Jun 14, 2022

Will the White House Housing Supply Action Plan Fix the Housing Crisis?

Where might the plan fall short?
Salim Furth Senior Research Fellow , Mark Calabria
Mercatus Policy Download

Discussions of public policy featuring Mercatus scholars.

On this episode, Salim Furth, a Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Urbanity Project here at Mercatus discusses the new White House Housing Supply Action Plan with Mark Calabria, who is a Senior Advisor at the Cato Institute. They dig into what the action plan can do to fix the housing crisis in the United States and where it might fall short.

If you would like to connect with a scholar featured on this episode, please email the Mercatus Outreach team at [email protected]

Note: While transcripts are lightly edited, they are not rigorously proofed for accuracy. If you notice an error, please reach out to [email protected]

SALIM FURTH: Mark, thanks for being here today. What's the problem that we're talking about?

MARK CALABRIA: The problem that we're talking about is trying to do federally assisted housing development today is incredibly complex with fragmented programs where you're trying to stitch together a number of subsidies. Again, it's an expensive often inefficient process.

FURTH: The Biden administration in their Housing Supply  Action Plan has proposed to address this. Is that going to be easy for them?

CALABRIA: First of all, I commend him. I think it's worthwhile to do. I think it's important to do. I think it's something that can be done without a lot of new money. There's certainly going to be some bumps in the road. I know we'll get into this, but I tried 20 years ago to try to do this when I was on the Hill. Some things have changed which may make it easier. Some things have changed that may make it harder. I think it's a worthwhile thing to focus on. I think it's something where you could potentially get bipartisan agreement.

FURTH: Tremendous. Let's back up before we get any further into this. My name is Salim Furth, I'm the co-director of the Urbanity project here at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. We study housing. I mostly work on zoning, so all this finance stuff is new to me. I'm here to just ask questions and listen. My guest today is Mark Calabria. He's a senior advisor to the Cato Institute where he provides strategic input and direction on the federal economic policy-making process.

Mark is the former director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates and supervises Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks.

He served as the deputy assistant secretary for regulatory affairs at HUD during the George W. Bush administration, and most relevant to this conversation, he was a senior aide to the Senate Committee on Banking. He's also served as chief economist to Vice President Mike Pence and held positions at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, the National Association of Realtors, and National Association of Home Builders. Most importantly he holds a doctorate from George Mason University.

CALABRIA: There you go, although that's not any indication of job stability.

FURTH: You've kept your life interesting. This is a conversational podcast that came out of a tweet. The White House Action Plan came out a couple weeks ago, a lot of us read it over. There's a lot of things in there. It doesn't become law quickly, but you look and say, "Does the White House understand the problems that they're tackling? Have they correctly identified solutions?" In several cases, I think you and I thought, "Yes, this is really good," but you responded to a tweet of mine where I said, "Oh, look, here's something they can actually do, which is simplify LIHTC," and you said, "Hey, not so fast, I tried this in 2004." Where were you in 2004?

CALABRIA: Great point. I was on Capitol Hill. Maybe provide a little context for those who don't follow-- Let me preface with, the zoning stuff is honestly more important, in terms of the big bang for the buck. I think this is worth doing. I might have some qualms with other parts of the Supply  Plan that the White House has put out, but this is dead on a real issue. To put it in context, maybe you could save from 2% to 10% of the development construction costs on assisted housing.

For listeners, I'm going to predominantly use the word assisted even though the industry term is affordable, partly because in Washington those terms are synonymous, but the reality is that most housing that's actually affordable is not assisted and lots of assisted housing isn't affordable, but we use those terms synonymously in Washington. The issue tends to be that to do a development, and primarily affordable housing construction today is centered around the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit created in 1986. For about the first 10 years of that, it was slow going and you often had properties that relied almost exclusively on Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, but that has kind of morphed over time where LIHTC is still the core subsidy providing the equity, but it's not uncommon through, you also get HOME, which is a big grant program out of HUD or CDBG assistance, which is another Community Development Block Grant program. You may get block grant programs. They go through local government. It's not unusual to get FHA insurance with a mortgage. It's not unusual to have Fannie and Freddie by the tax credits.

For instance, to put this in context, in about two-thirds of LIHTC properties, there's at least somebody on the property who's also getting a Section 8 voucher. It's not unusual also to use tenant or project-based assistance. None of this was planned that way. These programs were all developed somewhat in isolation, and just the competition for making the project work.

