Senate Tax Force Aims for Obamacare

“I don’t know if I can live on my income or not,” comic strip writer Bob Thaves joked. “The government won’t let me try it.” But Republicans might, if their twin tax plans can survive the twists and turns of a House and Senate debate. A good House plan got even better, thanks to House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who heeded conservatives’ concerns and honed the language on the Johnson Amendment, adoption tax credit, and marriage penalties. After some thoughtful revisions, his bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is headed to the floor as early as tomorrow.If there’s trouble ahead, House leaders are confident it won’t be on their side of the Capitol. “It’s probably the most unified we’ve been in a while,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) told reporters about Thursday’s vote. “We all have our issues, and we know the Senate is going to do something different. But I think everyone is very focused, and we know we need to get this thing done.”

Collins was right about the Senate doing something different. Late yesterday, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced that Republicans were tweaking their bill to take on an old foe: the Obamacare individual mandate. In a major departure from their first draft (and the House plan), GOP leaders decided this was the perfect time to attack the IRS’s punishment for Americans who refuse to buy insurance. In doing so, Hatch argued, “We not only ease the financial burdens already associated with the mandate, but also generate additional revenue to provide more tax relief to [middle-class] individuals.” The benefits are two-fold: taxpayers aren’t fined for making a personal decision about health care, and the Senate has more money to offset other tax reforms.

That’s key for Republicans, who unlike the House, are working under much stricter budget rules. Under the reconciliation process (which lets them pass the bill with a simple majority instead of the regular 60), GOP leaders have to find a way to “pay for” their plan, and zapping the individual mandate would free up about $338 billion over the next 10 years. Senator Hatch knows that if fewer people are forced to buy insurance, then fewer people will be applying for federal subsidies to pay for it. That saves GOP leaders a lot of money, which it’s decided to use for an even better causes: like the child tax credit.

Thanks to the persistence of Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the modified Senate bill doubles the child tax credit to $2,000 from the initial $1,650. FRC, along with other conservatives, had been pushing for this increase for months. Now, that work is paying off. “Good news for working families,” Rubio tweeted. “The Senate #TaxCut bill now has #ChildTaxCredit at 2K. We are making progress.” Hopefully, the GOP finds a way to make the change permanent, since the text, as it’s currently written under reconciliation rules, would expire in 2025.

The Left’s pro-abortion crowd has gone hysterical over an education tax deduction, the ability of expectant parents’ to contribute to their future children’s education. The Left insists that this is some radical new way of undermining abortion, which is interesting since it has nothing to do with it. Yet still, NARAL calls it “dangerous” to let families save for college early. Affirming this language, claims Ilyse Hogue would “lay the foundation for ‘personhood,’ the idea that life begins at conception thus granting a fetus in utero legal rights.” But guess what? That foundation was already laid in the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which, Hogue may be interested to know, uses the same terminology.

As most people know, the real debate on these provisions will be in three weeks or so, when the two chambers conference together and hash out their differences. Until then, Americans will watch and wait — hoping, as we all do, that Republicans can finally offer families some much-needed relief from Uncle Sam.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Also in the November 15 Washington Update:

U.S. Strayed by USAID

Bible Speeches Make the Week Strong

Adobegate: Florida EPC, Miami-Dade School Board Picks the Winners; Norland Senior High & Detroit Public Schools Provide Refuge

“For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God” – John 3:20-21.”

As citizen journalist Trevor Colestock exposed the Adobegate scandal over the past four years and exposed it to the proverbial disinfectant of sunlight, the administration of Miami-Dade County public schools, chiefly Alberto Carvalho and Enid Weisman, decided to retaliate against him.

Mr. Colestock’s trial is set to commence on March 12, 2018.

Logic was defied in Miami-Dade County, Florida, as union steward and school library media specialist Trevor Colestock uncovered a massive test cheating scandal, Adobegate, at Miami Norland Senior High School and was unlawfully transferred to another school as a result; his findings verified by the Final Miami-Dade OIG Report; and the strange firing of one teacher and suspension of the other who was equally involved.

Mrs. Muchnick returned to Norland High in early January 2014 after a menial suspension and no disciplinary action by the State while her accomplice, Mr. Fleurantin, was fired and recently disciplined by the Florida Education Practices Commission.

According to the Florida EPC Report issued on October 27, 2017, Mr. Fleurantin received a two year suspension, two years probation, and a $750 fine along with taking an ethics course and limitations on proctoring tests.

In the past, the Florida EPC revoked certificates of teachers who were implicated in minor instances of test cheating. Seems like both Fleurantin and Muchnick got a sweetheart deal.

To date, the teachers involved, Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin and Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, were never arrested, charged, booked, and/or prosecuted as the State Attorney, the Florida Attorney General, and Governor Rick Scott refused to acknowledge this massive test cheating scandal and the almost $250,000 paid out through federal and state incentives to the faculty for an “A” grade for the 2011-12 school year tainted by cheating.

Each teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School received $1730.41.

Most crimes, such as theft and homicide, have varying degrees; test cheating does not and state law is straightforward and clear. In any given instance of test cheating, a role is a role; there is no distinguishing a major role from a minor role. Either one was involved or they were not.

Both Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick, according to the Miami-Dade OIG Final Report, allegedly “knowingly and willfully” violated test security rules irrespective of quantity of students in their respective roles.

When one reads that document and the Department of Administrative Hearings brief, issued by the School Board Attorney on January 8, 2014, justifying Mr. Fleurantin’s termination, one can reasonably conclude that Mrs. Muchnick is equally culpable, and a reasonable person would think her employment was up for termination as well.

In the meanwhile, the State of Florida or the USDOE, not to mention the Miami-Dade State Attorney and/or the U.S. District Attorney, declined to take action even though various crimes appear to have taken place akin to the test cheating scandals in Georgia and Texas, which have landed school administrators and teachers in jail.

Though the teachers got paid, the big winners from Norland’s academic successes tainted by cheating were school and district administrators: Reginald Lee went from being an assistant principal over the vocational department in which the cheating took place to the principal of Charles Drew Middle School and then Norland in November 2012; Luis Solano went from being the principal at Norland to the Associate Superintendent, Curriculum & Instruction at Collier County Public Schools in Naples and was recently hired as the Chief Operating Officer for Detroit Public Schools by Nikolai Vitti; Nikolai Vitti went from being the Assistant Superintendent of the Education Transformation Office (ETO) at M-DCPS to the Chief Academic Officer of M-DCPS and then became the Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville and recently was hired as the Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools; and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho became the Florida and National Superintendent of the Year shortly thereafter and is still in charge of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Also, the Florida Department of Education recently released information that revealed that Miami Norland Senior High School had 96 FCAT/EOC test invalidations over the span of three school years (2011-2014).

