Burdened by Debt: The Best and Worst States at Managing Debt

How does your state rank in terms of debt management? A new study by Credible exposes where people are best (and worst) at managing their credit card bills, student loan debt, and housing costs.

Read on to see how your financial profile compares to the average person in your state—and across state borders.

Key highlights

  • Michigan, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri have the highest scores in the U.S., with low debt-to-income ratios: on average, Michigan residents in this dataset spent just 25.3% of their monthly income on credit card, student loan, and housing payments—the lowest percentage in the U.S.
  • Hawaii, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Montana came in towards the bottom of the list with the highest average debt-to-income ratios: Residents of Hawaii spend, on average, 36.2% of their monthly paychecks on credit card, student loan, and housing payments—the highest percentage in the nation, and over 43% more than residents of Michigan
  • Monthly credit card payments were highest in Minnesota ($241/month), Hawaii ($238), Nevada ($234), New Jersey ($231), and Connecticut ($231)
  • Conversely, those in Mississippi ($154), Louisiana ($157), Washington, D.C. ($160), Arkansas ($174), and South Carolina ($181) spend the least on paying off credit card debt
  • The data showed average student loan payments to be highest in D.C., Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, and New Jersey, and lowest in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Wyoming, and North Dakota

Map: debt and income by state

Toggle through the menu below to see the overall score, average monthly credit card, student loan, and mortgage payments, and average annual income for each state.

Financial health is relative

On average, Americans included in this dataset paid $207 on their credit card debt, $370 on their student loans, and $906 on their housing each month, while taking home an average salary of $60,671.

But what’s the special sauce that makes some states’ residents so much better at debt management than others?

Well, it depends.

In Michigan, for example, cost of living plays a large role. Low average monthly housing payments relative to average income (combined with lower than average credit card and student loan payments) push the state up the rankings.

At the other end of the spectrum, some states rank lower because of particularly high payments made in one category or another.

Residents of Hawaii, for example, pay the second highest amount on monthly credit card bills and fourth highest amount on housing costs and their average income isn’t high enough to offset those costs.

$207

Average monthly credit card payment of all Americans included in this dataset

$370

Average monthly student loan payment of all Americans included in this dataset

$906

Average monthly housing payment of all Americans included in this dataset

One in five borrowers is a homeowner

Mortgage debt can increase a resident’s debt-to-income ratio. The vast majority of the 540,000 borrowers included in this analysis are not homeowners but nearly 19% have one or more mortgages.

Of that group, the average housing payment increases to $1,705, nearly double the average housing payment for all borrowers, a group that includes renters, homeowners, and people living with parents.

You are not your state

While this new ranking sheds light on how residents of various states perform in terms of debt management, keep in mind that these are average numbers — and that your debt is a personal matter.

No matter how your state ranks, find a debt payoff plan that fits your budget and lifestyle, as well as minimizes what you’ll owe in interest as you pay off each loan.

For example, balance transfer credit cards can be useful to begin paying off your credit card debt. These cards will often offer you six to 18 months of 0% APR for balance transfers, giving you some time to get your finances in order without accruing a ton of interest. If paying off credit card debt is one of your goals, Credible can help you find the best balance transfer credit cards of 2018.

Methodology

We used proprietary data from over 540,000 borrowers with student loan debt from all 50 U.S. states and D.C. to calculate average monthly credit card, student loan, and housing payments as a percentage of average monthly income. Therefore, the debt-to-income ratio we used to rank all states included credit card debt, student loan debt, and housing costs (such as rent or mortgage payments).

That percentage was then assigned a normalized score from 0-100 for each state, 0 being where debt payments are the highest percentage of monthly income, and 100 being where monthly payments are the lowest percentage of monthly income.

Full rankings and data

Connecting the Dots: How the Latest Affordable Housing Policy Benefits Homeowners and Realtors, not First-time Buyers

Tobias Peter, senior research analyst at the AEI Center on Housing Markets and Finance, wrote the following blog post: Connecting the Dots: How the Latest Affordable Housing Policy Benefits Homeowners and Realtors, not First-time Buyers.

In it he explains how “another government housing policy intended to open “the door to home purchase mortgages for large numbers of new buyers” has failed.  Instead of bringing income-constrained borrowers into the market, it making housing less affordable by adding more fuel to a national house price boom that is pricing them out of the market, while providing a windfall to home sellers and real estate agents.”


Connecting the Dots: How the Latest Affordable Housing Policy Benefits Homeowners and Realtors, not First-time Buyers

Tobias Peter (Tobias.Peter@AEI.org), Senior Research Analyst

AEI’s Center on Housing Markets and Finance

January 16, 2018

The numbers are in and yet another government housing policy intended to open “the door to home purchase mortgages for large numbers of new buyers” has failed.  Instead of bringing income-constrained borrowers into the market, it is making housing less affordable by adding more fuel to a national house price boom that is pricing them out of the market, while providing a windfall to home sellers and real estate agents.

Let’s connect the dots.  As of the weekend of July 29, 2017, Fannie Mae, one of the two government sponsored housing enterprises (GSE), started buying and securitizing many more mortgages with a debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of up to 50 percent.  The DTI measures the ratio of monthly payments to income.  The higher the ratio, the greater a borrower’s monthly debt payments and the greater a borrower’s likelihood to default.

Prior to the policy change, the large majority of Fannie borrowers were limited to a DTI of 45 percent, with only a few borrowers allowed to go as high as 50 percent with compensating factors such as a certain number of months of cash reserves or a higher down payment.  Fannie’s move thereby allowed borrowers to take on more debt relative to their income.  Freddie Mac, the other GSE, had been buying more mortgages with DTIs over 45 percent than Fannie, but it too ramped up its purchases after Fannie’s announcement as data from the AEI National Mortgage Risk Index (NMRI) show.

Sensing an opening for income-constrained borrowers to now enter the housing market, housing advocates hailed Fannie’s move as a “win for expanding access to credit.”  Yet this line of reasoning was always flawed.  Access for income-constrained borrowers already existed.  The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), another government housing entity, already guarantees loans with a DTI up to 57 percent and with less stringent credit score and down payment requirements than Fannie or Freddie ever would.  By offering this service at a lower cost to certain borrowers, Fannie’s (and Freddie’s) move thereby pitted one government guaranteed insurer of mortgages against another.

The effect of the change has been stunning since it took effect.  First, the share of Fannie borrowers with a DTI above 45 jumped 11 percentage points to 17 percent within just three months after the program’s implementation.  Yet precious few of these borrowers were new market entrants while the large majority were Fannie borrowers taking on more debt.

This is problematic.  In today’s seller’s market, prices have been rising rapidly.  The measures from a variety of sources all show prices rising 6 to 7 percent over the past year, and as much as 10 percent for entry-level homes.  DTIs function as a friction slowing the increase of house prices through binding limits.  Remove the friction and house price increases will pick up.  This happens the following way: First, income-constrained borrowers take advantage of the higher limits, as they initially no longer have to settle for lower priced homes.  Then, because supply is limited, the extra debt ends up raising prices – either directly through more aggressive bidding for houses or indirectly through appraisals when inflated home sales become comparables for other sales as our research shows.  Soon, the cycle feeds on itself and everyone, not just income-constrained borrowers, has to take on more debt.  This is exactly what happened as the NMRI data also show (see chart).

