New National Test Scores Show Betsy DeVos Was Right About Public Schools

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ recent interview with Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes” caused quite a bit of backlash from critics.

As my colleague Jonathan Butcher has written, “60 Minutes” ignored many of the facts about the state of education in America. Response to the interview drew quite a bit of criticism of DeVos and her policy solutions.

Perhaps one of the most pivotal moments came when she suggested that the United States’ heavy federal investment in education has not yielded any results. Stahl hit back, asserting that school performance has been on the rise.

But the latest government data show otherwise. According to the recently released 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s “report card,” we now have more evidence that DeVos was correct.

In fact, recent scores show virtually no improvement over 2015 scores. Eighth-grade reading saw a single point improvement over 2015 scores (10 points is considered equivalent to a grade level), while all other categories saw no improvement.

These lackluster results come on the heels of declines on the 2015 assessment, suggesting the beginning of a trend in the wrong direction for academic outcomes.

Indeed, Stahl’s claim that the state of public schools has gotten better simply doesn’t hold up to the data. It fact, DeVos is entirely correct to point out that public school outcomes have not meaningfully improved, and that our nation’s heavy federal intervention in K-12 education has failed to help the problem.

As Heritage Foundation education fellow Lindsey Burke writes:

Forty-nine out of 50 states were stagnant on the 2017 report card, and achievement gaps persist. Historically, federal education spending has been appropriated to close gaps, yet this spending—more than $2 trillion in inflation-adjusted spending at the federal level alone since 1965—has utterly failed to achieve that goal.

Increasing federal intervention over the past half-century, and the resulting burden of complying with federal programs, rules, and regulations, have created a parasitic relationship with federal education programs and states, and is straining the time and resources of local schools.

Indeed, for decades, Washington has poured billions of dollars into the public education system under the assumption that more federal spending will close achievement caps and improve the academic outcomes of students. With mounting evidence that more federal spending is not the answer, it may be time to consider other policy approaches.

DeVos is correct to suggest school choice as a solution to lackluster school performance. Parents who cannot afford to send their child to a school that is the right fit deserve to have options. As DeVos told Stahl:

Any family that has the economic means and the power to make choices is doing so for their children. Families that don’t have the power, that can’t decide, ‘I’m gonna move from this apartment in downtown whatever to the suburb where I think the school is gonna be better for my child.’ If they don’t have that choice, and they are assigned to that school, they are stuck there. I am fighting for the parents who don’t have those choices. We need all parents to have those choices.

In light of recent evidence from the nation’s report card, “60 Minutes” and other school choice critics should consider that DeVos was correct in her framing of problems facing the nation’s schools and is on the right track with possible solutions—namely, that empowering parents is the right approach to improving American education.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Mary Clare Amselem

Mary Clare Amselem is a policy analyst in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE:  Nation’s ‘Report Card’ Shows Federal Intervention Has Not Helped Students

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is by Amy Beth Bennett/TNS/Newscom.

Trump’s Vitally Important Anti-Poverty Initiative

It takes a lot of courage for a president to target almost a quarter of the federal budget for reform in an election year.

But this is exactly what President Donald Trump is doing with his executive order, “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility.”

We’re now spending more than $700 billion per year on low-income assistance, which is more than we are spending on our national defense. And there are plenty of reasons to believe this spending is inefficient, wasteful, and counterproductive.

Over the last half-century, some $22 trillion has been spent on anti-poverty programs and yet the percentage of poor in this nation remains unchanged. And it is not only a matter of the percentage staying the same but also that the people and families who are born poor stay that way.

The “Better Way” report produced by the House speaker’s office in 2016 reported that 34 percent of those born and raised in the bottom fifth of the income scale remain there all their lives.

The point has often been made that the greatest charitable gesture is teaching those in need to help themselves.

This principle defines the president’s reforms to our anti-poverty programs and spending. Let’s make sure that every dollar spent goes to those truly in need and that those dollars are spent to maximize the likelihood that the recipients will get on their feet and become independent, productive, income-earning citizens.

The executive order directs federal agencies to review the some 80 federal anti-poverty programs, consolidate where there is redundancy and overlap, and look to reform by applying the principles of hard work and self-sufficiency.

Needless to say, the usual left-wing megaphones, those that can’t tell the difference between compassion and spending billions of other people’s dollars, have wasted no time to go on attack.

The headline from the Southern Poverty Law Center screams, “Trump’s executive order on work requirements punishes low-income people for being poor.”

Calling the executive order “heartless,” the Southern Poverty Law Center rejects the premise that there are those receiving benefits from these programs who could work but don’t.

However, Robert Doar of the American Enterprise Institute reports that there are almost 20 million working-age Americans receiving benefits under Medicaid and food stamps who don’t work.

The Better Way report notes that “44 percent of work-capable households using federal rental assistance report no annual income from wages.”

But it’s not just about work requirements.

Vital to this reform project is moving programs out of Washington’s grasp and into the administrations at the state and local levels. Assistance programs need humanity and flexibility. This can only be done locally. There’s no way an army of bureaucrats in Washington can develop and implement programs for 50 million needy individuals that can properly recognize what unique individuals need to move out of poverty.

Assistance programs need to promote and embody those principles that go hand in hand with prosperity—ownership, investment, savings, and personal freedom and responsibility.

According to the Better Way report, almost 10 million Americans have no bank account and another 25 million have an account but get financial services outside of the banking system.

When I was a young woman on welfare, I saw the destruction that occurs when assistance programs penalize work, marriage, and saving, as was the case with the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. Subsequently, this was reformed and transformed with great success to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

We can’t go on spending hundreds of billions of dollars of limited taxpayer funds on programs that may have been conceived with sincerity and compassion but don’t work.

Trump deserves credit for exercising the courage and vision to move to fix what is broken in our anti-poverty programs. It is vital for the poor and vital for the nation.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Star Parker

Star Parker is a columnist for The Daily Signal and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Twitter: .

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Ivy Imboden, originally from Anchorage, Alaska, clutching a warm drink after arriving at a new tent established for the homeless in San Diego, California. (Photo: John Gastaldo/Zuma Press/Newscom). The Daily Signal depends on the support of readers like you. Donate now

Out With the Old Tax Code, in With the New

Say your fond farewells, because this April marks the last year you will have to pay your taxes under the old tax code.

Next year, when you sit down to file your taxes for 2018, you and your family will send less of your paychecks to Washington.

In 2018, the average American will work the first 109 days of the year to earn enough money to pay their full tax bill. This year, thanks to tax reform, we will work three fewer days to pay our taxes than last year. That’s three more days of income you and your family get to keep for yourself.

