Susan Popkin for the Urban Institute: The Trump administration has proposed a 13 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Similar cuts to public housing that the Reagan administration made in the 1980s show how these proposed cuts could be devastating to low-income families, who would face a reduction in the already limited supply of housing assistance available amid the worst housing affordability crisis in generations.
The Reagan administration cut funds and withheld maintenance and management funds to punish poor-performing housing authorities. The lack of federal support contributed to the spiral of problems that created appalling conditions in public housing in cities such as Chicago. By the end of the 1980s, many housing agencies were coping with aging properties that had dangerous problems such as broken elevators, malfunctioning incinerators, mold, and leaking pipes that spewed raw sewage. …
Those conditions spurred Congress to establish the National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing in 1989, which documented the terrible conditions and called for a major federal initiative to address the worst problems — most of them in big-city housing authorities such as Chicago. Through what became the HOPE VI program, HUD spent $6 billion to replace distressed developments with new, mixed-income communities.
Other investments supported rehabilitating traditional public housing stock and cleaning up management problems at local agencies that exacerbated the decline. The result was that more public housing residents lived in housing that was affordable and provided a safe and decent place to live.
Trump's budget cuts threaten to reverse the progress of the past 20 years and leave public housing in as bad — or worse — condition than it was in the 1980s.
Uber hasn't killed taxis yet
Caleb Watney for the R Street Institute: It seems like nearly every time ridesharing is brought up in New York City, someone will inevitably bring up the dramatic decline in taxi medallion prices. Dubbed the "Uber effect" by American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Perry, the theory is that increased competition from companies such as Uber and Lyft has eroded the legal monopoly that taxi medallion holders previously exerted in the on-demand automobile transport market.
By competing against this once-isolated market, transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft have made these medallions significantly less valuable. One proxy for the decline can be found in share prices of Medallion Financial Corp., a publicly traded consumer and commercial lending firm that is a major creditor in the taxi medallion lending business. When looking at the period from 2013 to 2016, the decline certainly looks precipitous …
That may not be the complete story, however. After all, the stock price may vary depending both on the specific quality of loans the company issues, its underlying cost of capital and on general market confidence. Furthermore, the stock price doesn't make any distinction across the numerous categories of medallion ownership.
However, it is important to recognize that the towering price high in 2014 was spurred partially by fleet owners borrowing against the rising value of the medallions they already owned to finance further purchases. So while medallion prices are undoubtedly dropping, it may look worse because prices were experiencing a bit of a bubble in the first place. Indeed, a former head of New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission said in April "the [taxi] industry's performance has not been as bad as the decline in medallion prices would suggest." In other words, don't mistake the price of medallions with the health of the industry overall.
Do the electric ride
Timmons Roberts and Larry Chretien for the Brookings Institution: For years now, inroads on carbon reduction occurred through the electricity and building sectors, not transportation.
Home insulation improved, and coal power plants gave way to natural gas, wind and solar. But greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector continued: Today, they constitute the biggest source of emissions. And as nations in Asia and South America develop, the middle class wants their cars. Here in the U.S., Americans want their SUVs and trucks.
But as long as cars run on internal combustion engines, we're falling short on the emissions reductions that we know are required, according to the latest scientific estimates. The venerable Prius will not get us there.
Fortunately, we can ditch gasoline entirely, plug in our vehicles and ride our emissions down.
Almost everywhere, running cars on electricity rather than gasoline reduces carbon dioxide emissions greatly – even in coal-rich places such as Indiana and Kentucky. Many of the new generation of electric cars get an equivalent of more than 100 miles per gallon. And every day, as more wind turbines are erected and solar panels are installed, the grid gets cleaner, making electric vehicles even cleaner. In fact, the benefits from an EV purchased five or 10 years from now will be even greater than one bought today, because the grid will be cleaner, while gasoline will be just as dirty.
Compiled by Joseph Lawler from reports published by the various think tanks.