Rep. Vern Buchanan Wrong on Sea Levels Rising, Wrong on the Paris Accord

Florida  Representative Vern Buchanan is running for reelection in 2018. He is now officially a career politician first elected in 2006. Buchanan has sadly learned how to pander to certain constituencies, like environmentalists, for political gain.

Recently Buchanan sent out the following in an email with an accompanying ABC Channel 7 video:

Climate change is a serious issue for a state like Florida that has two coastlines vulnerable to rising waters. That’s why I am again calling on President Trump to reconsider his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the landmark Paris Climate Accord.

Take a look at the video below and let me know what you think by replying to this email.

Vern

The greatest problem facing Florida is saltwater intrusion not rising sea levels.

Dr. Roger Bezdek has found that salt water intrusion is caused by land subsidence due to groundwater withdrawal from subsurface shale and sandstone formations, and to “glacial isostatic adjustments” that have been ongoing since the last glaciers melted.

In a column titled “Sea level rise – or land subsidence? Excessive groundwater pumping is the real culprit” CFACT reports:

[T]he Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated in 2007 that seas might rise up to only 2 feet by 2107. By comparison, oceans have risen nearly 400 feet since the last ice age ended, reflecting how much water was trapped in mile-thick glaciers that buried much of North America, Europe, and Asia. In recent decades, though, global sea level rise has averaged just 7 inches per century…

[ … ]

As a new report by Dr. Roger Bezdek explains, reality is much different. (His report awaits publication in a scientific journal.) At least for the Chesapeake region, Houston-Galveston, Texas, area, Santa Clara Valley, California, and other places around the globe, the primary cause of seawater intrusions is not rising oceans – but land subsidence due to groundwater withdrawal from subsurface shale and sandstone formations, and to “glacial isostatic adjustments” that have been ongoing since the last glaciers melted.

The solution therefore is not to continue trying to control Earth’s climate – an impossible, economy-busting task that would further impede fossil fuel use, economic development, job creation, and human health and welfare. The solution requires reducing groundwater removal in these coastal areas. 

President Trump was right to leave the Paris Accord. It is nothing more than a massive $100 billion annual “climate finance” transfer of money from the United States to third world countries. Also understand that China, Russia and India are paying nothing.

Clearly Representative Buchanan needs to understand that mankind cannot control either the weather or sea levels. But Florida can control the removal of groundwater in our coastal areas.

The real issue with Buchanan is drilling off of Florida’s coastlines, not the Paris Accord. He is against drilling while President Trump is opening up vast areas to energy exploration and fast tracking environmental processes and removing regulatory hindrances to energy exploration and drilling.

Buchanan is anti-President Trump’s policies of economic growth via increased energy production. That’s the real issue facing Floridians. Cheap reliable power or sending billions in U.S. tax dollars to third world nations. You choose.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Another Obama Legacy: Americans Will Pay Billions for a Useless Climate Agreement

President Obama’s Climate-Change Agenda Costs American Lives

China caused a two percent surge in global CO2 emissions after joining the UN climate pact

Alarmists feverish over sea levels

BankThink: Mortgage deduction helps housing lobby, but not homeowner

The battle lines are drawn between those seeking to protect the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and a legislative effort to greatly reduce the use of the MID. Hopefully, this is a battle that taxpayers will win over the housing lobby — the loudest supporter of keeping the deduction intact.

The housing lobby’s effectiveness is measured by its success at garnering subsidies. But the proposed House bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, would be a shot across the industry’s bow. The stage is now set for a crucial debate between two competing visions: the House plan — which would disincentivize the MID by raising the standard deduction and capping loans qualifying for the MID at $500,000 — and Senate tax reform legislation that effectively would leave the deduction intact.

From the perspective of taxpayer cost and federal budgeting, it’s no contest which plan is better. Since 1994, the cost of the MID, the separate real estate tax deduction (also downsized in the House plan), and other single-family tax subsidies has totaled over $2.5 trillion and in fiscal year 2017 were estimated to cost $141 billion. This does not include the many hundreds of billions in subsidies over the same period provided to or by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration, Ginnie Mae and others, and the $6.7 trillion in taxpayer mortgage debt guaranteed by these same agencies.

