common-core-is-not-the-answer

The Fizzle of Common Core Face, Student Achievement Partners

The chief purpose of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative was to develop a “common core” of ELA and math standards that states (ideally all) would adopt so that state education might be standardized and therefore comparable using similar assessments.

At the center of CCSS development was Student Achievement Partners (SAP), an organization created in 2007 that became a nonprofit in 2011 (EIN 27-4556045). SAP was founded by David Coleman and Jason Zimba, with Susan Pimentel later grafted in as a founding member– although any mention of her being involved in SAP prior to the emergence of completed CCSS in June 2010 is notably absent from all of her pre-2012, non-SAP bio sketches. (I briefly discuss the Pimentel SAP-founder grafting in this December 2013 post.)

On its 2017 “about” page, SAP offers the following info about its “founders”:

Student Achievement Partners was founded by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, lead writers of the Common Core State Standards.

Prior to SAP, the well-connected Coleman had another ed org, a company called Grow Network, which had a $2 million contract with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in 2003, when Arne Duncan was CPS CEO. In 2004, Coleman sold Grow Network to McGraw-Hill.

Following the completion of CCSS in June 2010, the SAP website, achievethecore.org, began promoting CCSS. At the time, it seemed like CCSS would be the next golden chariot for many with careers tied to ed reform, and for Coleman, it was, sort of. In May 2012, Coleman became president of the College Board, another organization on the inside of CCSS development. Zimba and Pimentel remained with SAP, and other CCSS “lead writers” (Phil Daro and Bill McCallum) boarded the SAP ship, as did former Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) CEO, Gene Wilhoit. (It was Wilhoit who, with Coleman, approached billionaire Bill Gates in 2008 and asked him to finance CCSS.)

It is one thing to become College Board president; it is another to succeed at it. Under Coleman, the College Board has been riddled with difficulty and dysfunction, not the least of which is Coleman’s sloppy SAT revamp. Coleman has not been removed as College Board president. Not yet, at least.

As for Pimentel and Zimba: They are still listed on the SAP website, as “staff,” but nothing notable seems to have become of them (or of the CCSS they championed, for that matter). According to SAP’s 2014 tax form (the most recent one available), Pimentel and Zimba were SAP “executive directors” and were paid $338,491 and $331,813 in total compensation, respectively.

It remains to be seen what compensation the two pulled in 2015. Perhaps the grant money was still rolling in at that time. Perhaps it had not yet tapered off. (An aside: In 2014, SAP had $9.5 million in total assets at the beginning of the year and $6.5 million at the end.)

Zimba has a blog, the bio on which betrays no job beyond defunct SAP. Zimba’s blog is the most recent contribution available by Zimba via a Google search of his name. Everything else written by Zimba appears to be years old.

As for Pimentel, it looks like she is serving on the board of an organization she founded, StandardsWork. However, the StandardsWork “in the news” page has not been updated since June 2015. Like Zimba, Pimentel is likely continuing to draw money from SAP.

Pimentel’s current StandardsWork bio has her as a founding partner of SAP; however, an archived copy of her StandardsWork bio from 2010– three years after the 2007 founding of SAP– doesn’t mention SAP at all.

A Google search of Susan Pimentel reveals no recent (i.e., in 2016) writing or other professional productivity or employment.

On SAP’s 2014 tax form, Wilhoit was listed as a “partner”; he drew $145,577 in total compensation. Wilhoit is still with SAP as a board member and is also with the University of Kentucky (UK) National Center for Innovation in Education (NCIE), which Gates paid one million dollars in February 2013 to help launch expressly “to advance implementation of the common core.”

NCIE continues to promote CCSS, with Wilhoit “spearheading” it:

The National Center for Innovation in Education was established in 2013 at the University of Kentucky College of Education with funding from two of the country’s leading foundations — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The center is directed by Gene Wilhoit, a former Kentucky Department of Education commissioner who is a highly regarded figure in national education circles. Wilhoit most recently spent six years as director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in Washington D.C. During his tenure at CCSSO, Wilhoit spearheaded the development and adoption by 45 states of the Common Core State Standards.

“The Hewlett Foundation has been pleased to support ongoing deeper learning initiatives across the country. We are excited now to partner with the Gates Foundation to help Gene Wilhoit establish this important center at the University of Kentucky,” said Barbara Chow, director of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Education Program. “States from around the nation will benefit from Gene’s wisdom, experience, and vision for ensuring that U.S. education delivers and measures the knowledge, skills, and dispositions students will need to succeed in work, life, and citizenship.”

The National Center for Innovation in Education contributes to the national education reform agenda with a focus on ensuring more states are adopting and implementing a standard definition of college and career readiness that embodies “deeper learning” outcomes, implementing meaningful measures of those outcomes, and holding all levels of the system accountable for results. [Emphasis added.]

In November 2016, Gates gave UK another $5 million “to support system-wide shifts, working with both state and local levels, around the implementation of the Common Core, and the adoption of personalized and deeper learning strategies.”

Gates has not given up on CCSS, but he has considerably curbed his CCSS spending. Of the 10 CCSS-related grants Gates paid in 2016, only 3 are for national organizations to promote CCSS nationally; in July 2016, the Center for American Progress was given $1 million “to increase support for and reduce opposition to the Common Core and high-quality assessments, and to promote high-quality early childhood education through strategic advocacy efforts that bring new voices into the early childhood movement,” and in August 2016, New Venture Fund garnered $7.6 million “to support national communications work around Common Core, high-quality and aligned assessments, and ESSA implementation.”

As for SAP, well, its message about the Common Core actually being a “core” has been modified to return to what the Common Core was supposed to replace– variety among states when it comes to academic standards in ELA and math.

Here is how SAP stated its purpose in September 2013:

Student Achievement Partners was founded by members of the same team that played a leading role in the development of the new Common Core State Standards. We are a non- profit organization with one purpose: to help all students and teachers see their hard work lead to greater student achievement.

As educators, as researchers, and as citizens, we view the changes brought by the college and career readiness focus of the Common Core State Standards as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for kids of all backgrounds and ability levels to better fulfill their potential. Like the standards themselves, we are evidence-based in our approach. Our work is aimed at ensuring that teachers across the country are able to put the standards to work, quickly and effectively, to help their students and colleagues aspire to a higher standard and reach it. Accordingly, the content available on this site is assembled by and for educators and is freely available to everyone to use, modify and share.

We invite educators and people curious about the Common Core State Standards to explore what the site has to offer, including hundreds of math and literacy resources for teachers, resources for leaders who are putting college and career readiness standards into action in their own schools, and opportunities to become an advocate for the Common Core. [Emphasis added.]

SAP’s purpose page remained the same in September 2014, January 2015, February 2015, and March 2015, but by June 2015, the SAP story of “the Common Core State Standards as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for kids of all backgrounds and ability levels to better fulfill their potential” was modified to make room for cries to dump CCSS:

Student Achievement Partners was founded by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, lead writers of the Common Core State Standards. We are a non-profit organization with one purpose: to help all students and teachers see their hard work lead to greater student achievement.

As educators, as researchers, and as citizens, we view the changes brought by the Common Core and other state standards with a similar focus on college and career readiness as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for kids of all backgrounds and ability levels to better fulfill their potential. Like the standards themselves [Schneider’s note: “The” standards? Which standards?], we are evidence-based in our approach. Our work is aimed at ensuring that teachers across the country are able to put the standards to work, quickly and effectively, to help their students and colleagues aspire to a higher standard and reach it. Accordingly, the content available on this site is assembled by and for educators and is freely available to everyone to use, modify and share.

We invite educators and people curious about the Common Core State Standards to explore what the site has to offer, including hundreds of math and literacy resources for teachers, resources for leaders who are putting college and career readiness standards into action in their own schools, and opportunities to become an advocate for the Common Core and college and career readiness for all students. [Emphasis added.]

 So, the SAP purpose went from promoting “common” to promoting common and not common, as well. 

Moreover, SAP appears stagnant.

SAP’s last “in the news” release is from March 2015– almost two years old as of this writing. An excerpt:

  • 2015-03-17 | STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT PARTNERS
New Teaching the Core Video Library Created

Student Achievement Partners is delighted to announce the launch of the Teaching the Core Video Library, a project supported by the Danielson Group and funded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The previous SAP “in the news” entry is two years old, from January 2015:

Jason Zimba: The Common Core and Different Instructional Approaches

Jason Zimba, one of the lead writers of the Common Core and co-founder of SAP, has written a blog post entitled: When the Standard Algorithm Is the Only Algorithm Taught. The blog addresses the relationship between the Common Core and pedagogy, specifically looking at the way in which the Standards allow for different instructional approaches.

The SAP website appears to have modest traffic, especially given that it offers free CCSS materials. According to the web traffic tracker, Similarweb, achievethecore.org has not received as much traffic for any two-weeks over a 6-month period (July 11 thru November 28, 2016) as has education historian, Diane Ravitch’s site, dianeravitch.net.

