How much would a Congress-person spend if they could spend what they wanted?

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation has a unique tool that compares the spending agendas of members of Congress. Rather than analyzing votes taken, the “Bill Tally” report examines the cost or savings of each member’s “wish list” as expressed by the net cost/savings of that individual’s bills as introduced, whether they come to a vote or not.

Check out the following chart, specifically the net spending agenda of each member as expressed in millions. Simply put, Udall and Heinrich would like to increase spending by about $10 billion whereas Lujan-Grisham and Lujan have much more ambitious spending goals. Rep. Pearce, on the other hand, is sufficiently ambitious as a spending cutter that his cuts are larger than the spending agendas of his New Mexico colleagues combined.

Click on the image below to expand.

Click here for more from the National Taxpayers Union including the report’s methodology.

New Report “Rich States, Poor States” report: NM 37th

According to the latest report ranking state economies, New Mexico is the 37th “most likely to succeed.” The report which was put together by ALEC (the organization the left loves to hate) analyzes economic policies on a state-by-state basis so readers can better understand identifies “which states are poised to achieve greater economic prosperity and those that are stuck on the path to a lackluster economy.”

Overall, the results comport nicely with the myriad economic indices which find New Mexico to be less economically-free and less economically-successful than its neighbors.

Submit Your Comments on the EPA’s Power Plant Rule

There are myriad problems with the Obama Administration’s proposed power plant rule, not the least of which is that Congress is not involved in enactment of such a dramatic policy shift in the first place. A close second is that it will increase electricity prices and cost good-paying (union!) jobs at existing power plants in New Mexico and elsewhere as seen in the following chart:

The best we can ask for is for large numbers of Americans to weigh in against the proposed regulations in the hopes of killing, weakening, or delaying the regulations. That can be done by personalizing and submitting a letter at the following link.

Rio Grande Foundation to Host Bi-Weekly Radio Show on 770 KKOB AM

(Albuquerque, NM) — New Mexico’s only free market think tank, the Rio Grande Foundation, is hosting an hour-long radio show on 770 KKOB starting this Saturday, August 16, from noon to 1pm. The show will air every two weeks through at least the end of 2014.

The show, entitled “New Mexico Freedom Hour” will focus on economic and education issues here in New Mexico with an eye towards real solutions that have been tried in other states. The format will involve interviews of guests from across the political spectrum and phone calls from the public. The call-in number is: 505-243-3333.

Said Rio Grande Foundation president and primary host, Paul Gessing, “This show offers the listeners a unique forum in which to learn about and discuss the ways in which free markets and limited government can help everyday New Mexicans lead better lives. Show topics will include labor freedom, taxation, education reform, and an economic history of New Mexico to name just a few.”

Is Santa Fe’s “living wage” a disaster or not?

It is the 10th anniversary of Santa Fe’s so-called “living wage.” The Albuquerque Journal covered the anniversary today and concluded that “results are mixed.”

Fair enough. It is hard to say that raising the minimum wage is a “disaster,” but when such a small portion of workers earn the minimum wage and those happen to be the most marginal, least-productive workers in the economy, it would take a truly outlandish minimum wage hike to be a “disaster.”

But that doesn’t mean that higher minimum wages are harmless or somehow beneficial as we have pointed out regarding younger workers in Santa Fe.

Ironically, while mom-and-pop businesses in Santa Fe are forced to pay $10.66 an hour, their elected officials in Washington with unlimited claims on the United States Treasury pay some of their workers nothing.

It is also sad, per the anecdote at the conclusion of the Journal article, that a young person would pick up and move all the way from North Carolina to work in fast food. Rather than relying on government mandates to increase one’s pay, wouldn’t she be better off studying part time to gain an associates degree in some kind of skilled trade (plumbing, welding, electrician, hair-stylist) where there is a real future rather than using those scarce resources to pick up an move her entire family for another unskilled, low-wage job?

Regardless of minimum wage policies, there are modest disparities in pay levels for even unskilled work, but the long-term impact of a few $$ an hour raise as opposed to a long-term increase in skills and marketability is minimal.

Overall, conservatives shouldn’t blow the impact of increased minimum wages out of proportion in terms of overall economic impact, but that doesn’t make it good policy either.

New Poll shows New Mexicans Overwhelmingly Support Free Association Principles behind Right to Work

(Albuquerque, NM) – The Rio Grande Foundation is one of 77 organizations in 44 states celebrating “National Employee Freedom Week” which lasts from August 10-16. The week marks an occasion to educate workers on their freedom to join or not join a labor union.