What did the U.S. taxpayer get for this massive level of rent-seeking? First, the U.S. homeownership rate today is 63.9% — statistically no different than the average rate of 64.3% since 1964 (excluding the bubble years). Second, these policies directly caused the 2008 financial crisis — a catastrophe for the U.S. and world economies.

True to their past positions, both NAR and the NAHB are opposing the House tax reform plan, favoring the Senate version. NAR had previously released a study it commissioned that found that a doubling of the standard deduction, elimination of the state and local tax deduction, and lower marginal tax rates would cause home prices to fall by 10.2%. On the other side are supporters of tax reform and lower marginal rates. Gary Cohn, President Trump’s head of the National Economic Council, stated in September: “People don’t buy homes because of the mortgage deduction.”

Before getting to the merits of these positions, it is worth noting the “man bites dog” nature of NAR’s admission that the MID drives home prices up higher than they otherwise would be. While this certainly explains the NAR’s past and current support for the MID, it is a damning admission for a group that purports to promote homeownership and “affordable housing.”

In terms of the merits, federal subsidies for homeownership like the MID get capitalized into higher prices, encourage the taking out of more debt, promote the buying of larger, more expensive homes, and price homes out of reach of lower-income buyers. Recent research at the Federal Reserve confirmed these points and found “when house prices are allowed to adjust in response to the elimination of mortgage interest deductions, the homeownership rate actually increases.”

One could end the argument here. However, this would leave NAR’s claim about a 10.2% price reduction unaddressed. First, a common sense reading of “a fall in home prices” is that prices would actually drop from current levels. This conflates a drop in price level and a slowing of the rate of increase. High-end home prices in 16 large metropolitan areas were up about 5% in July compared to a year earlier. A slowing of the rate of increase for high-end homes to the inflation level of 2% would, over three years, result in high-end home prices ending up about 10% lower than they otherwise would have been, but without an actual drop in prices.

Why is a slowing in the rate of increase, not an outright drop, the likely result? According to NAR, existing home sales have been in a seller’s market for 61 straight months and there are no signs of this abating anytime soon. A seller’s market is commonplace even at the higher price end of the home market. This includes San Francisco, where homes selling for more than $4.6 million have less than 2.5 months inventory along with similar conditions for the highest price points for metro areas such as Seattle and Los Angeles. Areas like Boston, Denver, New York City and Washington D.C. have a seller’s market except for price points in excess of $1.5 million to $2 million.

Jerry Howard, chief executive of the homebuilder association, told The Wall Street Journal that the House legislation is “a bad bill for housing.” In reality, it’s a good bill for American taxpayers and homebuyers.

Refugee Resettlement Agency comes Out-of-the-Closet as a Political Agitation Group

Thanks to several readers who sent it, here is yet another reason for the U.S. government to cut off funding for refugee resettlement groups who have become out-of-the-closet political agitation groups. 

mark-hetfield

Mark Hetfield

Longtime readers know that HIAS receives millions of taxpayer dollars to place refugees in unsuspecting towns and cities and they have led the charge in the courts against Donald Trump’s efforts to keep us safe by limiting certain migrants entry in to the US.

HIAS also recently helped organize an anti-Trump rally along with CAIR in Washington, DC, here.

And, they invited Rep. Keith Ellison to speak at an anti-Trump rally here.

(Sure hope HIAS is keeping its pots of federal and private money separate! Is there a funding firewall at HIAS?)

Here is Greenfield on Mark Hetfield’s latest:

Is this the moment when Mark Hetfield and HIAS officially joined the anti-Israel lobby?

Mark Hetfield had already hijacked HIAS and transformed it from a Jewish organization to a radical left-wing group concerned entirely with Muslim migration.

Hetfield’s HIAS had already attacked Israel and collaborated with the anti-Israel group, J Street.

But signing a statement in support of Linda Sarsour, an Islamic anti-Semitic activist who celebrated throwing stones at Jews, is Mark Hetfield’s official coming out party.

The immediate trigger for this was having Sarsour head a New School panel accusing Jews of exploiting anti-Semitism. That’s quite a show for a woman who is quite comfortable with Louie Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.

[….]

