Bezos Offers to Waive $2 Billion in Fees to Secure Lunar Landing Contract

Jeff Bezos

Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos offered to waive $2 billion in payments to secure his spaceflight company Blue Origin a NASA contract.

Bezos asked NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in an open letter Monday to award Blue Origin a contract to construct a Human Landing System (HLS), a lunar-landing vehicle, as part of the Artemis program, offering to waive up to $2 billion in fees. Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX had been awarded the $2.9 billion contract in April, beating out Blue Origin’s bid, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Artemis program is intended to return human astronauts to the Moon, with a manned mission to Mars planned as well. Though the program was initially planned as a joint contract, it was awarded solely to SpaceX due to budgetary constraints which Bezos’ offer sought to alleviate, according to the letter.

“Blue Origin will bridge the HLS budgetary funding shortfall by waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2 billion to get the program back on track right now,” Bezos wrote in the letter.

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Michigan Jobs 322,000 Under Pre-Pandemic Level

Detroit skyline at night

Sixteen months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Michigan is still behind 322,000 jobs compared to pre-pandemic in Feb. 2020. 

Michigan’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 5% percent was unchanged in June, according to data released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

“Michigan’s labor market indicators were little changed in June,” Wayne Rourke, the associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement. “The Michigan unemployment rate has been near 5.0 percent for five consecutive months. Payroll job counts in June were similar to March levels.”

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Rental Car Companies Across U.S. Struggle to Replace Diminished Fleets

Blue sedan during sunset at dealership in lot

The country is opening up and travel is increasing, but visitors are finding the rental car landscape a bit empty.

Rental car companies are continuing to have a hard time keeping up with demand after selling off fleets to stay afloat during the pandemic.

“The fundamental thing that’s causing it is the very rational corporate response to the pandemic and the almost shutting down of international and domestic travel for most of 2020 and the first half of 2021,” Gregory Scott, spokesperson for the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), told The Center Square. “Airport rentals dropped 70-90% in March and April of last year, and as a result there were literally tens of thousands of vehicles sitting unrented and unwanted because people stopped traveling.”

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Treasury Secretary Warns of ‘Rapid’ Inflation This Year

Janet Yellen

As more federal data show a major spike in inflation, another top federal official said the U.S. is in for more aggressive inflation for the rest of 2021.

Federal officials have been pressed to speak on rising inflation after \data released earlier this week showed that the all items index increased 5.4% over the last 12 months, the biggest spike since the 2008 financial crisis.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen commented on the rise in inflation, saying it would grow worse this year.

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Federal Reserve Chair: Inflation to be ‘Elevated for Months’

Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell tried to calm lawmakers’ fears about rising inflation but also said it would probably remain elevated for months to come.

Testifying before Congress this week, Powell said the Federal Reserve was willing to step in to address the situation, but that inflation should level out next year.

“As always, in assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, we will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if we saw signs that the path of inflation or longer-term inflation expectations were moving materially and persistently beyond levels consistent with our goal,” Powell said in his prepared testimony.

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Commentary: Inflation Has Arrived

Wildly excessive federal spending is causing major inflation and shortages, which may lead to a recession and perhaps a financial crisis. Despite the evidence of inflation, Congress is proposing to spend $3.5 trillion on top of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill passed earlier this year and the intended $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. For comparison, federal revenue is only expected to be $3.8 trillion this year.

Evidently, the Democratic Party and President Joe Biden have adopted Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to the peril of every American citizen. MMT, which is similar to Keynesian economics, says that the U.S. should not be constrained by revenues in federal government spending since the government is the monopoly issuer of the U.S. dollar. MMT is a destructive myth that provides cover for excessive government spending. And it’s not modern, since reckless government spending has been around for thousands of years.

Embracing MMT is similar to providing whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. We know the outcomes will not be good.

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U.S. Retail Sales Increased as States Ended Restrictions

Male checking out on Square program at retail store

U.S. retail sales jumped in June, boosted by states widely loosening coronavirus restrictions and businesses returning to full capacity.

