A Warning Sign for the Economy?


The momentous news Tuesday came out of the House selection committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as an aide to the former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified that President Donald Trump knew the crowd gathered that day was armed yet asked that magnetometers be removed, saying something along the lines of, “You know, I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons.

Hutchinson also said that Trump tried to join the march on the Capitol and became irate when the Secret Service prevented him from doing so, even lunging for an agent and trying to grab the steering wheel of the presidential limousine.

Hutchinson also revealed details about Trump’s dish-throwing temper tantrums, concerns from Meadows and others that the planned January 6 rally could “get, real, real bad” and the former president’s reluctance to call off the rioters on that day. Read more about the startling testimony from the star witness here or here.

A Warning Sign for the Economy From State Tax Collections

State sales tax revenues may be flashing a warning sign for the economy: 26 states saw inflation-adjusted collections of sales taxes fall in April 2022 compared to April 2021, according to a report from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Total state sales tax collections, adjusted for inflation, fell 1.2% year over year.

State coffers are still flushing, with total tax revenues up 13% over the first 10 months of the fiscal year, including a 14.9% increase in personal income taxes and a 32.6% rise in corporate income taxes. Of 46 states for which preliminary data were available, 45 saw total tax revenues grow compared to the prior year, with 15 states reporting growth of more than 15%.

Still, the report warns that the recent revenue surge may be coming to an end: “The strong growth in state tax revenues is that unlikely to continue and evidence is growing the strong revenue growth experienced this fiscal year is likely tempering or even reversing.” It adds that sales tax revenues are expected to weaken as inflation affects consumer behavior and shoppers revert to pre-pandemic spending patterns: “Over time, especially if wages and income do not keep up with inflation, we expect consumers to continue to adjust their spending.” patterns which will negatively affect state sales tax revenues.”

Many states are preparing for a fiscal downturn, Bloomberg’s Donna Borak reports. “Thirty-seven states plan to maintain or increase their rainy day fund balances in 2023 as they brace for a slowdown, according to the latest quarterly fiscal survey from the National Association of State Budget Officers, released June 16.”

But the changing economic landscape may still leave some states struggling. “Unfortunately, many states have just been thinking in the short term and have enacted tax cuts, mostly for income tax, and now, the impact of the tax cuts combined with the new reality and the end of the federal aid will put states in a really tough position,” Lucy Dadayan, a senior research associate at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and author of the state tax report, told Bloomberg. “They will have to look for different alternatives for raising revenues.”

$8 Billion Worth of Earmarks in 2023 House Spending Bill, With More to Come

Not so long ago, earmarks were viewed with suspicion by many lawmakers, especially on the Republican side of the aisle, and in an effort led by tea party around 10 years ago, the spending set-asides were banned in Congress. However, earmarks — now sometimes referred to as “member-directed spending” — have been resurrected, and the fiscal year 2022 omnibus spending package passed by Congress contained more than 4,000 of them, worth about $9 billion.

Lawmakers are currently trying to hash out their spending plans for 2023, and Roll Call’s Peter Cohn and Herb Jackson report Tuesday that members of the House have sprinkled 4,386 earmarks worth $8.2 billion throughout their appropriations bills.

Republicans have led the way for 2023, claiming eight of the top 10 earmark totals. At the top of the list is a Republican from Texas, Rep. Randy Weber, who secured “community project funding” worth $287.5 million — the most by far of any representative, but still short of the $547 million he initially requested. The money will be spread across 10 projects, most related to energy infrastructure in his district near Houston.

In second place is another Republican, Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida, who secured $169 million, with more than half of the funds designated for a communications center at Patrick Space Force Base in Brevard County.

Members can request earmarks in multiple subcommittee bills. The Transportation-HUD bill contains the most earmarks: 1,827 of them, worth $3.7 billion. The Labor-HHS-Education bill is second, with 1,310 projects worth $1.4 billion.

What’s next: More earmarks. Senators still have to make their earmark requests, and if 2022 is any guide, there will be a lot of them. “[S]Enators’ appetites for earmarks are typically greater than their House colleagues’, and out of the $9 billion enacted for this year, $5 billion were Senate-only requests,” Cohn and Jackson write. , a limitation their Senate colleagues don’t face.”

Number of the Day: 0

Shannon Pettypiece of NBC News highlights a somewhat stunning d from this year’s Group of Seven summit, the gathering of leaders of the seven major advanced democracies that just wrapped up in Germany:

“There were no announcements about new efforts to fight the coronavirus or expand access to vaccines or treatments, no masks were worn in public by world leaders, and there were no vaccine or testing requirements for those traveling to the summit. President Joe Biden made no Mention of the virus in any of his remarks,” Pettypiece writes. “The fading of Covid from the conversation reflects a wider fatigue with the pandemic among wealthier countries where vaccines are now prevalent and death rates have been consistently low for several months, public health experts said. But in lower-income countries, the threat of Covid still looms large, with just over 15% of the populations in those countries having received a single dose of a vaccine.”

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