This is really predominantly, gets back to your forte, zoning, you see this more likely in California where you'll see eight subsidies versus say, in Georgia, and maybe you'll see two or three. Where the land values are expensive, you see the developer try to cobble together a number of different funding sources.

It's also worth saying, again, in LIHTC, much of the discretion for the competition is driven by the state housing finance agencies. Some state housing finance agencies have chosen to award extra points in the competition for subsidy layering. That's a broader debate. There are those who feels like it's double-dipping. If we're actually, as the taxpayer's providing the equity, insuring the mortgage, and on some occasions even paying the rent, what exactly is the developer putting in other than, of course, their expertise? Some states have prioritized and rewarded this, and it's really driven this over time.

For instance, again, a third of LIHTC properties are getting either HOME or CDBG. You have a lot that are getting some state tax relief. There are also a number of state housing tax credit programs that layer on to this. If you think about what the real problem here fundamentally is, almost all of these programs have different applications. It's not unusual for the developer to spend $30,000 to $40,000 simply on the LIHTC application. You keep in mind, the average LIHTC property is about 45 units.

FURTH: You're getting close to $1,000 per unit, just for the application.

CALABRIA: Just for application for LIHTC, yes. Then if you're going to get  HUD mortgage and FHA mortgage insurance for the multifamily property, that's a separate application. You may have a separate application for the state tax credits. You certainly have a separate application for HOME or CDBG. This is great for lawyers and they make a lot of money.

FURTH: I'm considering a career change at this point.

CALABRIA: You could. There are a number of law firms who solely specialize in this. No disrespect for them, they are fulfilling a need that's out there, whether that's an inefficiency or not. For real estate, it's also important to keep in mind time is money. For instance, there may be different application cycles. Most states do their Low-Income Housing Tax Credit like once a year on a certain schedule. Well, that's not necessarily the same schedule that FHA mortgage insurance or that a state development agency that may give you HOME money. Certainly, that's not the same cycle for getting a project-based Section 8.

We've gotten, increasingly, over time, just this tremendous amount of complexity. At the end of the day, it's interesting, there was a study done by the California Legislature where after all this was added in, the cost of subsidized properties was about equal to that of market-rate properties. Almost the entire subsidy was eaten up in the process. Now of course there's other parts of this where you may have prevailing wage, Davis-Bacon requirements. Certainly, people in the field will tell you that the quality of properties is up, that we spend more in amenities. Whether that's true or not, I think that's hard to quantify. You may see a slightly greater level of non-profit developer activity but really nonprofit developers are a single digits percentage in terms of tax credit properties, maybe you're-

FURTH: The complexity here is really the issue. This isn't to debate about how much to spend. We're here at Mercatus.

CALABRIA: We can debate. That's a different conversation.

FURTH: I think one of the things that's important in having humility as policy analysts is that we don't just say, "Oh, complexity is bad." It's illegible so it's hard for us on the outside to understand. The people who do it, they get it, but it does sound like there's a lot of complexity here that isn't serving an important goal. These things happened not via organic emergence, not because the market's doing a bunch of different things at once but because a bunch of people passed different laws but then didn't coordinate them.

CALABRIA: Correct. We'll talk about-- Certainly, some of this provides a political good which is-- It's not the result of an irrational process. We can talk a little bit about what are the incentives that lead us to what is a very convoluted process that is drawn out and sucks a great amount of the subsidy value out of this. Let me also say as an aside, one of the differences some of these programs have is the income targeting. It's important to keep in mind, particularly LIHTC, that the requirement is that you do something like 40% of the tenants making at least 60% of area mean income and lower.

It's important to keep in mind that renters unsurprisingly are poorer than the overall population but the targeting requirements consider the overall population. The relevancy here is that, nationally, renter median income is about 60% of area median income. For many of these properties, and I know that the developers of this their ears will steam a little bit when I say this, you could randomly pick renters out of the renter population who meet most of the target requirements. Now, that said, one of the interesting things and perhaps one of the valuable things, but it adds to the complexity of LIHTC is that the state house and finances just could add on additional requirements. You do see an aggressiveness in many states where the targeting is much tighter than the federal standards.

I'm of the view that the Federal's targeting standards are really not all that binding and are not all that hard to meet.

