Top 5: Romney, Gamestop, Girls' Sports, and MORE

Also, my Super Bowl pick

Good morning,

As you might have noticed, I’ve moved “Top 5” over to Substack after having last week’s newsletter blocked by TinyLetter. TinyLetter finally got back to me late Friday night, explaining why their system wouldn’t allow me to send:

Taking a look at the account, it appears that our automated prevention system, Omnivore, detected content, keywords, or activity that can indicate the possibility of harmful information being sent through our service.

Upon review, however, we can see that the account is fine and have reinstated the account for sending. The stopped campaign has been moved back to drafts where it can be resent if you wish to do so.

We appreciate your patience during our review. As the specific keywords and content that Omnivore detects are constantly changing, we're unable to provide a full list of all potential triggers, however if you run into any issues in the future, please reach out and we'll be happy to assist.

I assume the trigger was “Gamestop” — but who knows? Anyway, happy to partner with Substack!

5.) Mitt Romney As Populist Hero

In last week’s newsletter, I called on Republicans to embrace pro-family economics. Yesterday, Sen. Mitt Romney came out with an ambitious proposal to do just that. I don’t know what to tell you — I get results! (Just kidding. We all know Sam Hammond and Robert Orr do all the work.)

Let’s talk a bit about Romney’s plan — the Family Security Act. Rather than nibble around the edges, Romney’s plan completely revamps the child tax credit system and the welfare system. No more child tax credit. No more Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). 

Instead, parents would receive $350/month ($4,200 annually) for children under 6 (starting four months before a child is born!) and $250/month ($3,000 annually) for children 6-17. This monthly payment would be capped out at $1,250/month ($15,000 annually). 

Additionally, the Family Security Act reforms the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which has been rife with problems for years. Now, the EITC would provide a $1,000 credit to qualifying single filers and $2,000 credit to qualifying married filers.

And here’s the kicker: Romney’s plan is budget neutral. In addition to scrapping TANF, he pays for it by permanently eliminating the state and local tax deduction (SALT), a tax benefit that primarily helps wealthy blue state Democrats.

I think there’s a lot to be said for this plan. It’s thoughtful. It’s innovative. It gives Republicans a serious proposal with which to counter the Democrats, who are likely to pass a similarly styled monthly stipend that of course has none of the pay-fors. And most importantly: it provides families, who bear way too much taxation as it is, with needed tax relief when they need it the most. 

One final note on this: Senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio came out against Romney’s plan, which was obviously significant because they are two of the GOP’s most pro-family senators. Lee and Rubio have their own proposal, which would eschew the monthly stipends and instead expand the child tax credit to $4,500/annual for young children and $3,500/annual for older children. Their main concern with Romney’s plan is how it might fail to support “work” — i.e. does it create incentives for parents to leave the workforce? 

I think those supporting the Romney plan would express skepticism that it disincentivizes work for primary income earners. The capped amount is $15,000 annually, which is hardly enough for a family to subsist on and support 4+ children. It is possible that it might disincentivize work for secondary income earners stuck in the “two income trap.” Will a married mother of four continue to work at McDonalds as a side hustle if she’s bringing in $10-$12,000 a year via this stipend? Maybe not. But this is already true for many poor folks under our existing welfare regime, which Romney’s plan would upend. By getting rid of some of these welfare cliffs — and long-term, there are plenty more we would need to eliminate — families would always be incentivized to earn the next dollar. 

I like both plans, I’m glad we’re having this debate, and I hope it continues!

4.) Final Thoughts on Gamestop

The Gamestop rebellion is over. The suits won. There’s not much more to say here.

But I do think it’s important to watch how Democrats and the media use this “crisis” in the months ahead to advance their preferred regulatory policies. Media folks are already pushing the idea that the WallStreetBets kids “manipulated the market” and therefore must be discouraged from future market participation. Democrats are looking at imposing a financial transactions tax to discourage “high frequency trading.” And according to Felix Salmon with Axios, regulators are looking for ways to go after the commission-free brokerage business model — again with an eye toward discouraging retail investors.