Each year, the Tax Foundation calculates Tax Freedom Day—the day we are able to begin working for ourselves and our families, rather than Washington. Mark your calendars, Tax Freedom Day 2018 is April 19.

The Treasury Department estimates that next year, about nine out of 10 Americans will have larger paychecks thanks to lower tax rates, a larger standard deduction, and an increased child tax credit. But everyone wants to know exactly how the new tax code will help them, personally.

Luckily, Heritage Foundation research fellow Rachel Greszler crunched the numbers. Here are some examples.

Tom Wong, a single teacher making $50,000, just finished filing his 2017 taxes and paid $5,474 in federal income taxes for 2017. Next year, he can expect to pay $1,104 less to the federal government. His marginal tax rate dropped from 25 percent to 12 percent.

Under the old tax code, John and Sarah Jones, a married couple with combined earnings of $75,000, three children, and a home mortgage, just finished calculating that they will pay $1,753 this year. Next year when they file their taxes, their federal income tax bill will decline by $2,014. In fact, because of the larger $2,000 child tax credit, they will get a refundable credit of $261.

Now that the political rhetoric has subsided, it is clear that families across America can expect a sizable tax cut when they file their taxes next year.

Tax reform did more than cut personal income taxes. It was designed to boost the economy by making it easier for businesses to hire Americans and invest in the United States. The early evidence shows that tax reform is indeed contributing to more new jobs and higher wages for working Americans.

More than 450 companies to date have announced bonuses, pay raises, and better benefits—including American Airlines, AT&T, Bank of America, and Comcast. Americans for Tax Reform is keeping a running list here.

Fiat Chrysler announced it will move some of its manufacturing plants in Mexico back to the United States, invest more than $1 billion in Detroit, and add 2,500 new jobs.

A small Wichita business gave each of the company’s five employees bonuses,ranging from $4,000 to $6,000. Meanwhile, tech giant Apple announced it will invest $350 billion and add 20,000 employees in the U.S. over the next five years.

New lower tax rates for businesses and individuals have made the U.S. competitive again and given Americans much-needed tax relief. For tax reform to succeed, however, Washington must constrain federal spending to reduce pressures to raise taxes in the future.

The true measure of taxes is not what we pay, but what the government spends. If you include 2018’s federal borrowing, Tax Freedom Day—or more aptly, Spending Freedom Day—is 17 days later, on May 6.

Every American who just received a tax cut should be a newly minted deficit hawk. Congress made many of the tax cuts temporary, so without serious spending reforms, there will be continued pressure to let taxes rise again.

To solidify the gains of tax reform, Congress must make the existing tax cuts permanent and bring spending under control. Phase 2 of tax reform is nonnegotiable.

For now, we can bid adieu to the old tax system and welcome 2018 with lower taxes and a healthier economy.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Adam Michel

Adam Michel

Adam Michel focuses on tax policy and the federal budget as a policy analyst in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by DNY59/Getty Images.

Trump Issued a Call for Welfare Reform. Here Are 4 Actions Policymakers Can Take.

President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order calling for reforms in the welfare system to promote work and strengthen marriage.

The president is right to address this pressing issue. Welfare reform is needed.

Today, the welfare system aggressively penalizes marriage among low-income parents and discourages work and self-support. We have spent $28 trillion on welfare programs since the War on Poverty began, yet the ability of the poor to achieve self-sufficiency has actually decreased. Government spends $1.1 trillion annually on the same failed programs while hoping for different results.

Over this same time period, we have seen a decline in marriage that has exacerbated poverty. The proportion of children living in single-parent families has more than tripled since the 1960s. This family context is ripe for continued poverty, as about 80 percent of all long-term child poverty occurs in single-parent homes.

Marriage is one of the two most powerful factors in sustaining adult happiness, and it is the single most important factor in promoting upward social mobility among children. The collapse of marriage in low-income communities, abetted by the welfare system, has directly undermined the well-being of the poor.

In his executive order, the president directed his agencies to report back in 90 days with recommended actions that would implement his pro-work, pro-marriage goals. Here are four specific actions the Trump administration and Congress can take to achieve the president’s objectives and ensure the welfare system helps the people it serves rather than hurting them.

The administration can take these first two steps without legislative action.

1. Provide contract funding based on successful outcomes.

Agencies should insist that federal grants pay for outcomes, not services. Surprisingly, payment based on outcomes achieved by certain programs is almost completely nonexistent in the present welfare system.

Ten percent of spending in welfare goes to programs intended to increase human capabilities. These include drug rehabilitation, child development, educational, and job training programs. Studies show that these programs rarely produce positive outcomes for recipients.

Agencies should fund contracts based on whether a contractor provides successful outcomes. This would make programs more effective and weed out the contractors who produce subpar results.

2. Accurately account for welfare spending.

Additionally, the administration should provide accurate information about poverty and inequality by correctly counting, for the first time, the massive government funding provided to low-income populations.

The government spends $1.1 trillion a year on assistance for poor and low-income people through cash, food, housing, medical care, and other social services. Yet 97 percent of that is not counted by the Census Bureau as income for purposes of measuring either poverty or economic inequality.

It is impossible to accurately evaluate our welfare system without good information about spending and benefits.

To close this information gap, the president’s annual budget should include an aggregate welfare spending figure across all 89 means-tested programs that provide services across 14 government departments and agencies.

Faulty measurements of household income misleadingly give the impression that we spend very little fighting poverty. Despite trillions of dollars of spending, only 3.3 percent of all welfare spending is counted as income in the Census poverty surveys.

The federal government spends more than enough to eliminate all poverty in the United States. Current inaccurate measurements show much higher levels of poverty than actually exist.

3. Strengthen work requirements.

The president rightly recognizes that the goal of any welfare program should be to help move work-capable recipients toward greater self-support. Work requirements are a tested policy that offer a path toward self-sufficiency while still providing care for the truly needy.

Ninety-four percent of Americans believe that able-bodied adults who receive cash, food, housing, or medical care from the government should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving that aid. In the past, work requirements have been successful in reducing welfare rolls and increasing work and self-support.

Policymakers should strengthen work requirements by eliminating waivers that exempt certain counties and states from enforcing the current work requirement on able-bodied adults without dependents.

Sixty-seven percent of able-bodied adults without dependents in the food stamp program are in a waived area and do not have to fulfill any sort of work requirement. Eliminating these waivers will encourage 2.9 million unemployed, work-capable, childless adults who are on food stamps today to re-enter the economy by working, volunteering, or participating in training programs.