FURTH: Let's get into the proposed solution. It's the Biden administration. They've got this nice, simple paragraph that explains that they're going to make this simpler. What are they saying they're going to do, just briefly?

CALABRIA: What they're really saying is they're asking Congress to do some alignment across these programs. There are things you can do from the executive point of view, but not a lot. The big problems fundamentally are statutory and so you certainly need congressional changes. You need congressional input. You need congressional coordination.

For instance, just having a one-stop shop. Maybe to emphasize the complexity of this across agencies, almost every federal agency has a housing program. This may surprise you, but let's-- Obviously, HUD is an obvious one. Sure, they've got housing programs.

FURTH: Several.

CALABRIA: LIHTC is a big deal. Most people may or may not know that's administered by Treasury Department. Obviously, at USDA the rural housing programs are obvious too, but you might not be aware that the Department of Justice has a shelter program run under the Violence Against Women Act.

HHS has a shelter housing program run under, I think, the Family Violence Prevention Act, and of course, VA's got housing programs. Many of these do use combined funding sources and so there's no real coordination across that.

For instance, because the state housing finance agencies do the input application for LIHTC, which is the core component of this, they're not necessarily coordinating that with an application for HUD or USDA. There's a lot of actual, like 515 is the USDA multi-family insurance program. A lot of rural LIHTC uses 515.

FURTH: Could the Biden administration say, "These four agencies are all going to start using the same application that's used for LIHTC. We're just going to force them to adjust a little bit so that when you fill out this one, you can copy it and send it to VA or USDA and make that your application"?

CALABRIA: You could. This could be something that OMB or IRA leads on and says, "We're going to coordinate and make sure that there are similar funding cycles, and we're going to try to make sure the applications even if--" because it's going to be unusual. You're not going to get a HUD mortgage insurance and USDA rural housing insurance on the same loan. It'd be unusual that you would, but you could coordinate some of this, and have some application similarities so that it becomes a little more standardized. You could think about it, maybe this is something a paralegal needs to do instead of a lawyer so you can reduce some of the fees.

There are also some requirements. For instance, there's statutory requirements on HUD, where they have to make sure that they review their subsidies that are put in and decide whether the subsidy is actually needed for the project. There are HUD reviews that are built in that you can't get away from without statutory changes.

Then there are just differences in program requirements. Maybe to give a little history of this of what got me sucked into this, if you will, interested in this. Back in 2000, Congress decided it was going to create something called the Millennial Housing Commission. The report is still out there. There was a lot of good research done along with it and even though it's 20 years old, the report actually came out in summer of 2002, it’s still out there on the web. I suggest those who are interested in history of housing policy take a look. While most of the recommendations of the Millennial Housing Commission were additional funding programs, interestingly enough, one of the recommendations was coordinate subsidy layering review, reduce fragmentation.

The Biden administration proposal really is a rewording of a proposal that was made 20 years ago. Again, arguably more relevant today because it's actually become more complicated today than it was 20 years ago, but the relevancy-- Again, as I mentioned, the Millennial Housing Commission Report came out summer of 2002. I had rejoined the Banking Committee staff in 2003. We were looking for a number of issues out of the Commission Report that we thought you could get bipartisan support for.

As a reminder for those who don't always necessarily understand the congressional process, I worked in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. We were the authorizing committee, which meant that we could pass laws, we could authorize certain amounts of money to be spent, but ultimately, it was really the Appropriations Committee that would decide whether there was money there.

Certainly, a constant tension, if you will, for the authorizing committees, the House Financial Services is the parallel, is you don't actually create money really. You can focus on efficiencies. My counterpart on House Financial Services, we sat down and said, "Well, this is something where, A, we can do, we can at least do parts of." It came out of the Rental Housing Commission, which again, the commission was made up of stakeholders within the housing community so the assumption really was that the recommendations had already had some buy-in from stakeholders. We'll get to this as perhaps an obstacle why we couldn't get any far but there were a lot of well-established stakeholders in the housing assistance community. They're very vocal and make their views known and they're very protective of their piece of the process.

We began a process of looking at this. For instance, one of the things we really started to focus on was you had, at this point, a growing amount of both projects and tenant-based Section 8 vouchers used in tax credit properties but there were a lot of differences in some of the rules and eligibility. We looked at this and said, "What could we fix?"