It’s important to be knowledgeable about what actually happened. I wrote about this last week in this newsletter. The “market manipulation” — if we’re going to call it that — was done by hedge funds when they shorted a heavily shorted stock and exposed themselves to unlimited risk. The WallStreetBets kids just bought stock and held. 

3.) The Political Efficacy of Girls Sports

Republicans don’t often feel comfortable talking about social issues, but once in a while an issue gets socialized. We saw it a few years ago when seemingly every Republican (and especially every Republican running for president) felt comfortable talking about the “20 week” ban on abortion. And now we’re seeing it again with the fight to protect girls’ sports.

Indeed, 16 states (and counting) have introduced legislation to defend girls’ sports within their borders. Senator Mike Lee is out with a bill, along with nine cosponsors, clearly defining “sex” under Title IX as biological. Senators Rand Paul and Mitt Romney both had viral moments this week arguing that boys should not be participating in girls’ sports. It’s hard to believe, but yes, we’ve finally hit a watershed moment. Republicans have found a way to combat the demands of the radical LGBT movement.

The brilliance of the “20 week” bill is that it allowed the pro-life movement to talk about the issue in a more strategic way. Few Americans think abortion should be legal up to the moment of birth, and yet the Democrats happen to espouse that position. The “20 week” bill holds them accountable to that radical view. And, it allows Republicans to go on offense — rather than constantly playing to the media narrative and defending the exceptions, Republicans have been able to pivot and challenge Democrats on their support for late-term abortion. It’s worked. Trump won in 2016 in large part because of the abortion issue.

Girls’ sports present the same opportunity for Republicans when it comes to the issue of adding gender identity to civil rights law as a special protected class. Democrats simply can’t defend the idea of biological males competing in women’s sports. It’s an absurd proposition. And by exposing this weakness in the Democrats’ preferred “gender identity” framework, this paves the way for discussion of some of the other awful ways “gender identity” laws will harm women and children.

Also, I have to say it: I’m very proud of the fact that American Principles Project led on this issue. Terry Schilling has been sounding the alarm on women’s sports for several years now. Here’s one of the ads our super PAC ran during the 2020 campaign.

2.) Should Conservatives Conserve Progressive Institutions?

I riffed a bit about this on Twitter this week. I’ve written about it in the past. And I promise I’ll write something more substantive on it soon enough. 

But we need to talk about the conservative movement’s love affair with institutions. Why? They’re all against us! The media is a propaganda arm for progressives. Big Tech is a censorship arm for progressives. Corporate America is increasingly progressive, constantly engaging in “cancel culture” and weighing in on the latest progressive cultural trends. Why do we defend these institutions at all?  Why do we continue to suggest they are unassailable via popular action?

The future of the GOP is obvious: we must build our coalition around multi-racial working class families. Part of winning over those families is advocating on their behalf against the institutions that have largely failed them. That’s how we get to fifty percent plus one. So do we really need to placate the elites who hate us, won’t support us, and won’t vote for us? Especially when it’s at the expense of these families — our voters?

The media will continue to lie about us. Why legitimize them? Big Tech will continue to censor us and suppress our ability to participate in our democracy. Why subsidize them? Corporate America will continue to promote Critical Race Theory and sexualized kids in drag. Why should we assist their bottom lines?

If the Republican Party is going to survive this existential battle for the heart and soul of the country, it will need a plan of governance that seeks to win it. If we refuse to combat the institutions that seek our political destruction, we are fools.

1.) SUPER BOWL PICK: Chiefs -3.5, OVER 55.5

Rant over. Let’s talk about the Super Bowl. Tom Brady is old. Patrick Mahomes is the GOAT. A three point spread is absolutely silly. This game is going OVER, and it’ll be the Chiefs by more than a touchdown. Chiefs 41, Tampa Bay 24.

SPECIAL PROP: Kansas City D/ST First Touchdown +3300 

THE “TOP 5” TWEET OF THE WEEK:

@ElonMusk: Sandstorm is a masterpiece

So true, Elon.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Jon Schweppe is the director of policy and government affairs at American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe.