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PolicySphere Morning Briefing – April 10, 2024

Bonjour! Here’s your PolicySphere morning briefing! If you were forwarded this, here’s more about who we are and what we’re doing and, of course, don’t forget to sign up.

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First, thank you so much for your feedback after yesterday’s note. Keep it coming!

Second, check out our exclusive interview with American Economic Liberties’ Matt Stoller on how we should think about economic monopolies.

Now on to your regularly scheduled programming…

#StudentLoans – The Biden Administration is having another go at forgiving student loans. Here is the announcement.

AEI Senior Fellow Beth Akers sums it up: “First, he plans to cancel up to $20,000 of accumulated unpaid interest, regardless of the borrowers’ income. Second, the administration plans to automatically cancel debt for borrowers eligible for SAVE, Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), closed school discharge, and/or other federal forgiveness programs without them needing to apply. And lastly, Biden intends to forgive student debt for other categories of borrowers, ranging from those “experiencing hardship” to those who entered repayment over 20 years ago. Details on these plans were thin.” It feels more like an election-year press release than a real policy.

Here is American Action Forum’s Douglas Holtz-Eakin’s off-the-cuff reactions, and they are very negative.

Conservatives will be happy to point out that such measures are unfair to those who behaved prudently and either borrowed little or paid back their debts early on or time; that they are regressive since college graduates, who are a minority, are on average are more prosperous than the population as a whole; that this represents an unfair attack on the principle of the importance of contracts. All of this is true.

But here is another thing that is true: in the United States college is extortionately expensive and is being sold as the only ticket to the middle class. Lots of young people got into crippling amounts of debt when they were 18, got bad degrees and are now stuck in very unpleasant economic conditions. Yes, they could have made better choices–thankfully, no Republican ever regrets the choices they made when they were 18 or 20–but their position is still understandable. Republicans might want to tell them something other than “No”. One idea: they could tell them: “Yes, you got ripped off. You got ripped off because college is an evil cartel. We will make them pay.”

#Media – Everyone is talking about this piece in The Free Press interviewing a long-time NPR journalist about how the radio has “lost its way” and become a left-activist outlet. Some on the right will say “Defund!” Why not. Another idea: “Take over!” Perhaps the next Republican Administration should multiply NPR’s budget by 10–and fire everyone there, and put, say, Tucker Carlson in charge of programming. That’s another possibility.

#TaxPolicy – Tax Foundation analysis: “Does the Federal Tax Code Privilege the Rich?

#AmericanManufacturing #BoeingVia Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal, a bombshell report in the Seattle Times: “A Boeing quality engineer went public Tuesday with damaging allegations that the jet-maker took manufacturing shortcuts to increase production rates that leave potentially serious structural flaws on its 787 and 777 widebody planes.”

#AmericanManufacturing #Unions – Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Sean Geary Higgins: “OSHA issued a new rule Friday that will result in union organizers accompanying agency representatives during worksite inspections – a huge boost to unions, giving them access to worksites that they would never get inside otherwise” (Link)

#AmericanManufacturing #Regulation – Reason Foundation: “The Foreign Dredge Act increases costs and will slow the Key Bridge cleanup

#SocialMedia #TeenMentalHealth – R Street’s Shoshana Weissmann with the laissez-faire argument against age verification on social media.

#Trans #LGBTQ #SocialIssues – NAIA, a small colleges association representing 239 schools-bans male athletes from women’s sports competitions in a unanimous vote. Via Heritage’s Sarah Parshall Perry.

#Productivity – Manhattan Institute’s Allison Schrager: “Sorry Bernie Sanders, the four-day workweek is decades away” First, how does she know? Nobody knows what productivity increases might come from AI, potentially tomorrow. More importantly: it’s easy to mock the left’s endorserment of laziness; but one of the virtues of productivity gains (which conservatives support) is that they enable people to work less. Work is important, yes, but it is not the whole life. This is an issue conservatives should pay attention to.

#SecondAmendment #Crime – Crime Prevention Research Center: “New Zealand’s violent crime rate soars by 33% after strict gun control regulations imposed in wake of March 15, 2019 mosque massacre.”

#Tobacco #Prohibition – Progressives think you should be soft on every drug–except tobacco, which they want to ban outright. R Street’s Steven Greenhut on why that’s probably a terrible idea.

Chart of the Day

Today is CPI (Consumer Price Index) day. Economic observers will be watching the CPI to try to guess whether the Fed will raise interest rates again or not. Therefore, we present this chart from MacroEdge Chief Economist Don Johnson showing the relationship between Fed interest rates and unemployment.

Meme of the Day

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