Home Chris Edwards
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Tomorrow at CPAC, I will discuss some advantages of infrastructure privatization. Perhaps the largest advantage is innovation. Unlike government bureaucracies, private firms in a competitive environment are eager to maximize the net returns of projects, so they find new ways to reduce costs and improve quality. The...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE The Office of Management and Budget has released new data on the amount of time Americans spend complying with the federal tax code. Tax Foundation summarizes the data here. Individuals and businesses spend 8.9 billion hours a year on federal tax paperwork, which is equivalent to 4.3...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Committee on the Budget United States House of Representatives Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify. My comments will examine the history of federal debt and reasons to balance the budget and reduce debt going forward. Looking at federal debt compared to...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Large government projects often double in cost between when they are first considered and when they are finally completed. This pattern—call it “Edwards’ Law”—is revealed in story after story about highways, airports, computer systems, and other types of government infrastructure. It looks like New York’s World Trade...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE For more than a century, America has been the global leader of the aviation industry. But these days, the government-run parts of the industry are inefficient and falling behind, including airports, security screening, and air traffic control (ATC). International experience shows that these activities can be...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE The Washington Post reports that President Obama is cheerleading for more spending on high-speed Internet, tablet computers, and Wi-Fi in the nation’s K-12 schools. There are budget and federalism reasons why the president of the United States should not be sticking his nose into local schooling...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Did you know that the White House has a fleet of 19 helicopters? The Washington Post today discusses efforts to replace this fleet of aging Sikorsky’s with 21 new vehicles yet to be procured. The fleet is used by the president, vice president, and cabinet secretaries. The...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Under the U.S. Constitution, the powers delegated to the federal government are “few and defined,” as James Madison noted in Federalist 45, while the powers of the states “will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has become a punching bag for liberal pundits. They particularly dislike his tax reforms, which they say are causing a state budget disaster. Nicole Kaeding and I awarded Brownback an “A” on our “Fiscal Report Card.” So let’s take a look at...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today indicates that Edwards’ Law of Cost Overruns is an international standard. If a politician says that a project will cost $100 million, it will end up costing $200 million or more. The WSJ piece by Bent Flyvbjerg and Atif...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE One of my first professional jobs 25 years ago was with the economic forecasting firm DRI/McGraw-Hill. It was fun work, but I noticed that the firm’s gross domestic product forecasts with models hundreds of equations long were no better than simple forecasts based on the interest rate yield...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE A tax reform is spurring a savings revolution in Canada. Amity Shlaes and I wrote about Canada’s Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) in the Wall Street Journal in August. We think that such accounts would be a fantastic policy reform for America. They would simplify the taxation...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Oh dear, yet another scare story about falling-down bridges. A Washington Post headline today in the hardcopy is “63,000 Bridges Structurally Deficient, U.S. Says.” The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released its annual data on bridge conditions, and indeed the data show that 63,522 bridges were “structurally...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Rep. Ralph Hall is in the news for losing to a primary challenger in his Texas district. I first met 91-year-old Hall just last week as we were on a Capitol Hill panel together organized by the Texas Association of Business (TAB). In the photo, that’s...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE In catching up on news about the federal government today, I noticed that articles fit into three categories: bureaucracy, boondoggles, and bad behavior. On any given day, it seems, the Washington Post and other outlets have new tales of BB&BB to report. No wonder most Americans...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Infrastructure is in the news as policymakers face a deadline to pass a new highway bill. President Obama visited the Tappan Zee Bridge yesterday and said that “rebuilding America … shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” and then cast blame on the Republicans. The president is right that...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Peggy Noonan’s op-ed on the weekend was titled “The VA Scandal Is a Crisis of Leadership.” Noonan discusses how President Obama “doesn’t do the plodding, unshowy, unromantic work of making government work.” Obama is not a good manager, and so scandals like the current one are...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE I have posted an updated plan to cut spending by one fifth and balance the federal budget. These cuts are not the only ones needed, but they are a mix of reasonable reforms spread broadly across the government. A new poll discussed in Govexec.com finds that “Americans...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE We have an uncompetitive federal corporate tax rate of 35 percent compared to Canada’s 15 percent. Our Roth IRA is inferior to Canada’s TFSA, as Amity Shlaes and I discussed in the Wall Street Journal. And while Serena Williams still tops rising star Eugenie Bouchard, we...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Congress may loosen 401(k) rules to allow Harvey and Irma victims to access their retirement savings without the usual 10 percent penalty on early withdrawals. The Washington Post reports mixed views from experts on the idea. In the past, the government has allowed “hardship loans” against 401(k) assets in...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Critics are saying that the Republican tax plan would give high earners the largest cuts. There has been a flood of news stories with that theme since the Tax Policy Center (TPC) released its analysis of the plan. The TPC summary says, “Those with the very highest incomes would receive the...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE President-elect Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that he will balance the federal budget and cut wasteful spending. Here are some of Trump’s views on budget reforms: “We are going to ask every department head in government to provide a list of...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has released data on worker compensation for 2016. The data show that wages and benefits for federal-government workers grew faster than for private-sector workers last year. Federal workers now receive 80 percent more compensation, on average, than do workers in...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Corporate tax reduction is at the center of the tax reform debate in 2017. While the United States has the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the OECD, some pundits claim that U.S. companies are not so hard done by because they pay low effective rates....
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE This small news bite from the Washington Post yesterday caught my eye: Moving costs: Booz Allen Hamilton, the McLean, Va., consulting and government contracting giant, is receiving a $750,000 loan from a Maryland economic development fund and a grant of $250,000 from Montgomery County to relocate 750 Maryland workers from...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE If you are interested in national issues such as defense, foreign policy, and trade, and want to hold public office, you should run for Congress. If you are interested in roads, beaches, subways, and policing, you should run for city council or the state legislature. The push...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE The federal government provides an array of subsidies to increase the consumption of biofuels such as corn ethanol. The subsidies include tax breaks, grants, loans, and loan guarantees. The government also imposes a mandate to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel fuels. A new study at DownsizingGovernment.org...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE President Trump and his advisors are stressing that they want tax cuts for the middle class, not high earners. Trump said, “the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan,” while Treasury Secretary Steve Munchin said, “Our objective is not to create tax cuts for the wealthy....
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE Last week I sat down to talk tax reform with Nick Gillespie, the editor-in-chief of Reason.com and an all-around guru of libertarian policy and culture. We covered individual and corporate taxes, and then pondered whether Republicans will follow up next year with spending cuts. Chris Edwards is...
CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE The Trump administration proposed privatizing the Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) in its budget last year.  Cato has released a study discussing the PMAs and the advantages of privatization. https://tinyurl.com/yb4lsb39 The federal government has been in the electricity business since in the mid-20th century. Over time it has become clear that...