What is driving up prices so rapidly today is the combination of a seller’s market, which is now in its 63rd month, and more liberal access to credit through, for example higher DTI limits, or generally looser lending standards as documented by the NMRI.  Since 2012, national house prices have risen by around 50 percent as shown by the Case-Shiller index, but in the bottom tier of the market, where supply is more constrained and credit more liberal, prices have doubled.

And so, what started as a policy change by Fannie Mae to close the growing affordability gap has added yet more fuel to the house price boom, especially at the lower end of the market.  Thereby this policy will benefit existing homeowners, realtors, and builders, but it will hurt first-time buyers and those with limited resources as they will have to stretch further to afford homeownership or be forced to remain on the sidelines.

164 Companies Credit Tax Reform for Bonuses and Pay Raises

One hundred sixty-four companies have gone on record stating they gave bonuses and pay raises to employees because of the new tax reform law, according to Americans for Tax Reform.

The list has been continually updated and jumped from 40 companies to 164 in 10 days, the Washington Examiner reports.

dcnf-logo

The businesses include American Airlines, AT&T, prominent banks and savings and loans, Boeing, Comcast, Pacific Power, and Visa.

The list shows what each company paid in bonuses and includes attached statements or press releases, saying tax reform was the catalyst for each company’s decision.

AT&T showed direct support for President Donald Trump in its statement and said it expects the changes to produce more jobs and “economic growth.”

“Congress, working closely with the president, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world,” AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement. “Tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs. In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees.”

Americans for Tax Reform tweeted the list and said companies also provided increased 401K contributions along with the bonuses as a result of the new tax law.

EDITORS NOTE:  Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Why We Are a Republic, Not a Democracy

The Founding Fathers designed a system that places heavy checks on the power of the majority. 

Hillary Clinton blamed the Electoral College for her stunning defeat in the 2016 presidential election in her latest memoirs, “What Happened.”

Some have claimed that the Electoral College is one of the most dangerous institutions in American politics.

Why? They say the Electoral College system, as opposed to a simple majority vote, distorts the one-person, one-vote principle of democracy because electoral votes are not distributed according to population.

To back up their claim, they point out that the Electoral College gives, for example, Wyoming citizens disproportionate weight in a presidential election.

Put another way, Wyoming, a state with a population of about 600,000, has one member in the House of Representatives and two members in the U.S. Senate, which gives the citizens of Wyoming three electoral votes, or one electoral vote per 200,000 people.

California, our most populous state, has more than 39 million people and 55 electoral votes, or approximately one vote per 715,000 people.

Comparatively, individuals in Wyoming have nearly four times the power in the Electoral College as Californians.

Many people whine that using the Electoral College instead of the popular vote and majority rule is undemocratic. I’d say that they are absolutely right. Not deciding who will be the president by majority rule is not democracy.

But the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to ensure that we were a republic and not a democracy. In fact, the word democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or any other of our founding documents.

How about a few quotations expressed by the Founders about democracy?

In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison wanted to prevent rule by majority faction, saying,

“Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”

John Adams warned in a letter,

“Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide.”

Edmund Randolph said,

“That in tracing these evils to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.”

Then-Chief Justice John Marshall observed,

“Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”

The Founders expressed contempt for the tyranny of majority rule, and throughout our Constitution, they placed impediments to that tyranny. Two houses of Congress pose one obstacle to majority rule. That is, 51 senators can block the wishes of 435 representatives and 49 senators.

The president can veto the wishes of 535 members of Congress. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto.

To change the Constitution requires not a majority but a two-thirds vote of both houses, and if an amendment is approved, it requires ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures.

Finally, the Electoral College is yet another measure that thwarts majority rule.

It makes sure that the highly populated states—today, mainly 12 on the east and west coasts, cannot run roughshod over the rest of the nation. That forces a presidential candidate to take into consideration the wishes of the other 38 states.

Those Americans obsessed with rule by popular majorities might want to get rid of the Senate, where states, regardless of population, have two senators.

Should we change representation in the House of Representatives to a system of proportional representation and eliminate the guarantee that each state gets at least one representative?

Currently, seven states with populations of 1 million or fewer have one representative, thus giving them disproportionate influence in Congress.

While we’re at it, should we make all congressional acts by majority rule? When we’re finished with establishing majority rule in Congress, should we then move to change our court system, which requires unanimity in jury decisions, to a simple majority rule?

My question is: Is it ignorance of or contempt for our Constitution that fuels the movement to abolish the Electoral College?

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Walter E. Williams

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Why We Use Electoral College, Not Popular Vote

Liberals Claim Electoral College Is Biased. Here Are the Facts

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Democrats’ Exciting New Hope Adheres to Tired Old Anti-Gun Dogma

Democrats searching for a standard-bearer in the 2020 presidential election lit on long-time entertainment, media, and publishing figure Oprah Winfrey this week, following a speech Winfrey gave at a televised Hollywood extravaganza. Winfrey received wide acclaim for her remarks, but amidst the #oprah2020 mania that has followed, questions have arisen over what Winfrey stands for politically and whether she has the desire and skill set to lead the Free World. Some of those questions remain unanswered, but for gun owners, one thing is crystal clear: Oprah Winfrey embraces the staunchly anti-gun posture of contemporary Hollywood.

Winfrey’s anti-gun activism dates back to at least the 1990s when she was closely involved with the rabidly anti-gun group CeaseFire, Inc. The now defunct group’s website, still archived online, attests to its fanaticism. It’s Mission Statement, for example, explained:

Through a coordinated public service announcement (PSA) print and broadcast campaign, our mission is to mobilize a broad cross section of American leadership to educate and promote handgun-free homes and families. By highlighting the public health implications of handgun violence, Cease Fire can educate Americans to view handguns as the inherently unsafe and dangerous products they are, and not appropriate to have in any home. [Emphasis added.]

Oprah Winfrey was part of this “education” campaign, appearing in CeaseFire’s print and broadcast ads and in its fundraising materials. 

CeaseFire pioneered elements of the modern anti-gun publicity playbook, heavily promoting dubious factoids and inflating statistics about firearms’ supposed toll on “children” by including statistics pertaining to 18- and 19-year-old adults (a common age for gang membership). Its ads featured actors such as Winfrey and Paul Newman gravely recounting media stories about gun owners accidentally killing their loved ones. Even gun safes, according to the group’s ads, weren’t to be trusted. Taglines included, “Before you bring a gun in the house, think about it” and “A Home is no place for a handgun.”

The legendary Charlton Heston, who would go on to be one of the NRA’s most iconic presidents, lamented in 1997, “We’ve reached that point in time when our national social policy originates on ‘Oprah.’” 

Indeed, in 2000, Winfrey promoted the so-called Million Mom March (the march) on her popular daytime talk show. The march was actually a Mother’s Day rally of women in support of gun control on the National Mall. Although the actual number of “marchers” who attended the D.C. rally was considerably less than a “million,” the event received a major boost from Winfrey’s free publicity.  The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence – which later merged with the anti-gun organization that formed around the march – recounts that the march’s website crashed from the crush of traffic generated when its online address was published during Winfrey’s show.  Winfrey told her viewers that if they didn’t “do something” to stop “children” from being killed by firearms, they were “part of the problem.”