Combined with the questionable U.S. History EOC scores at Norland for the 2016-17 school year, it appears that test cheating is condoned and rewarded.

U.S. History EOC scores at Norland from the exam’s inception: 31% (2013), 47% (2014), 43% (2015), 41% (2016), and 83% (2017).

A reasonable person may assume that Miami-Dade County Public Schools “created a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation” when it chose to transfer and retaliate against Mr. Colestock for reporting, exposing, and publishing articles about the test cheating while returning Mrs. Muchnick to Norland and never seeking her or Mr. Fleurantin’s prosecution.

The implied message to teachers in Miami-Dade seems to be “keep your mouth shut about test cheating lest you want to end up like Mr. Colestock.”

The lack of inaction by the federal and state governments seem to condone M-DCPS’s actions and test cheating in general.

Like Atlanta, the victims in Miami-Dade County, Florida, besides the taxpayer, were low-income minority (mostly black) school children who were denied the remedial help they needed as false and misleading test scores suggested otherwise and graduated with worthless Adobe credentials.

Despite the exposure of these issues over the past four years, it seems strange how the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter movement has been stunningly silent.

References:

2016 Spring NGSSS US History EOC Results by School Summaries (Xls) (Gives a 4 year overview of test scores)

2017 NGSSS US History Results By School (Compares the last two years of test scores)

RELATED ARTICLE: Jury says sex with a student should cost a former Miami-Dade high school teacher $49.3 million

Dianne Feinstein Wants to Ban Commonly Owned Semi-Autos, Again!

On Wednesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced S. 2095, which she is calling the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017. The 125-page firearm prohibition fever dream is perhaps the most far-reaching gun ban ever introduced in Congress.

Subject to an exception for “grandfathered” firearms, the bill would prohibit AR-15s and dozens of other semi-automatic rifles by name (as well as their “variants” or “altered facsimiles”), and any semi-automatic rifle that could accept a detachable magazine and be equipped with a pistol grip, an adjustable or detachable stock, or a barrel shroud. And that’s just a partial list. “Pistol grip” would be defined as “a grip, a thumbhole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip,” meaning the ban could implicate even traditional stocks or grips specifically designed to comply with existing state “assault weapon” laws.

Needless to say, semi-automatic shotguns and handguns would get similar treatment.

Also banned would be any magazine with a capacity of greater than 10 rounds or even any magazine that could be “readily restored, changed, or converted to accept” more than 10 rounds.

While Feinstein’s bill would graciously allow those who lawfully owned the newly-banned guns at the time of the law’s enactment to keep them, it would impose strict storage requirements any time the firearm was not actually in the owner’s hands or within arm’s reach. Violations would be punishable (of course) by imprisonment.

Owners of grandfathered “assault weapons” could also go to prison for allowing someone else to borrow or buy the firearm, unless the transfer was processed through a licensed firearms dealer. The dealer would be required to document the transaction and run a background check on the recipient.

Should lawful owners of the newly-banned firearms and magazines decide that the legal hazards of keeping them were too much, the bill would authorize the use of taxpayer dollars in the form of federal grants to establish programs to provide “compensation” for their surrender to the government.

This bill is nothing more than a rehash of Feinstein’s failed experiment in banning “assault weapons” and magazines over 10 rounds.  Except this time, Feinstein would like to go even further in restricting law-abiding Americans’ access to firearms and magazines that are commonly owned for lawful self-defense.

The congressionally-mandated study of the federal “assault weapon ban” of 1994-2004 found that the ban had little, if any, impact on crime, in part because “the banned guns were never used in more than a modest fraction” of firearm related crime.

Don’t let Dianne Feinstein infringe on our Second Amendment rights with a policy that’s been proven to do nothing to stop crime. Please contact your U.S. Senators and encourage them to oppose S. 2095.

You can contact your U.S. Senators by phone at (202) 224-3121, or click here to Take Action.

A Champagne Toast to America’s withdrawal from the UN Paris Climate Accord

CFACT joined a champagne toast to America’s withdrawal from the UN’s Paris Climate Accord at the EIKE scientific conference in Dusseldorf.

Conference-goers are united in their conviction that the UN imposes massive economic and political costs upon developed nations that cannot be justified by the benefits, of which there may be none, flowing from the pact.

Over in Bonn, left-wing NGOs and developing nations are back to agitating for wealthy nations to pick up the tab for “loss and damage” suffered by poor countries when extreme weather strikes.  That today’s weather would be the same whether people drive cars and use electricity, or not, does not enter into it.  They’re not having much success.

President Trump’s American delegation joined with the EU and Australia in blocking an effort of “like-minded” nations led by China and India to impose new obligations before Paris kicks in in 2020.

If the COP adopts new emissions reductions and financial obligations, China and India and their cohorts would be conveniently exempt.  The UN calls this “differentiated responsibilities.”  We call it madness, considering that it is China, India and the rest that are opening new coal plants and increasing their CO2 emissions (if that’s your thing) as fast as their economies will allow.

Here in Dusseldorf, delegates from various European countries all report a common experience.  The global warming mindset in Europe, though still overwhelming, is weakening.  More people are learning the facts about the warming campaign and the media is loosening up and allowing more skeptical voices to be heard.

If truly all voices could be heard, especially those of climate realists, UN global warming policy would collapse in ruins.  Not only does it get the science wrong, but the “solutions” it demands are expensive wastes that solve nothing.

Europeans are steadily joining the ranks of the Americans who have figured this out.

Once you’ve seen that the emperor has no clothes it’s almost impossible to “unsee” it.

VIDEO: A Taxing Week for Republicans

“Tax reform is a noble goal but an ugly process,” Howard Kurtz said, almost sympathetically. He won’t have to convince Republicans of that, as they slog through one of the biggest tax rewrites since Ronald Reagan. It’s a grueling process for the members and staff, who not only feel the weight of the task — but the weight of expectation. For a party who hasn’t delivered on its key promises to voters, this debate is the debate for changing that.