Readers are still visiting the SAP website; however, it seems that visits to the site are more like visits to a museum. The SAP home page has a “new and notable” sidebar with its most recent entry dated February 2016– almost a year old.

Thus, the organization at the center of CCSS development in 2009– Student Achievement Partners– is at best in 2017 a once-well-funded fizzle.

Newly elected Congressmen Lou Barletta (R-PA) (R) and Tim Scott (R-SC) (C) arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 17, 2010. The new members of the upcoming 112th Congress are going through orientation.   REUTERS/Jim Young   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTXUQZ0

Congressman Lou Barletta’s Bill to Defund Sanctuary Cities — Getting the new year off to a great start

Time and again our elected political “representatives” on all levels of government have acted in ways that failed to truly represent the best interests of America and Americans.

Time and again my articles have focused on my frustration and anger over how all too many politicians have obstructed the effective enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.

I have written extensively about how members of Congress who supported so-called, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” blithely ignored the findings and, indeed, warnings about the 9/11 Commission by concocting legislation that would provide unknown millions of illegal aliens with official identity documents and lawful status even though there would be no way to conduct interviews or field investigations to screen to combat immigration fraud.  Visa fraud and immigration benefit fraud were identified as key entry and embedding tactics of international terrorists.

“Sanctuary Cities” created by rogue mayors operate in direct opposition of Title 8 U.S. Code § 1324 – (Bringing in and harboring certain aliens), an immigration criminal statute that address harboring, shielding, aiding and abetting, encouraging and inducing aliens to enter the United States illegally and/or remain in the United States illegally after entry.

Today, however, we have cause to be optimistic.  Congressman Lou Barletta who truly represents the citizens of his home town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania and, in so doing, all Americans from coast to coast and border to border has, for the third time, introduced legislation that would strip all federal funding from cities that fail to cooperate fully with immigration law enforcement activities.

I am proud that Lou has become a personal friend.

Prior to his election to Congress he was the mayor of Hazleton.  He was shocked when his peaceful town was, for lack of a better term, invaded by a violent Dominican narcotics-trafficking gang that engaged in drug dealing and violent crimes including murder.

Although he approached the administration of President George W. Bush and asked for federal assistance in confronting these illegal criminal aliens, the administration refused to help.  As a consequence he promulgated the first ordinances that penalized employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens and landlords who would knowingly provide housing to illegal aliens.

He was promptly sued in federal court by advocates for illegal aliens.  I was his final witness at the trial that ensued.

Lou was first elected to Congress in 2011.  He is currently a member of several committees including:

Lou is certainly an asset to those committees and to America.

On September 3, 2013 I joined Congressman Lou Barletta on the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University tat a town hall meeting, covered by C-SPAN, on the topic of “Immigration Policy and Homeland Security.”

The video of the town hall event is well worth watching.  During our discussion, Lou clearly articulated his concerns about how failures of immigration law enforcement have cost all too many innocent victims their lives and leave America and Americans vulnerable to terrorism and crime.

On January 5, 2017 Lou posted a press release with the clear title,  “Barletta’s 1st Bill Of 115th Congress: Defund Sanctuary Cities.”

Here is how Lou’s press release begins:

WASHINGTON Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today introduced the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act, H.R. 83, which will stop all federal funds from flowing to states or localities which resist or ban enforcement of federal immigration laws, or flatly refuse to cooperate with immigration officials.  The bill is the first piece of legislation introduced by Barletta in the 115th Congress and represents the third time the congressman has introduced the measure.  In 2011, the bill was the first piece of legislation he ever introduced as a member of Congress.  He introduced it a second time in the 114th Congress in 2015.

“One of the principal duties of the government is to protect its citizens, and the idea of sanctuary cities runs completely counter to that responsibility,” Barletta said.  “Too many mayors and local governments think that they are above federal law and place their own ideology ahead of the safety of their residents.  This bill will stop that practice by saying to these sanctuary cities, ‘If you refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, you will lose your federal funding.’”

Barletta introduced the bill as a freshman congressman in 2011 because of his personal experience with the danger of sanctuary cities while he was mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania.  In 2006, a 29-year-old local father of three, Derek Kichline, was murdered by an illegal immigrant who had been released by law enforcement a number of times, including by the sanctuary city of New York.  Additionally, Barletta was spurred to reintroduce the bill in 2015 following the San Francisco murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle, whose accused killer was a seven-time felon who had been deported five times previously.

Although the Obama administration has paid lip service to speak against sanctuary cities, the Obama administration has virtually turned the United States into a “Sanctuary Country” litigating against Arizona and taking other adverse actions against those who would enforce our immigration laws while releasing tens of thousands of criminal aliens who subsequently committed more crimes including homicides and violent assaults.

President-elect Trump made effective immigration law enforcement the cornerstone of his election campaign.  Donald Trump promised he would end Sanctuary Cities, putting the lives of innocent people ahead of the lives of illegal aliens and, in particular, criminal aliens who have been responsible for massive levels of carnage and violence on the streets of American cities.

While Obama would never sign the legislation that Lou proposed in the past, it is a near certainty that Trump would be eager to sign that bill into law thereby helping the soon-to-be president achieve one of his first goals.

All that would remain would be for Congress to pass Lou’s important bill to get it to President Trump’s desk after January 20th.

It is important that you reach out to your member of Congress and insist that he/she supports this vital legislation.

environmntal news

Let’s Stop with the Carbon Con Already

The side that defines the vocabulary of a debate, wins the debate. So we could ask: as we fight the global-warming scam, why are we using the language of the scammers? It’s harder to combat “carbon” taxes, “carbon” credits and callow “carbon” appeals if we accept that at issue is “carbon.”

Calling CO2 “carbon” is like calling H2O “hydrogen.” Carbon is about as useful to a plant aspiring to photosynthesize as a tank of hydrogen is to a dehydrated man in a desert. Carbon dioxide and carbon are not the same thing any more than a fox and foxglove are the same thing.

If chemical formulas are meaningless and one element or atom between friends can be ignored, try inhaling copious amounts of CO. It’s also “carbon,” being in fact more “carboney” ratio-wise than CO2. But carbon monoxide is poisonous to fauna and flora while carbon dioxide is plant food, which is why botanists pump it into greenhouses.

Likewise, would you like some chlorine with your food, sir? Sodium is poisonous; chlorine is poisonous. Combine the two — NaCl — and you have table salt. Chemistry is our friend.

It would be nice to think that the carbon crew is just being friendly and familiar. But not only would calling CO2 Mr. Dioxide be just as inaccurate, there’s clearly an agenda here. Carbon, the primary element in coal, conjures up images of spewing sky-blackening soot into the air. It’s a dark brand of marketing.

In fact, I challenge those crafting “carbon tax” bills to call CO2 “carbon” in their legislation’s text. They won’t because I suspect it wouldn’t stand up in court, as factories don’t actually emit carbon. The alarmists will either specify carbon dioxide or define, tendentiously, what “carbon” means for the “purposes of the bill.”

Of course, carbon isn’t really a villain, either. It’s the fourth-most abundant element in the universe, and man is known as a “carbon-based life form.” Given the latter, if extra atoms and elements and how they react with each other can be ignored when formulating labels and definitions, we could say that Al Gore’s birth was a carbon emission.

Honest people should reclaim the language and reboot the debate by rejecting “carbon” talk. As for those knowingly using the term for propaganda purposes, they should have a huge carbon footprint placed firmly on their carbon-based posteriors.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

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The Failure of Public Schooling in One Chart by Daniel J. Mitchell

While I have great fondness for some of the visuals I’ve created over the years (especially “two wagons” and “apple harvesting“), I confess that none of my creations have ever been as clear and convincing as the iconic graph on education spending and education outcomes created by the late Andrew Coulson.

I can’t imagine anyone looking at his chart and not immediately realizing that you don’t get better results by pouring more money into the government’s education monopoly.

But the edu-crat lobby acts as if evidence doesn’t matter. At the national level, the state level, and the local level, the drumbeat is the same: Give us more money if you care about kids.

So let’s build on Coulson’s chart to show why teachers’ unions and other special interests are wrong.

Gerard Robinson of the American Enterprise Institute and Professor Benjamin Scafidi from Kennesaw State University take a close look at this issue.

…education is important to the economic and social well-being of our nation, which is why it is the No. 1 line item in 41 state budgets. …Schools need extra money to help struggling students, or so goes the long-standing thinking of traditional education reformers who believe a lack of resources – teachers, counselors, social workers, technology, books, school supplies – is the problem. …a look back at the progress we’ve made under reformers’ traditional response to fixing low-performing schools – simply showering them with more money – makes it clear that this approach has been a costly failure.

And when the authors say it’s been a “costly failure,” they’re not exaggerating.

Since World War II, inflation-adjusted spending per student in American public schools has increased by 663 percent. Where did all of that money go? One place it went was to hire more personnel. Between 1950 and 2009, American public schools experienced a 96 percent increase in student population. During that time, public schools increased their staff by 386 percent – four times the increase in students. The number of teachers increased by 252 percent, over 2.5 times the increase in students. The number of administrators and other staff increased by over seven times the increase in students. …This staffing surge still exists today. From 1992 to 2014 – the most recent year of available data – American public schools saw a 19 percent increase in their student population and a staffing increase of 36 percent. This decades-long staffing surge in American public schools has been tremendously expensive for taxpayers, yet it has not led to significant changes in student achievement. For example, public school national math scores have been flat (and national reading scores declined slightly) for 17-year-olds since 1992.

By the way, the failure of government schools doesn’t affect everyone equally.

Parents with economic resources (such as high-profile politicians) can either send their kids to private schools or move to communities where government schools still maintain some standards.

But for lower-income households, their options are very limited.

Minorities disproportionately suffer, as explained by Juan Williams in the Wall Street Journal.

While 40% of white Americans age 25-29 held bachelor’s degrees in 2013, that distinction belonged to only 15% of Hispanics, and 20% of blacks. …The root of this problem: Millions of black and Hispanic students in U.S. schools simply aren’t taught to read well enough to flourish academically.  …according to a March report by Child Trends, based on 2015 data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 21% of Hispanic fourth-grade students were deemed “proficient” in reading. This is bad news. A fourth-grader’s reading level is a key indicator of whether he or she will graduate from high school. The situation is worse for African-Americans: A mere 18% were considered “proficient” in reading by fourth grade.

But Juan points out that the problems aren’t confined to minority communities. The United States has a national education problem.

The problem isn’t limited to minority students. Only 46% of white fourth-graders—and 35% of fourth-graders of all races—were judged “proficient” in reading in 2015. In general, American students are outperformed by students abroad. According to the most recent Program for International Student Assessment, a series of math, science and reading tests given to 15-year-olds around the world, the U.S. placed 17th among the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in reading.

This is very grim news, especially when you consider that the United States spends more on education – on a per-pupil basis – than any other country.

Here’s a table confirming Juan’s argument. It lacks the simple clarity of Andrew Coulson’s graph, but if you look at these numbers, it’s difficult to reach any conclusion other than we spend a lot in America and get very mediocre results.

Juan concludes his column with a plea for diversity, innovation, and competition.

For black and Hispanic students falling behind at an early age, their best hope is for every state, no matter its minority-student poverty rate, to take full responsibility for all students who aren’t making the grade—and get those students help now. That means adopting an attitude of urgency when it comes to saving a child’s education. Specifically, it requires cities and states to push past any union rules that protect underperforming schools and bad teachers. Urgency also means increasing options for parents, from magnet to charter schools. Embracing competition among schools is essential to heading off complacency based on a few positive signs. American K-12 education is in trouble, especially for minority children, and its continuing neglect is a scandal.

He’s right, but he should focus his ire on his leftist friends and colleagues. They’re the ones (including the NAACP!) standing in the proverbial schoolhouse door and blocking the right kind of education reform.

P.S. This is a depressing post, so let’s close with a bit of humor showing the evolution of math lessons in government schools.

P.P.S. If you want some unintentional humor, the New York Times thinks that education spending has been reduced.

P.P.P.S. Shifting to a different topic, another great visual (which also happens to be the most popular item I’ve ever shared on International Liberty) is the simple image properly defining the enemies of liberty and progress.

Republished from Dan Mitchell’s blog.

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

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Reflections on the Trump Presidency by Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio, Chairman & Chief Investment Officer at Bridgewater Associates, L.P. wrote a compelling analysis of the Trump administration. The title of Dilio’s Linkedin article is “Reflections on the Trump Presidency, One Month after the Election.”

Please take the time to read it in full.


Reflections on the Trump Presidency, One Month after the Election

By Ray Dalio

Now that we’re a month past the election and most of the cabinet posts have been filled, it is increasingly obvious that we are about to experience a profound, president-led ideological shift that will have a big impact on both the US and the world. This will not just be a shift in government policy, but also a shift in how government policy is pursued. Trump is a deal maker who negotiates hard, and doesn’t mind getting banged around or banging others around. Similarly, the people he chose are bold and hell-bent on playing hardball to make big changes happen in economics and in foreign policy (as well as other areas such as education, environmental policies, etc.). They also have different temperaments and different views that will have to be resolved.

Regarding economics, if you haven’t read Ayn Rand lately, I suggest that you do as her books pretty well capture the mindset. This new administration hates weak, unproductive, socialist people and policies, and it admires strong, can-do, profit makers. It wants to, and probably will, shift the environment from one that makes profit makers villains with limited power to one that makes them heroes with significant power. The shift from the past administration to this administration will probably be even more significant than the 1979-82 shift from the socialists to the capitalists in the UK, US, and Germany when Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Helmut Kohl came to power. To understand that ideological shift you also might read Thatcher’s “The Downing Street Years.” Or, you might reflect on China’s political/economic shift as marked by moving from “protecting the iron rice bowl” to believing that “it’s glorious to be rich.”

This particular shift by the Trump administration could have a much bigger impact on the US economy than one would calculate on the basis of changes in tax and spending policies alone because it could ignite animal spirits and attract productive capital. Regarding igniting animal spirits, if this administration can spark a virtuous cycle in which people can make money, the move out of cash (that pays them virtually nothing) to risk-on investments could be huge. Regarding attracting capital, Trump’s policies can also have a big impact because businessmen and investors move very quickly away from inhospitable environments to hospitable environments. Remember how quickly money left and came back to places like Spain and Argentina? A pro-business US with its rule of law, political stability, property rights protections, and (soon to be) favorable corporate taxes offers a uniquely attractive environment for those who make money and/or have money. These policies will also have shocking negative impacts on certain sectors.

Regarding foreign policy, we should expect the Trump administration to be comparably aggressive. Notably, even before assuming the presidency, Trump is questioning the one-China policy which is a shocking move. Policies pertaining to Iran, Mexico, and most other countries will probably also be aggressive.

The question is whether this administration will be a) aggressive and thoughtful or b) aggressive and reckless. The interactions between Trump, his heavy-weight advisors, and them with each other will likely determine the answer to this question. For example, on the foreign policy front, what Trump, Flynn, Tillerson, and Mattis (and others) are individually and collectively like will probably determine how much the new administration’s policies will be a) aggressive and thoughtful versus b) aggressive and reckless. We are pretty sure that it won’t take long to find out.

In the next section we look at some of the new appointees via some statistics to characterize what they’re like. Most notably, many of the people entering the new administration have held serious responsibilities that required pragmatism and sound judgment, with a notable skew toward businessmen.

Perspective on the Ideology and Experience of the New Trump Administration

We can get a rough sense of the experience of the new Trump administration by adding up the years major appointees have spent in relevant leadership positions. The table below compares the executive/government experience of the Trump administration’s top eight officials* to previous administrations, counting elected positions, government roles with major administrative responsibilities, or time as C-suite corporate executives or equivalent at mid-size or large companies. Trump’s administration stands out for having by far the most business experience and a bit lower than average government experience (lower compared to recent presidents, and in line with Carter and Reagan). But the cumulative years of executive/government experience of his appointees are second-highest. Obviously, this is a very simple, imprecise measure, and there will be gray zones in exactly how you classify people, but it is indicative.

Below we show some rough quantitative measures of the ideological shift to the right we’re likely to see under Trump and the Republican Congress. First, we look at the economic ideology of the incoming US Congress. Trump’s views may differ in some important ways from the Congressional Republicans, but he’ll need Congressional support for many of his policies and he’s picking many of his nominees from the heart of the Republican Party. As the chart below shows, the Republican members of Congress have shifted significantly to the right on economic issues since Reagan; Democratic congressmen have shifted a bit to the left. The measure below is one-dimensional and not precise, but it captures the flavor of the shift. The measure was commissioned by a National Science Foundation grant and is meant to capture economic views with a focus on government intervention on the economy. They looked at each congressman’s voting record, compared it to a measure of what an archetypical liberal or conservative congressman would have done, and rated each member of Congress on a scale of -1 to 1 (with -1 corresponding to an archetypical liberal and +1 corresponding to an archetypical conservative).

When we look more specifically at the ideology of Trump’s cabinet nominees, we see the same shift to the right on economic issues. Below we compare the ideology of Trump’s cabinet nominees to those of prior administrations using the same methodology as described above for the cabinet members who have been in the legislature. By this measure, Trump’s administration is the most conservative in recent American history, but only slightly more conservative than the average Republican congressman. Keep in mind that we are only including members of the new administration who have voting records (which is a very small group of people so far).

