Family ties can bind us together across any cultural or class boundary. Maintaining and promoting them should be our first priority. But while politicians routinely give lip service to helping families like yours and mine prosper, I’ve found that their solutions often do more harm than good.
In April, Gov. Wolf crisscrossed the state on a “Jobs that Pay” tour saying his record-setting tax-and-spend budget proposal will boost economic growth. Today, a new, nonpartisan study says even more harm could be done to middle class families: 30,000 jobs will not be created next year if Wolf’s plan is passed.
The Commonwealth Foundation worked with the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University to apply an economic modeling program to analyze the overall impact of Gov. Wolf’s proposals. Economists at Beacon Hill developed the Pennsylvania State Tax Analysis Modeling Program (PA STAMP) to calculate the impact of Gov. Wolf’s tax proposals on job creation. As a result of Wolf’s tax increases, 29,408 jobs will not be created in 2015-16.
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Uber and Lyft provide inexpensive rides to customers across the country despite numerous regulatory hurdles—chief among them the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which has previously thwarted the businesses from operating within the city. Recently introduced Senate Bill 984, however, would allow Uber and Lyft to compete in Philadelphia.
This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta, establishes the framework under which ridesharing companies can freely and safely operate within all 67 counties of the commonwealth. SB 984 requires background checks and a zero tolerance policy on drug and alcohol use for prospective drivers. Uber and Lyft will also be required to maintain insurance coverage and abide by vehicle safety regulations.
According to a recent study from the Cato Institute, many concerns surrounding ridesharing are unfounded. Critics typically point to safety concerns as their primary objection, but Uber and Lyft actually offer a safer alternative to the taxicab monopoly—both for drivers and passengers.
A major factor ensuring this increased safety is the utilization of an electronic payment system. All Uber and Lyft transactions are completed via their respective smartphone apps. This eliminates many of the risks facing drivers. Since cash never changes hands, drivers are less vulnerable to robbery.
Additionally, unlike a traditional taxi service, where passengers are anonymous, Uber and Lyft customers must create electronic profiles to use the ridesharing services. These measures ensure added safety for drivers, as any criminal activity could easily be linked to a user’s profile information stored on the ridesharing app.
The structure of Uber and Lyft protects the passengers, too. The passenger knows the name of the driver, the make and model of the car, and the license plate number upon ordering a ride.
Immediately after the ride is over, the passenger can rate the driver from their smartphone, which gives passengers influence over future demand for the driver. Indeed, user ratings, combined with the ability to choose your driver, provides riders far more protection than government licensing mandates.
Sen. Bartolotta’s legislation will increase competition and provide consumers with more options at better prices. It’s time to bring ridesharing freedom to Pennsylvania.
Gov. Wolf continues to promote a severance tax on natural gas, even as Pennsylvania energy companies report financial losses and job reductions.
This week, Consol Energy projected a second quarter loss—largely because of low energy prices—and said it would record a significant write-down on certain oil and gas assets. Consol stock is down 43 percent over the past three months. It is cutting 470 workers across its coal, gas and corporate operations.
As is often said, those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it. Wolf's tax push brings to mind the federal windfall profits tax on oil companies 35 years ago.
Ignoring huge tax receipts routinely generated by the oil industry, politicians reacted to rising gasoline prices with the enactment of the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act of 1980 to punish "greedy" energy producers.
The tax depressed the domestic oil industry, increased foreign imports and raised only a tiny fraction of the revenue forecasted, according to a 1990 Congressional Research Service study.
The view that energy companies are geese with an infinite supply of golden eggs flies in the face of economic reality, and is refuted by news reports almost daily.
With such a backdrop, a Wolf energy tax won’t bring the fabled golden eggs, but could fatally cook the goose of Pennsylvania's economy.
Yesterday’s US Supreme Court decision to uphold taxpayer subsidies on healthcare.gov brought a collective sigh of relief to Pennsylvanians, like Barbara, who depend on subsidies to make health insurance somewhat affordable. But lost in much of the news coverage are the losers, like Mark, who still can't afford his premiums. In fact, there are ten times as many losers as winners thanks to the court's decision.
Had the court ruled federal subsidies illegal, more than 460,000 Pennsylvanians would have been freed of the individual mandate tax due to an affordability exemption. Likewise, employers would have been freed of the employer mandate. The American Action Forum estimated the exemptions would have added 62,693 to the workforce by 2017.
Broadly speaking, no one wins under the Obamacare status quo. Instead of health insurance premiums going down, as promised, they’ve increased. Even Pennsylvanians with highly subsidized exchange plans are bracing for large rate hikes. Some exchange insurers are asking for premium increases of more than 50 percent next year. Add in the burden of high deductibles, and one has to question exactly how the Affordable Care Act is making health care more affordable.
Even people receiving subsidies want to see major changes to the law.
It’s now up to Congress to deliver the type of consumer-centered reforms that will give Pennsylvanians more choices, lower rates and better access to quality care.
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The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania's free-market think tank. The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.