4. Stop penalizing marriage.

Marriage is extremely important in combatting poverty and promoting human well-being. When the War on Poverty began, only 7 percent of children were born outside of marriage. Today, the number is over 40 percent.

Children born into homes without married parents are five times more likely to be in poverty—and adults who grew up in single-parent homes are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty than those who grew up in intact married homes.

When compared to children in intact married homes, children raised by single parents are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, to smoke, drink, and use drugs, to be aggressive, and engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior. They are also more likely to have poor school performance, be expelled, and drop out of high school.

Children raised in single-parent homes are almost five times more likely to experience physical abuse and seven times more likely to suffer childhood sexual abuse when compared to those raised by married biological parents. Children raised without a father in the home are three times more likely to engage in crime and end up in jail.

While marriage is one of the best antidotes to poverty, the current welfare system, ironically, penalizes it. A mother and father with two kids making $20,000 each will lose $6,302 a year in benefits if they marry, which amounts to 15 percent of their total combined earnings.

The president should call on Congress to address these problems immediately, starting by reforming the earned income tax credit and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to ensure that working adults can marry without a hefty financial penalty.

Long-Needed Reform

The president has issued a bold call to action on a critical problem: Despite its generosity, the welfare system is failing both taxpayers and the poor.

Encouraging self-sufficiency and well-being through work and marriage is the most effective and most compassionate way to approach those in need. A few simple, time-tested reforms would be a great start at improving the system.

Note: This piece has been updated to correct a typo in the amount of money spent on welfare since the War on Poverty began. The number is $28 trillion, not $28 billion.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Mimi Teixeira

Mimi Teixeira is a graduate fellow in welfare policy at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

Portrait of Robert Rector

Robert Rector, a leading authority on poverty, welfare programs and immigration in America for three decades, is The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow in domestic policy.

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of President Donald Trump speaking after signing an executive order calling for agencies to recommend policies that would advance pro-work, pro-marriage goals. (Photo: Alex Edelman/UPI/Newscom)

Planned Parenthood Gets the Ax in Nebraska Budget!

There might not be a more unpopular idea in Nebraska than sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood. At last check, only 19 percent of voters thought the state should sign another check to America’s biggest abortion business. And late last week, legislators made it clear they were listening.

For the first time since Congress gave back control over their Title X “family planning” dollars to states, Nebraska used it — ending its $2 million partnership with Planned Parenthood in its new budget. For the next two years, taxpayers can relax, knowing that local dollars aren’t going to a group that thinks abortion is the best form of birth control.

Governor Pete Ricketts (R), who had fought for the budget to “reflect our values,” inked his name to the bill late last week. To the cheers of Nebraskans, he announced, “The budget adjustments I have signed help to further control state spending. Additionally, these bills contain important new budget language, which ensures that Title X taxpayer dollars do not fund abortion services, including abortion referrals, at any clinic in Nebraska.”

But even with voters’ support, this was no easy task. As Nebraska Radio Network points out, Governor Ricketts really had to stick his neck out to change the budget.

Controversy engulfed the budget when Ricketts inserted language restricting the use of federal family planning funds. The language directs the money only to clinics which provide family planning services without performing abortions, effectively carving Planned Parenthood out of the budget. Supporters had to overcome a filibuster which derailed approval of the budget twice. It passed only when a handful of legislators negotiated a compromise, which changed the language, but left the restrictions in place.

Fortunately for the state, Governor Ricketts knows that life is worth fighting for. And, like us, he’s grateful for the president’s leadership on the issue. If it weren’t for Trump and the GOP leaders in Congress, Obama’s rules would still be in place — making it almost impossible for states to defund Planned Parenthood. Let’s hope that Ricketts’s courage inspires other governors to do the same!


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


RELATED ARTICLES:

To Whom It May Confirm: Groups Appeal to Senate on Pompeo

Haley’s Comment: Ambassador Takes China to Task

FRC in the Spotlight…

In Recognition of America’s Contributions to Humanity

By Mounir Bishay

I’m very much aware that what I’m going to argue here is not the way many from Middle Eastern origins regard the United States.

The mere mention of “America” upsets some so much, pushing them over the edge. To many, hatred for America has become a faith-like passion, very hard to change. Hence, my purpose here is not to change these people’s minds, nor am I trying to defend America, as it certainly does not need my defense!

But for me this is a matter of principle and conviction, and it is my way of paying back some of the debt I personally owe to this great country. This is particularly true because I probably know more about America than many who criticize it claim they do. I have lived and worked in America for almost half-a-century, and I was fortunate enough to experience much of what life is really like here in America.

This is not to say that America has no faults, as only God is perfect, and the fictional utopian philosophical ideas do not exist in the real world. Man is sinful by nature and is hence prone to commit all sorts of evil deeds. Nevertheless, in America the rule of law puts the brakes on these natural bents and everyone is subject to its authority, including the president. In my years here in America I have seen President Nixon lose his job as he covers up for his men when they were spying on the other party. Senior officials were convicted and sentenced to prison. Where else in the world can anything like that happen?

Perhaps the worst sin that was once attributed to America as a nation is racism. But, again, the most important virtue of America is its ability to confront and put a stop to it. African American citizens were, over time, elevated from slaves to like-citizens, to full citizens, now have even a preferred citizenship status, and finally attained to the prestigious position of head of state.

Not too long ago, America was a British colony, but the settlers decided to fight for their independence, rather than remain a mere vassal of the British Empire. Eventually, the United States of America assumed a leadership role and grew into a country greater than Britain. America was even able to protect Britain and all Europe against the Nazi threat by Hitler, who had tried to dominate the continent and had at first succeeded to some extent. But the balance of power turned against him after America entered World War II, which resulted in the defeat and elimination of Nazism. America is currently the most powerful nation on earth and any country which may achieve this status would be tempted to use it to subdue other nations. On the contrary, America has been a stabilizing force rather than a threat to other nations.

When the world was again threatened by the emergence of the Soviet Union and the spread of communism, no country, besides the United States, had the power to combat that danger, defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and stop the spread of communism. Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq, invaded Kuwait and threatened to control Middle East oil, and later ISIS came into being, terrorizing the region and promising to invade Europe. But thanks to American leadership, both were defeated.

Most important American achievements, however, have been those which contributed to improving the quality of human life. Thanks to American efforts, an environment that encourages innovation was created and America was a major player in developing countless inventions. It’s hard to imagine living without some of these inventions in the fields of food, and medicine, which make life easier for everyone. Some examples are: electricity, airplanes, TV, computers, the Internet, mobile phones, microwave ovens, laser beams, chemotherapy, and much more.