While the rest of the city was emptying out for Veterans Day, the light on the Capitol dome was still on, signaling the ongoing work of the chambers underneath. That work turned out to be incredibly good news for families, as the House Ways and Means Committee passed a much-improved version of the tax reform package Americans were introduced to last week. Heeding the chorus of conservatives’ concerns, Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) made the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act even stronger — thanks to a 29-page amendment that addresses everything from the Johnson Amendment to marriage penalties and the adoption credit. Happy with the work of his committee, Brady told reporters that this proposal “reflects the consideration and thought we’ve heard on both sides of the aisle.”

It was a big win for families, who stand to keep a lot more of their hard-earned money, and it was a win for free speech. Unlike the earlier draft of the bill, churches aren’t the only ones that’ll have the opportunity to speak freely in the political process — so will nonprofit and faith-based groups. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) were able to expand the old language and incorporate their Free Speech Fairness Act into the bill, which stops the IRS from policing the speech of churches and other charitable organizations. That’s a huge relief for men and women of faith, who watched the Obama IRS breathe down the necks of nonprofits and religious entities, threatening to take away their tax exempt status if they dared to talk about moral or political issues.

Most importantly, the House plan recognizes that families are at the heart of our economy. By increasing the child tax credit (the most popular piece of the proposal, according to polling), moms and dads can provide better for their children. And with the changes to education savings accounts, that includes unborn children. Now, expectant parents will be able to put aside money for their babies’ future learning. Marriage tax penalty rates are significantly reduced — something that pro-family groups like FRC have been advocating for years.

Ivanka Trump, who flew back early from her dad’s Asian tour, was thrilled to see the tax relief for parents.

“The average American family,” she points out, “spends almost 30 percent of pre-tax income on the cost of childcare. So the cost of childcare has gone through the roof and families just can’t afford it… The GOP idea is not to have government become more involved in providing affordable childcare services but rather to deliver a tax plan that will empower parents to better care for their kids — which means leaving parents with more of the money they’ve earned rather than allowing the government to take it via taxation and reallocating it as it sees fit.”

Americans overwhelmingly agree, Politico shows in a new survey. While the liberal media is busy panning the plan, they may be the only ones. According to the poll, 45 percent of the country supports the GOP’s proposal, an almost 10-point gap from the 36 percent who don’t. Most Americans think it would have a positive impact on them (36 percent) than negative (25 percent). And with the greatest enthusiasm, most say it would benefit the economy (42 percent); only 22 percent disagreed.

That’s good news for House Republicans, who have plenty of hurdles to go before H.R. 1 is a reality. The Senate, with its own draft of tax reform, may be the biggest. But House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is still confident the two chambers can work something out. “Yes, the Senate bill is going to be different than the House bill, because you know what? That’s the legislative process. But what’s encouraging in all of this is… we have a framework that we established with the White House and the Senate, and these bills are being written inside that framework.” Ironing out the differences won’t be easy, but it is doable. “The House will pass its bill, the Senate will pass its bill, and then we will get together and reconcile the differences, which is the legislative process, and that’s how this process will continue.”

In the meantime, we tip our hats to House Republicans for listening to voters and giving conservatives a plan they can be proud of. For more on the tax debate, check out FRC’s Ken Blackwell on Fox Business.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Also in the November 10 Washington Update:

The Heart of a Warrior

Strategic Partners for the New Year!

Taxpayers Get a Win Over Sports Stadium Cronies

As the Houston Astros enjoy their World Series victory, taxpayers across the country have a reason of their own to celebrate this week.

Buried in the tax reform bill is a provision that fixes an egregious loophole that sends billions in tax preferences to private sports stadium construction.

The current tax code allows billion-dollar sports franchises—such as the (soon-to-be) Las Vegas Raiders—to use tax-exempt municipal bonds to build their stadiums.

Whereas interest generated by corporate bonds is taxable by the federal government, municipal bond interest is tax-exempt, allowing municipal bonds to command comparatively lower interest rates.

Tax-exempt municipal bonds are generally reserved for public-use infrastructure projects, such as roads, schools, and water systems. But due to a loophole in the tax code, sports franchises have been able to prolifically exploit this tax preference to construct their private stadiums.

Since 2000, at least 36 stadiums have been financed with tax-exempt bonds, amounting to a total tax subsidy of $3.2 billion due to lower financing costs.

Worse still, the foregone federal revenues from this carve-out are even greater—amounting to $3.7 billion. This is because the subsidy is inefficient, allowing high-income earners to capture some of the benefits.

While proponents of this tax break claim that sports stadiums create jobs and economic growth, studies detailing subsidies for sports stadiums repeatedly show no effect or even a drag on economic growth in the overall metropolitan area in which the stadium was constructed.

Building on a bipartisan effort to eliminate this handout to special interests, congressional leaders took the admirable step of eliminating the option of tax-exempt financing for any sports stadium in section 3604 of the tax reform bill.

While the provision eliminates just one of the many crony features of the current tax code, ending the tax preference for sports stadiums is a clear win for all federal taxpayers, regardless of which team they support.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Michael Sargent

Michael Sargent is a policy analyst for transportation and infrastructure in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: 

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Diversity Visa Lottery: A Game of ‘Russian Roulette’

American sovereignty and security dismantled under the guise of “diversity.”

On Tuesday, October 31, 2017 New York City suffered a deadly terror attack on a well-known and heavily used bike path in lower Manhattan, just blocks from what, in the wake of the terror attacks of 9/11, had come to be known as “Ground Zero.”

The perpetrator of this heinous savage attack is a 29-year-old citizen of Uzbekistan, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, who reportedly legally immigrated to the United States in 2010 subsequent to winning the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Consequently, attention immediately turned to the Diversity Visa Program that annually enables approximately 50,000 aliens annually to enter the United States as lawful immigrants.

Aliens who participate in this visa lottery are citizens of countries that send the United States the smallest number of lawful immigrants.  These aliens do not need to possess any special skills or abilities and do not need to have any family ties to the United States.

There is no application fee for this category of immigrant visa. Under this program apparently being “diverse” is all that matters. This does absolutely nothing to benefit America or Americans and therefore must be terminated.

The State Department provides a table for Fiscal Years 2007-2016 for “Immigrant Number Use for Visa Issuances and Adjustments of Status in the Diversity Immigrant Category.”

Clearly, more than 16 years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the “All Clear” has not sounded and the “War on Terror” continues on as more innocent victims are slaughtered.  Nevertheless, there are members of Congress who have recently questioned the legal authority known as AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists) being used by President Trump to deploy members of the U.S. Armed Forces to wage war against ISIS, Al Qaeda and related deadly terrorist organizations. AUMF was passed by Congress just days after the attacks of 9/11.