While the Trump administration appears very right-leaning by the measures above, it’s worth keeping in mind that Trump’s stated ideology differs from traditional Republicans in a number of ways, most notably on issues related to free trade and protectionism. In addition, a number of key members of his team—such as Steven Mnuchin, Rex Tillerson, and Wilbur Ross—don’t have voting records and may not subscribe to the same brand of conservatism as many Republican congressmen. There’s a degree of difference in ideology and a level of uncertainty that these measures don’t convey.

Comparing the Trump and Reagan Administrations

The above was a very rough quantitative look at Trump’s administration. To draw out some more nuances, below we zoom in on Trump’s particular appointees and compare them to those of the Reagan administration. Trump is still filling in his appointments, so the picture is still emerging and our observations are based on his key appointments so far.

Looking closer, a few observations are worth noting. First, the overall quality of government experience in the Trump administration looks to be a bit less than Reagan’s, while the Trump team’s strong business experience stands out (in particular, the amount of business experience among top cabinet nominees). Even though Reagan’s administration had somewhat fewer years of government experience, the typical quality of that experience was somewhat higher, with more people who had served in senior government positions. Reagan himself had more political experience than Trump does, having served as the governor of California for eight years prior to taking office, and he also had people with significant past government experience in top posts (such as his VP, George HW Bush). By contrast, Trump’s appointees bring lots of high quality business leadership experience from roles that required pragmatism and judgment. Rex Tillerson’s time as head of a global oil company is a good example of high-level international business experience with clear relevance to his role as Secretary of State (to some extent reminiscent of Reagan’s second Secretary of State, George Shultz, who had a mix of past government experience and international business experience as the president of the construction firm Bechtel). Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross have serious business credentials as well, not to mention Trump’s own experience. It’s also of note that Trump has leaned heavily on appointees with military experience to compensate for his lack of foreign policy experience (appointing three generals for Defense, National Security Advisor, and Homeland Security), while Reagan compensated for his weakness in that area with appointees from both military and civilian government backgrounds (Bush had been CIA head and UN ambassador, and Reagan’s first Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces during the Cold War). Also, Trump has seemed less willing to make appointments from among his opponents than Reagan was (Reagan’s Chief of Staff had chaired opposing campaigns, and his Vice President had run against him).

By and large, deal-maker businessmen will be running the government. Their boldness will almost certainly make the next four years incredibly interesting and will keep us all on our toes.

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Somalis pouring in to U.S., could be biggest year ever for Muslim migrants

I told you about the astronomically high numbers of Somalis being admitted to the U.S. here recently, but since I was working on data for the first ten weeks (here for overall numbers and here for Syrians), I figured I would put the Somali numbers in the same format.

So according to data at Wrapsnet.org we have admitted 2,959 Somalis to the U.S. in the first ten weeks of FY2017, that is highest rate in the over 30 years we have been admitting them, see here. This also would result in a higher resettlement rate than the one for Syrians right now.

Bush’s 2004 number of 12,814 will be dwarfed if Donald Trump doesn’t follow through on his campaign promise to halt the flow of refugees from terror-producing parts of the world.

Virtually all Somalis are Muslims and very few come in to U.S. outside of the Refugee Admissions Program. Although some do come illegally across our borders and then apply for asylum.

Here is the map of where they went (again these are the numbers for October 1, 2016 to December 10, 2016). This is the number for resettled refugees only:

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Sorry again, the map does not fit my page! Florida is 37, Alaska is 6 and Hawaii is 0.

Here are the top ten states in which they were placed. Large numbers will move on to Minnesota or Ohio after initial resettlement.

screenshot-97If as time goes on and you know I wrote about refugee numbers, but can’t find the post, you can always go to the category here at RRW called ‘refugee statistics’ or the one called ‘where to find information.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Terror Attack in Germany Puts Spotlight on Refugee Policy

Portland, OR: Somali Christmas tree bomber’s conviction upheld

Unaccompanied refugee minors program, small but could grow

Terror around the world yesterday (thanks to these three ‘leaders’)

captain-america

America Please Do Not Blow It

Not long ago being in America was like sitting in a boat with a hole in the bottom.  To make matters worse, the captain would keep trying to make the hole larger. At the same time while some of us would use buckets to dump the water out of the vessel.  Unfortunately, the water would keep rushing up into the boat faster than those who cared about it could get the water out of the boat.  Similarly like the vessel, the United States has been sinking fast under massive debt and government deficit spending.  In fact, President Obama and his fellow progressives have been doing everything possible to insure the sinking of the United States would proceed unabated. Their goal has been to damage America to the point she would be beyond repair.

Despite the concerted effort of numerous internal enemies and a litany of external enemies given free reign throughout the federal government, America will not yet sink away.  Numerous sharia law supporting, liberty hating Muslims now have key positions of influence in NASA and other important government departments.  This is crazy dangerous to say the very least.  But despite the immense problem of enemies within our republic, (some of whom were voted into office) our great nation is in a position to right the deadly wrongs that if not overcome could put America permanently out of commission.

The electoral vote victory for Donald Trump was a good first step win in the war to restore America to greatness. 

I must admit that with this first great step Trump victory, there is a dramatically high degree of optimism throughout our republic.  Even around the world many nations that appreciate economic prosperity and a general sense of stability are pleased that Donald Trump will be our next president.  Not long ago the Donald welcomed Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son who has announced he is now going to invest $50 billion in our nation and create 50 thousand jobs.  Let us not forget, the American worker in many cases is the most skilled on earth.  I can assure you that had Mrs. Clinton won the presidential election, Mr. Son would not have visited America to announce his huge economic investment.

Mr. Trump has not yet officially embarked upon his mission of the presidency.  It is amazing how he has inspired more goodwill toward America from our allies than President Obama has over his eight years in office. The Dow Jones has experienced new record highs since election day on expectations of faster economic growth.  Many manufacturers which have been reeling for years from shrinking demands for their goods and services report they view Trump as more sympathetic to their interests than President Obama ever was.

Trump’s promise getting rid of draconian regulations and lower taxes are music to the ears of American business leaders.  They have been beaten down with Obama’s environmental and labor laws that ultimately did nothing to improve the environment.  Obama’s policies also made it easy for 50 U.S. corporations to move their headquarters other nations like Ireland and Mexico.  In our nation companies were unable to hire and pay raises for those who had jobs were far and few in between.  Despite the current economic doldrums and Democrats blaming Russia for exposing their email dirty laundry, the Trump election has fostered a huge sense of optimism throughout the land.

Trump’s soon to be optimistic ascending to the White house is in my opinion in part due to the multi- year prayers of literally millions of Americans.  They obeyed the words of 2nd Chronicles 7:14,

“and My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.”

While we have won a major battle, whether the progressives care to admit it or not, this is just the beginning.

“We the People” must not forget that we are engaged in a cultural war.  Thus, to insure a return to constitutional limits on government and unalienable rights for you and I, we must remember we have only just begun to fight.  We shall not quit until the commission of restoring our republic is fulfilled.  We each have specific persuasions in which to engage our concerted efforts to renew our America.

Let us as happy warriors seek providential guidance and do our part to help guarantee the rebuilding of the greatest nation in the history of mankind.  I believe that as great as America has been, if we stay the proper course to victory we will once again have a republic that will be greater than we could ever imagine.

God Bless You, God Bless America and may America Bless God.

lbj war on poverty

Why Poverty MUST Be About Racism, Not Marriage

Virtually every Trump voter, reluctant Trump voter or defender of any policy or appointment of Trump, is being hit with one or more of the following personal accusations: racist, misogynist, bigot, homophobe.

Or maybe you exist as the trifecta. In many people’s minds, the three-part combo of white and male and Christian has become the bane of all that is wrong with society — the real cause of the nation’s problems.

Like most things we tackle at The Revolutionary Act, this is not just wrong thinking. It is irrational, emotion-based and anecdote-reliant, driven by a cultural misinformation machine and ultimately dangerous to the people they claim to want to be helping.

For instance, a recent Facebook debate on poverty focused almost exclusively on racism in the United States. We interjected data definitively showing that the strongest links to poverty are single moms, not graduating from high school and not taking a job, according to the moderate Brookings Institute.

These factors apply to whites, blacks, Hispanics and surely all of the rest of humanity. So the solution is not blaming entrenched institutional racism — which has now become a tiny rump of what it once was — but to tackle the ultimate causes. The solution is connecting personal choices to outcomes.

Now, try posting that on Facebook. The responses are irrational, emotion-based and anecdote-reliant. A recent fad is to be labeled a “scold.” Anything except the actual merits of the point.

Irrational: “What about the men who get these single moms pregnant!?!?! This hatred of women is why Hill lost.”

Emotional: “I’m a single mom and the proud daughter of a single mom! Quit telling me I’m the problem!!!”

Anecdote-reliant: “Plenty of kids succeed coming from single-parent households. Look at Ben Carson.”