America pioneered the field of space travel, putting man on the moon for the first time. But America wouldn’t use this success or its technological advancement to threaten mankind but has used it for the good of humanity. Through this achievement, it was possible to develop satellite stations which are used to disseminate information to be passed on to people in their homes.

And, from America came the computer, which has revolutionized the lives of mankind, by helping to increase productivity and reduce corporate expenses, leading to lower prices. The development of personal computers (PC) and the launch of the Internet had changed the way people communicate with each other. With email, people can now reach anyone in the world and instantly know what is going on at the other end. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype have practically reduced the world to a small village.

Limitation of space for this article prompts me to jump ahead to other important points on this topic. The role of the American people in helping those in need around the world cannot be denied. Any time we hear of a devastating earthquake, a killer tsunami, deadly famines, war, or other natural or human-made disasters which turn people into refugees, we’re immediately aware that Americans are at the forefront of the relief work, with planeloads of food and medicine to help those victims, regardless of their race, color, or creed.

American efforts in defending human rights require coverage in another full-length article. Since its inception, America had identified this as a high calling of its worldwide presence. In this regard President Jimmy Carter said, “America didn’t invent human rights, human rights invented America.” This does not mean that America has become the policeman of the world, but with its influence, power and other means, America is able to promote democracy and stop repression and tyranny against vulnerable peoples in the world.

It is strange to hear words of criticism attributed to America (which at times amount to name calling) from people who would give anything for a chance to immigrate to the United States of America, who, even while they are in their homelands, may be living on American aid!


ABOUT MOUNIR BISHAY

Mounir Bishay, an Egyptian by birth, is a human rights activist and writer on Coptic (Christians of Egypt) issues. He is the head of the Los Angeles based Christian Copts of California. Mr. Bishay is also a contributorto SFPPR News & Analysis.

Related Articles

“Polish Death Camps” — More R…

Thoughts at the End of an Important Year

Marxism’s Failure Tripped the USSR

One hundred Years After the Bolshevik Revolution

In the Shadow of the Red Banner

GOP Should Exercise Fiscal Restraint through the Impoundment Control Act

Background

Passed in 1974, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act establishes a process for cancelling unnecessary funding to executive branch agencies. Under this law, the president may withhold and permanently cancel funding to executive branch agencies passed into law by Congress. This is accomplished only if Congress approves of the president’s special message that includes rescissions specifying the “amount of budget authority” to be rescinded, as well as “all facts, circumstance, and considerations relating to or bearing upon the proposed rescission.” Congress is not required to introduce a rescission bill and can introduce a bill containing fewer rescissions than requested by the President. Once the special message is delivered and a rescission bill is introduced and referred to the relevant committee, the committee has 25 calendar days to report the bill. If the committee fails to report the bill, any member can discharge the bill from committee with one-fifth approval of the chamber vote. Debate on the motion to the recession bill is limited to two hours in the House, ten hours in the Senate, and two hours for a conference report within the period of 45 days of continuous session following delivery of the special message. A rescission bill not included in the president’s special message is subject to the filibuster.

Congress has rescinded a total of only $25 billion in federal spending using the Impoundment Control Act. The last time Congress used the law was in 1992, under President George H.W. Bush. The Impoundment Control Act has seldom been used because it requires Congress to approve cutting funding it recently authorized. The Act can almost be viewed as a weakened version of a line-item veto which allowed presidents to remove certain provisions of a bill before signing them into law. In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled the line-item veto unconstitutional in Clinton v. City of New York.

Rescind Omnibus Non-defense Spending

Last month, Congress passed—and President Trump signed into law—a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package that increased defense spending by $80 billion and non-defense spending by $63 billion over the Budget Control Act. According to congressional Republicans and President Trump, the GOP agreed to the omnibus spending levels because Senate Democrats threatened to filibuster and shutdown the government if Congress increased defense spending without increasing non-defense spending. This is where the Impoundment Control Act comes into play. Section 1017 of this law sets up a rescission process that can be used by Republicans in Congress to cancel the wasteful non-defense spending appropriated in the omnibus bill. That process begins with a special message by President Trump properly outlining his rescission requests. Senate Democrats would not be able to filibuster the President’s request if 218 House Republicans and 50 Senate Republicans can agree to the proposed spending cuts.

Potential Spending Reductions

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act, The Heritage Foundation lays out a number of wasteful spending provisions the Trump administration could include in its Impoundment Control Act special message request to Congress. Additionally, in Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2018, The Heritage Foundation lays out billions in non-defense spending cuts the Trump administration could also consider in its request.

The recently-passed omnibus spending package broke the non-defense spending levels established in the Budget Control Act by $63 billion and authorized $100 billion more in non-defense spending than requested in President Trump’s 2018 budget. The President should use these numbers as a starting point in his special message rescission proposal to Congress.

Conclusion

If the Republican Party is truly concerned with excessive spending and debt, the Impoundment Control Act provides the best opportunity to undo the damage of the recently-passed omnibus spending package. According to a recent Gallup poll, 77 percent of Americans are “a great deal” or “a fair amount” concerned with federal spending and the budget deficit. By reining in federal spending using the Impoundment Control Act, congressional Republicans can demonstrate to midterm election voters that they will govern responsibly and steward taxpayer dollars if re-elected to the majority. It also gives the GOP leverage in future spending negotiations by neutralizing the threat of a democrat filibuster and government shutdown.

Wesley Coopersmith
Policy Manager
Heritage Action for America

Download PDF

Trump’s Idea of Using Military Resources for Border Wall Isn’t Unprecedented

The military has been involved before in putting up a barrier along the U.S.-Mexican border without explicit authorization from Congress, according to a 2009 government report.

President Donald Trump recently proposed to draw from the $700 billion appropriated for the military for funds to build the border wall, which comes with a price tag estimated at $25 billion.

Initial fencing constructed after Congress passed the 2006 Secure Fence Act was paid for by the Department of Homeland Security, while engineering and labor was carried out through an agreement with the Defense Department.

It isn’t clear whether this is what Trump had in mind.

The precedent means that military involvement would not be unheard of, said Art Arthur, resident fellow for law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, an immigration policy think tank.

“The military can’t enforce immigration laws inside the United States, but it can help fortify the border as a national defense issue,” Arthur, the former general counsel at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now Immigration and Customs Enforcement) told The Daily Signal.

Entering a church service Easter Sunday, the president talked to reporters about problems at the southern border.

“Mexico has got to help us at the border,” he said. “If they’re not going to help us at the border, it’s a very sad thing between our two countries.”

Trump tweeted Monday morning:

Speaking Thursday in Richfield, Ohio, Trump said: “We started our wall—what a thing of beauty. … We’re getting that sucker built.”

Trump recently signed an omnibus spending bill that allocated $1.6 billion for 33 miles of border fencing. Days later, the president suggested in a tweet that money from the defense budget could be used for the wall since its construction is a matter of national security.

Keeping drugs, weapons and contraband, and criminals out of the country likely could be classified as an act of national defense, Arthur said.

“The wall is not just about illegal aliens. The border is about more than illegal aliens,” Arthur said. “The border is like the skin of the country. If something penetrates that skin, it gets inside.”

Trump reportedly talked to Defense Secretary James Mattis about using defense dollars to pay for building the wall. The Pentagon has not characterized the retired Marine general’s reaction.

The question is whether drawing on the defense funds requires an act of Congress. Opponents of the president, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., insist it does.

Others, such as Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a constitutional conservative and frequent critic of executive overreach, are cautious about weighing in.

“We would have to see the specific statutory authority they claimed justified it,” Lee spokesman Conn Carroll told The Daily Signal.

Trump did not specify how he would use Pentagon money for the wall construction, since enforcing immigration law is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security.

But the two departments previously worked together, according to the report by the Congressional Research Service during President Barack Obama’s first year in office.

Essentially, Customs and Border Protection provided money and land, while divisions of the Defense Department provided design and labor.

The report states that Customs and Border Protection entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Engineering and Construction Support Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The National Guard and a military task force also were involved, the report says:

The ECSO [Engineering and Construction Support Office] manages several components of the construction process for CBP [Customs and Border Protection], including planning and acquisition of real estate; drafting the environmental protection plan; designing the project and formulating the engineering costs; overseeing the construction process; and enforcing the appropriate warranties.

On most of the tactical infrastructure projects, National Guard units and military units from the Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Task Force North provide the labor. DOD uses these projects as part of their training regimen, leveraging their ability to deploy tactical infrastructure and thereby providing zero labor costs to CBP.

The agreement saved taxpayer dollars, as Homeland Security did not have to procure commercial contractors and provided training to military personnel on building barriers in combat zones.

However, in its fiscal year 2007 budget request, Customs and Border Protection request the use of private contractor to expedite completion of portions of the border fencing.

Under the agreement, Customs and Border Protection bought materials and acquired the land, and the Army Corps of Engineers did engineering studies and provided manpower and machinery used to install the fencing.

“The actual manpower is typically provided by the State National Guard (the California National Guard, for example, constructed much of the San Diego fence), although occasionally the military, and sometimes the USBP [Border Patrol], are involved in the construction,” the Congressional Research Service report says.

The Congressional Research Service is a nonpartisan research and investigative office on Capitol Hill that responds to requests from members of Congress.

Asked March 27 about the potential for military funding for the wall, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to provide details.

“I can’t get into the specifics of that at this point,” Sanders told reporters, “but I can tell you that the continuation of building the wall is ongoing, and we’re going to continue moving forward in that process.”

There isn’t enough information available to determine whether using military money to build a wall—absent congressional authorization—would be constitutional, said Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

“It would depend entirely on which pot of money at DOD the president wants to use, and what the rules are regarding that money as laid out in the appropriations bill that provided the money,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal.

Building a wall along the southern border is likely beyond the capacity of the Army Corps of Engineers, said Arthur, the fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. The U.S. has built some physical barrier along about one-third of the 1,933-mile border.
Portrait of Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Texas: At Least 24 Bangladeshi Nationals Caught at Border in March

Trump: We may put military on southern border

RELATED VIDEOS:

Men in camouflaged uniforms wearing backpacks crossing the U.S. Mexico border.

Border walls in Israel and the United States

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<

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of President Donald Trump, with federal immigration officials, inspecting border wall prototypes on March 13th in San Diego County, California. (Photo: K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune/Newscom)

This Real Disney Princess Has a Pro-Life Message for Planned Parenthood

Earlier this week, a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Pennsylvania called for “a disney princess who’s had an abortion” on Twitter:

We need a disney princess who’s had an abortion

We need a disney princess who’s pro-choice

We need a disney princess who’s an undocumented immigrant

We need a disney princess who’s actually a union worker

We need a disney princess who’s trans

The tweet was quickly taken down, but Deanna Falchook, a former singer and dancer at Disneyworld in California, responded with a heartbreaking personal story:

She writes:

At the age of 18, I became pregnant and had an abortion to keep my job as a singing princess. There was no pressure from the company or management to abort my baby. I didn’t tell them. But I made a decision on my own that I quickly lived to regret.

In the immediate days following my abortion, I struggled deeply. I continued to sing songs in front of the castle about dreams coming true, but eventually had to quit my dream job due to my inability to reconcile my decision within myself. I wanted to die.

Eventually, I found healing. It was an arduous struggle to navigate my personal grief. But by the grace of God, I am living an amazing life.

Now, Falchook and her husband not only have two children of their own, but they have adopted five children from around the world.

She refutes Planned Parenthood’s agenda in one sentence: “Abortion doesn’t empower.”

Click hear to read the rest of Falchook’s post.

And Falchook is right. Planned Parenthood’s abortion business doesn’t just end the lives of over 300,000 innocent babies every year; the overall abortion industry is complicit in providing cover for sex trafficking and rampant exploitation connected to the pornography business.

The abortion giant deleted the tweet above after even its own supporters found the content distasteful and claimed  the point might not have been “appropriate.” However, Planned Parenthood’s mistake was not a matter of appropriateness, but a matter of revealing its true agenda of normalizing abortion in the minds of young people.

Sadly, that’s an agenda that many corporations have no problem supporting with the dollars you spend. For the complete list, make sure you see our list of companies that directly fund Planned Parenthood here.

Help us continue holding corporations and non-profits accountable for their activism by becoming a 2ndVote Member today!

Where is the biggest S***hole in the United States?

Thirty two years ago members of the once respected institution promised then President Reagan to implement what has become known as E-Verify if he would grant amnesty to less than a million illegal aliens.

The amnesty grew from less than a million to more than three million but Congress was not through. They granted six more amnesties or amnesty adjustments through the year 2000.

Since then the illegal alien and visa overstay population has continued to morph into an ever larger tax burden to citizens and in my state of Florida alone the annual costs over the past decade to educate, medicate and incarcerate them have risen annually from $1.85 Billion to $6.3 Billion annually.

Here it is today and President Trump is once again offering amnesty to 1.8 million illegal aliens (what is the definition of crazy) in exchange for a freaking wall that I’m sure will have flashing lights advertising Trump properties in English on one side and Spanish on the other.