Insisting that she is “apolitical,” Winfrey nevertheless became a staunch supporter of Barack Obama’s hyper-partisan political career. Wikidpedia states that “Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of Barack Obama was one of the most widely covered and studied developments of the 2008 presidential campaign.” One paper by two economists from the University of Maryland estimates that Winfrey’s endorsement “was responsible for approximately 1,000,000 additional votes for Obama,” potentially swaying the 2008 Democratic primary in the two-term president’s favor. “Winfrey, for her part, described Obama’s political ascendance as “beyond and above politics” and “something new.”

Obama’s strongly pro-gun control views clearly did not diminish Oprah Winfrey’s support for him.  Rather, she repeatedly used her vast public reach to support Obama’s gun control agenda during his presidency. At Harvard’s commencement in 2013, for example, Winfrey plugged the administration’s #1 gun control initiative, “universal background checks.” In 2016, she indicated support for an “assault weapons” ban (another Obama-backed measure) in the wake of a mass murder in Orlando, Florida. “Are we a country that really believes that assault weapons should be made available to anybody?” she commented. “Are assault weapons necessary? I … just say, ‘enough.’”

Fortunately, unlike most of her other high-profile endeavors, Oprah Winfrey’s gun control activism has been a failure, at least as measured by additional federal gun control laws. But it’s hard to overstate the immense cult of personality that surrounds her, as well as the reflexive adulation she engenders from her fellow elites in entertainment and media. Like Barack Obama – with whom she remains close – a President Oprah Winfrey could count on their unconditional support, as well as their protection against any serious scrutiny or criticism. 

Gun owners know that the last thing America needs is another gun-control absolutist as president. Because while Oprah Winfrey is wrong that handguns do not belong in the home, it’s true that handgun abolitionists do not belong in the White House.

Another Liberal Activist Judge Rules — Congress Can Stop The Madness

In another striking judicial development, Judge William Alsup, a Clinton appointee from San Francisco, issued an injunctive order Jan. 9 prohibiting President Trump from moving forward rescinding President Obama’s DACA order.

Although it only applied to established DACA applicants, and left untouched the ban on future applications, the order is offensive nevertheless, and demonstrates the terrible problem plaguing our country resulting from the actions of activist judges.

Essentially, the plaintiffs, which included the State of California, argued that President Trump had acted randomly and capriciously in removing the DACA order because, among other reasons, he did not give notice and did not allow for a period of public commentary prior to issuing his rescindment.

But here’s the thing, neither did Obama.

Obama himself issued his own DACA order single-handedly, without due process, and outside any compliance with any statutory requirements — and after saying he did not have the Constitutional authority to do so. Therefore, when President Trump acted to discontinue the DACA order, he was actually rescinding an illegal act, making Alsup’s ruling even more egregious — and overtly political.

The inescapable conclusion of all these actions is that Judge Alsup was less informed in his ruling by the law, than by his disdain for the President’s policies, and possibly, for the President himself. Relevant to this: Just two weeks before this political ruling, the Supreme Court overturned a different DACA-related Alsup order.

Additionally, the judge applied his order to the whole nation. This latter issue is particularly problematic as it is allowing individuals in the judiciary to paralyze policy decisions on a national scale even though the district of any particular judge does not encompass a large geographical area.

This latter problem is actually one that can be fixed by Congress.  Congress has the authority to create and define the powers of the lower courts.  As evidenced by the results of this case, it is time for Congress to limit the scope of judicial orders to only the geographical extent of their district.

And as for the greater problem of an overzealous judiciary, it is high time that the American people enact some sort of check on America’s increasingly partisan courts.

EDITORS NOTE: This column appeared on The Revolutionary Act. Also, check Dr. Gonzalez’s YouTube channel.

VIDEO: Trump’s ‘Purging’ the Deep State — Do you Approve or Disapprove? Take the survey.

Christian Ziegler, State Committeeman representing the Republican Party of Sarasota County, Florida appeared on ABC Channel 7 to discuss President Trump and the “deep state.”

Ziegler notes:

The media is worried about President Trump “purging” the federal government. Excuse me, but If ANY employee of ANY federal agency is actively working to undermine the President, that employee should be FIRED!

The President doesn’t just have a right to do so, he has a DUTY to make sure his entire team – at every agency – is staffed by those who will execute on the President’s priorities.

Watch the debate:

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Do you APPROVE or DISAPPROVE of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as President? (Click on a response below to have your voice heard.)

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VIDEO: Black Activist Says Trump Policies, Unlike Obama’s, Create Jobs for Black Americans

Project 21’s Horace Cooper joined The Daily Signal’s Genevieve Wood to discuss the historic low unemployment rate for black Americans and how the left is co-opting Martin Luther King Jr. Day to protest tax reform and promote action for illegal immigrants covered by the DACA program. Here is an edited transcript of the video.

Wood: Horace, Martin Luther King Day is coming up next week, and there has been a lot of interesting news, especially for the black community on the economic front, in this past week or so. What do you make of the numbers coming out?

Cooper: The news for black America is amazing. It’s phenomenal. We have had three separate records accomplished: In June of 2017, in September of 2017, and in January of 2018, we have set record low unemployment for black Americans. And what’s really exciting, relative to the rest of the country, is black Americans are making much more progress …  and that’s, like, really big gains.

Wood: You probably just heard that overflight. We’re very close to the Pentagon right now and Reagan Airport, so you’re going to hear a lot of airplanes. Horace, we talk about historic numbers. This is the lowest black unemployment has been in over 45 years. Why all of a sudden? Is it President Obama’s economy, which is kind of what he claimed in the last few weeks?

Cooper: It was surprising to me to hear the president make these claims.

Wood: The former president.

Cooper: The former [president], Obama, make these claims. It was very surprising because from 2009 to 2015, black America’s unemployment rate turned to the worst numbers that we have seen as a community. It was the very policies that he pushed that caused this disparity.

Here’s the thing: Black American unemployment typically is somewhere between 40 percent and even 100 percent higher than white America’s unemployment. When this [black unemployment rate] number in 2018 reached 6.8 percent, that was the narrowest gap we’ve ever seen. We saw nothing like that during the Obama administration.

And it didn’t surprise me, because the policies of President Obama were more focused on handing out food stamps, and assistance, and government handouts, rather than seeing to it that the most important civil rights of all, your right to be independent, your right to be self-sufficient, [were] being honored with policies of limited government. That’s not Obama’s plan.

Wood: Now, President Trump has been in office only one year. What do you think explains the nosedive in unemployment across the board, but particularly with minority Americans?

Cooper: Any investor, any businessman, any company understands now that America is open for business and if you’d like to do business in the United States, we’re going to say, ‘That’s great.’ Remember what the last president said?  ‘You didn’t build that.’ The last president said people that did things, that built things that were consequential, they were the people that we have to go after, to [put in a] stranglehold, a litany of regulations. And by the way, The Heritage Foundation did seminal studies every year, talking about how the last president set records for how many regulatory strangleholds he put on the United States.