There you have it. Toss out the scientific data — actual facts — and fall back on irrational charges, emotional defenses and Ben Carson.

Sigh.

This is why we cannot make any headway against poverty despite our enormous wealth and mind-boggling wealth transfers.

The welfare failure

We’ve transferred $22 trillion to poorer Americans since launching the war on poverty in 1964, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis. And yet official poverty numbers have hardly budged at all.

Robert Rector, one of the authors of the NCPA study, wrote: “If converted to cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S.” Got that? We could write a check to each poor person annually to get them out of poverty — five times over.

OK, so this just must to be excruciatingly clear: the 80 government welfare programs (which does not include Social Security and Medicare) are definitive failures in doing anything to affect poverty. There can be no argument about that. Doing more of what has failed for 50 years is doomed to further failure.

So why do we keep doing it?

The problem of marriage morals

Because to actually fix the problem we would have to declare certain things as true and proclaim the necessary ownership of personal choices.

First, out-of-wedlock births are first-line causes of poverty (as is divorce — and that is stepping on a lot of toes) and that leads to pre-marital sex being at the very least a risky step toward poverty. As that is often conducted unprotected and in the heat of passion, particularly with young people, it is better to not have sex outside of marriage.

Well that’s starting to sound an awful lot like some puritanical Bible-thumping — and the culture drivers in our country simply cannot abide by such a thing. In fact work and personal responsibility also have a bit of a biblical ring to them.

After spending much of the 20th century trying to break down Judeo-Christian moral sexual norms — and we are now all the way up to gay marriage and transvestite men using the women’s room — no one is willing to talk about the need for sexual self-control and fidelity. And certainly no one wants to talk about sex outside marriage being wrong. Watch any TV show or movie. The opposite is glorified, and the image painted is that everyone does it.

But if we did talk about sex only in marriage, and promoted it like we promote the ongoing sexual “revolution,” we would take a huge step toward defeating a lot of poverty. At least, that’s what the actual facts suggest.

But we won’t. Because we don’t want to. So we blame racism because it is cheap, easy and available and makes many feel morally superior.

And poverty remains as it has ever been. Transferring $22 trillion changed nothing. And another $22 trillion won’t, either.

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

epa logo

More than the EPA

Conservatives and rule of law advocates are rightfully rejoicing at President-elect Trump’s pick of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Members of the environmental community on the other hand, are crying in their lattés as they lament the end of their power over the people via one of most abusive unconstitutional reigns of a government agency in modern American politics.

However, this gallant new knight at the round table of honest government will need help. Curing the ills of nearly thirty years of United Nations inspired man-made global warming propaganda, and related global, socialistic, sustainability programs tied to a re-distribution of wealth, will take much more than just one inspired leader at the EPA. The cancer of environmental extremism and government dominance over US citizens under the guise of ‘saving the planet’ has now had three decades to metastasize within the body of America and infect all of our fundamental institutions that make up this country.

The roots of the current affliction of man-made global warming (a.k.a. climate change) are spread across the globe but can be identified by several key events in the past. They include the late British PM Margaret Thatcher’s desires to permanently end the UK coal miner’s strikes by going to nuclear power. To achieve this goal, though perhaps not understanding the monster she was creating, she was the first global leader who pumped serious money into resurrecting the long dead greenhouse gas theory in the mid-1980’s. Later, the formation of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN-IPCC) in 1988, created a global forum for publication of often misleading and sometimes fraudulent science reports using the re-minted greenhouse theory. The UN-IPCC’s stated aims were to examine only mankind’s CO2 role in climate change, thus ignoring the role of more important causes like the Sun. Yet, as erroneous as these reports and their associated and failed global climate models have been, they have nonetheless been used by governments around the world to justify the spread the politics of environmental extremism.

This political sickness began its most invasive phase in the USA when a much younger Rep. Nancy Pelosi introduced the United Nations “Agenda 21” on the floor of the House of Representatives during the Bill Clinton administration. Clinton later ushered in a more palatable version of “Agenda 21” as the “Sustainable America” program. This required all elements of the federal government to get on board with a US version of the UN program. The infection then became an integral part of American governance. President Barack Obama took these earlier initiatives to a whole new level with his Clean Power Plan, Climate Action Plan, out-of-control job killing EPA regulations, and his international diplomatic efforts where he was fulfilling a legacy desire to be crowned the world’s climate change king.

As a result of these and numerous other federally controlled climate and renewable energy programs, we now have two generations of Americans who have been brainwashed into believing that mankind controls the Earth’s climate, that the Sun is insignificant in doing so, that polar bears are endangered, and that only by controlling man’s industrial CO2 can we save the planet from catastrophic overheating by the year 2100. None of these assertions has been proven and there is, in fact, substantial evidence against these dubious claims. Many like me, believe they are emblematic of “…the greatest international scientific fraud in human history.”

Yes, the future Trump administration may finally give the American people a chance to truly return scientific integrity to the White House, and cast out the disease of politically driven science and nefarious United Nation programs that run counter to the U.S. Constitution. But it won’t come from just one Lancelot at the EPA.

More to the point, failure to implement a comprehensive treatment for this malady may allow this illness to resurface in another form or agency in the future.

Only a comprehensive nation-wide campaign every bit as rigorous and thorough as the one that created this disease of environmental socialism, will be sufficient to end it, once and for all.

EDITORS NOTE: John L. Casey is the author of the best selling climate book, “Dark Winter.”

donald-trump-latino-coalition

Latino Coalition applauds Trump’s picks for Secretary of HHS and Transportation

WASHINGTON, D.C.  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Latino Coalition (TLC), the leading national non-partisan advocacy organization representing Hispanic businesses and consumers, issued the following statement today regarding President-Elect Donald J. Trump’s appointments of Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA) as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary:

“The Latino Coalition applauds President-Elect Donald J. Trump’s appointments for Secretary of HHS and Transportation Secretary,” said Hector Barreto, The Latino Coalition Chairman and former U.S. Small Business Administrator.  “The appointments of these two outstanding individuals should give the American people the utmost assurance that the President-Elect is considering only the best for his Cabinet.”

“Chairman Tom Price has been a loyal advocate and remarkable partner of The Latino Coalition.  Price has made health care his life’s work, making him uniquely qualified for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services.  As an orthopedic surgeon for most of his career, Price knows first-hand what true patient-centered health care should look like. He has been a fierce leader in the development of health policies and he will work arduously to reduce excessive regulatory burdens and repair this nation’s health care system. We urge Dr. Price’s swift confirmation,” Barreto added.

“President-Elect Trump’s nomination of Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary should be commended,” said Barreto. “Chao’s story is that of the American Dream.  As the first American woman of Asian descent to be appointed to a President’s Cabinet in our nation’s history, Chao achieved great results as Secretary of Labor.  She is not only an exceptional choice with extensive experience in public service that will serve her well; she is a strong leader that will focus on the critical transportation issues needed to ensure U.S. economic growth and prosperity.  We congratulate Elaine and look forward to working with her to strengthen our nation’s infrastructure for years to come.”

ABOUT THE LATINO COALITION

The Latino Coalition (TLC) was founded in 1995 by a group of Hispanic business owners from across the country to research and develop policies solutions relevant to Latinos. TLC is a non-profit nationwide organization with offices in California, Washington, DC and Guadalajara, Mexico. Established to address and engage on key issues that that directly affect the well-being of Hispanics in the United States, TLC’s agenda is to create and promote initiatives and partnerships that will foster economic equivalency and enhance and empower overall business, economic and social development for Latinos. Visit www.thelatinocoalition.com.

trian-wreck

Government Transportation is Literally a Train Wreck by Jairaj Devadiga

In March of 2015, Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into a mountain, killing all 150 people on board. On November 20 of this year, the Indore-Patna Express derailed after a suspected rail fracture, killing at least 149 people. Both events were tragic and probably preventable, but the responses to these tragedies couldn’t be more different.

Germanwings Flight 9525

This was the first and only fatal accident in the 18 years of the airline’s operations. The co-pilot locked himself in the cockpit and deliberately flew the plane into the mountain because he was depressed and wanted to commit suicide. His doctor had deemed him “unfit to fly’, but he had hidden this information from the airline.

Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, offered an initial sum of 50000 Euros (₹36.25 lakh) to the families of the victims to help cover immediate costs. For families of German victims, the amount was 95000 Euros (₹68.89 lakh). This was separate from the compensation, which amounted to $206 million in total, or ₹1.4 crore per family. Many families are not satisfied with this compensation offer, and have filed lawsuits, so Lufthansa may actually end up paying substantially more.

In the aftermath of this incident, Lufthansa and other airlines introduced more stringent background checks. They put in place several safety measures, such as requiring two crew members in the cockpit at all times. They did their best to make sure that such a tragedy is never repeated.

