Happy New Year! Welcome to the first issue of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s Friday Facts for 2021. This is a special year for the Foundation: We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary!
Through the years of ‘policy over politics’ the Foundation has published hundreds of commentaries, scores of Issue Analyses and thousands of Friday Facts. Did you know? The Friday Facts started out as the Friday Fax, a weekly, members-only newsletter of tidbits shared exclusively via fax machine. This year, each Friday Facts will include a little trip down Memory Lane from our three decades of ‘Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives.’
Quotes of Note
“A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.” – James Freeman Clarke
“Too often lawmakers believe their first duty is to support or oppose whomever occupies the White House. Too often the majorities reflexively give away the legislative power to the executive branch. Redressing such an imbalance of power between the legislative branch and the executive branch will force lawmakers to think differently.” – Kevin Kosar
“A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few – as we have learned to our sorrow.” – Judge Learned Hand
Legislature: Georgia’s 2021 legislative session begins Monday, January 11. Read the Foundation’s policy proposals in the Guide to the Issues
U.S. Senate: Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoffs, ousting GOP incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and giving President-elect Joe Biden a Senate majority. Democrats now control the White House, the U.S. House and the Senate. The runoffs shattered spending records for a Senate race, The Hill reported, with at least $830 million spent. It speculated that once final spending reports are out, “the two Democrats running in Tuesday’s elections will be the best-funded candidates ever to seek Senate seats.” Republicans retain control of Georgia’s General Assembly and will control redistricting based on the 2020 Census. After the 2010 Census, Georgia gained one congressional seat.
Read Kyle Wingfield’s latest column “The Changing Terrain of Electoral Votes.”
State of the state: On average, the pandemic has had less of an effect on small businesses in the state and metro Atlanta than across the nation, according to the Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey. Just 6% of Georgia businesses expect to never return to normal operations, and 23% cited a large negative effect on their business, compared to a national average of 30%,
Savings: A new study of the 2017 federal tax cuts has found that, although controversial when adopted, the tax reform law will lead to lower taxes and higher wages as the average Georgia household will enjoy more than $39,000 in economic benefits over their lifetime. President-elect Joe Biden is proposing to undo half of the 2017 corporate tax cuts, raising the top rate from 21% to 28%. During the Democratic primary, Sen. Kamala Harris, (now the vice president-elect) proposed to repeal the previous corporate tax cuts entirely – pushing the top rate back to its original 35%. Source: Goodman Institute
Corporate debt relief: The Federal Reserve’s corporate credit facilities, created last March to buy corporate debt, “should be left to die,” write Sheila Bair and Lawrence Goodman in The Wall Street Journal. “The purpose of the corporate facilities was to help companies access debt markets during the pandemic, making it possible to sustain operations and keep employees on payroll. Instead, the facilities resulted in a huge and unnecessary bailout of corporate debt issuers, underwriters and bondholders.”
Jobs: The pandemic furloughed many workers, but 10 remote-capable career fields have grown by 25% since March 2020, according to a report in Techrepublic. According to the analysis by Flexjobs. Job opportunities continue to grow in the fields of marketing, administrative, HR and recruiting, accounting and finance, graphic design and customer service, writing, mortgage and real estate, internet and e-commerce and project management.
COVID-19 status update: As of Thursday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports more than 60,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 10,000 COVID-19 deaths in Georgia since the pandemic began. The department updates the information daily at 3 p.m. Visit the website here.
Allergic: The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week it has detected 21 cases of anaphylaxis reaction among the almost 2 million coronavirus vaccines distributed in the past week and a half. Reactions, registered largely in people with a history of allergies, were reported for both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Quality counts: Patients are willing to pay more if it means they can visit a hospital or physician with a high star rating, demonstrating the price of good patient satisfaction, a new study published in Health Affairs concluded. The study found that patients would also pay more to visit a facility closer to home. Researchers noted, however, that “Although patients are willing to pay more for the promise of better outcomes, providers are not typically allowed to charge more.” Source: PatientEngagementHIT.com
Energy and environment
Paygo: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s new rules exempt COVID-19 and climate change from Democratic pay-as-you-go budget promises – the promise to offset new spending with cuts elsewhere. A Wall Street Journal editorial points out that with President-elect Joe Biden appointing climate activists across the government, “from energy to transportation to financial regulators,” the rule will make it easier to fund his climate agenda. Budget bills that are exempt from “paygo” would need only 51 votes in the Senate, and the new Democratic majority would allow for passage of Biden’s $2 trillion in climate spending.
This month in the archives: In January 20 years ago, the Foundation published, “Deregulation Not to Blame for High Gas Bills.” It noted, “A few have suggested some type of price control. While it is easy to appreciate how thousands of consumer complaints can make any lawmaker or regulator nervous, a lesson can be learned from California’s electric deregulation experience. With rates escalating in California, regulators tried to manipulate prices to keep rates stable and ended up creating a bigger problem – energy suppliers would not sell to the state’s utilities.”
Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Hearing Opportunity Knock Amid Winds of Change,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our website at georgiapolicy.org.