This president, President Trump, is doing just the opposite. Two things: One is, he is not bringing new regulations into place, but [two,] he is actually rolling back the bad regulations that we saw before. So businesses are opening up and it turns out the pool of  people that are most available right now, because of multiple years of bad regulatory and economic growth, are black Americans. And those people therefore are rushing into the marketplace. This is great news.

Wood: It’s great news. But as you well know, Horace, as we come up to MLK Day you are going to have a lot of folks out there talking about how the Trump administration, the tax reform package that was passed just before Christmas, is bad particularly for black Americans. We know this because they have already said they were going to do it.

[House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and a lot of others are going to be holding events over the weekend in “honor” of Martin Luther King Jr., kind of hijacking the holiday, I would argue. To go tell black Americans why this is actually a bad economy for them, the complete opposite of all the numbers and evidence.

Cooper: Here’s the irony, what the left wants to tell black America is, ‘Who are you going to believe, them or your lying eyes?’ If you want to look at your bank account, if you want to look at the value of your home, if you want to make that the test, then you’ll look and you’ll say, ‘Wow, the news is amazing. My uncle, my cousin, even my next-door neighbor, they’re getting jobs that they didn’t have.’

A record 2 million fewer people are receiving food assistance under the Trump administration than before. But it is also not a surprise to me. Here’s the thing: When you look at Martin Luther King, most people remember the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. What they don’t recall is that the main reason for the big rally at the Lincoln Memorial [in August 1963] was a jobs program.

Black Americans were worried and concerned that there weren’t a lot of great economic opportunities. And that’s how this [March on Washington in 1963] got organized. The essence of what black America and the civil rights effort was about was letting people be able to get the kinds of things that control their own lives.

Wood: The right to a quality education, the right to good jobs.

Cooper: Absolutely. Right. A great house.

Wood: Not the right to handouts, wanting handouts.

Cooper: Absolutely. But the left, with these teach-ins as you mentioned, it’s cynical what they are doing. They don’t have a program for black America. Black America rejected—people don’t realize this—black America rejected Barack Obama’s program. How do I know this? [In 2008], the highest percentage of black Americans in history voted for the Democrat [Obama].

In 2012, we saw something happen that we have never seen before. Fewer black people voted for the re-election of a president. We haven’t seen that in 120 years. Not with Clinton, not with Nixon, not with Reagan. Every other re-elected president got more black votes than they did the first time around.

Wood: And why do you think that is? Do you think people really made the calculation within the black community, he hasn’t done what he said he was going to do?

Cooper: They absolutely could see that. You can’t show up the day before Election Day and have to wait for a handout, and then on the day after go and say I’m going to vote for this guy because he is making me great. But the Democrats and the left have been very good, and that’s what this teach-in is about.

Wood: Well, you make a point. And I want to talk more about Project 21 because I’m sure a lot of folks watching are going to say, ‘Wow, the news media doesn’t usually go out and find people like Horace Cooper to talk about Martin Luther King Day.’ 

They want to know where there are more Horace Coopers. And Project 21 is one of those organizations. The release that you all put out talked about, in addition to the teach-in, that while all of that is going on, the liberals are also pushing the DREAM Act and trying to legalize a lot of illegal immigrants.  

Cooper: Oh, it’s a classic bait and switch, a beautiful bait and switch. When you don’t have a good program for people—by program, I mean a policy initiative that would be good for them—what you do is you find something to distract them.

What’s ironic is they’re not going to succeed in telling people, in this teach-in that they announced, that ‘You shouldn’t want the tax cuts you are about to get,  you shouldn’t want more money in your bank account, you shouldn’t want more flexibility in the kinds of jobs.  And that’s what’s coming your way. You don’t want that, that’s bad, we want to make you understand that the Trump regulatory tax policies are bad for you.’

Meanwhile, what they don’t say is ‘By the way, we do have a program, not for you, [but] we have a program. It is primarily focused on illegal immigrants. And in fact, even as late as today, the talk is we’ll shut the government down if we don’t get the ability to get the illegal immigration support policy changes that we want. Hey, black America, look at the teach-ins, that’s what we’ve got for you; but for our new favored class, we’ve got real policy changes that are designed to improve and make their livelihoods better.’

Wood: And in many cases, though, trying to get [illegal immigrants] into the same government programs that got [black Americans] trapped into big government.

Cooper: Well, of course, that’s the ultimate goal.

Wood: Because those folks will often times also turn into voters once they get locked into government. And they become the party of big government.

Cooper: It’s a vicious cycle.

Wood: You’re right, it’s a bait and switch. Let’s talk about Project 21. Tell everybody what Project 21 is, how they can get involved, and how they can learn more about it.  

Cooper: Project 21 is an organization made up of black Americans who have rejected the idea that the only way for black Americans to succeed is if the government specifically engages in a series of handouts or preferential treatment. We are people, moderate and conservative, who say that the best way for black Americans to succeed is the same way it is for [all] Americans to succeed: Strong families, hard work.  Get a good education, engage in the kind of policies where you personally save your money, you’re not extravagant. Where you make the sacrifice and you hand your children.

We believe in limited government, we believe in family values. We believe the church and the synagoge are the primary place where good values get inculcated. Our organization welcomes any American that believes in those kinds of things and wants to make sure that those are the values that we put forward. That got America started, that got America to succeed, that’s the future for America.

Wood: And that’s a lot of things that Martin Luther King Jr. absolutely stood for.

Cooper: Absolutely.

Wood: Horace, thank you.  I’ve known this guy for over 20 years, he is rock-solid. It’s great being on with you. Thanks for coming on and being out here and talking with us.

Cooper: Thanks for having me on The Signal.

Wood: And thank you everybody. Check out Project 21. And thank you for watching us right here on The Daily Signal’s Facebook Live.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Genevieve Wood

Genevieve Wood advances policy priorities of The Heritage Foundation as senior contributor to The Daily Signal. Send an email to Genevieve. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: Rate of Imprisonment for Black Adults Falls 29% Over Decade

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

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New Offshore Drilling Plan Will Reverse Obama Restrictions, Unleash U.S. Energy Dominance

America is moving forward in its march toward energy dominance, and the Trump administration just took an important step forward in achieving that goal.

In unveiling its draft five-year Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan on Thursday, the Interior Department is reversing the Obama administration’s “Keep it in the Ground” anti-energy policy.

An abundance of untapped energy lies beneath America’s ground and off the coasts. For six years, America has been the world’s largest petroleum and natural gas producer, supporting more than 10 million jobs and contributing more than $1.3 trillion to the economy.

The increase in energy supplies has lowered prices for households and businesses. Families are saving hundreds, if not more than $1,000 each year on electricity bills and home-heating costs, and paying less at the gas pump.

It also means companies around the country devote less money to paying energy bills and more to investing in labor and capital.

All of these benefits have accrued to Americans, despite the fact that the Obama administration made a majority of America’s coastal waters off-limits to natural resources exploration and production.

In fact, 94 percent of federal offshore acreage is off-limits to development. The United States is the only country in the world that has placed a majority of its territorial waters off-limits to natural resources extraction.

Until now, that is.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s draft plan is the first part of a multiyear process that would make more than 90 percent of the total federal acreage available, which includes 98 percent of the undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in the Outer Continental Shelf.