Ignored by those who wallow in the S***hole is the promise made 32 years ago to remove the #1 magnet for attracting illegal aliens which is the job magnet by implementing mandatory E-Verify. Collecting a government salary and side payments from criminal illegal alien employers they chose donors over voters on the issue of protecting illegal legal workers while giving lip service to the need for E-Verify.

In response to the failure to protect legal workers by implementing E-Verify we the citizens are going to make it part of our State Constitution and to hell with the occupants of the largest S*hole in the U.S.A.

Why did Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) vote for the $1.3 Trillion Omnibus Budget Bill?

Congressmen Vern Buchanan and Charlie Crist have something in common, they both voted for the $1.3 trillion omnibus budget bill. In the end the final vote on the bill was:

  • Eight Republicans (Bilirakis, Buchanan, Diaz-Balart, Dunn, Francis Rooney, Tom Rooney, Ross, Rutherford) and ten Democrats (Castor, Crist, Demings, Deutch, Frankel, Hastings, Lawson, Murphy, Wasserman-Schultz, Wilson) from the Florida delegation voted YEA.
  • Eight Republicans (Curbelo, DeSantis, Gaetz, Mast, Posey, Ros-Lihtinen, Webster, Yoho) and one Democrat (Soto) from the Florida delegation voted NAY.
  • Both Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson voted YEA.

Here is a video breakdown of what is in the bill with commentary from Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham:

Rep. Buchanan on his Congressional website under Jobs & Economy states:

As a businessman for over 30 years, I know what it’s like to create jobs, balance a budget, and meet a payroll.

Buchanan also has this statement on his Congressional website under Immigration:

“No Amnesty.  Secure the Border.  Enforce the Rule of Law.  Respect the Constitution.”

This bill busts the budget. This bill does not secure the border, does not fund the border wall, caps the number of ICE agents that can be hired. It is filled with pork projects.

Why focus on Rep. Vern Buchanan?

Rep. Buchanan is the Republican co-chair of Florida’s House Congressional delegation. He is also on the House Committee on Ways and Means. The Committee on Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives.

When Vern Buchanan first ran for Congress in 2006 he vowed to reduce the federal budget deficits and called for a Constitutional balanced budget amendment. In a June 2015 press release Rep. Buchanan called balancing the budget “an urgent priority”. Buchanan stated:

[T]he United States can no longer afford to ignore its out-of-control spending problemWe’re going broke, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, unless we change what we’re doing. We need a standard and I think that standard is a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment– Florida balances the budget every year, we make the tough choices…

It’s immoral what we’re passing on to our kids and grandkids. I have a granddaughter and a grandson on the way and I feel horrible about what’s taking place up here. “

[Emphasis added]

Rep. Vern Buchanan on balancing the federal budget after he was elected:

So what happened to Rep. Buchanan?

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach said this about the omnibus bill:

“Today is a bad day for fiscal conservatives and for responsible governance alike. The 2,232-page omnibus bill and the 1,507 pages of ‘Explanatory Materials’ were presented to Members of Congress only sixteen hours before the vote was scheduled. It is unreasonable to ask Congress to vote to spend over 1.3 trillion taxpayer dollars without sufficient time to study how that money is spent. Being asked to vote blindly for legislation as large-scale and costly as this omnibus is an insult to Congress and to the American people, whose tax dollars deserve to be treated with respect.”

Congressman Vern Buchanan is now a Charlie Crist Republican. He is a typical politician. He says one thing to get elected and then does the exact opposite once elected. He is not a fiscal conservative. He voted without understanding the implications of the bill. Buchanan went against his campaign’s principled stand for fiscal responsibility.

Vern Buchanan, like most politicians, is in his own words is “immoral.” Sadly his immorality, along with his vote, is destroying this great nation. Good luck to his and our children and grand children.

RELATED ARTICLE: Omnibus Spending Bill Was a Giant Giveaway to the Swamp

Congressional Delegation from Florida

SENATE

Name Room Phone
Nelson, Bill 716 HSOB 202-224-5274
Rubio, Marco 284 RSOB 202-224-3041

 

HOUSE

District Name Room Phone
1 Gaetz. Matt 507 CHOB 202-225-4136
2 Dunn, Neal 423 CHOB 202-225-5235
3 Yoho, Ted 511 CHOB 202-225-5744
4 Rutherford, John 230 CHOB 202-225-2501
5 Lawson, Al 1337 LHOB 202-225-0123
6 DeSantis, Ron 1524 LHOB 202-225-2706
7 Murphy, Stephanie 1237 LHOB 202-225-4035
8 Posey, Bill 2150 RHOB 202-225-3671
9 Soto, Darren 1429 LHOB 202-225-9889
10 Demings, Val 238 CHOB 202-225-2176
11 Webster, Daniel 1210 LHOB 202-225-1002
12 Bilirakis, Gus M. 2112 RHOB 202-225-5755
13 Crist, Charlie 427 CHOB 202-225-5961
14 Castor, Kathy 2052 RHOB 202-225-3376
15 Ross, Dennis 436 CHOB 202-225-1252
16 Buchanan, Vern 2104 RHOB 202-225-5015
17 Rooney, Tom 2160 RHOB 202-225-5792
18 Mast, Brian 2182 RHOB 202-225-3026
19 Rooney, Francis 120 CHOB 202-225-2536
20 Hastings, Alcee L. 2353 RHOB 202-225-1313
21 Frankel, Lois 1037 LHOB 202-225-3001
22 Deutch, Ted 2447 RHOB 202-225-9890
23 Wasserman Schultz, Debbie 1114 LHOB 202-225-7931
24 Wilson, Frederica 2445 RHOB 202-225-4506
25 Diaz-Balart, Mario 440 CHOB 202-225-4211
26 Curbelo, Carlos 1404 LHOB 202-225-2778
27 Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana 2206 RHOB 202-225-3931

New TSA passenger scanners tested at train stations designed to detect suicide vests

As if travel weren’t bad enough. Islamic terror has turned air travel into a nightmare of harassment and attrition. The days of “Catch Me If You Can” glam air travel are but a distant memory. Today, due to jihad terror, one must prepare oneself to be patted down, interrogated and otherwise violated just to go from point A to point B. Here in NYC, you can’t get into a building without being carded and vetted. All this while left/Islamic cultural institutions maintain a strict prohibition on any criticism of the Islamic texts and teachings that incite to this long, bloody holy war.

Now TSA security apparatus are expanding to the local level — coming to your cities and towns.

New TSA passenger scanners tested at train stations
Screening designed to detect suicide vests

WND, March 17 2018:

Don’t be surprised to see TSA passenger scanners on your next Amtrak trip or even a future subway excursion.

