April 15, 2021


The GOP's economic confusion (James Pethokoukis, April 14, 2021, The Week)

But if national Republicans and the broader conservative movement want to support political messaging with policy substance that targets the working class, they have a problem: Fighting for workers will often be in conflict with fighting for the culture, as they see it. In many cases, grievance politics will actually push them to oppose policies that might improve living standards and economic opportunity for those "hardworking, blue-collar men and women."

It's already happening. Take, for example, making housing more affordable by scaling back or eliminating land-use regulations that make it hard to build -- including minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, and prohibitions on multifamily housing. It's basic economics: boost supply to meet rising demand. Admittedly, this sounds like some super-wonky local issue. But President Biden wants Washington to do something about it. In the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, Biden proposes allocating $5 billion to a competitive grant program that would reward cities for reforming these rules.

Now here's what this affordable housing plan sounds like when turned into a right-wing culture war issue by Fox News host Tucker Carlson: "[Biden] also wants to 'eliminate exclusionary zoning' and 'needless barriers to producing affordable housing.' So your neighborhoods may have to make way for 'multi-family dwellings.' You don't want multi-family dwellings in your neighborhood? Doesn't matter. It's equity. Shut up, racist. And there's more where that came from." Similarly, frequent National Review contributor Stanley Kurtz sees the Biden plan as an effort to "kill suburban zoning and force leftist action civics and critical race theory on red-state schools."

Now, the Biden approach may or may not be an effective solution to the problem. But plenty of economists on the left and right agree that restrictions limiting the supply of housing is a big, big problem. For decades, these regulations have made it hard to build new housing, especially in some of the nation's most productive and high-wage job markets. But rapidly rising housing prices due to artificial supply constraints make too many of these cities unaffordable to working-class Americans. And those who do move find that high housing costs significantly eat into their wage gains. "The data show that many people, even those in the middle of the income distribution, have been excluded from these high-wage places because of rising housing prices," writes economist Daniel Shoag.

...defending the racial hygiene of your neighborhood.

Posted by at April 15, 2021 12:00 AM