Retail sales increased 0.6% and totaled $621.3 billion in June, according to the Department of Commerce report released Wednesday. The monthly increase was driven by general merchandise, including food service, clothing, personal care, electronics and gasoline sales, the report showed.

“Sectors that were buoyed by the pandemic are slowing down a little bit, but not to a degree that I’d be concerned about,” Square economist Felipe Chacon told The Wall Street Journal. “Household finances have been bolstered by a few rounds of stimulus spending, so it bodes pretty well.”

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Inflation Spikes Again, Marks Quickest Increase in 13 Years

Inflation surged 5.4% over the 12-month period ending in June, the quickest spike since August 2008, a Department of Labor report showed.

The consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.9% between May and June, according to the Labor Department report released Tuesday morning. Economists projected the report would show that CPI ticked up 4.7% between July 2020 and June, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“We’re in a transitional phase right now,” Joel Naroff, the chief economist at Naroff Economics, told the WSJ. “We are transitioning to a higher period of inflation and interest rates than we’ve had over the last 20 years.”

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California Spent $13 Million to Guard 120 Empty Homes

Several tents on the side of the street

The state government of California has been revealed to have spent $13 million on providing security for 120 empty houses for five months, even as a homeless crisis ravaged the state, Fox News reports.

In a report broken by local outlet Fox 11, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) paid $9 million to the highway patrol from November 2020 to April 2021, and gave another $4 million to a private security firm over the same period, all for the purpose of protecting the vacant houses in Pasadena.

In a statement addressing the report, CalTrans said that the houses had been purchased by the government 60 years ago, when there were plans for a change in the local infrastructure by connecting the 710 freeway to the 210. However, that project “is no longer moving forward,” the government statement declared.

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Republicans Push Back Against ‘Politicization’ of IRS

President Joe Biden has pushed for beefing up IRS audits of corporations to raise revenue for his new spending proposals, but Republicans are raising the alarm about the potential consequences of the plan.

Biden unveiled his “Made in America Tax Plan” earlier this year as a strategy to help fund his trillions of dollars in proposed new federal spending that includes several tax hikes. Despite this, a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. House and Senate have agreed to a basic framework for Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan, but one element has been the theme of the negotiations among Republicans: no new taxes.

The GOP pushback against raising taxes, though, puts more pressure on the Biden administration to find ways to fund his agenda. Aside from Biden’s controversial tax hike proposals, the president also has proposed adding $80 billion in funding to the IRS so it can increase audits of corporations.

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Amazon Calls for Higher Taxes on All Corporations Except Itself

Amazon logo on Samsung smartphone screen

While the tech giant Amazon has publicly endorsed proposals to raise the corporate tax rate in the United States, the company has been secretly lobbying to keep its own tax rates low, Politico reports.

Last year, during the 2020 presidential election, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos openly supported then-candidate Joe Biden’s proposals to raise taxes on American corporations. Those proposals have re-emerged in recent weeks as a possible means of funding a possible infrastructure bill, and Biden has been advocating for other countries around the world to adopt higher corporate tax rates as well.

But recently, Amazon has been stepping up its lobbying efforts to try to convince Congress and the White House to allow the company to keep using certain tax breaks in order to keep its own rates low. The retail giant hired a tax lobbyist named Joshua Odintz, who formerly worked as a Democratic aide on Capitol Hill and then as an official in the Obama Administration. In addition to Amazon’s own efforts, similar lobbying has been undertaken by a group known as the “R&D Coalition,” which consists of several companies and organizations including Amazon, Intel, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

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Business Groups Slam Biden’s ‘Flawed’ Competition, Antitrust Executive Order

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden’s competition and antitrust executive order will harm American consumers, groups representing both large and small businesses said.

The leading groups — including the Chamber of Commerce, Job Creators Network (JCN) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) — slammed Biden’s executive order, arguing that it will harm competition and present a host of challenges to small businesses. The business groups said the order is an example of big government attempting to exert control over the free market via onerous rules and regulations.