Ironically, the latest deadly terror attack in New York City was carried out even as some members of Congress were publicly questioning AUMF, incredibly complaining that it gives President Trump too much discretion to deploy our armed forces to fight terrorist organizations that seek to kill as many Americans as possible, especially within our own borders.

Those politicians must not have gotten the memo that wars and armed conflicts do not end because leaders unilaterally wish that the wars or conflicts would end.  Wars only end when both sides agree to a cease-fire or a more permanent solution is reached.  Peace can only be achieved when the aggressors are forced to cease hostile actions.  Invariably, this requires the demonstration of unwavering resolve.  This requires the use, or threat of use, of overwhelming force.

The United States has no alternative.

Under the leadership of the Trump administration Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban and other related terror organizations are facing military pressure that is forcing them out of their strongholds in Syria, but they are not laying down their arms.  Instead they are dispersing around the world determined to use terrorism as a means of continuing the battles within the borders of other countries.

The United States is the country that terrorists are most determined to attack. The borders of the United States are our first line of defense and last line of defense against these savage terrorists.

It is therefore more than a little ironic that, while the administration’s plans to construct a secure wall also the U.S./Mexican border are denounced by many political “leaders,” just two days after this latest deadly terror attack in Manhattan NBC News reported that New York City is installing barrier walls along the west side highway bike path.

That wall to protect the bike path is, however, largely cosmetic. It will do nothing to stop terrorists from ramming vehicles into pedestrians crossing intersections or walking on sidewalks throughout New York City

A wall on the border, however, would constitute a significant element of what needs to be a cohesive and coordinated strategy to prevent the entry of terrorists, criminals and contraband into the United States.

In point of fact, the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel detailed numerous instances where terrorists made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud to enter the United States also to embed themselves in the United States.

Page 54 contained this excerpt under the title “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot.”

Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries (of terrorists) without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.

In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.

Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.

Intensifying efforts to maintain so-called “sanctuary cities” hobble efforts to enforce our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States and thus are Ignoring the 9/11 Commission warnings.

Additionally, President Trump’s executive order to prevent terrorists from entering the United States which has come to be referred to as the “Travel Ban” is actually known as the Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States.

The courts, including the Supreme Court, has block the implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order which parallels existing federal law, Section (f) of 8 U.S. Code § 1182, and has been invoked by prior Presidents including Carter, Bush (43) and Obama.

The war on terror has multiple fronts. To win we must fight the war on terror here, there and everywhere.

Furthermore, where the entry of international terrorists into the United States is concerned, since the attacks of 9/11 other terrorists have also entered with a variety of visas.

To mention just two of many such instances, consider the San Bernardino terror attack perpetrated by Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik.  Farook was an native-born American whose parents came to the United States from Pakistan.  Malik was born in Saudi Arabia, moved to Pakistan and then was granted a K-1 fiancé visa pursuant an application filed by Farook.

On December 2, 2015 they carried out a savage terror attack which resulted in the slaughter of 14 innocent victims and the wounding of 22 more victims.  It is theorized that she may have radicalized her husband.

The Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the deadly terror attack at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, had entered the United States with their family and were subsequently granted political asylum which then enabled them to acquire lawful immigrant status. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving younger of the two brothers has been convicted for his crimes and has been sentenced to be executed.  He became a naturalized citizen shortly before the attacks.  Applicants for naturalization are supposed to undergo a Good Moral Character investigation. Clearly this vetting process failed.

Indeed, there are numerous failures of the immigration system that, although were identified by the 9/11 Commission, have yet to be effectively addressed.

Ironically, just a couple of weeks before the latest attack, my article Homeland Security Uncovers Massive Immigration Failures that focused on two DHS Inspector General reports that detailed dire immigration failures.

Clearly it can be stated that DHS Ineptitude Facilitates Terrorist Operations.

In the weeks and months after the attacks of 9/11 our leaders constantly reminded us that for the terrorists to succeed, they (the terrorists) need only “get it right” once.  On the other hand, in order to protect Americans from terror attacks, our officials needed to be right 100% of the time.

Every time an alien gains entry into the United States, either legally or illegally, terror groups are provided with an opportunity to infiltrate the United States.

In this perilous age, this is the equivalent of the deadly game of “Russian Roulette.”

Hope is not a strategy, the President must be given the resources to defend our nation and our citizens and those resources must extend well beyond our borders.

ICE agents need to have the cooperation of local and state police in enforcing our laws and to cultivate informants and cooperators within ethnic immigrant communities.  This is not a new concept, but an old one.  It was how my colleagues and I routinely operated back when I first became an INS special agent decades ago.  It not only helped to keep America and Americans safe, but especially helped to keep the immigrants in every ethnic immigrant community safe.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in FrontPage Magazine.

Learn How to Find Illegal Votes

Co-Authors Jackie and Bruce Nutting have been eliminating illegal votes for the past 15 years. (PRNewsfoto/Jackie and Bruce Nutting)

UPLAND, Calif. /PRNewswire/ — “How to Find and Eliminate Illegal Votes” is a newly published election handbook aimed at teaching others how to find illegal voter registrations.  It was authored by Jackie and Bruce Nutting and released in October 2016.

In the book they present examples of actual audits and teach the reader how to examine their own voter registration lists and which laws to site when addressing any problems with election officials. There are clear directions as to how to request public records as well as court administrative records. Templates for presenting findings to county registrars, district attorneys and superior court judges are also highlighted.

This book is available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

One chapter addresses the flaws in the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act as regards a lack of critical information that should be given to non-citizens in order to protect their eligibility to be a US citizen.  Under the Immigrant Responsibility Act, a person who votes prior to becoming a citizen is no longer eligible to apply. This includes D.A.C.A. recipients and those seeking asylum.

Jackie and her husband Bruce Nutting have audited hundreds of voter registration lists through the non-profit organization they helped found, the Institute for Fair Elections.  They work with county registrars and district attorneys in California and other states to find and eliminate illegal registrations and subsequent illegal votes. In 2016 they eliminated over 1 million illegal registrations in Californiaalone.

Mrs. Nutting welcomes the opportunity to speak with members of the press and organizations who are interested in learning more about eliminating illegal registrations.

This is a handbook for those who wish to truly affect the election process. It has been reviewed by experts in the field of election law and found to be a breakthrough in grass roots effectiveness. The methods outlined are easy to follow and the laws … Co-Authors Jackie and Bruce Nutting have been eliminating illegal votes for the past 15 years.