As highlighted by Interior’s press release:

The Draft Proposed Program … includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas—19 sales off the coast of Alaska, seven in the Pacific region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and nine in the Atlantic region. This is the largest number of lease sales ever proposed for the National Outer Continental Shelf Program’s five-year lease schedule.

The 47 potential lease sales top the number of sales listed in President Ronald Reagan’s two submissions of 41 and 42.

At several points in time, offshore drilling was not such a partisan issue. When President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, made his 1979 energy speech, he said, “We will step up exploration and production of oil and gas on federal lands.”

As a result, the Carter administration’s Interior Department proposed 36 lease sales. As recently as 2013, both Democratic senators from Virginia offered legislation to open parts of the Atlantic to offshore development.

It’s understandable why.

Offshore drilling is a critical component of the Gulf of Mexico economy, one of the limited areas where offshore activity takes place in federal waters.

Recognizing that offshore resource exploration is systematically safe, the energy industry has a very strong relationship with the seafood and tourism industries. In fact, Louisiana hosts a Shrimp and Petroleum Festival each year.

Despite the Deepwater Horizon incident that adversely affected the Gulf environmentally and economically, there was a broad recognition among these three industries that the blanket drilling moratorium was bad policy and bad for the region as a whole.

The economic benefits of realizing America’s true energy potential could be significant. Opening the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelves and the eastern Gulf of Mexico could create more than 800,000 jobs by 2035.

Increased supplies, which could equate to as much as 3.5 million barrels of oil per day, would lower prices for families.

Furthermore, federal and state governments would stand to benefit as well, since increased production would increase revenues from bonus bids (for new leases), royalties, rents, and increased economic activity.

By 2035, the federal government could collect more than $200 billion in revenue. With the country burdened with massive amounts of federal debt, policymakers should welcome the potential for revenue generation.

No one knows where oil prices will be once the Interior Department finalizes the plan. Therefore, it’s difficult to fully project where the industry will invest.

Nevertheless, the market will determine what areas the oil and gas companies will pursue. The federal government should not stand in its way.

It’s encouraging to see Interior take a hatchet to a long-standing barrier to energy dominance and improved economic well-being.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Nicolas Loris

Nicolas Loris, an economist, focuses on energy, environmental and regulatory issues as the Herbert and Joyce Morgan fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Read his research. Twitter: .

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

The House’s Born Ultimatum

Like a lot of pregnant women, the young mom who visited Planned Parenthood in St. Paul last summer wasn’t sure she wanted to have the abortion. Already well into her second trimester, she was started to have second thoughts about whether this was the right decision for her or her baby. But, pressured by doctors to go through with it, she agreed — giving her permission for them to start the painful, two-day procedure. When the time came, she watched in shock as the male abortionist started “jamming that needle in and out” of her stomach. Finally, she was told: he couldn’t reach the baby’s heart to inject it with the fatal drug that would kill it. Panicked that her child might survive the abortion, she asked, “What if the baby was to come out alive?” The female doctor paused and said, “Most likely, we would break the baby’s neck.”

Horrified, she asked them to stop the dilation and went home. Her baby survived. But dozens of unborn children, who cross that same threshold every day, aren’t so lucky. As far as Planned Parenthood is concerned, the killing of a tiny child — whether she’s in the womb or breathing on her own — is what “choice” is all about. The decision of destroying a life, they’ve argued, even one who’s lived through the worst our world had to offer, “should be between the patient and the health care provider.” Even if it’s murder. They’ll deliver a baby alive to harvest its organs or they’ll cover up a botched abortion by leaving the little survivor to die. Either way, they’re breaking the law. And Republicans in Congress have had enough.

For more than two years, they’ve held hearings, launched investigations, and turned over reams of damning evidence to the FBI. Now, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says, it’s time to act. “Next week– the week of the annual March for Life, when tens of thousands of Americans come to Washington to give voice to the voiceless unborn — the House will vote on the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act,” he announced. The bill, which easily passed the same House in 2015, never got a vote in the Senate. This time, leaders vow, it will. Although a similar measure was signed into law by President Bush in 2003, it never had the teeth pro-lifers needed to hold the abortion industry accountable. Under this version, the law would not only criminalize people who let newborns die (or actively kill them) but gives moms a private right of action to sue.

“…[I]f a baby is born after a failed abortion attempt, he or she should be given the same medical care as a baby born any other way,” McCarthy explained. “There is absolutely no ambiguity here. This is about protecting babies who are born and alive, and nobody should be against that.” Tell that to Planned Parenthood. They’ve argued that the bill would have a “chilling” effect on the “provision of abortion services.” “I cannot think of a more chilling effect,” Arina Grossu fired back, “than continuing to let abortionists get away with infanticide, the intentional killing of born-alive, breathing babies after an attempted abortion.”

But how often does that happen? According to David Daleiden’s videos, a lot more than we think. Yet even on the stand, under oath, Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards denied it. “There was one specific video,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) reminded Richards, “…describing harvesting the brain of a late-term boy. She said she wasn’t sure if the baby was alive since its heart was still beating and she harvested its brain by cutting his head open starting with the chin. Do you recall that?” She said she didn’t. “There is nothing she has ever described,” Richards claimed, “that I could attest to has ever happened.” Based on hours of footage, the findings of the House Select Panel on Infant Lives, and the testimony of this one (out of who-knows-how-many) young Minnesota mother, it does happen. And obviously, the practice is far more widespread than Planned Parenthood, its president, or our former president will ever admit.

Murdering an innocent human being is not, and never has been, a constitutional right. That’s true whether the person is nine seconds old or 90 years old. Join Leader McCarthy, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and 60 of her co-sponsors by calling your House member and supporting the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act. Even one lost baby is too many.


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


RELATED ARTICLEOpen Doors Shows Others Are Closing on Christians

Entitlement Kicks in Over Oregon Self-Service Gas Pumps

Most Americans were probably drop-jawed to learn there was a state in the union where government overseers prohibited the people from pumping their own gas. The ultra-progressive and ever-controlling Oregon Legislature had banned this otherwise normal behavior for more than 50 years, ostensibly to provide some form of protection for its residents.

This is the practical reality of the general principle that government coddling creates entitlement, pampered residents with fewer freedoms, and reduced abilities to live independently. Oregon has been telling its residents for generations they are incapable of pumping their own gas, and now there are generations of Oregonians who are terrified at the prospect of doing what more than 300 million other Americans do without a thought.

The first thing that comes to mind are the scenes from the animated Pixar movie Wall-E, where the remainder of earth’s population cruise the galaxy on the spaceship Axiom. The passengers are so dependent on the automated ship that they have become obese, too feeble to walk and incapable of caring for themselves. They definitely would not have been able to pump their own gas.

But now the Oregon Legislature moved partially into the 1980s when it recently passed a law allowing rural gas stations to let people pump their own gas. Portlandians are still safe from the ordeal; government continues to protect them from gas pump handles. But others in the supposed rugged rural areas are outraged at the change (because outrage comes easily these days.)

Take a look at some of these Facebook comments from Oregonians in response to the legislature catching up to 1980 America:

“I don’t even know HOW to pump gas and I am 62, native Oregonian … I say NO THANKS! I don’t like to smell like gasoline!” one woman commented.

“No! Disabled, seniors, people with young children in the car need help,” another woman wrote. “Not to mention getting out of your car with transients around and not feeling safe too. This is a very bad idea. Grr.”

