, there was a city-wide rent price increase of 5.1 percent. A study of New York City’s 1968 rental market found that rents in noncontrolled units were 22 percent –25 percent higher than they would have been without the presence of rent control.

Landlords, as a way to make up for their inability to increase rents once a tenant moves in, will set rents artificially high in their initial contracts with tenants. Also, because of existing tenants’ depressed rents, many will stay in apartments for longer than they otherwise would. This reduces the housing supply for other potential tenants; specifically, the supply of rent-controlled units. This increases the prices of non-controlled housing units, which often become the only option for a number of people. 

5) It would reduce the quality of tenant housing.

Hendrix of the Manhattan Institute points out that, under rent control, landlords have a limited ability to "recoup operational costs and investments through rents or an appreciation of their building’s value." Also, because they cannot raise rents, there's little incentive to improve their properties, as they will not see a payoff for building improvements. 

In the aftermath of price controls in Cambridge, Mass., housing units were described as “older, in worse condition, and more in need of very essential repairs.” Once rent control was abolished in the city in 2004, "property investments rose 20% over what would have been the case under rent control and led to major improvements in housing quality."

6) It would harm disadvantaged groups. 

Michael Hendrix of the Manhattan Institute explained that all the savings associated with rent control are offset by the increased costs of non-controlled housing units. However, those who benefit from rent control are disproportionately white, affluent renters. Hendrix notes, "White renters in 2017 claimed a 36% discount on market-rate rents in New York City because of rent control, compared with 17% for Hispanic renters and 16% for black renters; affluent renters received a 39% discount. The city’s rent-control and rent-stabilization laws have apparently induced landlords to favor older tenants and smaller households (primarily those without children), and rent control’s benefits are similarly biased against young people and larger families." 

Rent control hurts the very people it aims to help. It restrains consumers’ ability to find a place that works for them. As a consequence, the housing market in rent-controlled cities is defined by dissatisfaction, maddening trade-offs, and paycheck-consuming prices.

If rent control on the local level causes increases in rent prices and limits housing supply, it’s not hard to imagine just how severe the effects would be on a national scale, when the federal government tries to impose Manhattan-type rent control policy on Thurmond, W. Va.

Even the socialist Swedish economist Assar Lindbeck said, “In many cases rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city – except for bombing.”


Grover Norquist On California's Latest Attempt to Raise Taxes

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Friday, January 17th, 2020, 1:06 PM PERMALINK

ATR president Grover Norquist joined Connell McShane on Fox Business Network's After the Bell to discuss California latest tax hike attempt, which could lead to the nation's highest state corporate income tax rate.

The bill would increase taxes on companies that post at least $10 million of taxable income. The size of the tax increase would be proportional to the pay gap between the CEO and employees. The larger the gap, the larger the tax increase.

Norquist responded: 

"It's a massive tax increase. California has an 8.8 percent corporate income tax on top of the 21 percent national, federal tax. They want to take that up to 11 to 15 percent. So it's a massive tax increase to start with. But then they go, "Oh, but we'll hit you even more if you don't pay people the way we want you to."

Boards of Directors are responsible and shareholders are responsible for firing any CEO who overpays himself or herself. It shouldn't be the government's decision to tell you. Sometimes, somebody who's a CEO can be worth a lot of money, sometimes not... If you want to be in the business of setting pay, vote as a shareholder, work in the business of owning part of the company. The people who should care are the people who own it. They don't want to waste money. They don't want to waste millions of dollars on a CEO that's not any good."

California's brutal tax and regulatory environment continues to drive people and companies out of the state. State politicians don't seem to know or care.

Click here to watch the interview.


Debate Tonight: What the 2020 Dems Won't Tell You About How Trump Tax Cuts are Helping Iowa

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Tuesday, January 14th, 2020, 12:00 PM PERMALINK

Tonight in Des Moines, the Democratic candidates will trash the Trump tax cuts. However, listed below are examples of how the tax cuts are helping Iowa households and businesses: 

Doubled child tax credit: 243,620 Iowa households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the child tax credit. The Trump tax cuts doubled the child tax credit from $1,000 per child to $2,000 per child.

Standard deduction: 1,008,940 Iowa households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the standard deduction. The Trump tax cuts doubled the standard deduction from $6,000 to $12,000 for individuals, and from $12,000 to $24,000 for married couples. Thanks to the Trump tax cuts, nine out of ten households now take the standard deduction which reduces their tax burden and simplifies the tax filing process.

Obamacare individual mandate tax relief: 38,430 Iowa households are benefiting from the TCJA’s elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate tax. Most households hit with this tax made less than $50,000 per year.

Tax cut: Every income group in every Iowa congressional district saw a tax cut.

Lower utility bills: As a direct result of the TCJA’s corporate rate cut, Iowa residents are paying lower utility bills. Lower electric, water, and gas bills help households each month, and also help small businesses operating on slim profit margins. Iowa examples of utilities passing on tax savings to customers include – but are not limited to Global Water Services, Iowa American Water Co., and MidAmerican Energy Company.

Thanks to the TCJA’s corporate tax rate cut – from 35 percent to 21 percent – and the TCJA’s 20 percent tax cut for small businesses, employers of all sizes are hiring, expanding, increasing pay and benefits, and paying special tax-cut bonuses:

Geetings, Inc. (Pella, Iowa) -- Was able to purchase new semitrailers and give employees raises because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

When small business owners anticipated how much they would save in taxes under the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, many reinvested those savings in their businesses and their employees. 