“This executive order amounts to a bizarre declaration against American businesses, from the largest to the smallest,” Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBE) Council Chief Economist Raymond Keating said in a statement. “It’s hard to understand why a White House would go down such a path, especially as the economy is digging out from the COVID-19 disaster.”

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Jobless Claims Increase to 373,000, Above Economists’ Predictions

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims increased to 373,000 last week as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics figure released Thursday represented a slight increase in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending June 26, when 371,000 new jobless claims were reported. That number was revised up from the 364,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

Economists expected Thursday’s jobless claims number to come in around 350,000, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Study: Michigan’s Vaccine Lottery Unlikely to Boost Lagging COVID-19 Injections

COVID Vaccine sticker

After Michigan missed President Joe Biden’s vaccine deadline of 70% injected with a first COVID-19 vaccine by July 4, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer bet big on a vaccine lottery, tossing in $5 million of taxpayer-funded prizes.

In the meantime, the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency estimates Michigan won’t reach the 70% benchmark for another year.

As of July 5, the state averaged 4,174 daily doses but only 1,740 first doses (0.1%) of the population.

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Commentary: China’s ‘One-Child Policy’ Left at Least One Million Bereaved Parents Childless and Alone in Old Age, with No One to Take Care of Them

Chinese child being held, peaking over shoulder of dad

A child’s death is devastating to all parents. But for Chinese parents, losing an only child can add financial ruin to emotional devastation.

That’s one conclusion of a research project on parental grief I’ve conducted in China since 2016.

From 1980 to 2015, the Chinese government limited couples to one child only. I have interviewed over 100 Chinese parents who started their families during this period and have since lost their only child – whether to illness, accident, suicide or murder. Having passed reproductive age at the time of their child’s death, these couples were unable to have another child.

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Michigan Employment Numbers Pick Up Pace for State’s Pandemic Recovery

Blue Collar worker with hard hat on

Michigan’s recovery from the massive unemployment endured during the COVID-19 pandemic is among the fastest in the country, last week’s employment numbers indicate.

That assessment is according to a recently released WalletHub report, which ranked the state fifth nationwide for progress made between the previous week and the week of June 21, 2021, and fourth nationwide for the smallest increase in initial unemployment claims between the beginning of 2020 and the week of June 21, 2021.

Michigan was ranked 13th nationwide for quickest unemployment recovery since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

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Economy Added 850,000 Jobs in June, Well Above Economists’ Forecasts

Person using a laptop, pointing to the screen

The U.S. economy reported an increase of 850,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate ticked up to 5.9%, according to Department of Labor data released Friday.

Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 850,000 in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, and the number of unemployed persons increased to 9.5 million. Economists projected 700,000 Americans would be added to payrolls prior to Friday’s report, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“This is a trickier phase of the recovery,” Wells Fargo senior economist Sarah House told The New York Times.

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Michigan Senate Passes $17 Billion Budget Plan

The Michigan Senate passed a plan totaling $17 billion for K-12 schools, hours before the budget deadline that levies no penalties for late action.

The real deadline for the state budget is Sept. 30, ahead of the Oct. 1 start of the state’s fiscal year.

House Bill 4410 passed on a 34-0 vote, which Senate Appropriations Chair Jim Stamas, R-Midland, called an “immediate priority.” The bill includes $10 million to repair natural disaster relief in cities flooded in June 2021.

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Michigan House Passes Bipartisan Budget, Including Historic Increases in Education Spending

Jason Wentworth

Although she thinks it’s only a “start,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer applauded the bipartisan budget passed Thursday night by the Michigan House of Representatives.

The House voted to pass the budget before the July 1 deadline, and includes the governor’s proposal to implement the largest increase in K-12 public school spending in the state’s history. Whitmer’s office claims the $16.7 billion in school expenditures will “close the gap between the lowest- and highest-funded school districts for the first time since the goal was introduced in 1994.”