Now I do want to emphasize, I mentioned earlier how almost every cabinet agency has a housing program. The reason for that is because the jurisdictional breakdown in Congress. This is really probably the biggest obstacle of being able to reform here. The tax credit program, LIHTC of course is under the jurisdiction of the tax-writing committees, Senate Finance, House Ways and Means, and they don't spend the bulk of their time thinking about housing to be fair. Especially when you're responsible for tax reform or entitlements and healthcare, you've got a lot going on in fairness. Getting cross-committee jurisdictional coordination is very difficult, particularly if one side of the committees involved isn't terribly interested or has a lot else going on. Part of the issue was just getting the tax-writing committees to make any changes to coordinate because, again, there may be things within HOME, CDBG, Section 8 that you can coordinate to the tax credit but there are going to be things where you think making some changes to tax credit makes sense.

We quickly arrived at the spot where getting the tax committees to do anything was a non-starter. We had conversations, we had engagements. Then we were left to the point of saying, "What can we change in the housing programs to mimic the tax credit? Certainly, there are things that we were uncomfortable with. As I mentioned earlier, my view is at the federal level, the targeting proposals, the targeting structure and the tax credit is just not very binding.

The targeting you see in Section 8 is binding. There really is a focus on having lower income. I come from the philosophy of, if we're going to have limited federal housing assistance provided, we should be targeting those most in need. There's always a constant debate in housing, you see this in conversations about the mortgage rates reduction or other things that-- We focus a lot of our housing assistance at least through the tax code on the upper-middle class. I didn't want to see us do something similar here.

A non-starter for us was adopting the targeting the tax credit program. We really wanted it to go the other way around. Part of that was the effort but once you started getting into the nitty-gritty, you really started running into every little line of difference in some program. It was there for a reason because some constituency group wanted it.

FURTH: Give me an example, just like one illustration of that.

CALABRIA: Some of this would be maybe just the formula allocations, how much, who gets what. The tax credit program, for instance, is per-capita calculation. CDBG is a very complicated calculation based on population loss and poverty and just aligning funding cycles, but even creating something where there is a single point of entry.

Here's where I think the biggest bang for the buck could be. Maybe I'll start with the real biggest bang for the buck, but that's not going to happen, but let's discuss it anyhow.

This was discussed a little bit in the Bush years is having much more of a block granting of the programs, so rather than you apply to six different programs, here's a single funding stream where you would roll home CDBG and maybe even the tenant-based voucher. Roll all the stuff into a single funding stream, send it to the states or cities.

Then they could coordinate. You could even have the tax credit, the state housing finance agencies do a application for the entire funding stream. That would be the easiest.

Now, because of the history both a little bit with the Nixon years and the Reagan years where there was significant block granting. The CDBG, for instance, came out of all these ridiculous years-

FURTH: That was a major reform. Everybody criticizes it now, but it was a big improvement at the time.

CALABRIA: Absolutely. In our view, it was a big improvement. I'll get to why some people don't see it as improvement. You had a lot of these, like just, here's your sewer improvement. Random stuff where it was so tied and of course it bears same-- We economists tend to think cash transfers are better than in kind. Congress has a different philosophy on that.

There really 20 years ago was this very negative reaction in the housing community over block granting. The perception was that, "Sure, okay, we get more flexibility, but it's easier to cut block grants." You could argue that given the funding levels over time of CDBG and HOME, there's probably an argument for that. Of course, to me, I think if you got 90 cents with a lot less regulatory burden than 100 cents, you could still be much better off. There really was such a pushback.

First and best is block granting a lot of this stuff, but that's not going to happen.

FURTH: That's not going to happen.

CALABRIA: That's not going to happen. Second best really is, could you set up a federal single point of entry. You've seen this at the local level. I remember when I first moved to DC in the '90s, they had consolidated. You as a developer had to go to like 10 different spots to get a project done. They really consolidated. I believe this was under Mayor Williams and they really consolidated some of the local entry points and it really--

FURTH: Pennsylvania has something similar, right,-

CALABRIA: Exactly.

FURTH: For all their state grants?

CALABRIA: It really is something that saves a lot of time, it adds a lot of certainty to the process. You really get into these problems where, if 10 different agencies have a veto over it, A, who's crazy enough to run that gauntlet, to begin with, and then who's going to make it through. I do think you could do something at the federal level, where you had a consolidated application process, gets back to our-

FURTH: This seems like the logical, you're not reaching too much. Maybe the funding is-- You're not going to qualify for everything, but you can put your application in, and you check the box. I qualify for A, J, and K, but not the other ones.