“I’ve lived in this state my whole life and I refuse to pump my own gas. This is a service only qualified people should perform. I will literally park at the pump and wait until someone pumps my gas.”

This is really a thing in Oregon. Most of the rest of the country may laugh and mock them (except big-government nanny state New Jersey, the only remaining state with such a law) but people long relying on government-forced service don’t like losing that service. They believe they have an entitlement.

“I think that we are getting tarnished in social media,” Lizzy Acker, a reporter for The Oregonian, told NPR. Well, yes. There’s sort of a reason for that. But Acker is confident in Oregonians ability to actually pump their own gas. “And I think most Oregonians are self-sufficient enough to figure out how to pump their own gas.”

Just read that statement. There may not be a better example of how progressivism breeds dependency on government — more and more power for government over weaker and weaker people. Not surprisingly — to people who understand how capitalism works — Oregon is one of the most expensive states in the union for a gallon of gas.

Oregon’s 56-year gas-pumping law is a cautionary example of how more government regulation and control immediately limits freedoms and breeds dependence and entitlement.

Perhaps one day, all Americans will be free to pump their own gas. But only if they choose leaders with a vision for freedom over governmental dominion.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act.

How Tax Reform Is Keeping Promise ‘Fight for $15’ Couldn’t

As the union-backed “Fight for $15” movement has sought to enact mandatory minimum-wage increases in states and localities across the country, tax reform seems to have spurred wage growth using a different approach.

On the day President Donald Trump signed the sweeping tax-reform law, the New Jersey-based OceanFirst Financial Corp. issued a press release announcing “a commitment to increase the bank’s minimum hourly pay rate to $15.00 within 30 days of the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” affecting 135 employees.

It’s one of 21 companies that have announced raising their base wage to $15 per hour because of tax reform, on a running list compiled by Americans for Tax Reform that currently shows more than 120 companies have announced raises or bonuses for employees.

Businesses large and small are taking the same action, citing tax reform as the reason, including some of OceanFirst’s much larger national competitors, such as Fifth Third Bancorp, with 13,500 employees, 3,000 of whom will benefit from the boost in base wage to $15, according to a company.

Others include BB&T with 27,000 employees; PNC Bank, with 47,500; U.S. Bancorp, with 60,000; and Wells Fargo, with more than 200,000. All raised their minimum wage to $15 per hour, and credited tax reform for the change.

It isn’t just banks. Connecticut-based insurance firm The Travelers announced that along with $1,000 bonuses for its 14,000 employees, “we have only a small number of U.S.-based employees making less than $15 an hour. We will increase their hourly wage to $15.”

While still early in the wake of enactment of the tax-reform law, the demonstrable results seem to be in stark contrast with the mandatory minimum-wage laws requiring a $15 wage.

After passing such a city ordinance, Seattle commissioned a study by the University of Washington, which found the cost to low-wage workers outweighed the benefits by a 3-1 ratio, and found that on average, low-wage workers would lose $125 per month in lost work hours, lost employment or lost job opportunities because of the law.

The National Bureau of Economic Research published the study.

“The problem with legislating a $15-per-hour wage is that if productivity is not up to $15 per hour, that person loses their job,” Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist told The Daily Signal. “When you change the regulatory and tax policies, you expand the economy for workers, and productivity can expand for a greater reward.”

The results were predictable, said David Kreutzer, senior research fellow for labor markets and trade at The Heritage Foundation.

“What happens with tax cuts is that demand pulls wages up, and then you don’t have a problem with people losing jobs,” Kreutzer told The Daily Signal. “Without an increase in demand, people will lose their job, or typically don’t get hired. … The fight for $15 is unambitious and impossible. You can’t make people rich through mandates. We want an economy so strong that people can make $20 or $25 per hour because productivity is so strong.”

At the start of the new year, 18 states instituted a higher minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Of those, California and New York passed laws to eventually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022 and 2020, respectively. Other states that approved increases to less than $15 were Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The states of Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, and South Dakota automatically increased their minimum-wage rates based on the cost of living.

Americans for Tax Reform found that overall, at least 1 million Americans were benefiting from announced pay raises or bonuses as a result of tax reform, and the nonprofit organization thinks that it’s likely more than that, since many companies don’t make public announcements.

In most cases, companies didn’t specify how many of their employees would benefit from the minimum-wage hike.

Companies on Americans for Tax Reform’s list that announced raising the base wage to $15 per hour are, with number of overall employees listed, where announced:

  • American Savings Bank, 1,100 employees
  • Americollect, 250 employees
  • Aquesta Financial Holdings, 95 employees
  • Associated Bank
  • Bank of Hawaii, 2,074 employees
  • Bank of James
  • Bank of the Ozarks, 2,300 employees
  • Central Pacific Bank, 850 employees
  • Comerica Bank, 4,500 “non-officer” employees
  • First Hawaiian Bank, 2,264 employees
  • HarborOne Bank, 600 employees
  • INB Bank, 200 employees
  • Regions Financial Corp.
  • SunTrust Banks, 24,000 employees
  • Territorial Savings Bank, 247 employees

“We didn’t become a prosperous country because our Founding Fathers said, ‘Let’s pass a law to make everybody rich,’” Norquist said. “We became prosperous because they got out of the way to let people trade and invent. This is very helpful in getting out of the way so that more people will earn more than $15.”

A spokesman for the Fight for $15 organization did not respond to comment for this article. While it primarily advocates for laws, the organization doesn’t oppose companies voluntarily raising the wage, noting on its website Target raising the wage for employees as a “big win.”

The AFL-CIO, an umbrella organization for labor unions, supports laws to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, but opposed the tax reform law. An AFL-CIO spokesman did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

The tax-reform law cut the corporate tax rate, previously the highest in the world among developed countries, from 35 percent to 21 percent, putting the U.S. on par with most other industrialized nations. The tax law also cut individual rates and eliminated some loopholes.

Portrait of Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas

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

RELATED ARTICLE: Right-to-Work Advocate Blames Unions’ Legal Threats for Loss

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

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This Case Against Western Ranchers Shows Why Americans Are Right to Fear Government

Governments are prone to abuse, especially when unchecked.

Recently revealed actions by the Bureau of Land Management, a federal agency under the Department of Interior charged with managing federal land, are reminiscent of the IRS scandal in which that agency targeted conservative tea party groups for extra scrutiny.

A federal judge ruled Dec. 20 that she was throwing out the Bureau of Land Management’s case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy because the prosecution withheld key facts.

On Monday, the same judge ruled that the case could not be tried again due to the actions of the prosecution, which she said had been “outrageous” and “violated due process rights,” according to azcentral.com.

The story broke before Christmas, but hasn’t received the attention it deserves. It perfectly underscores the pernicious problem of unaccountable agencies and how quickly they can become abusive to citizens.

The trial involved a dispute over grazing rights between Bundy and the federal government, a persistent problem in western states.

The government claimed Bundy owed money for public land use fees going back to the early 1990s, which the Bundy family refused to pay.

After years of trying to recoup the fees, the Bureau of Land Management, working in conjunction with the FBI, tried to impound Bundy’s cattle in 2014.

