Mid-Atlantic States Enact Historic Reforms, But Remain Stalled on Legalization

Mid-Atlantic States Enact Historic Reforms, But Remain Stalled on Legalization

By Patrick McKnight

Recent comments from Governor Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney suggest one final legislative effort to legalize marijuana in 2019.

“I think I’ve been consistent that I hoped we could have one more shot at this,” Murphy told reporters last week. “Getting something to happen sooner, if we have a real shot at that, I’d be all in. … Count me all in to try and work toward that.”

The Governor’s promised to legalize marijuana within his first 100 days in office. That was nearly two years ago. The following year and half have been a rollercoaster of rising and falling expectations for reform advocates. After Murphy and Sweeney came to an early 2019 agreement regarding how recreational marijuana would be taxed, the stage appeared finally set for a legislative vote.

Veterans Struggle to Gain Access to Medical Marijuana

Veterans Struggle to Gain Access to Medical Marijuana

By Patrick McKnight

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana programs. Despite this expansion military veterans often face greater obstacles to gaining access to medical marijuana than other groups. Veterans suffer widespread health problems including chronic pain, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder at a rate higher than the general population. When veterans seek medical care from the federal Veterans Administration health system, they not only lack access to medical marijuana but may fear jeopardizing all federal benefits if they admit to personal use. Notwithstanding the rapid spread of medical marijuana across the United States, many veterans report feeling left behind.

Global Negative Yielding Debt Hits Record $12.3 Trillion

 Global Negative Yielding Debt Hits Record $12.3 Trillion

By Tyler Durden (Reposted from Zero Hedge)

Somewhere, SocGen's permabearish strategist Albert Edwards is dancing a jig, as every day that passes bring us every closer to his trademark "Ice Age."

One week after the universe of negative yielding debt regained its prior high of $11.7 trillion, overnight - thanks to the dovish capitulations by both the ECB and Fed - the notional value of global sovereign debt with a minus yield sign jumped to $12.3 trillion, a new all time high.

The collapse in yields started on Tuesday morning when Mario Draghi said that the central bank might also trim rates and resume its bond-buying should inflation continue to languish well below its 2% target (recently European 5Y5Y forwards hit an all time low but have since rebounded following Draghi's comments).

Another Delay for New Jersey Cannabis Legalization

Another Delay for New Jersey Cannabis Legalization

By Patrick McKnight

An ongoing political saga took another unpredicted turn this month. After over a year of building momentum, hopes for a legislative vote on legalizing the adult-use of recreational cannabis have once again faded. Senate President Steve Sweeney announced he is no longer working towards a legislative solution, instead proposing a ballot referendum in 2020. In the meantime, he pledged to continue efforts to expand the Garden State’s medical marijuana program. He also expressed his support for an expungement bill.

On May 15, 2019, Sweeney tweeted “We will move forward with the expansion of our medical cannabis program as well as the progressive social justice reforms in the expungement legislation. We will not, however, pursue the legalization of adult use marijuana at this time.”

Newsflash: Social Security and Medicare Still Going Broke

Newsflash: Social Security and Medicare Still Going Broke

By Mike Maharrey

Last year, Social Security and Medicare trustees warned that the programs are going broke. A year later — they’re still going broke.

This shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody. It’s yet another example of the ineptitude of the political class in Washington D.C. And yet people still clamor for these same politicians and bureaucrats to take control over more and more aspects of their lives.

According to the annual Social Security and Medicare trustees report that was released Monday, Social Security will begin dipping into reserves in order to pay out benefits next year and those reserves will run dry in 2035. At that point, the program will no longer be able to pay out full benefits. In other words, Social Security recipients will see their benefits cut.

Analysts project Social Security’s expenses will exceed revenues as early as next year, according to the report. That means the program will have to begin spending money held in its trust fund in order to meet its obligations. While the Social Security administration has dipped into reserves before, analysts project this is now a long-term trend with no sign of reversal.

What’s Inside New Jersey’s Proposed Cannabis Legalization Bill?

What’s Inside New Jersey’s Proposed Cannabis Legalization Bill?