CALABRIA: Then you have a review process. Now, I do think there take some statutory changes basically to move some of the responsibilities and authorities that are placed on HUD or USDA and move them to this consolidator. Now, of course, you could simply say HUD will-- You could pick an agency and say, "We're going to make them a consolidator." Now there are individual programs. For instance, long-running debates, and the Bush administration argued to do this as well as the Trump administration, where you were going to take the rural housing programs out of USDA and put them over at HUD. Of course, the way I describe it is, they can be at an agency that doesn't care about housing, or they can be at an agency that doesn't care about rural.

FURTH: [Laughs]

CALABRIA: Obviously, exaggerate a little bit, but pick your poison. There are ways to change that. I do think part of the problem with HUD is Housing and Urban Development, it's seen as politically a big city agency. It's not seen as an agency that looks out for suburbs or rural areas. I think we're at a point in our country where it's a reasonable point to ask, should it be the Department of Housing and Community Development, rather than Urban Development. That said, you could do some program consolidation there, but making somebody the single point of entry, I think, would be the biggest change.

It would also be easier in some ways because the rural programs and the veterans' programs are actually under the jurisdiction of the Banking Committee. Now, I know my friends from the Ag Committee and the Veterans' Committee take some different views, but this is something we've fought.

FURTH: It's conceivable that one committee could at least get those-

CALABRIA: 70% of it done. I do think that there needs to be a broader conversation, and we somewhat saw this in the COVID response where, as you recall, the housing and rental assistance for some bizarre reason was run out of Treasury. I think one of the reasons that it took forever for anybody to get any money was because it was run out of Treasury. Again, they've had the tax credit program, they have a New Markets Tax Credit Program, but there's not a lot of housing expertise at Treasury, all do respect to people there.

I do think we should have a broader conversation about whether we should have any housing programs at Treasury. It's simply not their expertise and moving that somewhere else. Some of this could be changes within the programs but at a minimum creating some single point of entry where you are consolidating this, I think could make a big difference.

FURTH: Let's take this small point-- because I think this is what the Biden administration's talking about. They're not talking about rethinking the architecture.

CALABRIA: Correct.

FURTH: They're talking about the fact that you can get on a Virginia bus or a Maryland bus or a DC bus with your Smartrip Card and, yes, there's problems with having a fragmented transportation network, but at least you've got one card in your wallet.

CALABRIA: Exactly.

FURTH: We're talking about something on that scale. If you had your magic wand to go around Washington and anoint two or three people to be the leaders, who are the natural, either in the administration or in Congress, who are the individuals you would say, "Oh, I want this person in this role to be passionate about this because if I get these two or three people passionate, they will actually have the expertise and authority to move something through"?

CALABRIA: Great question. You really get at one of the reasons that we were not able to get this done 20 years ago was there was no real buy-in from congressional leadership or even from the Bush administration. It came out of the Monroe housing commission, so everybody, other than the commissioners, could distance themselves from that. This was really a staff-driven effort. I don't want to minimize, often a lot ofthings can get done on the Hill simply because some staffer gets worked up about it.

FURTH: This is a little bigger than that.

CALABRIA: Yes. The things I think that are different today, A, you've got an explicit White House statement.

FURTH: Then who within the White House is that going to be?

CALABRIA: That's a good question, is this NEC running with it? National Economic Council. Is this Domestic Policy Council? Are they anointing somebody who's going to run with this who can pressure and put some emphasis on Congress? The interagency part, my feeling is it's really got to be OMB because there's nobody who quite-- You could put it this way, there's nobody who's quite feared within the executive branch by the agencies quite like OMB.

FURTH: Yes. You've got to be able to say like, "I need you to prioritize this work." It's not that they oppose it, it's that every agency has their own priorities and like.

CALABRIA: It's also OMB has the expertise of like, you think things, say, cost-benefit analysis, OMB has a historic role of standardizing paperwork. There are really this, if from the executive branch perspective into this, it's got to be OMB driven. From the legislative and trying to get congressional changes, probably DPC because NEC has a lot on their plate.

FURTH: The White House Domestic Policy Council would be facing the legislature. Then, on Capitol Hill?

