Top Small Cities Benefiting From Remote Workers; How To Fund $3.5 Trillion Social Policy Plan

September 18, 2021

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Looking Out On The Economic And Policy Horizon

While the Labor Department’s August’s inflation report raised hopes that inflation may have peaked, the price for such basics as gasoline, food and shelter are all still rising. Still, if you’re rich, the 5.3% increase in consumer prices over the past year may not worry you nearly as much as the House’s proposed tax hikes to pay for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion (over 10 years) spending plans. Those include (along with big corporate tax increases) major revisions to the estate tax, capital gains taxes and how retirement accounts are taxed. The top tax rate for capital gains tax would rise from 20% to 25%—mercifully a lot less than the 39.6% proposed by President Biden.

Senate Democrats, too, have ideas about how to pay for the $3.5 trillion budget bill. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have proposed levying a 2% excise tax on the amount corporations spend to buy back their own stock. Goldman Sachs
analysts estimate that U.S. companies are on track to buy back about $800 billion in their own stocks this year, which would equate to $16 billion annually raised from the tax.

Meanwhile, another tax change that sparked controversy (this one in the separate bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill that passed the Senate last month) may be much ado about nothing. Turns out the Treasury Department already has the authority to require tax reporting from crypto brokers and other key players in the industry. So why is Congress restating what the Treasury can already do? Find out here.

And on the Democrats’ regulatory front, the Wells Fargo saga continues, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) writing to the Federal Reserve to urge the bank be broken up as a repeat offender that has “failed to eliminate abusive and unlawful practices that have cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Closer To Home

Haven’t received child tax credit payments yet? The IRS has released an online tool,, to help track these payments. The tool also helps families who typically are not required to file a tax return to register for this benefit. The new tool is part of the Biden administration’s effort to reach as many families as possible so they can receive these monthly payments.

If you—or your children—are planning to attend college soon, you may want to check out the changes in education benefits Democrats are proposing in their big spending bill, including free community college. While the Dems aren’t proposing to wipe out all student debt, they would expand Public Service Loan Forgiveness for active-duty military service members, allowing their deferments to count as qualifying months toward this program.

If every day living costs are more your worry, consider moving to a more affordable metro area. A new analysis from LinkedIn’s Economic Graph team on remote work job applications shows that small cities are reaping the benefits of the boom in remote work. Among the top places whose residents are applying for remote jobs: Bend, Oregon; Asheville, N.C.; and Wilmington Delaware.

Novel Graphic: A Pricey Decade: The President’s proposed discretionary spending increase could cost almost $1 trillion over the next ten years.

Source: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, President’s Budget, CRFB calculations based on Congressional Budget Office Data.

In Markets And Investing…

Gaming giant Epic won an epic battle against Apple
last Friday. A federal judge in California ruled Apple must allow developers to route customers to third-party payment options so they don’t have to pay the App Store’s hefty fees. It’s one step closer to fairer competition in the tech industry, despite the judge’s decision that Apple was not in violation of antitrust law.

Ark Invest, the New York City investment firm, joins the Tesla selloff frenzy as the stock recovers from its lackluster performance this year. Ark Invest’s founder, Cathie Wood, sold about $266 million in Tesla
stock in the week through Wednesday. Wood isn't alone among noteworthy Tesla investors selling off shares after the recent runup in prices: Three company officers, including two C-suite executives, sold about $4 million worth of stock in a series of transactions last week.

Retirement News

Sure, we’re always thinking about taxes when it comes to retirement. But when did you last look at the fees you’re paying in your retirement account? A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds 41% of 401(k) participants don’t believe they’re paying fees, and are unaware that mutual funds have internal fees that are hard to spot.

Don’t have an employer sponsored retirement plan? If the retirement provisions of the Democrat’s Build Back Better Act passes, your employer will be required to offer a retirement plan that automatically enrolls employees. And if your employer happens to receive Medicare or Medicaid funding, you’ll be required to get the Covid-19 vaccine, per President Biden’s executive order last week.