The story hit national headlines after Bundy, his family, and supporters got into an armed standoff with authorities that fortunately ended without violence. Bundy and his sons Ammon and Ryan eventually were arrested and chargedwith various offences.

However, the actions of government agents badly damaged the credibility of the case and raised questions about the power of supposedly independent agencies to deliver justice responsibly.

What is particularly worrisome is that the Bureau of Land Management appears to have acted punitively against political and religious groups they simply didn’t like.

An investigative report by one of the bureau’s own special agents revealed that the agents in the Bundy case acted with “incredible bias” and likely broke the law, as The Daily Caller News Foundation reported

The level of malfeasance of which one of its own accused the Bureau of Land Management is stunning.

Dan Love, the Bureau of Land Management law enforcement officer who led the 2014 raid on the Bundy compound in Clark County, Nevada, was fired recently amid charges of corruption. That was something prosecutors denied until pressured to release his fellow agent’s report to the defense.

Worse, an investigative report by one of the bureau’s own special agents revealed that the agents in the Bundy case acted with “incredible bias” and likely broke the law, as The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

In the memo, lead investigator Larry Wooten explained how agents acted maliciously toward the Bundys. He said the “punitive” and “ego-driven” campaign against the ranchers was all an effort to “command the most intrusive, oppressive, large scale, and militaristic trespass cattle impound possible.”

Wooten wrote: “The ridiculousness of the conduct, unprofessional amateurish carnival atmosphere, openly made statements, and electronic communications tended to mitigate the defendant’s culpability and cast a shadow of a doubt of inexcusable bias, unprofessionalism, and embarrassment of our agency.”

The agents called Bundy and his supporters “deplorables,” “rednecks,” and “idiots” among many other worse names, Wooten said. They also insulted the Bundy family’s Mormon beliefs.

Their behavior showed clear prejudice toward “the defendants, their supporters, and Mormons,” Wooten wrote.

Wooten claimed that fellow agents put him through a “religious test” of sorts on several occasions.

“You’re not a Mormon, are you?” they asked.

Wooten’s memo suggested that the attitude and ambition of Bureau of Land Management agents led them to inappropriately militarize the operation against the Bundys, even after the FBI had conducted a threat assessment and concluded that the Bundys weren’t dangerous.

The day after U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro’s declaration of a mistrial, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for an investigation into the matter.

However, there is some frustration over the Navarro’s decision, especially among environmental groups that generally would like to boot ranchers from government-owned western land.

Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, an environmental conservation organization, blasted the mistrial decision in The Hill.

“These federal agencies have been patient and cautious to a fault in their prosecution of the Bundys and their accomplices,” Molvar wrote. “It’s long past time to stop playing games with the prosecution of federal crimes, and instead lay all the facts on the table and let the judicial system work.”

But one doesn’t need to think the Bundys acted appropriately in the dispute to understand why the case had to be thrown out. Nor is it out of line to think it’s worrisome for government agents to act in such an aggressive and abusive manner no matter the guilt or innocence of the citizen.

As columnist Debra Saunders wrote, the disturbing facts that have come to light point “to the sort of federal prosecutorial abuses that give the right cause for paranoia.”

There are better ways of of dealing with Western land. Reducing the federal footprint would certainly help.

Ranchers have been using government land for grazing for many generations, as individuals generally don’t have the financial means to acquire the amount of property necessary to run their business.

But this setup is not a free ride or “welfare,” as some have suggested.

Studies show it is generally more expensive for ranchers to use public land, which, in addition to fees, they are required to maintain, than to use privately leased land. In fact this land use helps the government save a significant amount of money on management costs.

Many ranchers would much rather contract with private entities and pay for services rather than deal with the headache of negotiating with the federal government. In many cases, however, this is impossible.

In Nevada, the federal government owns over 80 percent of the land and creates serious problems for ranchers and others who want and need to use it.

In the past, the federal government was more likely to give ranchers freer use of this land. Government actually encouraged western migration and frontier settlement through policies such as the famed Homestead Act of 1862.

But pressure from environmentalists outside and inside the agencies during the 20th century led to more restrictive policies on how ranchers may use the land.

This resulted in confrontations between the federal government and western farmers and ranchers, most notably the so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” in the 1970s and 1980s, in which a coalition of westerners demanded that the government privatize land or transfer it to local authorities.

Confrontations and tension between ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management will likely continue as long as the government pursues such tight-fisted policies and insists that it’s more important to close off land use for the needs of the desert tortoise rather than those of ranchers and farmers.

Regardless of policy, Americans have a right not to be targeted by a government created to protect them and mete out appropriate justice.

The unfortunate facts of the Bundy case show how an unaccountable agency can become abusive toward citizens, and strikes at the heart of what we believe about republican government.

The Founders created our institutions to serve us and faithfully uphold the law, not be weaponized to attack individuals and groups in the shadow of darkness.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Jarrett Stepman

Jarrett Stepman

Jarrett Stepman is an editor for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Jarrett. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: It’s Time to Reduce the Power of the Federal Government Over Western Land

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

Analysis Finds 1 Million Americans So Far Getting Pay Raise From Tax Reform

One million Americans are getting pay increases because of the tax reform package signed into law in December.

“More than one million hardworking Americans have already received a ‘Trump Bonus’ or ‘Trump Pay Raise’ as a result of the historic tax reform package that President Donald J. Trump signed into law just before Christmas,” @PressSec says.

That’s according to Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group that established a running list of companies that have announced bonuses, wage hikes, and charitable donations.

“Just five days into 2018 the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has changed the nation for the better,” Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist said in a statement. “American companies are raising wages, paying bonuses, expanding operations, and increasing 401(k) contributions.”

The website asks for people to provide information if they are aware of other companies providing pay raises because of tax reform.

President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress said the reform would grow the economy, while Democrats argued the corporate tax cuts would not benefit employees.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement Friday night, which said:

More than one million hardworking Americans have already received a “Trump Bonus” or “Trump Pay Raise” as a result of the historic tax reform package that President Donald J. Trump signed into law just before Christmas. President Trump said from the beginning that lowering tax rates, simplifying the complicated tax code, and making our companies more competitive would be the fuel that propels our economy to new heights. The preliminary results show that the president is right, and American workers and families are the big winners. And this is only the beginning. The president remains focused on empowering Americans to build more prosperous lives for themselves and brighter futures for their children.

The new law cut the corporate tax rate from 39.6 percent to 21 percent. It also lowered individual rates and closed loopholes.

Among the employers to give bonuses were AT&T, which gave $1,000 bonuses to its 200,000 employees; American Airlines, which gave $1,000 bonuses to 127,600 employees; BB&T Bank, which gave $1,200 bonuses to its 27,000 employees and raised the base wage from $12 to $15 per hour; Southwest Airlines, which gave $1,000 bonuses for 55,000 employees and $5 million in charitable donations; and Sinclair Broadcasting, which gave $1,000 bonuses for 9,000 employees.

For the full list of companies, click here.

This story was updated to include a comment from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Portrait of Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas

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

RELATED ARTICLES: 

How Tax Reform Is Keeping Promise ‘Fight for $15’ Couldn’t

We Hear You: Tax Cuts, the GOP Establishment, the Job Outlook, and the Trump Economy

Black Unemployment at Lowest Rate on Record

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

Our dedicated team of more than 100 journalists and policy experts rely on the financial support of patriots like you.