In 2014 Pat Robertson Endorsed Guns in Churches, Secularist Outraged

How prophetic that in September 2014 broadcaster, humanitarian, author, Christian, businessman and statesman Pat Robertson endorsed the idea that Christians must arm themselves, not only because they should, but that they are called to in the Holy Bible.

In Luke 22:36–38 Jesus used the following to describe self-defense:

36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: k‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

James B. Jordan in his 1984 book The Law and the Covenant: An Exposition of Exodus 21-23 wrote:

Under pagan influence, Western civilization has sometimes adopted a notion of ‘fair fighting.’ There is no such thing as a fairfight. The notion of a fair fight is Satanic and barbarous. If a child or a man finds himself in a situation where an appeal to arbitration is not possible, he should fight with all he has. If the neighborhood bully catches your child on the way home from school, and your child cannot escape by fleeing, your child should poke a hole in him with a sharp pencil, or kick him in the groin. If the bully’s parents will not restrain him, call the police.

If you or your child has been trained in self defense, of course, you may be able to dispatch your assailant with a minimum of force. Always realize, though, that the man who attacks you, or your wife, has forfeited all his rights to ‘fair’ treatment. Women should be prepared to gouge out the eyes of any man who attacks them.

“Women should be prepared to gouge out the eyes of any man who attacks them” are prophetic words given the revelations of rape, incest and pederasts in Hollywood and the media.

Kyle Kulinski who describes himself on his YouTube channel as a “Liberal Radio Host. Social Democrat. Agnostic-Atheist. Secular Humanist. Loyal to the Facts. Principles over Politicians.” posted the below video commentary about Pat Robertson endorsing guns in churches:

In the video Kulinski, a self proclaimed agnostic-atheist, mocks Robertson using a Southern accent, saying that the idea that only good people with guns can stop bad people with guns is wrong. But that is exactly what happened in 2014 and again in 2017 at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. In Sutherland Springs two armed Texans pursued Devin Kelly, another self-identified atheist, until Kelly was driven off the road. It appears Kelly, while wounded by one of the Texans, took his own life.

Kulinski states that Harvard research shows that the idea of guns stop violence is wrong. All of the Harvard research studies focus on gun ownership and not the person who either committed a crime using a gun, shot a police officer using a gun and those who committed suicide using a gun. It’s not the gun that kills a person, it is the person who has a gun, either legally or illegally who uses a gun as either the weapon of choice or convenience, that commits the evil act of murder. Focusing on the person, such as the dishonorably discharged Devin Kelly who had weapons illegally according to U.S. Code, is the issue that Kulinski gets sort of when he says that Robertson assumes only good people have guns. But that is not what Robertson said at all.

The Washington Post’s Todd C. Frankel after the shooting in Las Vegas reported:

But one reason the positions [like Kulinski’s and Robertson’s] are so intractable is that no one really knows what works to prevent gun deaths. Gun-control research in the United States essentially came to a standstill in 1996.

After 21 years, the science is stale.

“In the area of what works to prevent shootings, we know almost nothing,” Mark Rosenberg, who, in the mid-1990s, led the CDC’s gun-violence research efforts, said shortly after the San Bernardino shooting in 2015.

While in Japan, President Trump called Kelly a “very deranged individual” saying:

Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction otherwise … it would have been much worse. This is a mental health problem at the highest level.

Correct Mr. President. These are mentally deranged people. As the President said, “This act of evil occurred as the victims and the families were in their place of sacred worship. We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel.”

Are there no safe places anymore for Christians? Will other atheists, who listen to Kulinski’s Secular Talk Show, take it upon themselves to rid the world of other Christians? That’s the issue that must be researched.

RELATED ARTICLE: Current Gun Laws Should Have Made It Impossible for Texas Shooter to Buy Gun

Realtors and Homebuilders Put Profits Over Middle Class

By Peter J. Wallison & Edward J. Pinto

Two powerful lobbying groups that advertise themselves as helping Americans buy homes have announced that they will oppose the Republican tax plan. Their reason? Because it will lower housing costs. Seldom have any denizens of “the Swamp” shown their true colors quite so flagrantly.

For years, the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders were strong supporters of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-backed mortgage companies, because (they argued) the government subsidies these firms received would create affordable housing for the middle class. That was their stated reason. The real rationale, as they have now made clear, is that Fannie and Freddie’s policies drove up housing prices, thereby increasing their members’ profits.

When the Republican tax plan made them choose between helping the middle class to buy homes and reducing their members’ profits, they chose profits. Doubling the standard IRS deduction while reducing or eliminating deductions for state and local taxes would discourage would-be homebuyers from purchasing more expensive homes. Since both the Realtors and the builders earn more from selling bigger homes amid rising prices, they simply oppose any tax plan that does not help inflate housing costs.

Their analysis is instructive. If large numbers of taxpayers use the new—and much higher—standard deduction in the Republican plan, they will not be eligible to use the mortgage interest deduction in calculating offsets to the cost of the home. This will induce them to be more cautious in what they spend. A bigger and more costly home will not necessarily mean a bigger tax deduction. Accordingly, the Realtors and homebuilders would suffer a reduction in profits.

The same thing is true for the state and local tax deduction, which applies to local property taxes. If this deduction is reduced, homebuyers will not take into account the “savings” they would receive from deducting large state and local taxes on a bigger home. This will also reduce their spending on the home, and this too will mean less profit for the Realtors and homebuilders.

The financial crisis in 2008 was the result of government housing policies—strongly backed by both the Realtors and homebuilders—that encouraged and sometimes even demanded reductions in underwriting standards so that more Americans with modest incomes could buy homes. The result was a massive housing boom, which drove up prices for first-time homebuyers. By 2007, housing was unaffordable for people of modest means, no matter how concessionary the mortgage terms. The crash in housing values that followed caused many Americans—who bought houses at inflated prices they couldn’t afford—to lose their homes.

The Realtors and homebuilders, however, did wonderfully well in the booming market before 2007, profiting from the unprecedented rise in housing prices. They want this market back, and since government housing policies haven’t changed since the financial crisis—the crisis was blamed on the banks rather than housing policies—they are on the way to getting what they want. If you want to know what crony capitalism looks like, this is it.

Among other things, Fannie, Freddie (and the Federal Housing Administration) are still doing what they did before the crisis: keeping down payments low—often at 3 percent or less—so that buyers can buy bigger and more expensive homes by borrowing more. Once again, home prices are booming. This puts buyers in danger of eventual foreclosure because of a loss of a job, divorce or illness. But by the time that happens, Realtors and homebuilders have been fully paid. If this keeps up, another housing bust, and possibly another financial crisis, cannot be avoided.

The Realtors and homebuilders are afraid that the GOP tax plan will have the effect of stabilizing housing prices. Although this would be an obvious benefit for young homebuyers trying to purchase their first—or second—homes, it’s wholly undesirable for the builders and real estate agents. All of which raises one central question, which should be in the minds of all Americans—including members of Congress—when they consider the coming tax debate: Whose side are these people on?

RELATED ARTICLES: 

GOP’s tax bill cancels $23 billion in credits claimed by illegal immigrants – Washington Times

GOP Tax Plan Would Revitalize US Economy, Give Significant Tax Relief

Why Democrats Are Obsessed With Wealth Inequality

Trump’s Economic Adviser Explains How You Benefit From Tax Reform

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Real Clear Politics.  Peter J. Wallison is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Edward J. Pinto is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

House GOP Unveils Details of Tax Reform Bill

The details of the Republican tax reform plan released Thursday mostly reflect the goals laid out by President Donald Trump, including cutting the corporate tax rate and keeping a sharper focus on middle-class tax cuts, meaning an extra $1,182 per year for a median-income family.

The tax plan would keep the income tax rate for the wealthiest earners at the 39.6 percent rate. Trump and Republicans in Congress initially talked about reducing the number of tax brackets from the current seven down to three, but more recently talked of a fourth bracket for the wealthy.

As expected, the plan would cut the U.S. corporate tax rate, the highest in the industrialized world, from 35 percent to 20 percent.

“With this plan, we are getting rid of loopholes for special interest and we are making things simple,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Thursday in a press conference. “ … This is our chance to ensure that American families don’t just get by, they get ahead in this country.”

The plan released Thursday by House Republicans caps the amount people can write off in state taxes at $10,000. Many conservatives contend the write-off encourages high-tax states to continue to hike taxes and forces low-tax states to subsidize them.

For a small business on Main Street, the tax reform bill means savings of about $3,000 per year, while the typical median-income family of four earning $59,000 annually will see a tax cut of $1,182, noted Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax laws.

“That’s your money,” Brady said. “You earned it and you deserve to keep it.”

Further, the plan will not affect retirement plans, even though some talk had surfaced about a cap on tax savings from 401(k) plans.

The tax plan also reportedly caps the mortgage deduction rate at $500,000, a drop from $1 million.

Tax reform leads Trump’s legislative agenda, and was made considerably easier after the Senate and House passed a budget resolution last month, meaning the tax reform proposal could be approved without a supermajority in the Senate. Trump hopes to attract some support from moderate Democrats to sign the bill before the end of the year.

In a statement, Trump said:

My tax reform priorities have been the same since Day One: bringing tax cuts for hardworking, middle-income Americans; eliminating unfair loopholes and deductions; and slashing business taxes so employers can create jobs, raise wages, and dominate their competition around the world. …

The special interests will distort the facts, the lobbyists will try to save their special deals, and some in the media will unfairly report on our efforts. But my administration will work tirelessly to make good on our promise to the working people who built our nation and deliver historic tax cuts and reforms—the rocket fuel our economy needs to soar higher than ever before.

Other elements of the plan released by the House have been talked about for months.

The first $12,000 of income for individuals would be tax-free under the plan, up from $6,350. For couples, the first $24,000 of income will be tax-free.

Trump’s daughter and presidential adviser, Ivanka Trump, has championed a child tax credit increase, which would increase from $1,000 to $1,600.

The plan calls for repealing the alternative minimum tax, which requires many taxpayers to calculate their tax liability more than once. The tax was initially intended to prevent abuse by the very wealthy, but ended up affecting millions of middle-class tax filers.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the tax reform bill could be the most important legislation members will vote on, considering tax reform hasn’t happened since 1986.

The plan was also unveiled on the seventh anniversary of the Republicans retaking the House of Representatives in 2010, McCarthy added.

“This plan will bring money sitting overseas back to America,” McCarthy said. “This is about tax cuts. This is about America first. This is about the future.”

Portrait of Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH

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Trump Is Quietly Deregulating All the Things

And the media is staying silent.

Brittany Hunter

by  Brittany Hunter

Most people alive in America today have probably never had the experience of sending a telegram. There are a host of reasons for this, the main one being that the telegram stopped being fashionable decades ago as burgeoning technology replaced its use in the modern world. The very last Western Union telegram was sent 11 years ago.

Over a decade too late, the FCC has finally decided to end burdensome regulations that stifled telegraph technology. As Reuters reported:

AT&T Inc, originally known as the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, in 2013 lamented the FCC’s failure to formally stop enforcing some telegraph rules.

‘Regulations have a tendency to persist long after they outlived any usefulness and it takes real focus and effort to ultimately remove them from the books even when everyone agrees that it is the common sense thing to do,’ the company said.”

Regulations are far easier to create than they are to dismantle. As Milton Friedman said, “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” Yet lately, there has been an undeniable trend of repealing these types of regulations, the likes of which America hasn’t seen since the Reagan Administration. And in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, this current regulatory rollback is due largely to President Donald Trump.

Setting a New Record

Ronald Reagan left many legacies during his duration in the White House. And while many were less than praiseworthy—the War on Drugs springs to mind—he did accomplish some deregulation.

In fact, during the Reagan presidency, both the Federal Register and federal regulations decreased by more than one-third. And as impressive as this record surely was, it’s already been broken by Donald Trump.

Upon taking office, Donald Trump signed an executive order telling federal agencies that they must cut two existing regulations for each new regulation proposed. Contained within this executive order was the demand that each federal agency create a task force with the explicit purpose of finding regulations worth slashing. This act was intended to help the newly sworn-in president reach his promise of cutting 70 percent of all federal regulations.

While the talk of regulatory cuts is typical red meat rhetoric, the left was obviously less than pleased with this executive order. A coalition of left-leaning organizations even joined together in February and sued Trump on the grounds that his executive order would potentially “block or force the repeal of regulations needed to protect health, safety, and the environment, across a broad range of topics – from automobile safety, to occupational health, to air pollution, to endangered species.” But the lawsuit did not scare Trump away from his objective.

When Obama had been in office as long as Trump currently has, regulations were 28 percent higher. But since taking office, Trump has repealed hundreds of these regulations.

And when it comes to regulations in general, the score speaks for itself. During the same point of time of their respective presidencies, Obama’s regulatory tally was at 1,737 while Trump’s is 1,241. And while Reagan’s own regulatory cuts were admirable, they still don’t compare with Trump’s if you judge them by the same timeframe.