Previously, Mark Hetfield had avoided getting his hands dirty. Now he no longer seems to care.

Continue here for more and to follow links.

Go here to see my ever-expanding file on HIAS (aka Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) one of the U.S. State Department’s nine federal resettlement contractors.

Here are the nine (LOL! I haven’t named them often enough lately). I sure hope all of them have built firewalls between their federal funding and the money they use for political activities.

RELATED ARTICLE: US Catholic Bishops Thanksgiving message: we thank the US taxpayers for so generously supporting our good works

After Agent’s Death, Trump Declares U.S. ‘Must Build the Wall!’

President Donald Trump is renewing his demand that Congress fund a wall on the southern border after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed from injuries inccurred while working over the weekend in southwest Texas, while his partner was injured.

“Border Patrol officer killed at southern border, another badly hurt,” the president said in a tweet. “We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the wall!”

Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez, 36, and his partner were responding to “activity” in Van Horn, Texas. Martinez died and his partner, not named by officials or in news accounts, is reportedly hospitalized. News reports Monday morning said the government hasn’t confirmed what the agents were responding to.

The cause of death is not known. Jeanette Harper, with the FBI’s El Paso, Texas, office told the San Antonio Express-News: “They were not fired upon. There are so many different agencies working together that we need to come together and develop a timeline.”

“Earlier this morning, I was notified that Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez died as a result of serious injuries suffered while on patrol in the Big Bend Sector of our southern border in Texas,” acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke said in a public statement. The Border Patrol is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

Duke continued:

Agent Martinez was responding to activity while on patrol with another agent, who was also seriously injured. We are fully supporting the ongoing investigation to determine the cause of this tragic event. On behalf of the quarter of a million frontline officers and agents of DHS, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Agent Martinez and to the agent who is in serious condition.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also weighed in.

Portrait of Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas

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

RELATED ARTICLE: Podcast: The Dangers Border Patrol Agents Face

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.

Democrats in Meltdown Mode as Obamacare Individual Mandate Moves Toward Extinction

Democrats, of course, oppose the tax cuts moving through Congress. They believe government knows how to spend your money better than you do.

But what has really got their goat is eliminating the Obamacare tax—known as the individual mandate—that Americans have to pay to the IRS for simply choosing not to buy health insurance. This has thrown them into a tailspin of despair.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said eliminating the individual mandate would amount to the “destruction of the Affordable Care Act.” She said it would create no less than a “life-or-death struggle for millions of American families.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor Thursday that “[t]he number of middle-class families who would lose money from this bill may be even higher now considering the 10 percent increase in premiums that will occur as a result of the Republican plan to repeal the individual mandate.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was asked by Anderson Cooper on CNN about cutting the individual mandate. “It’s a bad idea,” replied the former Democratic presidential candidate. “This is going to throw 13 million Americans off the health insurance they currently have.”

No doubt the talking points that flew around Democratic offices on Capitol Hill were written to scare people into thinking the tax cut forces people off all health care. But it’s a big stretch to state that as fact.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the individual mandate would decrease the number of people with health insurance by 4 million in 2019 and 13 million in 2027. It also predicted average premiums in the individual market would increase by about 10 percent per year.

However, the Congressional Budget Office was extremely careful to explain the inexact science of its analysis. A whole section of the report is titled “Uncertainty Surrounding the Estimates.” To put it simply, economists can’t predict human behavior.

I don’t even know what health insurance I will pick to get the best bang for my buck in 2019. How would bureaucrats in D.C. know?

Nevertheless, Democrats grabbed that report and ran with it, trying to put on a horror movie through the halls of Congress.

Pelosi threatened that as the bill moves toward final passage in the Senate and a reconciled bill through both chambers, “outside mobilization” will be activated to stop it. She said the Senate Finance Committee’s decision to include repeal of the individual mandate “really electrified, energized the base even further … .”

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., tweeted on Tuesday: “RED ALERT: Senate GOP just added provision to their tax plan that would gut ACA & kick 13M ppl off insurance.”

(Yes, Franken tweets blatant falsehoods when he’s not groping women.)