Lana Pol, who owns several small businesses including Geetings, Inc., a transportation firm in Pella, says she gave employees raises and purchased six new semitrailers. -- June 3, 2019 Des Moines Register

Smokey Row Coffee Shops (Des Moines, Iowa) --  Because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the company is planning to open two new stores.  

When small business owners anticipated how much they would save in taxes under the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, many reinvested those savings in their businesses and their employees.

...

Butch Hayes, of Smokey Row Coffee Shops, is planning to open two new stores. -- June 3, 2019 Des Moines Register

Anfinson Farm Store (Cushing, Iowa) -- $1,000 bonuses and 5% pay raises for employees:

Anfinson Farm Store, a family business in Cushing, Iowa (population 223), has awarded $1,000 bonuses and raised wages 5% for all full-time employees as a result of tax reform. The good news was delivered to employees in person just after Christmas.

In an interview with Americans for Tax Reform, store owner John Anfinson said tax reform will boost “money that will be available for the business overall and I want to use it in the right places.”

Anfinson has helmed the store for about 45 years. His grandfather started the business as a general store in 1918, so they will soon celebrate 100 years of operation. His customers chiefly grow corn, soybeans, and alfalfa.

“For us, we have a small number of employees. I work every day shoulder to shoulder with everyone,” said Anfinson. “When you work every day with a group of people, you know them and their family and you appreciate everything they do. I value them and the interest they take in our customers. They are the most valuable asset in any business.” Jan. 9, 2018 Americans for Tax Reform blog post

Mowbility Sales & Service (Pella, Iowa) – The owner said that she was able to save around $40,000 from the tax bill, which allowed her to give employees raises and purchase new semitrailers:

Lana Pol’s small businesses are enjoying big savings under the new tax law — at least for now.

The entrepreneur runs four small companies across Iowa, including Mowbility Sales & Service, which sells agricultural equipment, and Geetings Inc., a trucking and warehousing business. Pol said she saw a drop in her overall tax burden this year thanks to the qualified business deduction, a change made to the individual tax code, available for pass-through entities. Her savings look substantial.

“We’re estimating around up to $40,000,” Pol said. “By utilizing that, we gave our employees raises, knowing that was going to help us for taxes this year.”

Pol said she also utilized Section 179 expensing to write off a major purchase of new semitrailers — six in all, totaling $1 million. Taxes were often a top issue prior to reform, she said.  March 18, 2017, CNBC article.

Keg Creek Brewing (Glenwood, Iowa) - Expanding operations, purchasing new equipment:

“A small brewery in Glenwood, Iowa, in Mills County called Keg Creek is expanding their operations and investing in new equipment as they grow.” - June 11, 2018, Rep. David Young statement on U.S. House Floor

Mississippi River Distilling Co. (Le Claire, Iowa) – The owners of the distillery said that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act helped create new jobs:

Both Quint and Ryan Burchett, co-owner of Mississippi River Distilling Co. in Le Claire, said the tax cut — formally called the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act — has helped their businesses add full- and part-time jobs. 

Cedar Ridge currently has 24 full-time and 28 part-time employees and, Quint said, now that he’s “optimistic” the liquor tax cut will be extended, he plans to make two new job offers over the next two weeks.

Burchett said Mississippi River Distilling had three full-time and five part-time employees in 2017, before Congress approved the liquor tax cut as part of the broader Tax Cuts and Jobs Act– Dec. 18, 2019, The Gazette article.

Dyersville Die Cast (Dyersville, Iowa) - $200 bonus for all eligible full-time employees; $50 monthly bonus for at least twelve months for all eligible full-time employees; $150,000 in total on bonuses:

“Dyersville Die Cast employees will be getting bonuses thanks to the recently passed tax reform bill.

Full-time employees who were with the company prior to Oct. 1, 2017 will receive a $200 bonus on March 9. But, that’s not all.

All full-time, hourly employees will also be receiving $50 monthly bonuses for at least the next 12 months.

In addition, employees will still receive their regular “profit bonus” in June, according to General Manager Bob Willets.

The big news is thanks to that fact that Dyersville Die Cast is slated to save approximately $200,000 thanks to the new tax law, and have decided to dole out $150,000 of that to its workers” – Feb. 21 2018, Dyersville Commercial article excerpt

Pattison Sand Company (Clayton, Iowa): $600 cash bonuses, base pay raised by $1.50-$2.50 per hour:

“Last fall, Congressman Rod Blum visited our mine in Clayton County. He met many of our people and saw for himself what we do every day. We told him about the high costs of over-taxation and over-regulation. He listened. He did his part, taking our message back to Washington. He fought for real tax reform that will bring our business taxes in line with other industrialized countries. More importantly it will mean more take home pay for our people. He is also working put more common sense into federal regulations. We did our part too. We gave every employee a $600 cash (in $2 bills) bonus and we raised base pay by $1.50-$2.50 an hour. And yes we are growing, adding staff and buying more equipment. We thought you should know.” – The Waterloo- Cedar Falls Courier

To see more Iowa examples, click here


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