Your donation helps us fight for access to our nation’s leaders and report the facts.

You deserve the truth about what’s going on in Washington.

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

SUPPORT THE DAILY SIGNAL

Trump Should Rescind Work Authorization for H-4 Visas

Meaningful border security and effective enforcement of our immigration laws are anathemas to globalists who see in America’s borders impediments to their wealth.

While U.S.-based globalists routinely spout globalist propaganda, often disguised as “news reports” by American journalists, comparable globalist propaganda spewed by foreign journalists is rarely reported in the United States.

On December 18, 2017, Quartz India published an article, under the category of Back In Limbo, “Under Trump, Indian H-1B wives fear becoming second-class citizens again.”

The title of the article was not only illogical but also apparently sought to blur the distinction between American citizens and aliens.

Beneath the title of that article was the image of the hands of a newly naturalized citizen holding an American flag, accompanied by a brief description of the naturalization ceremony where the photo was taken.

There was no explanation, however, as to why the photo taken of an American flag at a naturalization ceremony is somehow to be conflated with a report about nonimmigrant aliens working in the United States.

The obvious question, certainly not asked or answered in the article, is how could any alien, particularly a nonimmigrant alien, complain about “becoming a second-class citizen?”

Simply stated, aliens are not citizens — first-class, second-class, or any class at all.

In point of fact, aliens must be acquire lawful immigrant status in order to ultimately be eligible to come United States citizens provided that they meet a number of prerequisites. Nonimmigrant aliens, by definition, are aliens who are admitted into the United States for a temporary period of time and must, after the period of admission expires, return to their native countries.

H-1B and H-4 visas, the focus of the Quartz India grievance, are nonimmigrant visas.

Furthermore, it is a crime for an alien to claim to be a United States citizen. Under the law (18 U.S. Code § 911) any alien who makes a false claim to being a United States citizen is committing a felony that carries a maximum penalty of up to three years in prison.

Use of misleading language is a major element of the campaign waged by immigration anarchists and globalists who seek to eradicate America’s borders.

In the Orwellian world of immigration Newspeak, aliens who enter the United States without inspection are referred to as entering “undocumented” a fabricated term to obfuscate the truth that these aliens are illegally present in the United States.

By eliminating the term “alien” from the vernacular where any discussions or debates about immigration are concerned, a tactic initiated by President Jimmy Carter during his administration, set the stage for the bogus assertions that anyone who believes in securing our nation’s borders against the entry of criminals, terrorists, and other aliens who would pose a threat to best interests of America and Americans are deemed to be “anti-immigrant” when, in reality their position should be referred to as “pro-immigration law enforcement.”

This use of language to control the debate was the topic of my recent article, “Language Wars: The Road to Tyranny is Paved With Language Censorship.”

The article published by that publication, complaining that their citizens are not being treated in a manner equal to United States citizens, is simply yet another step along the path to immigration anarchy and the destruction of American sovereignty by confounding logic and reasoning in pursuit of a political agenda.

Bad as the title of that piece was, the article itself goes on to hammer the United States for its policies, and we have Obama’s anarchistic immigration policies to thank for this.

Consider the opening paragraph of the article:

Rashi Bhatnagar gave up her career as a journalist when she left India in 2009 and moved to the US on an H-4 dependent visa. For years, she struggled with frustration because her visa status did not allow her to work in the US. But in 2015, she saw a sliver of hope after the erstwhile Barack Obama administration allowed the spouses of H-1B workers awaiting green card approval to apply for work permits of their own.

The article then noted that on December 14 of this year the Trump administration announced that it would reconsider the Obama policy of permitting certain H-4 aliens to be granted employment authorization and how unfair this was.

The article went on to report:

Since 2015, over 104,000 spouses were granted EADs. A large number of these would likely be from the sub-continent as Indians receive a major chunk of the H-1B visas every year.

Let’s take a moment to consider the issues.

The alien referenced in the first paragraph of the article came to the United States voluntarily knowing full well, before she even set foot on U.S. soil, that she would not be permitted to work in the United States. Nevertheless, she willingly came here and found the conditions to be what she knew that they would be before she boarded the airliner.

Many of Obama’s globalist policies ended the day that he left office and still more of his policies are under review by President Trump so that he can truly put America and Americans first, a clear and unequivocal element of his campaign for the presidency.

Providing tens of thousands of aliens, who were admitted with H-4 nonimmigrant visas, with employment authorization runs contrary to the best interests of American workers by enabling these nonimmigrant aliens to compete with American and lawful immigrants for jobs.

It is to be expected that President Trump would take a hard look at this program and, hopefully, terminate these policies.

Of course citizens of India and other countries could not care less about the well-being of America or Americans.

Incredibly, adding to this problem is the fact that for decades we have had a succession of administrations that apparently shared their disdain for Americans. Mr. Obama, undoubtedly led the charge creating policies that eroded American sovereignty that undermined national security and public safety.

Furthermore, the problems with the employment of these nonimmigrant aliens also has an economic component. Money earned by aliens is wired out of the countries by foreign workers, whether they are legally or illegally working in the United States. That money is permanently lost to the U.S. economy and contributes to our national debt and to an adverse balance of trade.

On October 3, 2017, the World Bank issued a report, “Remittances to Recover Modestly After Two Years of Decline.” It included this paragraph:

Among major remittance recipients, India retains its top spot, with remittances expected to total $65 billion this year, followed by China ($63 billion), the Philippines ($33 billion), Mexico (a record $31 billion), and Nigeria ($22 billion).

India has been leading the charge of countries receiving remittances sent home by their citizens who are working in countries around the world. Of course, not all of the money remitted to these countries came from the United States, but America is a leading country where the flow of remittances is concerned.

The egregious article upon which my commentary today is predicated also addressed the issue of remittances and quoted Poorvi Chothani, managing partner at an immigration law firm LawQuest.

Chothani had the unmitigated chutzpah to whine that Trump policies would prevent these nonimmigrant aliens from realizing their “American Dream.”

The “American Dream” for nonimmigrant aliens?

Incredibly, the term “American Dream,” and one that has become over the past several decades, ever more elusive and indeed, illusory for American citizens, has been misappropriated by globalists to purportedly justify providing millions of illegal aliens with lawful status and a pathway to U.S. Citizenship under the failed “DREAM Act” and now apparently for nonimmigrant aliens who voluntarily enter the United States on nonimmigrant visas.

Additionally, the article makes a contrived claim that since, according to the article, 90 percent of the H-4 visa holders are women, the Trump policies are unfair to women. And while the H-1B visa holders may be sending remittances back to India, their wives who cannot work in the United States are unable to send money to support their families because the wages paid to the H-1B spouses are insufficient to meet all of their needs, in the United States and back home to help their families.

Of course the law firm is likely concerned that their profits will suffer if the number of aliens who would come to the United States is reduced because of President Trump’s policies of putting American workers first.

It’s easy to see the damage that has been done to America — just follow the money.

Because of the globalist policies of the Obama administration and previous administrations, the globalists have been literally and figuratively “making out like bandits.”

Thankfully, since the election of Donald Trump, there is truly a new sheriff in town.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on NewsMax.com.