The new devices, designed to detect travelers with suicide explosive vests, are already being tested in the Los Angeles Metro subways and New York’s Penn Station.

So far, the devices have not caused longer lines, because passengers need only walk past them. But they still are being tested and await bigger rollouts.

Both machines use millimeter wave technology to scan a person for anything blocking normal body emissions, such as heat, explained TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. One machine shows a red bar, the other shows a black mass on the green image of a person being scanned when an anomaly is detected. Police have their own protocols for when the machine gives them an alert.

The TSA claims neither device uses radiation and is safe to scan people with pacemakers. Unlike the controversial full body scanners that were deployed at airports, this scan doesn’t show any images that would invade privacy, said Farbstein.

Similar devices were used during Super Bowl XLVIII in MetLife Stadium, Pope Francis’ 2015 visit and the presidential inauguration.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the TSA to test the technology in the New York City subway system, which was hit by a terrorist attack in 2016.

“We’re hoping the equipment will be on the market for agencies to use later this year,” said Farbstein.

It will be up to individual transit agencies to decide whether to purchase the scanners when they are put on the market, she said.

“We’re still in the demonstration phase. The purpose is to get it reliable to point where manufacturers can market it,” Farbstein said, adding it could also be used to detect concealed firearms.

The TSA’s administrator, David Pekoske, has said that airport-like security, in which passengers must line up for personal and carry-on bag screening, was not necessary at rail stations.

The use of the devices enables a rail or transit agency to help safeguard against terrorist threats in the mass transit environment,” the TSA said in a statement. “TSA is supplying two models of the equipment for the purposes of the pilot.”

Read more…

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Geller Report. Pamela Geller’s shocking new book, “FATWA: HUNTED IN AMERICA” is now available on Amazon. It’s Geller’s tell all, her story – and it’s every story – it’s what happens when you stand for freedom today. Buy it. Now. Here.

States Win Another Major Case Against Obamacare

In a decision that has gotten almost no media attention, six states led by Texas have won another round against the Obama administration implementation of Obamacare.

Judge Reed O’Connor, a federal judge in Texas, threw out the Obama administration’s imposition of a federal fee or tax on states as a condition of continuing to receive Medicaid funds. O’Conner ruled March 5 that the fee violates the non-delegation doctrine of the Constitution and the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.

The 2010 Obamacare law imposed a “health insurance providers fee” on medical insurers to help pay for the subsidies provided by the federal government to individuals purchasing health insurance. However, the law specifically exempted states from having to pay this fee.

Texas and the other states who filed this lawsuit against the federal government in 2015 provide a majority of Medicaid services for their residents by contracting with, and paying a monthly fee to, managed care organizations, which then provide health care to eligible Medicaid beneficiaries.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a component of the Department of Health and Human Services, must approve all such state contracts for health care services. In 2014, the agency promulgated a regulation that requires that states pay managed care organizations an “actuarially sound rate.”

However, the regulation delegates the decision of what is an “actuarially sound rate” to a private organization, the Actuarial Standards Board, which sets practice standards for private actuaries.

Ignoring the statutory exemption from paying the fee that was provided to the states in the Obamacare law, the Actuarial Standards Board enacted a rule stating that the “actuarially sound rate” paid by the states to their Medicaid-managed care organizations must include their portion of the health insurance providers fee.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services refused to approve any state contract that did not comply with this requirement.

We are talking substantial sums of money here. According to the judge in this case, Texas alone appropriated $244 million to pay this fee in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Other states in the lawsuit “likewise provide Medicaid to millions of their citizens at the cost of a considerable portion of their annual budgets.”

O’Connor found that over “the next decade, the federal government will collect between $13 and $14.9 billion” from all 50 states paying the fee. According to the IRS, Congress placed a moratorium on the fee for 2017 and 2019, but not for 2018. So the fee remains on the books.

While the court found that the health insurance providers fee, which O’Connor labeled a “tax,” is constitutional, the regulation issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that delegated “to a private entity the authority to decide who must pay this tax” violates the non-delegation doctrine.

O’Connor goes through a very interesting and illustrative history of the non-delegation doctrine, which “remains a cornerstone in the constitutional architecture of free government” to the frustration of “modern liberals.”

In essence, the non-delegation doctrine “stems from the very first clause of the Constitution, which reads: ‘All legislative Powers … shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.’” Thus, Congress cannot delegate or transfer to others its “essential legislative function.”

This “structural feature of the Constitution … exists to protect democratic deliberation, executive accountability, and individual liberty.” The framers “enshrined” this doctrine in “our charter because the framers, drawing from the deep wells of their Western heritage, recognized it as an axiom of just government.”

The most difficult determination of whether the non-delegation doctrine has been violated is when courts are reviewing the actions of federal agencies under their authorizing statutes. In those cases, “courts must distinguish between unlawful delegation of legislative power and lawful delegation of policy judgement,” according to O’Connor. It “is inherently difficult to draw this distinction and identify an unlawful legislative delegation by Congress to an executive agency.”

However, this case does not present such a dilemma concluded O’Connor because here, the power to determine whether a tax should be imposed was delegated to a private party. In such cases, “there is not even a fig leaf of constitutional delegation.”

While legislative delegations to executive agencies “threaten liberty by undermining democratic accountability … legislative delegations to private entities are even more dangerous” because they “create a double layer of unaccountability.”

The legislative power of Congress has been passed “to an unelected agency, and then by the agency to an unelected private entity.” And that “private entity is not subject to term limits, appropriations, impeachment, or removal, and neither holds a commission nor takes an oath to uphold the Constitution.”

In addition to this constitutional violation, O’Connor found that the imposition of this tax violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the promulgation of rules and regulations by federal agencies.

According to O’Connor, the tax went beyond the statutory authority of the Obamacare law: “there is no genuine dispute of material fact that [the regulation] is ‘in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right.’”

This ruling wipes out the ability of the federal government to collect billions of dollars from the states that it has been using to subsidize Obamacare. And this is not the end of the story.

A new lawsuit has just been filed—in the same federal court where O’Connor presides—by 20 states alleging that Obamacare is no longer constitutional because the tax cut bill signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, 2017, eliminated the tax penalty imposed on individuals who don’t comply with the individual mandate.

Because the Supreme Court only upheld Obamacare as constitutional based on the taxing authority of Congress, the states argue that its constitutional underpinning is gone.

Piece by piece, year by year, Obamacare is slowly being taken apart by both litigation and legislation like the 2017 tax cut bill that eliminated the tax penalty on the individual mandate.