Schumer took to Twitter to put the blame on the White House: “.@POTUS’s absurd idea to repeal the individual mandate as a part of the #GOPTaxPlan would boot 13M ppl from the health insurance rolls and cause premiums to skyrocket – all to pay for an even bigger tax cut for the very rich, those who pay the top rate. What a toxic idea!”

President Donald Trump, however, is quite enthusiastic about taking a big whack at Obamacare through the tax bill. Reportedly, Trump encouraged Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to get repeal into the committee bill text. This is what also infuriated the Democrats.

You can’t help but smile that Republicans are now using a 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court—which let the individual mandate stay in law, with the rationale that it was a tax and not a fine—as a way to ultimately kill the key provision that keeps Obamacare on life support.

Since the mandate is now considered a tax, its repeal will fit perfectly into the GOP tax reform plan.

Last week, a reporter asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders if the individual mandate repeal is a priority for the president. “That’s something the president obviously would love to see happen,” she responded.

The Obamacare mandate tax was always more of a “nanny tax” than a way to raise government funding. Democrats included it in the law in order to force the young and healthy to buy into the government-run health exchanges so as to offset the high cost of the old and very sick.

But the tax has ended up hitting lower-income and working-class families the hardest because it is much cheaper to pay the tax than to buy insurance on the Obamacare exchanges and pay the absurdly high insurance premiums and deductibles.

The hardest thing to do in Washington is to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. If the Obamacare tax can be repealed in the final bill that lands on Trump’s desk, Americans will get back a key individual liberty—the right to choose whether or not to buy government health insurance.

This would be the perfect early Christmas gift for hard-working families. Democrats should think twice before standing in the way of it.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Emily Miller

Emily Miller is an award-winning journalist and the author of the book “Emily Gets Her Gun” about gun control policies. Twitter: .

A Note for our Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please make a gift to support The Daily Signal.

Trump Administration’s 2 Priorities for Welfare Reform Executive Order

President Donald Trump is making welfare reform a major priority and will sign an executive order laying out the administration’s goals while also urging action by Congress, a White House official said Thursday.

Trump’s executive order will be twofold, said Paul Winfree, director of budget policy at the White House. The order will state the Trump administration’s principles for welfare reform of empowering individuals and learning from state and local initiatives, and then direct federal agencies to come back to the president with recommendations for implementing the principles.

“Welfare reform is something that is very important to the president,” Winfree said during a panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation’s anti-poverty forum on Thursday. “It’s something that excites him. It’s something that he has a lot of energy about.”

The White House is also working with Congress on reform proposals, Winfree said, but in the short term is looking at what federal agencies can do unilaterally. The federal government has 89 different welfare programs spread across 14 departments and agencies.

Winfree explained the two priorities of Trump’s upcoming executive order.

The first thing it does, it sets out a series of principles for welfare reform that we would like to be a message to Capitol Hill and the direction we want to take. … We want to empower people. We want to learn from the states. We want to learn from local communities.

One of the messages is that I’ve been driving to essentially our staff and our agencies on welfare reform and the direction we are taking is this message that it’s people that help people. It’s not governments that help people.

So, how do we learn from people who are actually in the communities actually helping people and then ultimately empower them by either getting out of the way or redirecting the resources in their direction to essentially reward successes without a unilateral approach or without just kicking it to the states and transition [to] what is essentially a federal role into a state role.

The second half of the executive order, which is yet to be signed, essentially directs agencies to take a look at the principles and then figure out what they can do on their own to start meeting some of the objectives that are out there through changes in regulation and guidance and then to ultimately submit those recommendations to the president for an evaluation.

The last sweeping welfare reform package came more than two decades ago, passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton. However, Robert Rector, who helped shape some of the 1996 bill, said new improvements are needed.

“The current welfare system harms the very poor that it’s trying to help,” Rector, a senior research fellow for domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, said. “We need a reformed welfare system that promotes work and marriage, and rewards outcomes rather than simply greater spending.”

The Heritage Foundation is supportive of the principles in several proposals in Congress now.

A bill by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and companion House bill by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, would require all welfare programs to strengthen existing work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program; and establish a real work requirement in food stamps. Separately, a bill by Rep. Garrett Graves would require work requirements for the food stamp program.