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Business Owner Says She’ll Go Under If Border Restrictions Aren’t Lifted

inside of grocery store; close up of products in the aisle

The only grocery store in Point Roberts, Washington, will be forced to close if travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada aren’t lifted by July 15, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Point Roberts Marketplace store owner Ali Hayton said the market relies on shoppers who haven’t been able to visit for more than 15 months and that government assistance did little to help the struggling shop, the AP reported. The store received two loans from federal pandemic relief programs, though the funds were used in a week.

“Now that I see that there is absolutely no end in sight, I can’t do it anymore,” Hayton said, according to the AP. “I cannot financially keep subsidizing all of this by myself.”

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Michigan Senate Votes to End $300 Weekly Federal Unemployment Benefits

The Michigan Senate voted 19-16 to approve House Bill 4434, which aims to end the state’s participation in boosted $300/week federal unemployment program.

Republicans have argued the benefit hinders economic recovery 15 months after the pandemic started.

Business owners told lawmakers on June 17 they can’t find workers, even after hiking pay, signing bonuses, and flexible hours. Some industries have seen as many as 35% of workers not return post-COVID-19, leaving some gas stations wondering if they’ll get enough gas.

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Just 14 States Had Positive Job Growth in May

Just 14 states saw positive employment growth between April and May while the majority of the growth was concentrated in a handful of states, according to the Department of Labor.

Fourteen states led by California, Florida and Texas experienced significant job growth, 35 states experienced stagnant job growth and Wyoming saw a decline in employment last month, according to a Department of Labor report released Wednesday. Overall, the unemployment rates in 21 states decreased between April and May while every state’s employment improved compared to May 2020.

While the U.S. continues to report increased job growth, the report showed that the vast majority of the growth has come from about a dozen states.

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Majority of Americans Want the Government to Fight Income Inequality, Poll Finds

Group of people gathered, talking next to an office desk

A majority of respondents believe that the federal government should push policies that reduce income inequality in the United States, according to a poll released Friday by Axios.

The Axios poll shows 66% of respondents say the government should work to lower the level of income distributed unevenly, up 4% compared to 2019.

Republicans surveyed who agreed the government should tackle income inequality increased by 5%, and Independents who responded similarly increased by 2%, according to the poll. Democrats saw an increase of 7% in favor of such policies compared to 2019.

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Inflation Takes Biggest 12-Month Leap Since 1990s, Key Report Shows

Woman shopping, going up escalator

A key index used by the Federal Reserve to measure inflation showed that consumer prices leapt quicker over the last 12 months than they have in three decades.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index surged 3.9% in the 12-month period between June 2020 and May, according to the Department of Commerce report released Friday. The PCE index excluding volatile food and energy prices increased 3.4%, the biggest leap since the 1990s, CNBC reported.

Energy prices increased 27.4% while food prices increased 0.4% over the last 12 months, the report showed.

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Jobless Claims Decrease Slightly as Economic Recovery Continues

Unemployment sign

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims decreased to 411,000 last week as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics figure released Thursday represented a decrease in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending June 12, when 418,000 new jobless claims were reported. That number was revised up from the 412,000 jobless claims initially reported last week.

Economists expected Thursday’s jobless claims number to come in around 380,000, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Commentary: Making Sense of the Post-Pandemic Economy

Guy on phone with stocks on computer screen

Are you having a hard time understanding why the housing market is heating up, and why the cost of essentials such as milk, eggs, and gas is climbing? Are you in the market for a used car? Then you know how expensive those are right now. And why can’t businesses find employees, yet millions remain unemployed? Economists agree the recovery isn’t like anything we’ve seen before. That’s because we’ve never had a situation before where the heavy hand of government shut down private enterprises on a nationwide scale. The market distortions are enormous. As states reopen, there is a herky-jerky feel to the economy that has many people unsettled.