This phenomenon isn’t unique to Germanwings and Lufthansa. Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 crashed in 2014 due to a malfunction, which the pilot was unable to handle. As with Germanwings, this was the only fatal accident in the airline’s history. The airline similarly offered an initial compensation of ₹16.42 lakh for immediate expenses, on top of the ₹68 lakh it offered to each of the victims families. As with Lufthansa, they might end up paying more once all the lawsuits are settled.

Following the accident, the airline implemented improved training programmes for its pilots so they can respond more effectively in the future and avoid such a tragedy.

The Indore-Patna Express Derailing

Unfortunately, the derailing of one of India’s publicly owned railways was not the first time this had happened. Thousands die every year in rail accidents, and far more are seriously injured. In 2014 alone, more than 25000 people were killed in rail accidents.

In response to the accident, politicians offered cliched statements of condolences to the bereaved families. Railway minister Suresh Prabhu promised that the guilty would receive the “strictest possible punishment”. Narendra Modi announced a compensation of a measly ₹2.5 lakh to the families of the deceased.

This has been sequence of events following train accidents for many years, regardless of who was in charge of the government at the time. Few, if any, proper measures have been taken to improve the safety of rail travel.

Accountability in the Marketplace

Why is it, that airlines take steps to make flying safer and provide more generous compensation to those affected while railway officials seem so callously indifferent to the safety of their passengers?

The airline companies and aircraft manufacturers have to pay millions of dollars in compensation to the victims families. When company profits take a hit, the CEO does not get a bonus that year. Those who were responsible for the accident lose their jobs. The shareholders receive smaller dividends, if any dividends at all, that year.

The airlines voluntarily offer compensation over and above the legal requirements to encourage customers to continue to fly with them. They improve pilot training and aircraft design for the same reason.

Markets are savage and unforgiving masters to those who disregard the consumer’s interests. They hold people accountable and provide incentives to make products and services more reliable. That is why flying is so safe and is becoming safer every year.

Government-run railways, on the other hand, have had an abysmal safety record over the years. Why? Because the bureaucrats responsible did not lose their jobs. They continue to receive their pay even if they don’t perform. They will still receive promotions based on seniority regardless of how well they performed their duties.

What about the politicians? When Modi and Suresh Prabhu announce compensation to victims and their families, they are not paying out of their own pockets. Taxpayers, are on the hook for that money. Every time a bureaucrat or politician commits a monumental and expensive blunder, we pay for their mistakes.

The railways won’t go bankrupt, because like every government venture, they will be propped up with taxpayer money. The manufacturers of the trains and tracks will not go bankrupt. They get contracts from the government, based not on quality, but on political connections.

Government employees operate under the same lack of incentives to improve that their political bosses do, so those working in the Indian railway system have little reason to ensure passenger safety.

The solution is obvious. The railways must be privatized, not only to ensure better quality of service but more importantly, to save countless precious human lives.

Jairaj Devadiga

Jairaj Devadiga is an economist who looks at the less obvious, but devastating, effects of government policies. When he is not bashing governments and advocating free markets, he enjoys reading about medicine, computers, astronomy, and law among other things.

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The end of nation-building

Fulfilling Trump’s promise means halting the endless overseas cash flow

Secretary of State George Shultz famously asked future ambassadors a question before sending them out into the world. He would spin a globe, then ask them to point to their country.

Many of them, thinking Mr. Shultz and his “cowboy” boss Ronald Reagan to be unwashed heathen, pointed to Germany, Britain, Japan, Lesotho — wherever they were headed. Mr. Shultz cut them off and pointed to the United States. “This is your country,” he would say. “Don’t ever forget it.”

Today’s State Department, after eight years of globalist policies, has forgotten the people it represents.
Of the $54.7 billion Secretary of State Kerry requested Congress to fund, less than half goes to the core functions of American diplomacy. Just over 11 percent goes to fund overseas embassies and security, including new embassy construction.

Where does the rest of the money go? The largest chunk — nearly 38 percent — goes for what gets euphemistically called “Overseas Contingency Operations.” In layman’s terms, this means: cleaning up the mess our failed policies have helped to produce.

Earlier this year, Mr. Kerry sought an increase of $5.8 billion to these funds, which he called his “Counter Daesh” strategy, using the Arabic term for ISIS, the Islamic State. Roughly half of this money will go to nation-building in oil-rich countries such as Iraq and Nigeria. The rest will go for refugee support and resettlement.

American taxpayers are being asked to pay for rebuilding Ramadi, Mosul and other areas liberated from ISIS, while the Iraqi government — dominated by the Islamic state of Iran — gets a free pass. Meanwhile, the cash-strapped Kurdish Regional Government, cheated out of oil revenues by Baghdad, gets just $5 million, even though it has born the brunt of the refugee crisis and the recent fighting.

President-elect Donald Trump made clear throughout the campaign that the days of nation-building were over. “We are getting out of the nation-building business, and instead focusing on creating stability in the world,” he said in a foreign policy address on April 27.

There is much more that is wrong with current foreign policy priorities than just nation-building.

Under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mr. Kerry, the State Department has gone into the “green energy” business, and today spends close to $1 billion a year to “combat climate change.” That money includes big handouts to left-wing consultants and crony capitalist corporations, who peddle their services and dump their products overseas at taxpayer expense.

The budget includes another $1 billion per year for the Millennium Challenge Corp. to “expand its poverty-reduction partnerships.” Mr. Trump indicated clearly during the campaign that his priority was to rebuild our crumbling inner cities, not the shantytowns of South Africa, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast.

The State Department boasts of running “the world’s largest [refugee] resettlement program,” at a cost of nearly $3 billion per year.

Refugee resettlement has become a big business in America, with so-called humanitarian organizations getting large cash awards per refugee they resettle in this country at taxpayer expense, as citizen-analyst Ann Corcoran has documented over the years in her must-read Refugee Resettlement blog.

Christian refugees from Syria get systematically persecuted — not just in their home countries, but also once they arrive in European refugee camps, according to the Christian aid organization, Open Doors. Who is doing the persecuting? Fellow refugees, who just happen to be Muslims.

Of the nearly 11,000 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States this past year, just 56 were Christians — less than one-half of 1 percent.

To be fair, the anti-Christian discrimination of the State Department in awarding immigration visas predates the Obama administration. As I personally witnessed at our embassy in Amman, Jordan, Bush-era diplomats favored Muslims and discriminated against persecuted Christians seeking entry to the United States, including Christians who had put their lives on the line working as interpreters for U.S. forces in Iraq.

Taxpayers also are asked to spend $778 million per year for international broadcasting, including Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). This is part of a larger, $1.2 billion appropriation aimed at “countering misinformation about American society and policies,” according to Mr. Kerry’s request.

The Persian-language services of both VOA and RFE/RL have long been a disaster, mocked in Iran because they broadcast pro-Iranian regime propaganda and not the pro-freedom message they were intended to convey.

During our election campaign, for example, VOA’s Persian News Network became an outlet for hard-left-wing voices such as Noam Chomsky, who called the Republican Party “the most dangerous organization in world history.” They also translated partisan screeds alleging that the Trump campaign was run by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, as if this were an established fact not wild fantasy-land libel.

Out of this $54.7 billion budget, how much do you suppose was earmarked to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, as mandated by U.S. law? Zero dollars and zero cents.

The next secretary of State will have his work cut out for him. He must fearlessly gore the liberal oxen and clear the stables of their keepers, many of them now burrowed deep into the bureaucracy.

Or then again, he could simply ignore the pledge of the president-elect and conduct business op-edwith the elites as usual. Anyone taking bets?

EDITORS NOTE: This op-ed column originally appeared in the Washington Times.

Obamacare-nullify

Association of American Physicians and Surgeons: Get Rid of Obamacare! Now!

TUCSON, Ariz. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Donald Trump’s biggest campaign promise was to get rid of Obamacare, officially misnamed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Soaring premiums under ObamaCare are harming individuals and families and depressing our economy. The sooner ObamaCare is repealed, the better, states the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

President-elect Trump need not wait for Congress, AAPS points out. On his first day in office, Trump can order the IRS not to impose or enforce any penalties against individuals for not purchasing insurance.

“President-elect Trump would not want anyone to be forced to stay in a particular hotel, and Trump rightly opposes forcing Americans to purchase health insurance,” observes Jane M. Orient, M.D., executive director of AAPS. “He should end the individual mandate on the first day of his presidency.”

“Insurance is by definition voluntary,” she continued, “and it is not voluntary if people are forced to buy it at prices far higher than justified by their own risk.” She also notes that compelling people to purchase an inferior product they do not want causes prices to increase.

“The fundamental laws of economics cannot be violated for long,” states AAPS president Michael J. A. Robb, M.D.

In addition, President-elect Trump should immediately end the taxpayer-funded subsidies on the health care exchanges, which Congress never authorized and the federal district court for D.C. held to be unlawful. Stopping the illegal flow of those subsidies to big insurers would enable free-market and charitable solutions to emerge.