By Patrick McKnight

Over a year after reform advocates first began predicting swift legislative victory, the recreational use of cannabis remains illegal in New Jersey. When Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney agreed on a $42 per ounce flat tax in February, legalization supporters once again hoped for quick adoption of New Jersey Assembly Bill 4497 (“A4497”). Once again, the much-publicized March 25th vote was called off due to lack of support. Now legislators have a limited window to act before the state budget deadline on July 1st.

Hopes for reform have ebbed and flowed since Governor Murphy was elected on a platform including legalization within his first 100 days. Despite his party controlling both the Senate and Assembly, the Governor has only been able to expand the medical program since taking office. That executive action doubled medical marijuana enrollment in just six months.

While the media has spilled considerable ink analyzing the political drama, actual details of the bill itself have received considerably less attention. A4497 attempts to incorporate lessons learned from other legalization regimes in Colorado, Washington, and California. Some critics argue certain provisions in the bill are too ambitious. Others wish the bill would go even farther. These disputes will need to be resolved before the ongoing 18-month saga finally comes to a vote in Trenton.

New Jersey Moves Closer to Legalization

New Jersey Moves Closer to Legalization

By Patrick McKnight

New Jersey took another big step towards legalizing the recreational adult-use of cannabis last week, but legislators stopped short of taking the historic vote. After a breakthrough in negotiations over taxes and regulatory oversight between Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney in February, the scene appeared to be set for legalization. A vote was scheduled for Monday, March 25 but was postponed due to a lack of support. Leaders now hope to work out remaining sticking points and pass legislation before June.

Why Rand Paul is Right to Oppose Trump’s National Emergency Declaration

 Why Rand Paul is Right to Oppose Trump’s National Emergency Declaration

By Lee Enochs 

Recently, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has re-emerged as a national force to be reckoned with while receiving significant press coverage for his constitutionally principled and implacable stand against President Trump’s recent national emergency declaration on illegal immigration.

Such a declaration reallocates substantial tax payer’s money from military spending to fund a portion of Trump’s proposed border wall.

Like Senator Paul, I am generally and genuinely favorable to most of President Trump’s policy decisions.

However, I cannot give acquiescence with Donald Trump’s recent declaration of a national emergency and call for the reallocation of billions of dollars towards his border wall project out of concern that such an executive action by President Trump violates the clear separation of powers as delineated by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution.

How to Grow the Middle Class

How to Grow the Middle Class

 By Murray Sabrin

The decision by Amazon to pull out of building a New York City headquarters has ignited a debate over growth, ("Amazons exit reignites a debate over growth," February 17).

According to the article Nick Hanauer, who was one of the early investors in Amazon and identified as a progressive activist and writer, decries tax incentives as an example of egregious trickle-down economics.  Instead, he and a former Clinton administration advisor are calling for "middle – out economics."

Mr. Hanauer states confidently, "The thriving middle class is the cause of economic growth." This is incorrect. A middle class is the result of investment and production.  Mr. Hanauer's own actions prove that. He invested in Amazon, because he obviously believed the new online book service would be success. He did not "invest" in Seattle's middle-class.

Despite Mr. Hanauer's mistaken assertions regarding economic growth, the truth of the matter is there is no shortcut to creating a middle-class other than to have a vibrant free-market economy based upon investment and production.

Why Amazon’s Departure is Bad for New York

 Why Amazon’s Departure is Bad for New York

By Lee Enochs 

In a stunning and detrimental economic development for all New Yorkers, the Empire State’s Democratic Governor, Andrew Cuomo, who truth be told, is generally not friendly to pro-capitalist business interests in the Big Apple, lashed out bitterly at progressive politicians such as Democratic-Socialist Alexandria Cortez and Massachusetts Junior Senator Elizabeth Warren, for influencing tech giant Amazon’s decision to leave the city. 

It has been estimated that Amazon’s New York headquarters would have provided close to 25,000 new jobs and billions of dollars of economic revenue for America’s largest city.

However, “AOC” as Ocasio-Cortez is known to her adoring, three million followers on Twitter, celebrated gleefully Amazon’s abrupt departure from the city which never sleeps, and said, 

“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”