Other members of Congress have talked about saving $15 billion annually by eliminating fraud, waste, and excessive benefits in the earned income tax credit, while making the program more encouraging of work. Others call for removing the marriage penalty with regards to welfare programs.

Drain the Swamp: Demand that Congress release all the information on sexual abuses by its members

There are 535 Members of Congress – 100 serve in the U.S. Senate and 435 who serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Daily Caller’s Henry Rodgers in a column titled “Congress Spent $17 Million Paying For Its Sexual Harassment Settlements” reported:

The OCC said it decided to release the information regarding payment of awards and settlements regarding all types of harassment due to the mass amounts of recent inquiries. In the released statement, OCC executive director Susan Tsui Grundmann explained that these cases originate from multiple offices inside of the legislative branch, other than the House or the Senate. [Emphasis added]

The Federal Office of Compliance has released a list of payouts to those who were sexually harassed in the past 20 years by members of Congress and others in the federal government.

The list shows that $17,240,854 dollars has been paid out to 264 recipients. This is an average payment per sexually abused individual of $65,306.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice NSOPW website, “Approximately 30% of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities.”

Therefore the number of persons sexually abused by members of Congress and others in the legislative branch of the federal government over the past 20 years could be as high as 871 individuals. The two largest annual payouts from this Congressional slush fund are: $3,974,077 to 10 individuals in 2002 and $4,053,274 to 25 individuals in 2007 under the administration of former President George W. Bush. Under the administration of former President Barack Obama the slush fund paid out a total of $5,034,508 to 111 individuals.

What we do not know is how many members of Congress and legislative branch are/were the sexual predators in the cases reported resulting in a payment made.

If each case reported that resulted in a payment was perpetrated by one member of Congress then potentially 49% of members of Congress and those serving in the legislative branch are/were sexual predators. We understand that the members of Congress as well as administrations have changed over the past 20 years. Different members of Congress and those in the Executive Branch retire or are voted out of office. However, the numbers are what they are.

It would be unthinkable that one person committed all 264 reported cases of sexual abuse that resulted in all of the over $17 million in payments made. Given the larger number of potentially 871 (reported and unreported) victims gives us an annual average of over 87 acts of sexual abuse by members of Congress and the legislative branch over the past 20 years.

We will only know the truth when:

  1. Congress release the names of those paid.
  2. Congress release the names of the members/employees who are/were a sexual predator.
  3. Others who did not report sexual abuse and did not receive a payment must be encouraged to come forward. Perhaps given immunity and compensation?

This is a major scandal that members of Congress and members of past administrations had to know about this sexual abuse, if for no other reason than money exchanged hands and non-disclosure documents were signed and records kept.

Perhaps it is time for President Trump to demand that the Republican leadership in Congress release all of the names, dates, payment details and release those who signed non-disclosure agreements from previous administrations if possible. Or the President demand that the U.S. Congress release the names, dates and payment details.

It is past the time to know how deep this rabbit hole truly is.

It is time to actually drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Congress has paid nearly $1 million in settlements after workplace complaints this year

Florida Democratic Party chair apologizes after 6 women complain of ‘demeaning’ behavior – Politico

Liberals’ Sudden Concern About Bill Clinton’s Behavior Is Cynical And Self-Serving

The Left’s Deafening Silence on Bob Menendez

Senate Tax Force Aims for Obamacare

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Also in the November 15 Washington Update:

U.S. Strayed by USAID

Bible Speeches Make the Week Strong

The Military May Soon Get a Long-Needed Boost. Why That’s Good News.

It’s not exactly “Man Bites Dog,” but “Congress Gets Defense Spending Right” is almost as surprising a headline.

For too long now, we’ve been cutting corners when it comes to the military. Years of underfunding have given us a weakened force that, despite the hard work of our brave troops, is ill-equipped to handle the missions we keep throwing at it.

Think the recent spate of ship collisions is a coincidence? Hardly. They’re a red flag—a warning sign we ignore at our peril. That’s what happens when you shortchange our armed forces, and fail to ensure that they have the best training and the best equipment possible.

So when House and Senate leaders released their proposal for a defense spending authorization for 2018, and it not only met but exceeded the amount that Heritage Foundation experts had been recommending, it marked a rare piece of good news from Capitol Hill.

