Catherine Rampell Profile picture
Syndicated op-ed columnist @washingtonpost, commentator @cnn, special correspondent @newshour. Previously econ/theater NYT. Econ, immigration, tax, politics etc
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Aug 9 15 tweets 6 min read
🧵Dems are about to give $80b to IRS. Mostly for enforcement, as you've prob heard—but some of the $$ will also go toward upgrading the agency's IT. Which is desperately needed.
How can you tell? Let me take you on a tour, starting with the IRS cafeteria… Yes, that's a cafeteria in IRS's Austin office.
It’s stacked nearly wall to wall & shoulder-high with paper returns awaiting processing. Looks a bit like a corn maze. You could set a rat loose with cheese at other end, and the rat would never find it…
Aug 2 5 tweets 2 min read
uninsured rate declined throughout 2021 and early 2022 – reaching a historic low of 8.0% by the first quarter of 2022.… Image Part of the reason the uninsured rate is so low is that states basically aren't allowed to kick people off Medicaid while the public health emergency is in effect, thanks to Congress's covid response. That won't last forever.
Jul 28 6 tweets 3 min read
GDP decreased at an annual rate of 0.9% in the second quarter of 2022 Real disposable personal income decreased 0.5 percent in 2nd quarter, compared with a decrease of 7.8 percent in 1st quarter
Jul 20 5 tweets 2 min read
West Virginia politicians can't decide whether to use their (temporary) budget surplus to (permanently) cut income taxes, or (permanently) cut property taxes.… West Virginia is not the only state keen to use a temporary surplus as an excuse to slash taxes permanently.…
Jul 7 4 tweets 1 min read
The "laser" could use a little more focus, tbh… Main tool for dealing with inflation is Fed rate hikes. But there are things Biden could do to modestly reduce price pressures too: tariff repeal, Jones Act suspension, fix legal immigration bottlenecks, change risk calculus for oil firms, etc
So far he's done almost none of them
Jul 6 5 tweets 3 min read
There have been reports lately that Biden might (finally) repeal some of Trump's China tariffs. How many of those tariffs?
Per Politico, admin is considering lifting tariffs on $10 billion worth of imports...out of roughly $370 billion imposed by Trump. As a reminder, this is what then-presidential candidate Joe Biden said about Trump's tariffs. Left is from campaign website; right refers to a 2019 campaign speech.……
Jul 4 7 tweets 3 min read
Labor contract covering 29 West Coast ports expired on Friday.
Talks continue, but possibility of work stoppage or slowdown at the ports -- which are already strained by record-high throughput -- seems like huge risk more people should be thinking about… Last time this contract came up for negotiation -- in 2014/2015 -- talks broke down and there were expensive delays in West Coast shipping. Obama admin had to intervene.
That was obviously well BEFORE pandemic-related supply-chain problems.…
Jun 24 9 tweets 3 min read
If you're wondering why Dems seem so willfully confused about what's been causing inflation, and what policies could modestly alleviate it, it might be because a contingent of the populist left views even *talking* to the business community as selling out.… Democrats shouldn't take everything execs and lobbyists say at face value. Obviously. But it would be helpful to actually talk to industry, to figure out how their business models work & what policies might change incentives. Even that is beyond the pale.…
Jun 23 4 tweets 2 min read
New ATUS data out. Some interesting stats on remote work: In 2021, on days they worked, 38% of employed persons did some or all of their work at home. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, 24% of workers worked at home… Huge variation by occupation of course. Majority of workers in management, business, & financial operations occupations and professional & related occupations did some or all of their work at home (59% and 57%, respectively). Much less common in other occupations
Jun 21 5 tweets 1 min read
I have noticed this about a lot of the lifeguard shortage articles too... There are multiple factors driving the lifeguard shortage (including training for US teens, as Erica mentions, and US teens opting to do other stuff over the summer instead). But, usually a lot of summer lifeguards are non-Americans here on J-1 visas.