Former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alan Blinder wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently, “the recovery is not linear. Rather, it is proceeding in fits and starts. Sales of physical goods, for example, dipped only briefly when Covid hit, recovered quickly, and are now well above their pre-pandemic levels. In stark contrast, businesses that deliver personal services, such as restaurants and hotels, suffered a devastating depression and are still below their pre-pandemic levels.”

By far the most uneven outcome so far since the economy crashed in spring 2000, besides the 7.6 million fewer jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels, has been inflation, which is up 5 percent the past 12 months.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA on Payment for College Athletes

Paying college athletes has been a hotly debated topic for years, but now the U.S. Supreme Court has released a ruling on the issue.

A group of current and former student athletes brought the lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, arguing that the organization violated antitrust laws when it prevented student athletes from accepting certain education-related benefits.

The case, filed in 2018, challenged the NCAA and the biggest conferences including the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and ACC. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the students Monday, saying the NCAA could not deny those benefits, which could include things like “scholarships for graduate or vocational school, payments for academic tutoring, or paid posteligibility internships.”

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Michigan to Fully Open Tuesday

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has once again ditched her COVID-19 reopening plan, announcing the state will drop its COVID-19 restrictions on June 22. Her previous plan dropped restrictions on July 1.

“Today is a day that we have all been looking forward to, as we can safely get back to normal day-to-day activities and put this pandemic behind us,” Whitmer said in a statement.

Whitmer thanked those who received vaccinations. She also thanked medical staff and other frontline workers. 

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Commentary: New Harvard Data (Accidentally) Reveal How Lockdowns Crushed the Working Class While Leaving Elites Unscathed

"Closed until further notice" sign

Founding father and the second president of the United States John Adams once said that “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” What he meant was that objective, raw numbers don’t lie—and this remains true hundreds of years later.

We just got yet another example. A new data analysis from Harvard University, Brown University, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation calculates how different employment levels have been impacted during the pandemic to date. The findings reveal that government lockdown orders devastated workers at the bottom of the financial food chain but left the upper-tier actually better off.

The analysis examined employment levels in January 2020, before the coronavirus spread widely and before lockdown orders and other restrictions on the economy were implemented. It compared them to employment figures from March 31, 2021.

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Short-Term Rental Bills Divide Michigan Local Governments, Renters

State Representative Sarah Lightner

Legislation in Lansing aims to dictate whether local governments can ban Michiganders from generating income via short-term rentals (STR).

The Michigan Municipal League (MML) opposes the bill backed by GOP lawmakers, Senate Bill 446 and House Bill 4722, which aim to stop governments from banning STRs. A vote is expected within two weeks.

Each side says the other wants governmental overreach. MML says Lansing outright prohibiting local government from banning STRs statewide is advocating for “big government,” while the GOP says local government telling residents how they can and can’t use their home is also government overreach.

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After Skyrocketing to Record Highs, Lumber Prices Fall Back to Earth

Close up of wood after being cut down - lumber yard

Lumber prices have begun to drop following record highs, with futures closing Monday at their lowest price in over two months.

Lumber futures reached their highest-ever price in early May according to Nasdaq, trading at $1,711.20 per thousand board feet. Futures closed Monday at $966.20 per thousand board feet, still well above pre-pandemic levels which hovered around $400.

Prices skyrocketed due to a variety of factors, including supply chain disruption due to COVID-19 restrictions, labor shortages, and higher demand due to the surge in the housing market, according to a report by Wells Fargo economists. The report noted that while prices were unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels, restarting domestic lumber production and restoring domestic supply chains would stabilize the market.

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Price Jump for Used Cars Results in Boost in Michigan Sales Tax Collected

Close up of a line of cars

The microchip shortage responsible for bottlenecking the production of new cars has been a boon for the used car market.

However, the lack of available new vehicles also has created a greater demand and thus a scarcity of quality used vehicles.

This has driven up the cost of used cars and trucks, which has also increased the sales tax collected on used vehicle transactions. The national average increase in used car sales prices is 16.8% or $3,926 per vehicle sold.

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Biden Lifts Economic Ban on Chinese Military Tech Company

Sugon device

Joe Biden signed an executive order updating the United States’ list of blacklisted Chinese companies, dropping the ban on at least one company that was originally put on the list by President Donald Trump, the Washington Free Beacon reports.

Biden lifted the blacklist on the company Sugon, which was first banned by President Trump in November of 2020. The company is responsible for selling “supercomputers” to the Chinese military, for use in nuclear weapons research. Sugon also specializes in facial recognition software, cloud computing, and other surveillance technology that has been used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against the Uyghur Muslim population.

Although Biden’s updated list still maintains bans on such companies as Huawei and Hikvision, the removal of Sugon was noted as “strange” by Michael Sobolik, a fellow with the American Foreign Policy Council.

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Four States to Slash COVID-19 Unemployment Aid Saturday

Man in gray shirt, standing in a shop

Four states will be cutting pandemic unemployment increases three months early, ending the supplemental $300 in federal aid.

Alaska, Iowa, Missouri, and Mississippi will end pandemic-related unemployment relief on June 12. An additional 21 Republican-led states will slash federal aid before it expires on Sept. 6, according to Business Insider.

Conservatives continue to advocate an end to the increased benefits, saying they are no longer needed now that the pandemic is contained and speculating that the high payouts are discouraging would-be workers from returning.

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‘Dark Stores’ Squeeze Michigan City Tax Revenue

Closed store entrance

Vacant big box stores in Michigan become tax-reducing boons to retail companies statewide when those establishments have property assessed at rates sometimes 50% lower than previous rates.

This is known as a “dark stores” strategy, which often leaves local taxpayers to foot the tab.

An S&P report released Thursday found the strategy is employed nationwide.

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Commentary: Minimum Wage Hikes Led to Lower Worker Compensation, New Research Shows

Opponents of minimum wage laws tend to focus their criticism on one particular adverse consequence: by artificially raising the price of labor, they reduce employment, particularly for the most vulnerable in society.

“Minimum wage laws tragically generate unemployment, especially so among the poorest and least skilled or educated workers,” economist Murray Rothbard wrote in 1978. “Because a minimum wage, of course, does not guarantee any worker’s employment; it only prohibits, by force of law, anyone from being hired at the wage which would pay his employer to hire him.

Though some economists, such as Paul Krugman, reject Rothbard’s claim, a recent study found the overwhelming body of academic research supports the idea that minimum wage laws increase unemployment.

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Commentary: China’s Three-Child Policy Shows Xi Jinping Is Terrified

Xi Jinping

The Chinese government has carried out a massive population control campaign since the 1970s with the hope that it would generate economic prosperity. The government unremorsefully forced women to receive abortions, pressured or forced millions of women to be sterilized, and punished families with multiple children with debilitating fines. More than 300 million children were aborted under China’s one-child policy. 

Last week, the Chinese government ended the two-child policy, which had been in effect since 2016, and instead enacted a three-child policy. The new policy is essentially an admission that the Chinese Communist Party’s heinous population control policies will not give it the riches it had hoped for. Instead, the population control program will deliver a demographic disaster, which will ravage the country’s economy for generations. 

Many economists recognize that population control never improved China’s economy — that was the result of increased freedom in the marketplace and foreign investment. And the Malthusian crisis the government was so desperately trying to avoid with population control was an entirely false specter. 

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Commentary: Massive Government Spending Has Caused High Inflation Levels and a Weakening U.S. Dollar

$100 bills in rubber bands

Inflation is up 4.92 percent the past 12 months as of May, the most since July 2008’s 5.5 percent, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, amid a torrent of trillions of dollars of government spending, Federal Reserve money printing and a weakening dollar combined with the continued economic rebound led by reopening businesses from the 2020 Covid lockdowns.

The past three months alone, inflation has grown at an accelerated rate of 2 percent combined. If that trend were to hold up for the rest of the year, inflation would come closer to 8 percent.