A base funding amount of $634 billion sounds like a lot of money—and it is. But it’s money well spent. Indeed, notes defense expert Thomas Spoehr, it “will go a long way toward beginning the rebuilding of America’s deteriorated military.”

It will do that in large measure by providing increased numbers of aircraft, ships, and ground equipment—all of which, thanks to years of underfunding, is desperately needed.

House and Senate leaders are also calling for increases in the size of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Good thing, too. Each branch needs additional personnel and are at historic lows in terms of manpower.

How low? Consider what the Air Force recently did. It’s facing a shortage of fighter pilots. By year’s end, defense expert John Venable writes in the National Interest, “the service is projected to have fewer than 2,643 of the 3,643 active-duty fighter pilots it needs to execute its mission.”

So President Donald Trump issued an executive order authorizing the secretary of defense to recall up to 1,000 retired Air Force pilots to make up for the shortfall. A good idea, but this is the sort of stopgap measure that the military has been forced to rely on for too long.

Sooner rather than later, Band-Aids won’t work.

In fact, such short-term solutions, however creative, can almost be dangerous. They help the various branches accomplish the mission at hand, and that’s certainly a good thing. But they can mask the serious problems underneath.

It’s like putting duct tape on a crack in a door. It covers up the crack, yes, and it makes things seem fine—for a while. But a problem that’s out of sight doesn’t magically go away. It continues to fester until some emergency down the road forces you to fix it properly.

But by then, it’s metastasized and become more expensive to fix.

By the same token, the underfunding problem that plagues our overworked, overstressed military should have been addressed long ago. But there are no time machines handy, so the only thing we can do is to start fixing it right now.

That’s what the congressional defense authorization bill does. It takes our collective head out of the sand and enables us to get to work.

Mind you, this is just the first step. And it’s not even a step per se—it’s a decision to take that step. But the mere fact that congressional leaders are owning up to the problem and vowing to do something about it is promising.

There is much to follow through on, and Heritage’s research papers have detailed recommendations for each branch. And if our elected leaders need some motivation to get it right, Heritage’s 2018 Index of U.S. Military Strength also outlines the growing threats around the globe.

There are many things we can afford to do cheaply. Defense isn’t one of them. Let’s make sure we get this right.

Originally published by The Washington Times.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Ed Feulner

Edwin J. Feulner’s 36 years of leadership as president of The Heritage Foundation transformed the think tank from a small policy shop into America’s powerhouse of conservative ideas. Read his research. Twitter: .

One less swamp creature! Podesta Group closing!

So why are we interested in this latest news from CNN?

podesta group logo

One of Washington’s most prominent lobbying firms is on the verge of shuttering after becoming ensnared by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Kimberley Fritts [who had worked for Jeb Bush!—ed], the chief executive of the Podesta Group, told employees during a Thursday staff meeting that the firm would cease to exist at the end of the year, according to two sources. Employees were asked to clear out their desks and were told they may not be paid beyond November 15, multiple sources said.One of Washington’s most prominent lobbying firms is on the verge of shuttering after becoming ensnared by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

[….]

Talk of potentially closing the Podesta Group marks a dramatic downfall of one of K Street’s most iconic and well-connected firms. In its heyday, Podesta Group was the largest non-law firm lobbying organization in Washington. Tony Podesta, the firm’s founder and chairman, helped fuel the company with work for foreign governments. He and his brother, John, founded the company almost three decades ago. (John Podesta chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. He left the firm in 1993.)

hans van de weerd

Hans Van De Weerd (Dutch citizen?) is the head of RCUSA as well as a VP at the International Rescue Committee.

 

Our interest (story here  from Breitbart in case you missed it) is in the fact that, for 2017, the Refugee Industry lobbying arm (Refugee Council USA) had dropped $100K on Podesta to lobby certain Senators, including prominent Republicans, for their help in assuring they would get more refugees and more money for themselves.

Targets specifically identified in the proposal included, among others, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), all on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

I would love to know whose brilliant idea it was to spend that kind of money on lobbyists in the swamp—-lobbyists who are now on a sinking ship.

