What do the midterms mean for freedom and progress?
Plus: The effects of tax inflation adjustments; Biden's student loan bailout fails in court; and housing solutions 101
Freedom & progress after the midterms: This past Thursday, more than 150 leaders in politics, policy, journalism, and philanthropy convened in Washington, D.C., for FREOPP’s inaugural Freedom & Progress conference. One popular and timely session focused on the midterm elections—dissecting what happened and how individual liberty and equal opportunity will be on the political agenda for the next two years. Check out the link below to watch the full panel, moderated by Margaret Hoover, host of PBS’ Firing Line, and featuring Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, and FREOPP Chief Research Officer Michael Franc.
But the conference was about more than politics. It was about building a 21st century movement that embodies the principles best described by Frederick Douglass, who in 1870 declared, “I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.”
As FREOPP President Avik Roy told attendees:
After the end of the Cold War, many of us took for granted that freedom and liberty had been vindicated. I recently visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and was struck by how distant that era feels from our own. Reagan never wasted an opportunity to express his belief that America’s best days were still ahead and that Americans’ ingenuity can overcome any challenge.
The policy problems of 2022 are very different from those of 1982. The good news is that our movement is overflowing with compelling ideas. It’s a welcome reminder that our values are noblest because of what they can do to improve the lives of every American—and of people around the world.
Stay tuned for more Freedom & Progress 2022 videos and highlights to come!
What are the consequences of tax inflation adjustments? In October, the IRS announced its 2023 annual inflation adjustments for more than 60 tax provisions, including updated tax rate schedules and an increase in the standard deduction. At OPPBlog, FREOPP Visiting Fellow Jackson Mejia investigates what the changes mean for low-income Americans and what the implications may be for different regions. The roughly seven percent adjustment is not a tax cut, and it will affect taxpayers differently based on the inflation and wage growth they experienced this year. The bottom line? The biggest winners seem to be low-income households: Even though their inflation is somewhat higher, their wage growth dwarfs those with higher incomes. Geographical variation, with differences between regions and across metropolitan areas, is less clear.
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Court strikes down Biden loan forgiveness, but now the real work begins: With President Biden’s student loan bailout freshly struck down by a federal district court, FREOPP Senior Fellow Preston Cooper argues that mass loan cancellation would never be more than a band-aid on a broken program. Now, a long-overdue lasting fix for the federal student loan program should be a top priority for lawmakers. The administration will likely appeal the ruling, but as Preston noted on FOX Business last month, if it goes forward, Biden’s plan would worsen inflation and force the Federal Reserve to continue to raise rates. Americans would be far better served by a congressional plan that protects poorer borrowers in danger of defaulting on their debts without transferring money to high-income households and leaving future generations holding the bill.
→ As part of an Inside Higher Education examination of the equity gap in higher education, Preston discussed the problem of “gated majors.” These programs require students to earn a minimum GPA in an introductory course in order to declare a major in a subject, and they reduce the number of students in valuable and high-paying majors like computer science, engineering, and nursing—and exacerbate racial, ethnic, and other disparities.
Housing solutions: freeing the market, improving subsidies, increasing efficiency, and more: Over the past few weeks, in Forbes, FREOPP Research Fellow Roger Valdez laid out key information and principles for reform as part of a five-part series on housing solutions. He discusses the importance of freeing the housing market from regulatory overgrowth, using tax abatement to create set-aside units, giving direct cash subsidies to simplify and speed access to housing, and reserving subsidized housing for those with complex issues that keep them sick, addicted, and unhoused. With midterm elections in the rearview mirror, the series is a great starting point for anyone thinking about how newly elected and re-elected policymakers can move forward and improve access to quality and affordable housing for more Americans.
Thanks for keeping up with FREOPP, and have a great weekend!
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