But members of Congress would do well to return to their abandoned effort to repeal Obamacare in its entirety in order to provide Americans with a replacement that supports their needs.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Hans von Spakovsky

Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative. Read his research. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Without the Individual Mandate’s Tax, Obamacare Should Fall Apart in Court

Obamacare Bailouts Will Not Save Money and Lower Premiums, Despite Contrary Claims

White House Millennials Conference to Address Economy, Free Speech, and Opioids

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

City with Highest Per Capita Murder Rate Starts Defense Fund for Illegal Aliens

Less than a year after Baltimore prosecutors ordered staff not to charge illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes because it could get the offenders deported, Maryland’s largest city will hire immigration attorneys to help those facing removal. It’s important to note that Baltimore has the nation’s highest per capita homicide rate and has been coined the deadliest big city in the United States by a mainstream newspaper. Nevertheless, a city panel approved spending $200,000 this month to pay for lawyers to represent illegal aliens with deportation orders. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh says in a local news report that the goal is for everyone to get due process. “We’re not making a decision as to their status, we’re making the decision to be supportive of individuals who live in our city,” according to the mayor.

Unlike the criminal justice system, in immigration court the government doesn’t offer free lawyers to those who can’t afford them. This means that illegal aliens who don’t have the money to pay for one must represent themselves in legal proceedings or rely on volunteer attorneys or paralegals provided by immigrant rights groups. This leaves many illegal aliens in removal proceedings without adequate legal representation. The trend of using taxpayer dollars to assist illegal aliens in deportation proceedings started under the Obama administration. In 2015, the former president allocated $2 million to hire attorneys to represent the influx of illegal alien minors in federal immigration proceedings. The money flowed through a special program, Justice AmeriCorps, launched by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).

In response to the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies, American sanctuary cities took matters into their own hands by creating local funds to help illegal aliens facing deportation. Chicago’s City Council led the way by approving a $1.3 million legal defense fund and the city of Los Angeles followed with a $10 million fund to help illegal immigrants dodge justice. Shortly after the city announced its special immigrant legal project, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered to kick in another $3 million to provide more lawyers. The only L.A. County Supervisor who voted against the fund said it’s irresponsible to allocate taxpayer money for such a program. In the city’s case, the city attorney, whose office prosecutes crimes and represents L.A. in litigation, said the money will ensure that there is “more fairness and more effectiveness in the immigration system,” which, of course, is a federal and not a state matter.

Baltimore took it a step further by also creating a policy to go easy on alien criminals in state cases to avert collateral immigration consequences. An internal memo issued by Baltimore’s Chief Deputy State’s Attorney in mid-2017 instructs prosecutors to think twice before charging illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes. The chief deputy, Michael Schatzow, writes in the memo that the Trump administration’s deportation efforts “have increased the potential collateral consequences to certain immigrants of minor, non-violent criminal conduct.” Schatzow is second-in-command to Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, and oversees major crimes at the state agency. “In considering the appropriate disposition of a minor, non-violent criminal case, please be certain to consider those potential consequences to the victim, witnesses, and the defendant,” Schatzow wrote to his staff.

Besides Baltimore, two Maryland counties—Montgomery and Prince George’s—offer illegal immigrants sanctuary. When the Trump administration announced it would enforce immigration laws, Baltimore Mayor Pugh reiterated that police and other public agencies in her city never ask about immigration status. “We are a welcoming city,” the mayor said in a local news report. “We want everyone here. We want to be able to provide opportunities and jobs and careers for folks. That’s where we are in Baltimore.” This year Maryland legislators tried to pass a measure to make the state an official illegal alien sanctuary but the bill, known as the Trust Act, hit a roadblock in a Senate committee after passing in the House of Delegates and the governor has vowed to veto it even if it survives.

Planned Profiting: Abortion Biz Rakes in Taxpayer Cash

Breaking the law doesn’t help your chances for earning federal dollars — but apparently, it doesn’t hurt them either! If there’s one thing Planned Parenthood’s learned over the last few years, it’s that crime does pay. A lot, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Despite piles of evidence (some of it from the group’s own mouth) that Cecile Richards’s group was illegally selling baby body parts (after performing equally illegal late-term abortions), a new report shows the wrongdoing hasn’t made the slightest dent in its taxpayer-funded gravy train — at least on the federal level.On the contrary, GAO officials found, being referred for criminal prosecution didn’t result in so much as a financial blip for Richards and company.

Between 2013-15, Planned Parenthood, its international affiliates, and Marie Stopes International dug deep into taxpayers’ pockets, banking a whopping $1.5 billion from federal and state programs like Medicaid, Medicare, Title X, and CHIP.

But even more amazingly, four of the five Planned Parenthood locations that raked in the most money are the same ones under investigation by the FBI! Planned Parenthood offices in Mar Monte ($229 million), Los Angeles ($106 million), Pacific Southwest ($105 million), and Northern California ($104 million).The news disgusted a number of House conservatives, many of whom were part of the select panel a couple of years later that referred the organization to the Justice Department. Obviously, it’s offensive that taxpayers are forced to fund anyone that performs abortion — but we certainly shouldn’t fund the groups who break the law doing it! Live Action president Lila Rose can’t understand why Democrats don’t agree.

“This should not be a partisan issue. Even those politicians who support abortion should be honest enough to admit that taxpayers shouldn’t be funding an organization embroiled in such barbaric and likely criminal acts – especially when there are federally-qualified health centers where the money could be redirected to help more people. DaVinci Biosciences, one of Planned Parenthood’s partners in the baby organ trade, has already admitted to breaking federal law.”

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), who, along with fellow Tennessean Marsha Blackburn (R) has been leading the fight to defund Planned Parenthood, is absolutely sickened by this betrayal of taxpayers’ trust. “Industry giants like Planned Parenthood perform more than 320,000 abortions every year, and this GAO report exposes that these atrocities are done at the expense of taxpayers…. Abortion is not family planning,” she added. “Abortion is family destruction, and the fact that $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars is funneled to this industry is sickening. The American people deserve better.”

Most agree. Only 36 percent of the country thinks taxpayers should be forced to foot the bill for abortion. But I’m willing to bet that even they wouldn’t approve of sending that money to an organization that’s believed to have broken a long list of federal and state laws.

As for Republicans, 120 asked GAO to run the numbers, this report ought to light another fire under Congress to ramp up its push to defund Planned Parenthood. If Democrats want to stop the GOP, let them stand in front of voters and own it. President Trump has done what he can internationally and through executive order. He needs the House and Senate to do the rest.


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


RELATED ARTICLES:

Christian Club Paves the Wayne for Freedom

Texas Rounds up More Support for Privacy