There is no more basic freedom enshrined in the United States Constitution than that of free association. That includes the choice not to be forced to join or pay dues to a union as a precondition of employment. This right is protected under “Right to Work” legislation which has been adopted by 24 states, not including New Mexico.

According to a poll of 500-502 respondents conducted by Google Consumer Surveys, approximately 84.7 percent of New Mexicans answered “Yes” to the question: “Should employees have the right to decide, without force or penalty, whether to join or leave a labor union?”

Said Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing, “These poll results illustrate strong support for the basic tenets of a “Right to Work law in New Mexico. No matter how the legislative races pan out in November, there can be no doubt that an overwhelming majority of New Mexicans support the basic principles of “Right to Work.”

Concluded Gessing, “Where implemented, “Right to Work” laws not only protect basic fairness, but they have a proven track record of spurring economic growth and increased employment when adopted. With New Mexico’s economy struggling profoundly, both parties in Santa Fe must consider ‘Right to Work’ as a core component of plans to reform the economy.”

Right to Work Polling image

HHS Audit Finds Security Weaknesses in New Mexico’s Obamacare Exchange

According to a recent article published by National Review Online, a federal audit has found information-technology security weaknesses at New Mexico’s health-insurance exchange.

According to the report:

The final audit report was completed by June 17, 2014, but because it contains such specific information about vulnerabilities, it is not public, according to a letter sent from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (DHHS OIG) to the health exchange.

Needless to say, there are still some very significant issues with ObamaCare in New Mexico and around the nation.

In response to the NRO story, Dr. Deane Waldman who holds positions both on the Health Exchange Board and the Rio Grande Foundation, said:

The NM Health Exchange, in conjunction with federal oversight, was beta-testing, de-bugging if you will, our preliminary system for the individual market.

WE found the security problem and fixed it, before implementing our individual market, unlike Further, since we could not finish all the beta-testing in time for the federal deadline, WE chose to put off opening our Individual Market for a year until we completely de-bugged the system and proved (with evidence not promises or magical thinking) that it works, again unlike

You might find it interesting that WE take the federal deadline seriously, while they keep deferring them, “moving the goalposts” as it were.

$500 taxpayer investment in Tesla too rich, but perhaps there are alternatives?

By now most New Mexicans are aware that Tesla has broken ground on its “gigafactory” in Reno. To me, it seems likely that this is where the company intended to build its plant all along. After all, Nevada is a “right to work” state, a zero-income-tax state, and Reno is relatively close in proximity to Tesla’s main factory in Fremont, California.

But, some New Mexicans hold out hope that the company is “still evaluating” potential locations. Further comments from Tesla CEO Elon Musk indicated that $500 million might be enough to get the company to set up shop in a given state. For starters, it is clear from the Albuquerque Journal story that the company is looking for $500 million in tax dollars out of pocket. In other words, I’m sure some tax breaks and perhaps even some regulatory favors are expected, but Tesla is looking for $500 million upfront to assist the company with building its factory.

As I have written previously (point 1), taxing other New Mexicans and existing businesses to pay for a new business, no matter how exciting that business may be, is simply wrong and not good economics. Just like with the film industry, tax breaks are one thing, but outright payments are another.

If Tesla is really still in the market for another “gigafactory” location, I think the Martinez Administration should put Democrats on the spot. Give Tesla the equivalent of a “right to work” carve-out and eliminate personal and corporate income taxes for the company and see what happens. It won’t COST New Mexico taxpayers a dime upfront and it will force Democrats in the Legislature to make a decision on policies that should be considered for all businesses in New Mexico.

What’s wrong with a food stamp work requirement?

Those meanies in the Martinez Administration have announced that they are going to reimpose a work requirement on recipients of food stamps. That’s the program that has seen its budget explode in recent years. Growth was particularly pronounced during the recession, but was growing steadily in cost during the economic boom immediately prior to the recession:

Not surprisingly, the usual left-wing proponents of unlimited government spending are opposed to any effort to curtail the free goodies, including Rep. Lujan-Grisham.

But this “work requirement” is hardly the onerous burden the advocates claim. It is only 20 hours and those hours could be spent volunteering in the community. Yes, the classic single mom with kids will always face the issue of babysitting, but perhaps the discussion to have should be over how to reduce the number of single moms out there rather than constantly demanding that taxpayers give them free stuff?

Besides, even if you can’t get a job in New Mexico’s current, poor economy, sitting on your butt at home isn’t going to help you build the skills or network to find a new, paying job. Doing something productive for 20 hours a week in exchange for food stamps is very reasonable.