“ObamaCare is already so costly that most people might well be better off uninsured,” observes Dr. Orient. “Most of the care they need costs less than their deductible, and they don’t have the money because they spent it on premiums.”

“You might have coverage, but the insurer might deny you care, or it might not be available in network,” she adds.

Vanishing competition in the insurance market, as the biggest insurers continue to merge with each other, is contributing to the runaway cost of insurance, she states. Trump should indicate that he is going to investigate and stop the anti-competitive conduct of insurance companies in order to ensure that their restraint of trade ceases.

As for the issue of pre-existing conditions, it is best for young adults to buy a guaranteed-renewable policy that they will own, before developing a pre-existing condition, rather than prolonging their period of dependency on their parents, Dr. Orient suggests.

ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS

The  (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in virtually all specialties and every state. Founded in 1943, AAPS has the motto “omnia pro aegroto,” which means “all for the patient.”

economy

The Investment Implications of the 2016 Election

MORRISTOWN, N.J. /PRNewswire/ — Next week’s elections are among the most hotly contested in recent history. Undoubtedly, there will be winners and losers beyond the individual candidates running for office. In this report, we analyze some of the potential investment implications of the election, while maintaining a neutral tone with respect to any political party. Our analysis is based largely on the stated positions of each major party’s Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and the research of unrelated parties.

What Wall Street Really Wants – A Split Decision

First, the market tends to favor a “split decision” with respect to which political party controls the White House, Senate and House of Representatives. Under this “split decision” or “gridlock” scenario, it will be challenging for either party to enact major legislative changes, allowing free market forces, not central planning, to drive the economy’s future.

Most projections suggest the Republicans will retain the majority of positions in the House of Representatives, while the Democrats are likely to gain control of the Senate. If these projections hold true, regardless of which Presidential candidate wins the White House, one party will not sweep all three elections, resulting in Wall Street’s desired split decision.

But we caution that a split decision is not always a panacea, since it may delay progress on important issues, such as addressing the projected deficits in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. An extension of the debt ceiling in 2017 will also be necessary, potentially creating a contentious battle viewed unfavorably by the financial markets.

And The Winner Is … Infrastructure

If there is one common sector or industry that is likely to do well under either candidate, it is infrastructure. Infrastructure includes the repair or building of bridges, roads, tunnels, airports, power grids, communication networks and may even be extended to items such as electronic medical records. Candidate Clinton proposed $275 billion in government spending on infrastructure over a five-year period and having another $225 billionspent on infrastructure through private investment. Candidate Trump has proposed an even larger plan, spending up to $1 trillion on infrastructure, through a mix of governmental and private sources, over a ten-year period.

The benefits of preventing a crumbling bridge are obvious, but the implications of a stronger and smarter infrastructure may not be quite as apparent. For example, smarter and properly maintained transportation networks may be able to reduce traffic congestion, commuting times and the number of accidents. An enhanced power grid may reduce the likelihood of blackouts and conserve energy. An improved electronic medical records system may improve the quality of healthcare, reduce medical errors and cut insurance payments. Each of these items may result in increased productivity for the economy over a long period of time.

Energy and Healthcare Policies: A Tale of Two Cities

The Presidential candidates have sharply different policies in the Energy and Healthcare sectors. Candidate Clinton favors further progress in the direction of a “green” future for America’s energy needs. Solar, renewable energy and natural gas firms may be prime beneficiaries under her energy plan. In contrast, candidate Trump has strongly supported “clean coal” technology as well as conventional oil and gas energy sources. He supports the Keystone Pipeline, which plans to run from Canada through the United States, so long as the deal is “favorable” for America. In contrast, candidate Clinton has announced her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline.

Candidate Trump is vehemently opposed to the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare.” If elected, he plans to repeal Obamacare, although a full dismantling of the program may be challenging without Congressional approval. Candidate Clinton favors slight modifications to Obamacare and price controls on some pharmaceutical products. She expressed outrage at firms, such as Mylan, maker of the EpiPen, after the firm raised the price on its product more than 450% in less than ten years. Similar large price increases have been observed in pharmaceutical products with little or no competition. Candidate Trump favors competition and market forces as a way of modulating prices as opposed to formal price controls.

In our view, hospitals and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are likely winners under a Clinton victory, while traditional Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology firms, especially those that produce high priced drugs, are likely losers. The reverse is likely true under a Trump victory.

Some Relief May Be in Sight for the Financial Sector

The Financial Sector has been dramatically impacted by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which resulted in the largest set of new financial regulations since The Great Depression. Financial firms – primarily the large, national banks – have also been hit with billions of dollars in fines due to misdeeds committed during the period leading up to The Great Recession of 2007-2009. Candidate Trump has stated that he favors repealing the bulk of Dodd- Frank, claiming it makes it nearly impossible for bankers to function.

Candidate Clinton has supported Dodd Frank, especially in the context of large “too big to fail” banks, and seems to favor a tax on short-term trading activity. However, she seems to have a more dovish view on bank regulation than the Obama administration. For example, she has expressed support for reducing the regulatory burden on community banks. In her speeches to banks, in a private setting, she has expressed a somewhat more balanced approach to financial regulation.

A (Tax) Holiday May Be on the Horizon … For Corporate America

American corporations labor among the highest tax rates in the industrialized world, with domestic firms generally in a 35% tax bracket. In contrast, other regions, such as Bermuda, charge no corporate taxes, while others, such as Ireland and Canada, have a net tax rate of 15% or less. One implication of these widely varying tax brackets is that corporations tend to keep cash and securities held for investment, overseas. American companies hold roughly $2 trillion dollars in cash, with the vast bulk of it held overseas. For example, Microsoft recently held $96.3 billion of its $102.6 billion in cash (94%) overseas. If a firm brings money held overseas back to America (i.e., repatriates its cash), it is subject to paying tax at the 35% federal rate.

Both candidates have supported a “tax holiday” for cash held overseas, resulting in a temporary tax rate of 15% or less. Candidate Trump has proposed slashing the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. If enacted into law, a 15% corporate tax would be a large boon to companies, such as Costco, Home Depot and Chipotle that derive most of their profits domestically. Candidate Clinton has not endorsed cutting the corporate tax rate to 15%, but seems amenable to the tax holiday. In theory, if firms repatriate their cash, it may result in sizeable investment increases in the domestic economy. However, if the last tax repatriation period (2004/2005) is any indication, the bulk of the cash will be used for stock buybacks and dividend increases, which may also be a benefit to shareholders.

Your Income Taxes May Be Going Up… Or Down

Another sharp contrast between the two candidates is in their personal income tax policies. Candidate Trump has proposed a tax cut for virtually all domestic taxpayers. However, his plan may also increase the national debt between $5 and $10 trillion, according to several independent estimates.

In contrast, candidate Clinton has proposed a tax cut for most low- and middle-income families, but a tax increase for the highest income earners, those earning more than $250,000 a year. She favors a “Buffett Rule,” requiring a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent on incomes over $1 million. She has also proposed an additional 4 percent “fair share surcharge” for those earning $5 million dollars or more a year. Analysts estimate that candidate Clinton’s tax plan, if enacted, would raise in excess of $1.5 trillion in new revenue, with the proceeds being spent on her domestic initiatives, such as on infrastructure and educational programs. Both candidates have proposed closing the “carried interest” tax loophole, which currently enables (mostly high income) individuals to convert earnings to long-term capital gains, generally taxed at a 15% rate. A more detailed summary table, produced by the website, Diffen.com, is reproduced below.

 

Donald Trump’s Tax Plan

Hillary Clinton’s Tax Plan

current rating is 3.79/5

current rating is 3.13/5

(133 ratings)

(136 ratings)

Tax Philosophy

Cut taxes for everyone

Increase taxes, especially on high-income earners.

Tax Brackets
– Ordinary Income

Three – 12%, 25%, 33%. Earlier proposal: 10%, 20%, 25%

Eight – 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, 39.6%, 43.6%

Tax Brackets
– Investment Income

Three – 0%, 15%, 20%

Complex. Long-term gains will be redefined to assets held > 6 years. Tax rates of 0%, 15%, 20% and 24% on long-term. Additional surcharges on some. Higher rates for all if assets held for fewer than 6 years.

Net
Investment Income Tax

Repeal

Retain

Estate Tax

Repeal

Retain and expand. Increase tax rate from 40% to 45%; and add new tax brackets for 50%, 55% and 65% for estates worth more than $10 million, $50 million and $500 million respectively.

