Across the United States, 34 million smokers face a daily struggle to give up their deadly habit and quit cigarettes for good. Thanks to the Trump administration, smokers will soon face more barriers than ever to kicking their vice. On Sept.11, President Trump proposed a ban on flavored vaping products, which will be put into place by the Food and Drug Administration. This abrupt prohibition came a week after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered flavored vapes be taken off the shelves.
It’s neither a surprise nor coincidence that the most prosperous and pleasant countries around the world have robust systems for protecting private property rights. When companies constantly must look over their shoulders for fear of the government seizing what they own, they invest and hire less in that country. Venezuela has learned this the hard way over the past two decades as successive socialist leaders have used companies as their piggy bank to fund their bankrupt pipedreams, destroying the once prosperous country in the process.
Presidential candidates and members of Congress are always among the first to propose a “solution” to some pressing issue, but the last to lead on actual reforms. Case in point: America’s drug pricing system, which seemingly every politician knows how to fix. The most recent proposal comes from House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who suggests that medication costs can be lowered by the sheer force of federal fiat. Speaker Pelosi’s proposed “negotiations” with pharmaceutical companies would end in disaster, slashing medical innovation and compromising care for millions of Americans. Government price-fixing is the wrong prescription for lowering healthcare costs.
Too often within the U.S. government, space cadets run the show. On Aug. 29, the Trump administration launched the U.S. Space Command, a new, concentrated cluster of units within the Pentagon tasked with satellite defense, missile warning, and general space operations support. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper recently claimed that the Space Command, “is the next crucial step towards the creation of an independent Space Force as an additional armed service,” without specifying the pressing need for a new space bureaucracy in the first place.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has a late delivery problem, and it’s not (just) with mail. The beleaguered agency, which has lost $70 billion over the last ten years, promised taxpayers and consumers a ten-year delivery plan this summer, but this much-touted blueprint has yet to reach the public. The agency also promised it would decide on a mail truck vendor this summer for the decade-long, $6 billion task to replace USPS’s worn out and fire-prone fleet. Now, that decision has been also been kicked down the road until 2020.
The current trade/tariff war has put the U.S. economy at a crossroads as analysts fear an economic “correction” while administration officials predict growth for years to come. Continued trade protectionism keeps prices high for millions of American consumers while inviting other countries to keep American goods off their own markets. Fortunately, a trade opportunity sitting at the administration’s doorstep would be a boon to American commerce and even pave the way for 5G wireless deployment. Negotiating and implementing a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan would boost American credibility in Asia, signaling to countries across the region that the U.S. is once again open for business.
To many casual observers, all the quibbles, technicalities, and nitpicking over wireless spectrum (“invisible waves carrying information”) seem a tad… tame. But make no mistake: US spectrum policy has undergone bold, unprecedented changes over the past few decades, shifting from complete government command-and-control to a market-based system of auctions.
If lawmakers have been keeping up with their Taxpayers Protection Alliance Summer Readings this August recess, they’ve picked up vital information on key issues ranging from harm reduction, 5G deployment, and beach umbrellas. These issues are of course very different, but products associated with these issue areas (vaping devices, cell phones, and beach umbrellas) have all experienced price increases due to the Trump administration’s misguided tariff policies. Thanks to an endless trade war with China and other countries, prices on…pretty much everything are far higher than they need to be. Members of Congress must press the Trump administration to reach a deal with China ASAP, or at least before they head to the (shopping) mall for their fall wardrobe (at taxpayers’ expense).
Surprise—solar panels don’t make great roads. The French government recently learned this the hard way after debuting a $6 million solar road in Normandy in 2016. The road generated about half as much power as expected, and costs exceeded any reasonable expectation for a road…or even a solar panel.
In the waning weeks of summer, members of Congress trying to show off their many shades of bronze will undoubtedly pose for the camera and post their pictures on Facebook (hopefully not on their official “representative” pages!). They will inevitably discover, however, that the reception and internet coverage near the shore isn’t exactly the gold standard. Fortunately, internet coverage across the country is quickly changing for the better thanks to the rapid rollout of 5G. But these changes depend on continued leadership from lawmakers and bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).