Delta, United Not Revising South Africa Flights Amid Variant Concerns

WASHINGTON—Delta Air Lines and United Airlines said on Friday they do not plan any changes to their South Africa-U.S. routes after the White House said it plans to impose new travel curbs on southern Africa starting Monday amid concerns about a new COVID-19 variant. Delta and United are the only U.S. passenger carriers that have direct flights to southern Africa. Delta currently operates service between Johannesburg and Atlanta three times weekly and the U.S. airline said “there are no planned adjustments to service at this time.” The White House said it plans to bar entry to most non-U.S. citizens who have been in South Africa and seven other African countries within the last 14 days. Airlines for America, a trade group representing major U.S. passenger and cargo carriers, said Friday it remains “in communication with the U.S. government as specifics remain unknown at this time and there are many unanswered …

Read More

Brooks: We're 'Probably Overheating' Economy, But We 'Need' Inflation 'as a Society to Heal'

On Friday’s “PBS NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks stated that we are “probably overheating” the economy and causing inflation, but he has “high tolerance for inflation in this kind of economy. Because I think we need it as a society to heal.”

Brooks said, “I want a white-hot economy that will raise wages at the bottom, which is happening, that will bring people back into the labor force, which is happening, which is spreading wealth around the country, not concentrating it in a few cities, which is happening. The cost of that is that, since we can’t really fine-tune an economy, we’re probably overheating. And we’re getting inflation. And the question — the crucial question becomes, what kind of inflation? Is it post-COVID inflation, we’ve got a lot of supply chain problems and it’ll get ironed out in a year, or is it 1970s inflation, which builds on itself? And so, I have high tolerance for inflation in this kind of economy. Because I think we need it as a society to heal. But if it turns out to be accelerating 1970s inflation, that becomes its own monster.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

Read More

US Bond Funds See First Weekly Outflow in Over Four Months: Lipper

U.S. bond funds posted a net outflow in the week to Nov. 24 as investors raised bets that the Federal Reserve would become more aggressive in normalizing monetary policy to fight inflation after President Joe Biden nominated Jerome Powell as chairperson for a second term. According to Refinitiv Lipper data, investors sold U.S. bond funds worth a net $158 million, the first outflow since the week to July 14. The two-year U.S. Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, rose to 0.687 percent on Tuesday, its highest level since early March 2020. However, Treasury yields dipped on Friday as concerns about a new COVID-19 variant drove demand for safe-haven assets. U.S. taxable bond funds faced net selling of $1.08 billion compared with inflows of $3.97 billion in the previous week. Municipal bond funds attracted $598 million in net buying, the smallest in four weeks. U.S. short/intermediate …

Read More

Biden to Increase U.S. Oil Lease Fees 50% While Accusing ‘Big Oil’ of Anticompetitive Activities

The Biden-Harris administration issued a report Friday to increase the price of oil leasing fees on federal lands in the United States by 50 percent—even while accusing oil companies of artificially increasing prices through illegal and anticompetitive actions.

Despite record-high gasoline prices impacting American families across the country with winter around the corner, the Biden-Harris administration is recommending Congress hike the cost of oil leases on government lands from 12.50 percent to 18.75 percent.

The 6.25 percentage point royalty rate increase on oil companies would contradict the administration’s promise to lower gasoline prices. In recent weeks, the Biden-Harris administration has asked OPEC to increase oil supplies and requested the Federal Trade Commission conduct an investigation into oil companies for “anticompetitive behavior.”

The rate increase, according to the New York Times, would generate about an extra “$2.5 billion in new revenue by the end of the decade,” which oil companies would pay to the federal government, though consumers would absorb the increased cost the companies incur. So far, the Biden-Harris administration has collected $1.6 billion more from oil leases in 2021 than in 2020.

An increased royalty rate would be the first rate hike since 1920 and would fulfill President Biden’s campaign promise to global warming activists and the far-left.

After taking office, Biden threatened American energy independence by mandating a temporary ban on oil leases until Friday’s report was issued. But after 13 states sued and overturned the order, “Shell, BP, Chevron and Exxon Mobil offered $192 million for the rights to drill” in the Gulf of Mexico.

The report from the administration coincides with the massive tax and spend reconciliation package that Democrat leaders are attempting to jam through Congress. The package was passed in the House last week and will likely find its way into the Senate, where it stands little chance of passage as written.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have opposed many provisions in the package, including tax increases, hits to American energy independence, and welfare provisions.