Gift tax

Repeal

Retain

Impact on
GDP

Positive 11% (as estimated by the Tax Foundation)

Negative 1% (as estimated by the Tax Foundation)

Impact on
Job Creation

Positive. 5.3 million new jobs (as estimated by the Tax Foundation)

Negative. 311,000 fewer jobs (as estimated by the Tax Foundation)

Impact on Government Debt

Negative. $10 trillion higher government debt (as estimated by the Tax Foundation)

Positive. $191 billion lower national debt (as estimated by the Tax Foundation)

Impact on Wages

Positive. +6.5% wage growth (as estimated by the Tax Foundation)

Negative. -0.8% wage growth (as estimated by the Tax Foundation)

Biggest Beneficiaries

High-income earners

Low-income earners

“Clinton vs Trump – Tax Plans Compared.” Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 3 Nov 2016.
< http://www.diffen.com/difference/Trump-vs-Clinton-Tax-Plan >

Source: Diffen.com

International Trade Policies: A Potential “Black Swan” On the Horizon

Another stark contrast in the economic policies of the two candidates is apparent in their views on international trade. In general, both candidates favor a less open policy on international trade, relative to recent Presidential administrations. This could result in “risk-off’ investment sentiment that would benefit US Treasury debt and the U.S. Dollar.

Candidate Trump strongly supports repealing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), rejects the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and has taken a hardline stance on China, deeming it a “currency manipulator,” a tactic that would likely sour relations with the country that is home to the world’s second largest economy. His positions on international trade may be a positive for U.S. firms that have been hurt by cheaper overseas imports, such as steel companies, and defense firms that are likely to benefit from increased spending on national security.

In contrast, candidate Clinton has expressed support for NAFTA and has declined to formally accuse China of currency manipulation. Although she was once supportive of TPP, her current stance seems to be against the prospective Partnership.

Between a third and half of the profits for S&P 500 firms come from overseas. The stock market, in aggregate, seems to dislike candidate Trump’s position on international trade. His policies, if enacted, bring an element of uncertainty to corporate profits, as well as increase the risk of trade wars with foreign countries, most notably with China.

Conclusion

Political elections are one of the greatest change agents of the American economic system. The contrast between the two Presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, is the starkest in recent memory. There appears to be less drama in the Congressional elections, with most forecasters predicting a split decision, with Republicans maintaining control of the House and the Democrats gaining control of the Senate. This type of result is generally cheered by Wall Street, which likes “gridlock” so the free market system can drive the economy.

But make no mistake, there will be clear winners and losers, beyond the candidates running for office. A summary table on our views is in the Appendix that follows. To some extent, the market has already priced in some of the anticipated movement. For example, Healthcare stocks have lagged the market on a year-to-date basis, and the Mexican Peso has risen versus the U.S. Dollar, anticipating a Clinton victory. However, the election is too close to call and we believe there is a high likelihood of a sharp move in the market, regardless of who wins, as some uncertainty is resolved and cash either pours into the market, or flees it. We welcome a further discussion of the investment implications of the election on your personal portfolio at any time and we encourage you to exercise your privilege to vote.

 

Appendix: Summary Table

If Hillary Clinton Wins…

If Donald Trump Wins…

Likely Winners

Likely Losers

Likely Winners

Likely Losers

Infrastructure

Big Banks

Infrastructure

Emerging Markets

Hospitals

Pharmaceutical

Domestic Firms

Multinational Firms

HMOs

Biotechnology

Defense

China

Low/Middle Income Families

High Income Families

High Income Families

Canada  

Education

Coal

Coal / Oil

Mexico

Alternative Energy

Oil

Financials

Alternative Energy

Important Information: Beacon Trust (“Beacon”) is the name used by two separate investment advisers and a trust company: Beacon Investment Advisory Services, Inc. (“BIAS”), Acertus Capital Management, LLC (“Acertus”) and Beacon Trust Company (“BTC”).  Both BIAS and Acertus are SEC registered investment advisers wholly owned by BTC, which is a subsidiary of Provident Bank. Provident Bank is a subsidiary of Provident Financial Services, Inc, a holding company whose common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Beacon does not provide investment advice for any affiliated securities or obligations. Additional information is contained in the respective Form ADV disclosure documents, the most recent versions of which are available on the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website at http://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov.

SECURITIES AND INVESTMENT PRODUCTS: NOT FDIC INSURED – MAY GO DOWN IN VALUE – NOT GUARANTEED BY A BANK OR BANK AFFILIATE – NOT A DEPOSIT – NOT INSURED BY ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY

This publication is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to the wealth management products and services offered by Beacon to U.S. residents of those states where not prohibited by applicable law. No portion is to be construed as a solicitation to effect transactions in securities or the provision of personalized investment, tax, or legal advice. Investing involves risks which may lead to losses, including loss of principal. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will be profitable.

Past performance is not a predictor of future results. It should not be assumed that any information discussed herein will prove to be profitable or that decisions in the future will be profitable or provide specific performance results.  Any discussion of tax matters contained within this communication should not be used for the purpose of avoiding U.S. tax related penalties or promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Beacon Trust does not provide legal advice.

Before investing, carefully consider fund investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other information that should be read carefully, please request a prospectus or summary prospectus from your financial advisor or Beacon Trust at 973-206-7100 or visit www.beacontrust.com.

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Obamacare Failure in Florida

“Healthcare costs are rising on everyday Floridians. This year’s premium hike of nearly 20 percent is a wake-up call to Hillary Clinton’s plans to double down on the failed experiment known as Obamacare. We must elect a President who will finally repeal this failed federal takeover of healthcare and replace it with commonsense reforms that put patients in control of their healthcare and focuses on lowering costs. That candidate is Donald Trump.” — Senior Trump Adviser and Florida Chief Strategist Susie Wiles

Florida The Florida Office Of Insurance Regulation Approved Average Statewide Premium Hikes Of 19.1 Percent For 2017.”The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation announced today that premiums for Florida individual major medical plans in compliance with the federal Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will increase an average of 19% beginning January 1, 2017. Per federal guidelines, a total of 15 health insurance companies submitted rate filings for the Office’s review in May. These rate filings consisted of individual major medical plans to be sold both on and off the Exchange. Following the Office’s rate filing review, the average approved rate changes on the Exchange range from a low of -6% to a high of 65%.” (Charles Gaba, “Florida: *Approved* 2017 Indy Market Rate Hikes: 19.1% (Vs 17.7% Requested),” ACASignups.net, 9/5/16)

These Premium Requests Are Higher Than Last Year’s Approved Average Of 10 Percent. “Fifteen health insurers want an average 17.7 percent increase in premiums for Affordable Care Act individual plans, Florida officials said Thursday — higher than last year’s approved average of less than 10 percent.” (“Florida Health Insurers Seek Average 17.7% Rate Hike,” Insurance News Net, 5/13/16) Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Florida, Inc. Was Approved For A 19 Percent Premium Hike For Individual Plans In 2017, After Requesting A 14.5 Percent Premium Hike.(Charles Gaba, “Florida: *Approved* 2017 Indy Market Rate Hikes: 19.1% (Vs 17.7% Requested),” ACASignups.net, 9/5/16)

Celtic Insurance Company Was Approved For A 20 Percent Premium Hike For Individual Plans In 2017, After Requesting A 4.3 Percent Premium Hike. (Charles Gaba, “Florida: *Approved* 2017 Indy Market Rate Hikes: 19.1% (Vs 17.7% Requested),”ACASignups.net, 9/5/16)

Florida Health Care Plan, Inc. Was Approved For A 15.4 Percent Premium Hike For Individual Plans In 2017, After Requesting A 12.3 Percent Premium Hike. (Charles Gaba, “Florida: *Approved* 2017 Indy Market Rate Hikes: 19.1% (Vs 17.7% Requested),”ACASignups.net, 9/5/16)

Health First Commercial Plans, Inc. Was Approved For A 11.7 Percent Premium Hike For Individual Plans In 2017, After Requesting A 8.4 Percent Premium Hike. (Charles Gaba, “Florida: *Approved* 2017 Indy Market Rate Hikes: 19.1% (Vs 17.7% Requested),”ACASignups.net, 9/5/16)

Health Options, Inc. Was Approved For A 18.9 Percent Premium Hike For Individual Plans In 2017, After Requesting A 13.8 Percent Premium Hike. (Charles Gaba, “Florida: *Approved* 2017 Indy Market Rate Hikes: 19.1% (Vs 17.7% Requested),”ACASignups.net, 9/5/16)

Humana Medical Plan, Inc. Was Approved For A 36.8 Percent Premium Hike For Individual Plans In 2017, After Requesting A 43.6 Percent Premium Hike. (Charles Gaba, “Florida: *Approved* 2017 Indy Market Rate Hikes: 19.1% (Vs 17.7% Requested),”ACASignups.net, 9/5/16)

Molina Healthcare Of Florida, Inc. Was Approved For A 17.4 Percent Premium Hike For Individual Plans In 2017, After Requesting A 10.6 Percent Premium Hike.(Charles Gaba, “Florida: *Approved* 2017 Indy Market Rate Hikes: 19.1% (Vs 17.7% Requested),” ACASignups.net, 9/5/16)

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