CALABRIA: This is a great question. Now we do have the benefit of there are a handful of members that are on both banking and finance. You think about people like Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, then Mike Crapo on the Republican side, Tim Scott. You actually are an interesting spot where there are members who sit on both committees and can take the view of what do we need to coordinate with this.

Certainly Brown has expressed a tremendous amount of interest in housing issues during his tenure so far as Chair of the Banking Committee. Of course, Tim Scott also sits on Finance and it is the likely Republican to come in with the Senate flips. You have some interest there. Again, Elizabeth Warren is somebody who sits on both committees and arguably has some insulation. She can push some of the groups further than they may like to be pushed because some of this is going to sacrif-- You got to create a steamroller here where the view is, you're on the train or you're going to get left behind.

We were never able to get to that point of momentum 20 years ago where people felt like if they weren't at the table, the old Washington quip, "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu."

We were never able to get to that point where people felt like they had to get on board. I do think if you have one of these members, you don't have the same benefit. It's very unusual. I can't think of any members off the top of my head who are on House Financial Services and House Ways and Means that did. It doesn't tend to work the same way in the House.

If you had a big-name Senator on these committees really say, "I'm going to run with this issue," I think you could get that done. Again, Sherrod Brown is probably the most obvious person who could run with this, and again, Crapo or Scott could be somebody. I believe Tim is also on Finance, but this isn't going to get done this year. I know we--

FURTH: Yes, right. It's an election year.

CALABRIA: I know it feels like there's still half a year left, but in terms of legislative days, no, not at all. Next year, is this something where Republicans could come to agreement with the administration? I would say the short answer is possible, yes. I think there are agreements here. This is something that you could spend the rest of the year having hearings on, staff could start drafting, negotiating. This is something out of the plan. We don't need to get to the details of the rest of the housing bill, but a lot of the new spending-- In this environment of inflation and deficits, I don't see Republicans getting on board with new housing spending programs. To me, it's a non-starter.

FURTH: Right. For both sides, getting some efficiency out of these as to expanding is a clear win.

CALABRIA: Exactly.

FURTH: Now, which industry groups do you feel like could be on board and be champions, and which ones do you feel like need to get rolled and silenced.

CALABRIA: Depending on how you do it. Certainly, the developers ultimately, you should be able to get them on board. The places like NAHB, National Association of Home Builders, these are the people who have to run the gauntlet and so for them, one-stop shopping really is attractive. I would say the lawyers and syndicators while influential are probably not influential enough to really be an obstacle to this. There'll be one or two, three law firms that would really be threatened by this, but they just don't have the juice politically. They can get rolled.

In terms of how far you are willing to go with it. The big part of the problem is let's say we set up a federal one-stop-shop. Now I've been within HUD. I've walked that 10 floors and basement. I know the problems there and so I only very, very reluctantly say that HUD is the agency who probably should be the point on this.

That means that as much as much as Treasury is halfhearted about its housing, they don't want to lose it so you're going to get into these cabinet squabbles of not wanting to give up complete control of their programs. This is where you need the White House to come in and say to Treasury or to USDA or the other agency like, "Listen, this agency is going to be the point on this. President says so. Get on board." If you don't have that, then you're just going to have this political squabbling.

Again, what we lacked 20 years ago was the leadership we needed among elected-- the principals. If you could do that today, you can get there. I'll say, if you don't have that, if you don't have presidential and elected member involvement, it's not going to get done because, again, the committee differences, the industry differences, and the agency differences will just bog it down.

FURTH: Right. Well, that's great. Thank you so much for your insight. I think we wish well those who are in the arena and we understand this is not going to be easy, but it's worth doing.

CALABRIA: It is. It's probably the thing that's most where the cost-benefit ratio in the plan is probably the greatest in my view.

FURTH: That's right because the costs are schlepping around Washington.

CALABRIA: Hire a bunch of lawyers to do multiple applications. It's all process costs and so I do think this is something where you can bring down some costs in the process. You bring some certainty to the process. You put a couple lawyers out of business, but there's plenty of demand for lawyers in our country so I'm not worried about them finding other work. Again, the ratio of benefit to cost here, in my view, is probably the greatest in the plan and the potential for bipartisan agreement is probably stronger here than anywhere else in the plan.

FURTH: Sounds great. Let's go get lunch.

CALABRIA: Absolutely. Thanks.

Photo by Peter Dazeley via Getty Images. 

Support Mercatus

Your support allows us to continue bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world policy solutions.Donate