How do you assess the Trump administration so far?
Cronhardt: The Trump administration is doing fair. I imagine however that it could do better by filling the leftover administration positions needed. Those positions are important in quantifying data throughout several interrelated spectrums across our economy. The President must assume that he can handle every office’s overhead on his lonesome or leave it up to his twenty two administrative heads, impossible. Many of the holdovers in underlining positions under the twenty two are limited in their powers; nonetheless, the time they can be a holdover is limited. The Senate must confirm those individuals. Also; among their limitations, these inaction’s are bound to cause turmoil. Because they’re not confirmed, per se, their decisions can be challenged in court. Nevertheless the caseload is piling up. Voters are left to ask “how much of importance is being overlooked?” Whatever the politics be at play at that this point the American people are the ones to suffer the consequences of inaction. As far as doing fair may go, in my opinion alone, the American people must feel some sense of concern. Among the constant change-in/change-out of Trump appointees I believe voters must be feeling a bit of exhaustion. People want transparency and eligible dialog. I don’t necessarily find a direct line of action, but more so the constant questioning of “what’s next” is all the American people have at this point to ask. Voters don’t want redirection or misdirection. They want a line of goals that are achievable and suit our future needs.
Do you support or oppose the federal tax cuts passed in 2017? What effect do you believe they will have on the economy?
Cronhardt: I do not support the TCJA entirely. We should bring back the AMT, raise the top tax bracket 3% and bring back the previous estate tax standard deduction with an exemption for farm properties. It’s certain that the TCJA will add roughly $1.5T in additional debt over the next 10 years. It’s a benefit for the overly wealthy and the middle class will face more debt due to the lack of federal assistance towards states, just like we’re seeing in Maryland’s trajectory. It’s assumed that the government and our necessary democratic institutions can function solely through the breadth of added jobs. Even with a projected GDP average of 2.13% the economy would require nearer to 4.0% to offset the difference for the windfall the rich make out with. At that rate we would slide directly towards another boom-bust recession. Taking the brunt of the recession (07-09) and ongoing the middle class should be getting the benefit of the TCJA to pay down its personal debts, not borrowing more. If Congress cannot take a Keynesian model approach with the TCJA (nearly impossible to do) then our economy will lack several infrastructure needs. We’re taking an austerity approach with the TCJA. However, if the overly wealthy became contractually obligated to fund important infrastructure needs, then Congress may very well find a remedy. I beg to differ. The Bush tax cuts lost 5 million jobs, most permanently; the TCJA will add just 339,000 permanent jobs. The TCJA is bad. End of story.
Is the level of national debt a concern? What, if anything, should be done to reduce it or constrain its increase?
Cronhardt: The level of our nation debt is a concern. What can be done to hinder its growth takes place in several parameters either by reducing discretionary spending, increase tax revenues, create efficiency in mandatory spending, hold back stimulus packages or a combination of some, addition, removal, or mixture of all. These by themselves, or in combination, would affect our need to borrow from foreign countries or increase bank allowances through the Federal Reserve. Increasing employment expands the breadth of taxable income. As such, economic growth spurs debt reduction. The federal government’s spending goes hand in hand with GDP, acting as its own loner. It can spur growth with stimulus packages towards infrastructure or use private enterprise to create jobs. The hope is; that in a growing economy, wages will increase and people will pay off more personal debt, securing their own financial situation and, in return, affect the way government spends. Consumerism is the main driver of our economy, near to 70%. We may face a boomerang recession if we attempt Reaganomics without a progressive tax rate. We should set fair tax brackets and wages, close S & C corp. loopholes and focus on infrastructure spending. Our biggest frustration is what tax/spending policy fuels growth. Fiscal year 2027 predicts a budget surplus. We should focus on a Keynesian model now while the economy is in rebound. By the start of the next budget the wealthy will face a smaller tax burden with a booming economy stipend with a surplus.
Is the level of economic inequality in the United States a problem, and if so, what should the federal government do to address it?
Cronhardt: Economic inequality has worsened just over the last few decades. With it involves several demographics–property value, job opportunity, business prospects, crime, wages–and none of them are always cut and dry explanations. Union Labor participation is down. Manufacturing and line work has shifted overseas. Illegal immigration increases over the decades have reduced opportunity and stagnated wages in trade work. Technology and automation has taken over. The federal government can take several steps to curb economic inequality: * legislate a minimum wage wealthy companies and corporations would fulfill * raise the standard deduction to $18k for single filers earning under $24k annually * legislate a standard deduction on overtime pay * keep small business taxes low & increase workplace incentives * compile entitlement programs into one Universal Basic Income * focus on reducing recidivism in the CJS & end for-profit state prison systems * legalize cannabis * decriminalize drugs * outlaw ‘Pay-day loans’ * outlaw ‘Payroll check cashing’ * increase grants and vouchers for summer camps or ‘safe-space schools’ (schools open during summer break) The best ability of the federal government to reduce economic inequality would be to start approaching systemic problems associated with economic inequality. The approach that can be taken is focusing on the predatory policies that mostly affect people of low economic strata. Nonetheless, Congress could start a special committee to directly oversee the best remedy for areas of low economic strata and implement an itinerary coupled with extra discretionary spending in the Housing and Urban Development bill.
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how?
Cronhardt: Yes. Firearm violence reduction laws work. They’re both proven in statistics and implementation. There’s no need to enact another federal assault weapons ban, however, because the previous had no effect on firearm homicide rate. There was a decrease in mass shootings between 94-04, but correlation does not meet causation. Several ways to secure firearm safety and magnify firearm violence reduction is simple: * allow the ATF a centralized firearm database & implement a firearm licensing system – this will reduce the prevalence of firearms used in street crime * require Federal Firearm Licensed dealers to vault & store their firearms – this will reduce the prevalence of firearms used in street crime * enact mandatory minimum conviction periods on criminals in possession of an unlawful firearm – this will reduce street violence * create a standard cool-off period on the purchase of all firearms – this will reduce firearm suicide rates & ‘passion crimes’ * license and permit concealed carry holders without fallacious requirements * strengthen background checks w/licensing system * require person to person sales to follow background checks & licensing requirements * enact Red Flag legislation * raise high capacity magazine firearms and/or long rifle purchases to 21 w/exception to hunting or sporting permits
What should Congress do with respect to the Affordable Care Act? Should it be strengthened, and if so, how? Should it be scrapped? If so, what if anything should replace it?
Cronhardt: With respect to the Affordable Care Act we should amend the patient protection provisions and essential health benefits portions of it and couple it with a hybrid single payer & free market insurance system. The ACA provided a decent framework for an actual healthcare system; however, it was not a healthcare bill. It was insurance reform. Insurance coverage reform was needed, but the bill was over proportioned. A hybrid single payer & free market insurance system would require making CHIP & PACE permanently budgeted into our mandatory spending; allowing the Medicare trustees to negotiate drug prices; set the cost sharing reduction payments towards ambulatory care centers; and set federal co-payment threshold levels for working PCIP recipients that they would couple with their out of pocket insurance expenses. This system would be funded by keeping the 3.8% surtax on capital gains and dividends, and raising the FICA rate no more that 1%. With it allow insurance companies to compete across state lines and bundle insurance payments towards certain procedures and costs–which the CMS started testing under the ACA.
What role should the federal government play in helping cities like Baltimore?