Earlier this October, Trump announced his plans to further cut taxes along with red tape that negatively impacts both businesses and consumers. According to CEI, the current level of federal regulatory burdens have amounted to nearly $2 trillion. And while business owners may pay the initial costs, it will inevitably trickle down to the consumer. When overhead costs are raised on entrepreneurs, that cost must must be made up for somewhere. And as CEI also estimates, these hidden costs can account for about $15,000 per household in any given year.

As the 2017 fiscal year came to a close this month, the White House also released its initiative to cut more red tape to jumpstart the economy. Obviously, the “do nothing” method is a far cry from Obama’s overbearing regulatory intervention.

However, while this rhetoric is pleasing to much of the American public, which is fed up after almost a decade of a stagnating economy, Congress has yet to act on any substantial reform in either the House or the Senate.

Still, the White House has continued its efforts to encourage regulatory relief by pushing for three specific reform efforts, listed by CEI’s Clyde Wayne Crews as follows:

  1. Trump’s January executive order requiring agencies to eliminate at least two rules for every new regulation adopted, and that they ensure net new regulatory costs of zero;
  2. A sweeping  Reorganization Executive Order that requires the Office of Management and Budget to submit a plan aimed at streamlining and reducing the size of the administrative state generally. This plan will set the tone for Trump’s budget proposal next year.
  3. memorandum from the new Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) administrator Neomi Rao directing agencies, for the first time as far as I can tell, to propose an overall incremental regulatory cost allowance for the agency in the new edition of their “Unified Agenda” on regulations. This report will appear in the fall. Prior editions, since the 1980s, would label rules as “economically significant,” but never has there been such a “regulatory budget.” Rao says, “OMB expects that each agency will propose a net reduction in total incremental regulatory costs for FY 2018.”

But what is, perhaps most interesting is how silent the media has been. Usually, the media doesn’t miss an opportunity to criticize the president, making it all the more strange that these massive regulation rollbacks have managed to slip under the radar.

The Importance of Economic Liberty

Without economic liberty there can be no general freedom.

Just as it is important to give credit where credit is due, it is also important to acknowledge that excelling in one area does not negate one’s terrible behavior in another. The appointment of Jeff Sessions by itself is enough of a reason to be wary of Trump. Especially given Sessions’ obsession with reigniting the drug war in a time when public opinion is overwhelmingly trending in the opposite direction. Though in many capacities this makes one of Trump’s weak points similar to Reagan’s.

And the Sessions issue is just one of many. Diplomacy also appears to be one of Trump’s weak points. Taunting a world leader who is threatening to use nuclear arms against your country may not be the wisest idea, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from referring to Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” at the height of tensions. And in general, President Trump’s hawkish foreign policy has made a mockery of candidate Trump’s non-interventionist rhetoric.

But increasing economic freedom is no small feat. If there is any doubt of this, just look how long it took to deregulate the telegraph industry. Without economic liberty there can be no general freedom, which is precisely why Trump’s pushback against the regulatory state is so important.

Our modern economy has no doubt been burdened by regulations that have held back the market and prevented others from even entering the workforce. So as hard as Trump is to stomach most of the time, these regulatory scale-backs are cause for celebration.

Brittany Hunter

Brittany Hunter

Brittany Hunter is an associate editor at FEE. Brittany studied political science at Utah Valley University with a minor in Constitutional studies.

Greater screening to be applied to ‘refugees’ from 11 countries

The Trump Administration should know by now that they can’t keep stuff like this quiet because they have permitted the blabbermouths in the deep state to run wild.

general Kelly

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly

“White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly told other members of the Trump administration that if it were up to him the number of refugees admitted into the U.S. would be between zero and one,” say leakers in the Trump White House or State Department.

Here is the latest from The Atlantic.  I don’t really want to put an inordinate amount of emphasis on this screening for terrorists activity because I don’t think it is our greatest threat from out-of-control immigration/refugee resettlement.

Our greatest problem (IMHO) is the enormous social and cultural upheaval from large numbers of migrants (of any sort) entering the US who will not assimilate and don’t have any respect for our laws and our Constitution as designed.  And, on top of that, we, the taxpayers, pay for it all!

If Islamic terrorism is our greatest concern, how are we going to screen-out the 2-year-olds who enter the country and grow up two decades later (under the influence of the local mosque) to become Jihadists?

(Yes, the Boston bombers were refugees because they were, under the law, a category of refugee—successful asylum seekers. And, yes, Somalis who have tried to kill Americans came as little children, as refugees!).

Let me ask this: If this security screening issue gets ironed out, does it mean our gates will be opened wide to allow uncontrolled migration from across the globe?

Honestly, I’m getting weary of being dragged down the screening rabbit hole…

….but, since I’m sure you want to know what the latest Trump Administration screening project entails, here is some news about it (albeit with a Leftist slant):

The Trump administration issued an order Tuesday that resumed the resettlement of refug s in the United States, but said the applications of citizens from 11 “higher-risk” countries would be considered on a case-by-case basis during a new 90-day review period. The administration has so far declined to name the countries officially and publicly but two officials—one from the administration and the other from an advocacy group—separately confirmed that the countries were Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. All of those countries—except North Korea and South Sudan—are predominantly Muslim.

Six countries on the list—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and North Korea—were not a surprise: They were also on the latest version of the administration’s travel ban that was announced last month and is currently blocked by the courts. But that travel ban also included the citizens of Chad and Venezuela. Tuesday’s refugee list, on the other hand, included the citizens of Iraq, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, and Egypt. The restrictions imposed last month were an outright ban on travelers—but not refugees—from those countries. Tuesday’s announcement does not constitute a ban. Rather, it is a list of 11 countries whose citizens will be subject to additional security screening if they apply for refugee status in the U.S.

[….]

eric schwartz 2

Eric Schwartz is more than President of Refugees International. He is a Hard Left Soros protege who ran the State Department refugee program in the early years of the Obama Administration.

The 11 nations on Tuesday’s list made up a significant proportion of refugees accepted by the U.S. in the last fiscal year, which ended September 30. Of the 53,716 refugees accepted by the U.S. in that time, 23,357 were from the 11 listed countries (about 43 percent), according to data maintained by the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. The breakdown of the number of refugees accepted from each of the 11 countries in the last fiscal year is as follows: Egypt, 9; Iran, 2,577; Iraq, 6,886; Libya, 3; Mali, 6; North Korea, 12; Somalia, 6,130; South Sudan, 176; Sudan, 980; Syria, 6,557; and Yemen, 21.  [I’m grateful that someone took the time to do the numbers—ed]

[….]

