Want to cure millennials' financial woes? Reform the payroll tax.

Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Avenatti arrested: The lawyer now needs a lawyer

David McNew/Getty Images

At this point, I think there are about - oh - four thousand potential Democrats that may try and run for president in 2020. But we can probably take one off the list. "The creepy porn lawyer", also known by some as Michael Avenatti, was arrested yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles. And the reason why he was arrested kind of makes you think there's some kind of invisible force out there that's making sure either irony or maybe even karma is receiving it's daily offering. Michael Avenatti was just arrested for… Domestic Violence.

The alleged victim filed the complaint on Wednesday, but the incidents began on Tuesday. The woman involved is said to have bruising and swelling on her face and was kicked out of Avenatti's Los Angeles area apartment. Avenatti could be heard screaming, "This is BS, this is effing BS! She hit me first!"

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Yeah, I don't think the whole "she hit me first" line is going to be a good strategy to use in court. He might want to revise that… I'm just saying.

You know, I wonder if the media - specifically CNN and MSNBC - are going to be doing any mea culpa's over the next 12 to 24 hours? They basically became Avenatti's PR wing over the past 8 months. From March to May, the two networks had Avenatti on the air over 100 times. He gave 147 interviews on both cable and network TV. MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell actually said quote, "Michael Avenatti is becoming my co-host. I've got to say."

And this was actually before he dragged Julie Swetnick into the limelight to attack Kavanaugh. You know I wonder, will this teach networks like CNN and MSNBC to maybe take a step back on over hyping and exposing every crazy, and even salacious, person or claim that comes out simply because it may be anti-Trump or GOP? Could this be a learning moment? Yeah… probably not, but one can dream.

And speaking of Kavanaugh, I've got to read this twitter exchange between one user and Avenatti on October 5th that said:

Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed, and it's Michael Avenatti's fault. Seriously.

And then Avenatti replied:

You are right. I should have turned my back on my client. Told her to "shut up" and stay quiet because people like you apparently believe assault victims are to blame. This line of thinking is disgusting and offensive to all survivors.

Well that was then and this is today. Here is Avenatti's statement last night.


Michael Avenatti: 'I Have Never Struck A Woman' | NBC News youtu.be

Umm, in the court of Avenatti, #metoo and public opinion now a days - by the standard that he helped create - is this statement not "disgusting and offensive to all survivors" as he tweeted back in October? Is he not immediately guilty as accused? I wonder if all the men and women screaming at Kavanaugh and GOP Senators in elevators can now see the pandora's box that they wanted opened.

The answer is no… he's NOT guilty as accused. Avenatti is innocent of this crime… UNTIL he's found guilty. We have to presume he's innocent until all evidence comes out proving he's not. That's how this works. Let's lead by example and do something radical here… let's actually wait for all the information and evidence to come out before we convict someone of a crime.

And that right there is the real irony here. Avenatti will get the due process that he deserves, but I doubt neither he - nor anyone screaming for Kavanaugh's head - will realize what happened.

It's been a busy week for former First Ladies, and for current First Lady Melania Trump. It has also been busy for one woman who, twenty-odd years ago, while working at the White House for then-President at the age of 21, shot to fame in the most embarrassing way possible.

Monica Lewinsky has released "The Clinton Affair," a docuseries that premieres this weekend on A&E;, a six-part series examining those cringe-inducing days and months surrounding her affair with Bill Clinton.

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In an article for Vanity Fair early this year, she wrote:

Some closest to me asked why would I want to revisit the most painful and traumatic parts of my life — again. Publicly. On-camera. With no control of how it would be used. A bit of a head-scratcher, as my brother is fond of saying. Do I wish I could erase my years in D.C. from memory, 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' style? Well, is the sky blue? But I can't. And in order to move forward in the life I have, I must take risks — both professional and emotional…. An important part of moving forward is excavating, often painfully, what has gone before. When politicians are asked uncomfortable questions, they often duck and dodge by saying, 'That's old news. It's from the past.' Yes. That's exactly where we need to start to heal — with the past. But it's not easy.