Cronhardt: The role our federal government should play in any area similar to Baltimore is start acknowledging the wide array of proven obstacles and the time after time outplay of the systemic problems as they begin to arise. Situations in places like Baltimore didn’t just arise recently. Many issues from gentrification all the way to various demographic changes can be well enough assessed and predicted from here on out. Remedy is often right around the corner. Places like Baltimore are ripe to spur development. That development can be started from basic roots within working class communities. More often than not, however, extra money in the pockets of residents can do more for poverty stricken areas than government. If a focus on Universal Basic Income can grow to fruition initially for poor households, The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development could widely improve the wealth of the working poor. 42% of the “poor” own their own home. The majority of the working poor don’t necessarily lack basic amenities, they’re not starving, and the majority don’t lack some form of transportation. A UBI could be modified so that basic needs of poor households are covered yet, meanwhile, they’re enabled to grow their own financial portfolio by investing in raising their property value. This spurs growth in several ways 1) small business; specifically trade work, benefits through employment; 2) neighboring property value rises; 3) crime reduces; 4) property value increases home buyers & increases property tax revenue; 5) local government efficiency is generated.
What can Congress do to address the opioid epidemic?
Cronhardt: In order to address the opioid epidemic Congress could focus on legislation that would require a centralized pharmaceutical database in each state that would interconnect with all drug dispensaries. The implementation of a centralized prescription network could cause a dramatic reduction in inappropriately filled prescriptions for opioids. Congress could also enact legislation limiting the amount of opioids prescribed–in terms of quantity–over their intended duration or prescription refill/expiration date. Congress could also enact legislation that would require pharmaceutical companies to pay for and provide qualitative/quantitative drug tests to deter and identify drug abuse. A qualitative test tells you if a particular substance (analyte) is present in the specimen. A quantitative test tells you how much (the quantity) of an analyte is present.
What changes if any should Congress make to our immigration and deportation laws and policies?
Cronhardt: Congress should immediately grant amnesty to the 800,000 DACA-profile aliens. Also, it’s possible to grant amnesty though a pathway to citizenship. In 2007 the CBO stated that “in aggregate and over the long term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants - both legal and unauthorized - exceed the cost of the services they use.” It’s absolutely possible that a long, drawn out arduous process can be accommodated with a pathway to citizenship if it was thoroughly implemented. As for other policies, the U.S. State Department has already set biometric data rules for visa/foreign workers. The U.S. needs better policies to deter and prevent unlawful stay over. Biometric reading devices should be required at the border and in airports to complement other systems already in place. Congress should also work to deter birth tourism by requiring sonograms for women on tourist or business visas (B-1 and B-2 visas in consular parlance). The effect of illegal immigration is wreaking havoc on our immigration policies by far, especially from illegal immigrants and unlawful visa overstays from Mexico and Latin America. Many will not comply with a pathway towards amnesty because they would not fit the requisite; not even if obtaining an ITIN helped to suit the goal. Many will just choose not to comply out of fear. But flying under the radar does them no justice as they will eventually wind up homeless and on the street.
Should the United States continue with the free trade policies it pursued for the last several decades, or should it enact restrictions in an attempt to help domestic industries?
Cronhardt: The US should focus on strengthening NAFTA. This would curb several issues related to immigration and the manufacturing of goods with inexpensive labor. Nonetheless it would help stabilize Latin America’s poverty problems. This would support our domestic industries and allow the US to rely less on Pacific trade partners. China, of all trade partners, manages to steal billions in intellectual property. The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimates that stolen trade secrets, pirated software, and counterfeiting cost the United States between $225 billion and $600 billion per year. Our trade with Pacific partners, especially China, have grown stagnant and one sided. Nevertheless we are facing an ever growing militaristic threat as they build on atolls in the South China Sea. The US should lead the way of possibly removing China from the WTO if they continue flexing dominance over peaceful nations.
Do you support the Iran nuclear deal?
Cronhardt: I support the Iran nuclear deal.
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
Cronhardt: As it stands North Korea may be looking forward towards negotiating a step-down denuclearization effort with the US. The US should seek a peaceful remedy with N. Korea, possibly opening the doors to a “One Korea” model to unfold. The US should continue its unrelenting pressure on Kim Jong-un to stop the goal of attaining an ICBM.