In the month of May, price jumps in fuel oil at 2.1 percent and piped gas service at 1.7 percent offset a 0.7 percent drop in gasoline prices. In addition, new car prices grew 1.6 percent. Used cars and trucks grew at 7.3 percent again after a 10 percent jump in April. Apparel jumped 1.2 percent. And transportation services grew 1.5 percent after a 2.9 percent jump in April.

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Yellen Admits Inflation Is About to Surge But Says It Will Be ‘Plus For Society’s Point of View’

Janet Yellen

Increased inflation could ultimately be a net positive for the U.S. economy and large government spending won’t overheat the economy, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Bloomberg.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who previously chaired the Federal Reserve, said the central bank has been more concerned about inflation levels that are too low, according to Bloomberg. Increasing consumer prices could signal a return to normal, she said.

“We’ve been fighting inflation that’s too low and interest rates that are too low now for a decade,” Yellen told Bloomberg in an interview Sunday.

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Arizona Gains 66,000 New Taxpayers, Mostly from California

Phoenix, Arizona cityscape

Taxpayers are coming to Arizona from other states by the tens of thousands and bringing billions of dollars in annual earnings with them. 

The Internal Revenue Service released its annual migration statistics, a record of address changes by filers and their dependents between tax years. The data released in late May reflects changes from the 2018-2019 tax years, which symbolize moves that occurred between 2017 and 2018. Nationwide, 8 million people relocated to either another state or county. 

Arizona gained 218,736 new taxpayers in that time. Having lost 152,769, that’s a net gain of 65,967 exemptions from one tax year to the next. That’s nearly 1,000 more than the previous tax year.

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Gov. Whitmer Signs Executive Directive to Expand High-Speed Internet; Won’t Tell Price Tag

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued Executive Directive 2021-02, which will establish the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) with the intent of improving costs and access to high-speed internet.

The governor pointed to the ongoing pandemic as the precipitating event that necessitated the order.

“COVID-19 has only confirmed how the lack of high-speed internet access can cause too many Michiganders to struggle in their ability to engage in online learning, to use telemedicine to seek needed healthcare, to search for a new job or to take advantage of all the online resources,” Whitmer said in a statement. “A fully connected Michigan is essential for our state to reach its economic potential in the 21st century global economy.”

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Migration Study Shows Big Cities Continue Losing Population During First Quarter

U-Haul truck

Americans in the first quarter of 2021 continued their 2020 pattern of moving from expensive, densely populated areas to warmer, more tax-affordable states, according to a new study from Updater Technologies.

Updater Technologies is an online platform that allows people to use a centralized hub for moving, including finding a moving company, connecting internet and utility services and updating their address. The company says the inbound and outbound data it uses is more reliable than tabulating mail forwarding forms because it captures fully completed permanent moves in real time. It also indexes cities and states based on population, since using raw numbers would skew toward the most populated areas based on sheer volume.

Out of roughly 300,000 household moves during the first quarter, only 16 states had a greater percentage of inbound moves than outbound: Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, Georgia and Maine.

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Critics Question Gov. Whitmer’s $1.3 Million Spending on Holland Private Sector Jobs

Mission Design and Automation, LLC

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is spending taxpayer money on private business Mission Design and Automation in Holland Charter Township.

Mission will house new large-scale automation projects and space for offices and meeting rooms, but critics argue government funds shouldn’t be used to subsidize private enterprises.

Michigan awarded the private company $400,000 in taxpayer money through the Jobs Ready Michigan Program grant. The project is expected to generate a total private investment of $5.3 million and create 109 well-paying new jobs over two years.

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IRS: California Shrank by 165K Taxpayers, $8.8 Billion in Gross Income

Aerial shot of a California suburb

California residents of all ages and incomes are leaving for more tax friendly climates, and they’re taking billions of dollars in annual income with them.

The Internal Revenue Service recently released its latest taxpayer migration figures from tax years 2018 and 2019. They reflect migratory taxpayers who had filed in a different state or county between 2017 and 2018, of which 8 million did in that timespan.

