Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Joe Biden

A Critique of Biden’s Student Debt Reforms

I’ve written a new piece about the state of the American university system for Sublation. You can read it here:

https://www.sublationmag.com/post/the-american-university-system-is-a-rotting-carcass

The Inflation Reduction Act is Not Designed to Reduce Inflation

As the midterms approach, the Biden administration is looking to pass some part of its Build Back Better plan. Biden managed to fund $550 billion in new traditional infrastructure spending. But the American Society of Civil Engineers argues that we have an infrastructure funding gap of $2.59 trillion. The bipartisan infrastructure bill barely makes a dent in that. The rest of the administration’s proposals have continually run aground. Various senators threaten to withdraw their support all too quickly, and this has caused the administration to water down its proposals over and over again. Now there is a new version of the human infrastructure bill, called the Inflation Reduction Act. This bill claims to raise over $700 billion in new revenue in an effort to fight inflation, reduce the deficit, and fund new investments in energy. It sounds like a significant achievement, but it’s not. Here’s why.

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Ironically, if Donald Trump were President, the Supreme Court Might Have Left Roe Alone

A leaked draft opinion is circulating indicating that the Supreme Court may plan to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision that protects abortion rights. The draft opinion is not an official ruling, and it’s still possible that the Supreme Court may issue a different opinion. Draft opinions are not usually leaked. Many on the right think that the draft was leaked by a liberal staffer to subject the court to political pressure. But it’s also possible that a conservative leaked the draft as a way of politically testing the waters for a highly controversial version of the decision. By leaking a highly extreme opinion, more political space is potentially created for a less extreme, but still very controversial decision. Supreme Court justices do worry about the political legitimacy of the court. They do worry that if they push things too far, congress may seek to impeach some of the justices of pack the court. That brings me to the position I want to put in front of you today–if Donald Trump were president, the Supreme Court might be more skittish about touching Roe. That may sound like a bizarre view. Give me a chance to explain.

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The Bipartisan Infrastructure Agreement is Embarrassing

Remember the Biden administration’s proposal to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure? Traditional infrastructure spending accounted for roughly half of that proposal. It was less than half of what the American Society of Civil Engineers believes we need. According to them, the US faces a $2.59 trillion infrastructure shortfall over the next 10 years. Now a bipartisan deal has been announced which limits new spending to just $579 billion. That’s less than a quarter of what our civil engineers believe we need. To make matters worse, the administration has agreed to fund much of the spending with public/private partnerships. Many essential infrastructure projects can’t generate a profit–they require huge up-front investments and continuous maintenance. The more an infrastructure package depends on private funding, the more limited that package is in the kinds of projects it can fund. How did it come to this? Let’s run through some of the reasons why the infrastructure plan was so completely butchered.

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The Case for Raising the Minimum Wage to Address Labor Shortages

As we saw in the years following the 2008 recession, lots of business owners are frustrated by labor shortages. They argue that these shortages are caused by a lack of incentive to work, and propose to generate that incentive by making life more difficult for the unemployed. In this case, they argue for restoring work requirements for unemployment and eliminating the federal unemployment supplement enacted in the waning days of Trump administration. This is a highly punitive way of generating incentive, and those who support these measures often accuse our unemployed citizens of laziness. They could instead generate incentive by raising wages. A recent study from the Federal Reserve indicates that the vast majority of workers aren’t being discouraged. As long as workers anticipate that their unemployment benefits may eventually come to an end, they will accept work even when the work pays less than the benefits do. Only the workers at the very bottom of the wage distribution face an incentive problem. Today I want to discuss how the study works and what it means for the minimum wage debate.

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