Jun 16 4 tweets 2 min read
it is good that there's a "conversation" coming between the admin and energy companies, because recent rhetoric suggests the White House still struggles to understand what is holding back energy supply.… Lots of yelling at companies for profiteering, insufficient patriotism; some threats of punitive measures; little apparent interest in looking at incentives these companies face. Like whether it makes sense to make a 30-year investment in a new refining facility today
Jun 6 7 tweets 3 min read
Unclear from reports so far what will actually be announced.
Reuters story suggests all tariffs on solar from Southeast Asian nations will be suspended -- which would seem to include the Trump-era tariffs Biden specifically extended back in Feb.… however, Bloomberg story phrases as "the president is set to announce a two-year halt in new solar tariffs."
"New" implies this is not a rollback of the tariffs already imposed/extended in Feb.…
Jun 6 5 tweets 2 min read
Majority of Republicans, and plurality of Democrats, say they believe we are currently in "an economic recession."… Note: Recession dates are officially determined by NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, whose definition "emphasizes that a recession involves a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and lasts more than a few months"…
Jun 1 4 tweets 2 min read
Children of immigrants growing up close to bottom of the income distribution (say, at 25th percentile) are more likely to reach the middle of the income distribution than are children of similarly poor US-born parents, write Ran Abramitzky & @leah_boustan… True even for children of immigrants from very low-income countries
May 30 7 tweets 2 min read
In Phoenix, less than half of public pools are opening because the city can’t hire enough lifeguards, despite offering a $2,500 incentive payment. Trolley lines in coastal Maine that service beaches are shutting down for summer due to a dearth of drivers.… Biden admin has released more visa slots for non-ag seas immigrant workers who could fill some of these jobs. But: admin set visa cap lower than Congress authorized; + took such a long time to make addit'l visas available that it's too late for many firms…
May 25 5 tweets 2 min read
There was an armed law enforcement officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. There was also an armed guard, Aaron Salter Jr., at the Buffalo supermarket shooting. Salter confronted the gunman but his shots failed to penetrate the latter’s armored vest. Gunman returned fire, killing Salter.…
May 19 6 tweets 3 min read
This is a smear for which you have no evidence.
I'm on record as disagreeing w/ @JeffBezos on issues central to this discussion—including whether BBB would be inflationary (I've argued negligible effect on inflation either way) & whether corp tax hikes are a good idea (I say yes) I have been able to do so because, happily, neither Bezos nor the publisher nor anyone else in Post leadership has *ever* pressured me to write anything other than what I believe, even when I disagree with them. I'm not aware of any similar pressure on any other columnist, either
May 16 7 tweets 2 min read
This is a lie. Show me the statement where I said we should have lax antitrust enforcement.
What I have said is: whatever the other merits of antitrust actions, they are mostly orthogonal to dealing with inflation. High inflation is driven by strong demand + constrained supply Market power is about LEVEL of prices — we are worried about RATE OF CHANGE today
May 15 5 tweets 1 min read
This would have been a good opportunity to ask why her husband’s USMCA deal effectively ended imports of infant formula from Canada. And maybe also why her husband (in a different galaxy-brain decision) added new tariffs on breast pumps
May 15 6 tweets 2 min read
Anyone who believes no prominent figure is arguing that price-gouging/profiteering/greed (however defined, or not) are the primary driver behind price growth should pay more attention to what Dem leaders have actually been saying.
This is the Senate Budget Chair, on Friday: Image Most left-of-center econ types know this is bunk, and treat it as mostly harmless. Politicians demagogue all the time, right?
The problem is that if you follow this rhetoric to its logical policy conclusions, you pursue choices that 1) won't help inflation; 2) could make it worse
May 13 4 tweets 1 min read
I am not sure if you actually read it, but that op-ed explained this in detail: Demand is strong. Supply is constrained. That drives up both prices *and* profits.
If you don't want to read my work on this, please, I beg you, talk to some actual economists about this subject. If you are trying to explain inflation without saying "demand" or "monetary policy," or you think the solution is effectively introducing price controls (as w/ the price-gouging bill your boss is co-sponsoring), you might think differently if you talk to some economists.