She added:

Filming the documentary forced me to acknowledge to myself past behavior that I still regret and feel ashamed of," she explained. "There were many, many moments when I questioned not just the decision to participate, but my sanity itself. Despite all the ways I tried to protect my mental health, it was still challenging. During one therapy session, I told my therapist I was feeling especially depressed. She suggested that sometimes what we experience as depression is actually grief… Yes, it was grief. The process of this docuseries led me to new rooms of shame that I still needed to explore.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton—a man who has been accused of all sorts of terrible things, a close friend of Harvey Weinstein—recently admitted that he didn't feel the need to apologize to Lewinsky. Lewinsky disagrees.

I'm less disappointed by him, and more disappointed for him. He would be a better man for it… and we, in turn, a better society.

The #MeToo movement has been a wrecking ball to so many men, yet Bill Clinton, perhaps the most prolific of them all, has escaped unscathed.

One man undoes shocking climate change study because... math

Pierre Leverrier/Unsplash

The left cries "science" about anything they want to consider a settled matter. Those who disagree with the left's climate change narrative question this "science." So, the climate change crowd are branded hysterical tree-huggers, and the anti-climate change crowd are naïve hicks.

The truth about climate change, like the truth when it comes to many issues, probably falls somewhere between the two extremes. But when it comes to climate change, it's hard to have a conversation about the "science" when the scientists running the show are already convinced they're absolutely correct and they have the unquestioning major media to back them up.

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Just two weeks ago, a study published in the scientific journal Nature claimed that the oceans are warming much faster than anyone previously thought. Cue the panic and blame the President! It was a high-profile story splashed across major media outlets who were eager to promote more science that confirms one of the left's fundamental doctrines.

The study claimed ocean temperatures have risen around 60% higher than the estimate by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But Nicholas Lewis, a British mathematician and climate-change critic quickly found a "major problem" with the study's conclusion.

Then yesterday, the two scientists who wrote the study admitted Lewis is right about the mistakes they made in their calculations. Now they say oceans aren't actually warming as fast as they reported. Climate scientist Ralph Keeling, who co-authored the report, says they miscalculated their margin of error – which is 10 to 70% – much larger than they originally thought.

Now they say oceans aren't actually warming as fast as they reported.

A 10 to 70 percent margin of error? I thought this climate change science was absolute. Imagine if your job had a margin of error that generous.

Keeling said:

Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that's going on in the ocean. We really muffed the error margins.

The whole incident is being laughed off as a minor error. But if it wasn't for some British dude poring over this research in his basement and willing to cry foul, this latest climate change "science" would continue to be broadcast as absolute truth. Just like it always is.

UPDATE: Here's how the discussion went on radio. Watch the video below.


Ocean Warming Research “Mistake" youtu.be


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, from California, is doing everything she can to make sure she is re-elected in January to her spot as House Speaker.

Reasons Nancy Pelosi could give: Because she led the Democratic caucus for 16 years, and under her the House shifted hands. In fact, she was House Speaker for four years under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

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Reason she actually gave: Because she's a woman.

During an interview on CBS Sunday, Pelosi said:

You cannot have the four leaders of Congress [and] the president of the United States, these five people, and not have the voice of women. Especially since women were the majority of the voters, the workers in campaigns, and now part of this glorious victory.

The pink wave, they're calling it. A rise in women politicians, supposedly in reaction to Donald Trump.

Here's the general argument, as described by Politico:

Push her out, and men may take over the party at a time when more than 100 women are heading to Capitol Hill and after female voters have been thoroughly alienated by President Donald Trump. Embrace her, and she'll prioritize legislation empowering women on issues ranging from equal pay to anti-harassment legislation.

Of course, she has a reason to use identity politics instead of merit: There's a concerted effort to have her un-seated.

At least nine representatives have come out and said that Pelosi will be out.

At least nine representatives have come out and said that Pelosi will be out. Filemon Vela said:

I am 100% confident we can forge new leadership.

Led by, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), these are the representatives who have openly called for Pelosi's outing: Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL), Seth Moulton (DMA), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Conor Lamb (D-PA), and Filemon Vela (D-TX). Campaign staff for incoming Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Jason Crow (D-CO) have said they won't vote for Pelosi.

If they have a single ounce of dignity left, they won't, at least not just because she is a woman.