“This is remarkable. The administration has had more than six months to review this policy under the March EO [executive order on travel], and they’ve come back in October to re-impose what will largely be seen as another unreasonable ban that primarily affects Muslims,” said Eric Schwartz, the president of Refugees International, a group that advocates for refugees. Although the move announced Tuesday is not a ban, refugee advocates say it is tantamount to one because of the additional security requirements that are often time-consuming.

“I hope they at least have the decency to be transparent about what they are doing, and name the nationalities affected,” Schwartz said. “It is a cynical and tragic manipulation of administrative process, and conflicts with U.S. values and interests.”

Go here to read more.

I was more interested in the portion of the new EO that calls for the Justice Department to evaluate the whole Refugee Program over the next 180 days.

And, gee, maybe the Administration will take its job more seriously than that bunch running the House of Representatives.  See yesterday’s House hearing.

Learn more about Eric Schwartz by clicking here.

RELATED ARTICLE: Secrets of the Black Stadium: In Raqqa, Inside ISIS’ House of Horror

‘Organic’ competition — Competition, like fresh vegetables, is healthy!

Labeling food as “organic” is big business.

So-called “organic” food has become popular, though people are often surprised by just how political “organic” agriculture is and how illusory any benefits often turn out to be.

The keepers of the “organic” label can function as a guild, using the label as a a barrier to competition.

Jack Griffin, president of Metropolis farms, raises an interesting case at CFACT .org reporting that,

“[A] handful of organic growers on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) – a group that advises USDA on organic standards – have proposed that produce from hydroponic agriculture and indoor farming cannot be considered organic. They will be trying to formalize that proposal later this month at the NOSB meeting in Florida.”

However, hydroponic produce has all the characteristics that “organic” food fanciers want.

Mr. Griffin explains,

“[I]ndoor hydroponic agriculture can grow food with zero pesticides and herbicides, while traditional dirt farm organic production still uses some variants of those inputs. Hydroponic farming doesn’t harm the earth’s soil at all because we are not using any soil. Hydroponics are not contributing to chemical runoff like organic field farming. Finally, hydroponics is very efficient in its water use, it uses 98 percent less water and helps conserve natural resources by circulating what few resources we do use throughout our systems.”

“Organics” occupy an ever-growing niche, however, remember that efficient American agriculture uses techniques derived from science and engineering to create enormous economies of scale.  The food our modern farmers produce is safe, nutritious, tasty, abundant and affordable.  That’s important.

Competition, like fresh vegetables, is healthy.

Let’s keep it that way.

Too Rich To Tax

There is an argument going on in Washington, D.C. that affects each and every one of us.  I am not talking about Obamacare, although that does affect each and every one of us.  And I am not talking about security issues such as the boarder wall or enhanced check points at air ports, although these, too, affect each and every one of us.

I am talking about taxes.  Yes the talk about taxes has begun anew in D.C.  Republicans say cut taxes.  Democrats say any cut only benefits the rich.  Both parties say tax cuts must be paid for.  I don’t know how that is an actual tax cut if you have to “pay” for it with other taxes.

Republicans say, cut spending.  Well some of the Republicans say cut spending.  Democrats and many Republicans say raise other taxes to pay for income tax cuts.  Again, that is a shell game and not a tax cut.

Government at every level simply tells the citizens of their jurisdiction that they must do with less because government refuses to do with less.  In fact, government often says it cannot do with less.  So they raise your taxes and then expect you to be grateful that they raised them by a small 2% instead of the 5% or 10% they really wanted.

Sometimes government is “nice”.  They don’t raise taxes.  They raise user fees, licenses, registrations, tags, etc.  The reality is, if government is charging it, if government is collecting it, then it’s a tax.  Name it whatever you wish but understand its still a tax.  And a tax is a tax no matter what name you give it.

Not to mention the hidden taxes everywhere you turn.  Fuel taxes.  Cell phone taxes.  Internet Service Provider taxes.  Cable TV taxes.  Electric power taxes.  You get the point.

And sometimes there is a tax before the tax.  Or a tax on top of the tax.  Its usually known as a surcharge.  Yea, gas for your car has surcharges.  So does the heating oil for your home.

Oh, and lets not forget the behavior taxes.  Tobacco taxes, for example.  The government tells us these taxes are to get us to stop using tobacco.  So when Americans stop using tobacco, the government says they are losing too much money that they got used to having when they first implemented those taxes.

So what do they do?  They raise the tax on tobacco and then propose new taxes.  Taxes on sugary soda’s.  Taxes on sugary and salty snacks.  You get the point.

How about your gas tax?  You know the massive taxes you pay every time you fill up the gas tank on your motor vehicle.  The federal rate is about 18 cents per gallon.  By the way, oil companies usually earn less than that rate per gallon as profit.  So right off the bat, the federal government earns more off every gallon of gas than the companies that drill, transport, refine, distribute and sell it.

Now don’t forget to add your state taxes to the mix.  The combined federal and state rate on a gallon of gas goes from a low of about 26 cents in Alaska to a high of nearly 70 cents in New York.  I bet you thought California was the highest.  They are a very close second at about 69 cents.  The Hawaii comes in at about 68 cents.

That does not include local taxes in some jurisdictions.  And that does not include the taxes paid on crude oil.  When you add up all the taxes that you pay when you put a gallon of gas in your gas tank, in some states you are paying over $1.00.   So if gas in your area is selling for around $2.50 per gallon, understand the oil company is only getting about $1.50 or less.

And if you think you can get around this tax by using a more efficient vehicle or buying or using a vehicle that doesn’t even use gas, you better think again.

There are those in government that are putting out a call to tax you on the total miles you drive because gas tax revenue is falling due to more efficient vehicles on the road.  You are pumping less gas.  Which means you are keeping too much of your money.

Yet every time someone seriously proposes cutting taxes we all pay, someone else says its only a tax cut for the rich.  What they are really saying is that they don’t want you to keep more of your own money.  So they hide behind the false notion that only the rich will benefit.

Who cares?  If the rich earn what they earn, how does it make my life better if government taxes them more?  It doesn’t.  But since they don’t get a tax cut, then neither do the rest of us poor slobs who more often than not open our wallets to find them empty.

Spread the misery right?  How about we spread the prosperity for a change.  Its time for government to do with less money for a change.

Don’t you agree?