The recommendation to Congress to increase the cost of oil production is the latest tactic in the war on American energy independence. In January, Biden canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline and is also considering canceling the Michigan Line 5 pipeline. Biden also rejoined to Paris Climate Accords and is conducting an environmental regulatory review of repairs instituted by the Trump administration that protected American energy independence.

On Tuesday, Biden raided the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gas prices, despite Vice President Harris slamming then-President Donald Trump in 2020 for refilling them. The immediate impact of the raid was an increase in oil prices. Due to constraint capacity on pipelines, the United States’ output from the reserve is 4.5 million barrels per day.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø.

Read More

Exclusive–Ortiz: Consider the Consequences of Bad Public Policy on Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is traditionally an opportunity to support small businesses between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Yet given that virtually all small businesses now offer Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, it has lost some of its relevance (though it’s still a great chance to frequent local restaurants and retailers).

What can fill this Small Business Saturday void is an increased awareness among the public of the broader economic and social role that small businesses play and the ever-expanding threats they face from bad public policy.

Small businesses are the beating heart of the U.S. economy, creating two-thirds of all new jobs and driving the innovation and economic growth that improve our quality of life. There are still 4.2 million fewer people employed than before the pandemic, and small businesses are the key to bringing the economy back to its peak. Unfortunately, a recent Job Creators Network Foundation poll finds that only about 10 percent of small businesses have fully recovered from the pandemic.

The Biden Administration is waging war on small businesses on many fronts, including mandates, inflationary spending, and taxes, preventing them from returning the economy to its glory. Exhibit A is the Administration’s illegal vaccine mandate on employers, including small businesses with 100 to 500 employees. Even by coronavirus-era standards, this requirement is a massive government overreach. Never before has the federal government mandated vaccines for so many Americans—let alone at the order of the President—without clear support from Congress.

Now is the worst time to deputize small businesses as vaccine police. The mandate would exacerbate the ongoing historic labor shortage by requiring employers to terminate staff who wish not to get vaccinated or get weekly tests. It would also shrink the pool of job applicants available for hire. JCNF polling finds that 44 percent of small business owners believe some of their employees will quit as a result of the vaccine mandate. Associated staffing shortages would force businesses to reduce capacity and economic output, hurting employees and communities.

This is why JCN filed a lawsuit to stand up for small businesses affected by this unconstitutional mandate and block it from taking effect. Two federal courts have issued temporary freezes on this regulation, yet the Biden Administration continues to ignore the judiciary and bully employers into complying. On Tuesday, JCN filed a brief asking the court to reject the Administration’s request to reimpose the mandate.

President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ reckless spending is also generating the highest inflation in over 30 years. The price of gas is up 50 percent over the last year, and the cost of fuel oil to heat homes has risen nearly 60 percent. The price of beef is up 20 percent, and the cost of Thanksgiving dinner was up 14 percent.

This inflation is significantly outstripping wage gains, resulting in falling real wages and living standards — a.k.a. a Biden pay cut. This decline in living standards has been almost completely overlooked by the mainstream media, who regularly gaslight Americans into believing that inflation is somehow good for them. In addition to busting the budgets of ordinary Americans, inflation disproportionately hurts small businesses, forcing them to continually raise prices to protect slim profit margins.

The Democrats’ $5 trillion Build Back Broke reconciliation bill threatens to turn this high inflation hyper by further devaluing the dollars that Americans hold. The socialist and neo-Marxist policies in this legislation would significantly worsen supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages that are preventing small businesses from operating at capacity. For instance, the green energy mandates in the bill would further disrupt transportation, and the de-facto universal basic income schemes would keep more potential workers on the sidelines of the labor market.

President Biden has repeatedly promised not to raise taxes on Americans earning less than $400,000 a year. He has already broken that promise — at least indirectly — by presiding over historic inflation that acts as a regressive tax on ordinary earners and entrepreneurs. If the BBB bill passes, he will officially break this promise. The left-wing Tax Policy Center projects that 20 to 30 percent of middle-class Americans, including small business owners who file as pass-throughs, will see their taxes increase under his plan. Successful small business owners would face some of the highest tax rates in the developed world.

These mandates, inflationary spending, and taxes hamstring small businesses in their quest to flourish, bring the economy back, and generate shared prosperity. Let’s inject this messaging into the Small Business Saturday celebrations moving forward.

Alfredo Ortiz is president and CEO of Job Creators Network. 

Read More