California, the nation’s most-populous state, lost more tax filers and dependents on net than any other state.

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‘Operation Warp Speed for Jobs’: Worker Shortage Is Getting Worse, U.S. Chamber Says

Construction workers

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce characterized the worker shortage as a crisis that is hurting businesses of all sizes and slowing the nation’s economic recovery.

The biggest challenge U.S. businesses currently face is the lack of qualified workers to fill open jobs, according to the Chamber of Commerce’s America Works Report released Tuesday morning. The national Worker Availability Ratio (WAR) — or ratio of number of available workers to number of available jobs — has dropped over the last several months, the report found.

The current WAR is 1.4, meaning for every job opening there are one or two workers available, according to the America Works Report. The historical WAR average over the last 20 years is 2.8.

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Missouri’s Treasurer Opposes Biden Administration’s Influence on Divesting in Fuel Companies

Gas station at night

Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick and 14 other Republican state treasurers are questioning President Joe Biden’s administration pressuring of U.S. banks and financial institutions to not lend to or invest in fossil fuel companies.

The group of chief financial officers sent a letter to presidential climate envoy John Kerry this week expressing concern about a reported strategy to eliminate the coal, oil and natural gas industries by cutting off loans or investments.

“While the pursuit of more renewable sources of energy is a noble cause, the fact is that fossil fuels remain critical to our country and the entire world,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “The Biden Administration’s failure to acknowledge this will result in increased costs for consumers and businesses. An energy independent America is vital for national security and strengthens our economy which impacts all Americans – especially our poorest citizens who feel rising prices at the gas pump and the checkout line most. Attempts to pressure financial institutions to cut off the fossil fuel industry amounts to nothing less than an abuse of power by the federal government and should not be tolerated by states.”

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Job Searches Increased in Republican States Canceling Federal Unemployment Boost: Report

Relative to the national trend, job searches temporarily increased in states that have announced they will no longer offer the pandemic-related federal unemployment boost, an economic report showed.

In states that are withdrawing from the federal unemployment program, interest in job postings increased 5%, according to the report released Thursday by job listings site Indeed. The increase was relative to a national average recorded during the final two weeks of April, before Republican governors began canceling the federal benefit.

“In May, job search activity on Indeed increased, relative to the national trend, in states that announced they would end federal [unemployment] benefits prematurely,” the Indeed report said.

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Commentary: Conservatives and Republicans Must Reclaim Memorial Day

Veteran cemetery with table set for lives lost who served America

In the face of the Far Left’s attempts to rewrite American history through the now-discredited 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory, Republicans and conservatives must reclaim the key dates and events in American history and there is no better place to start than Memorial Day 2021.

Memorial Day was created not as a “holiday” or an excuse for corporate merchants to advertise sales, but as a solemn commemoration of the dead of both sides in the American Civil War.

In that context Memorial Day commemorates a number of constitutional conservative values, not the least of which is the inviolability of the Constitution itself.

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After National Criticism, Whitmer’s Campaign to Pay for Florida Flight

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Months after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer flew on a secret trip to Florida, Michiganders are starting to find answers.

Whitmer’s campaign committee will pay for her March Florida flight to visit her father after she initially attempted to use a nonprofit to charter the flight through a separate company.

The flight sparked an Federal Aviation Agency investigation, because the jet company was not authorized to operate charter flights.

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Michigan Projects Multibillion-Dollar Budget Surplus

Michigan State Capitol

Michigan budget officials Friday reached a consensus on revised economic and revenue figures for fiscal years 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The state general fund and school aid revenues will total $26.5 billion for the current budget year, exceeding January estimates by $2.2 billion. For the new budget cycle beginning Oct. 1, the agency projected revenues will total $26.6 billion, $1.3 billion more than January predictions.

A majority of that unexpected cash is a byproduct of billions of spending via stimulus checks and boosted unemployment benefits, which led to a spike in personal spending and increased state tax revenues by billions more than previously forecast.

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