Government Interference in Energy, Gaming Is Harming PA
Small businesses throughout Pennsylvania have faced many hardships over the past few years, ranging from supply-chain bottlenecks to overbearing bureaucratic mandates. And the toll has not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by President Joe Biden’s visit to the state shortly after taking office.
During his March 2021 visit, President Biden noted that some 400,000 businesses in the state were facing closure. His policies, however, have not helped: the administration’s 2023 budget proposal does little to alleviate burdens for Pennsylvania business owners.
In fact, the Biden administration has called for increasing taxes on residents and businesses even though Pennsylvanians already pay one of the nation’s highest tax rates. Higher gasoline prices are also likely, given that Biden is pushing new energy regulations that will inhibit alternative energy supply. Gas prices in Pennsylvania are already among the highest in the U.S., and state residents’ home heating bills hit record highs at the end of last year.
All of this explains why the state’s natural gas reserves should be leveraged. A recent Wall Street Journal article credits natural gas for keeping energy bills manageable during this hot summer; and for Pennsylvania residents, natural gas is beneficial not only for lowering energy costs but also for driving economic growth. Pennsylvania’s total natural gas storage capacity is the fourth-largest in the nation, at about 763 billion cubic feet, and fracking generates substantial economic spillover effects, providing jobs and investment opportunities.
In addition to infringing upon energy supply, the Biden administration is also interfering with private business deals – most recently within the gaming sector, another important industry for Pennsylvania.
Recently, Biden’s Federal Trade Commission chair, Lina Kahn, sought to block Microsoft’s acquisition of game developer Activision-Blizzard. Fortunately, the FTC’s case fell short in court, and Microsoft’s Xbox users can look forward to better options when subscribing to its Game Pass plans.
The Microsoft-Activision deal improves gaming choices for consumers and also helps elevate Microsoft’s status in the global gaming market. Tencent, headquartered in China, and Sony, based in Japan, presently dominate the gaming realm.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard is an important step for Pennsylvania’s economy since, according to Fortune magazine, Pennsylvania is one of the top 10 states for video-game development. The state’s gaming sector is thought to be worth over $80 million locally. It is alarming that Khan and the Biden administration sought to stifle America’s competitiveness in this sector, especially when international jurisdictions greenlighted the transaction. When the EU is a better champion for an American firm’s aspirations than our own federal government, something is clearly amiss.
Thanks in part to such restrictive economic policies, Pennsylvania now ranks 44 out of 50 in business environment for economic growth. And, according to the 2023 State Business Tax Climate Index, the state ranks 42 out of 50 for corporate taxes and 33 out of 50 for tax rates overall. Heading into the 2024 presidential election, the Biden administration should recognize Pennsylvania’s political importance and ease regulatory restrictions to allow the state’s residents to prosper.