Did the refugee contractors get their money’s worth?

And, I would like to know if any of the $100K was our money—taxpayer money!

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U.S. is 20th on good countries of the world list

US top refugee processing countries shifting with Trump Administration

Why We’re So Lucky that Donald Trump is the Most Unreasonable President in U.S. History

In one of my recent columns, I talked about the value of being unreasonable.

The premise of that column was based on a quote from British playwright George Bernard Shaw:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable man adapts the world to himself; therefore, all progress is dependent upon the unreasonable man.”

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of organizing a small roundtable with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). She is the Chair of the House Republican Conference, which makes her the fourth ranking member in House leadership.

We invited about 25 very successful Black, Asian, and Hispanic business owners to have a private conversation with her about the soon-to-be written tax bill that President Trump wants to sign before the end of the year.

During this meeting, we highlighted three individual entrepreneurs: Kenya Pierce, the co-president and COO of Voulez Beaute (cosmetics), Gerald B. Boyd, Jr. the CEO of DB Consulting Group, Inc. (IT), and Robert L. Wallace, the president and CEO of Bithenergy, Inc. (energy).

VIDEO: Robert Wallace, President and CEO, Bithenergy, One of America’s Faces of Tax Reform Addresses Economic Empowerment.

Each of these business owners gave a very compelling story about their respective journeys into entrepreneurship and made the case for tax reform.

In the spirit of Shaw’s quote above, Rep. McMorris Rodgers was unreasonable enough to see value in creating a dialogue with the minority business community to get their input into a tax bill that had yet to be written.

The NNPA Newswire was one of the few Black-owned media outlets to cover this historic event. The NNPA Newswire operates BlackPressUSA.com, the public news website of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), which consists of over 200 Black-owned media companies operating in the United States. The NNPA Newswire also syndicates my weekly newspaper column.

What I find amazing is that many Black journalists, especially the ones that work for Black media outlets, constantly complain about how the mainstream media only covers negative aspects of the Black community; yet, they are doing the same thing, by ignoring positive stories, especially when they come from Blacks in the Republican Party.

To my Black, liberal Democratic journalist friends, who refused to cover this event, because it didn’t fit into their partisan, political narratives: you are a bunch of hypocrites. Your job as a journalist is to report the news, even when it goes against your liberal biases. Quasi-journalists like Roland Martin (News One Now), Joy Reid (MSNBC), Don Lemon (CNN), Jason Johnson (The Root), Amy Barnett (The Grio), and Amber Payne (NBCBLK) do more damage to our community than anyone with a white sheet over their head could ever do.

Their hypocritical biases notwithstanding, we received a tremendous amount of press from our event.

Leading up to our event, we received so much buzz that the White House reached out to me and asked if they could participate in the event. They sent Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president and Jovita Carranza, the Treasurer of the United States, to represent President Donald J. Trump. I challenge anyone to recall a similar event, that President Barack Obama supported on Capitol Hill, that prominently featured minority business owners, especially Black entrepreneurs.

This is the first time in my memory that small and minority business-owners have been seen as so valuable that they have been invited to give input into a yet-to-be written tax bill. This is not only historic, but also a transformative, tectonic shift in the political landscape.

The mere fact that Rep. McMorris Rodgers and President Trump invited us to participate in the shaping of this proposed legislation makes them two of the most unreasonable people I have ever encountered.

For McMorris Rodgers to spend time with minority business owners on Capitol Hill was extremely unusual by any standard. Remember, she is No. 4 in House leadership and her time is very limited, but she was unreasonable enough to see value in listening to us.

President Trump couldn’t make our event himself, but he was so unreasonable that he sent two of his top aides, Conway, who is also a longtime friend of mine; and his U.S. Treasurer.

This is the type of unreasonable behavior that our president and our party need more of.

If President Trump continues to be unreasonable enough to see value in the minority business community, especially Black entrepreneurs, I can guarantee that they will be more than willing to work with the White House.

If Trump continues to be unreasonable enough to work with us on issues like access to capital, making sure we get our fair share of government contracts, and keeping open a pipeline of direct communications between us and the White House, we will not only work with the president, but we will advocate on behalf of the policies that we know will make America great again.

So, to President Trump and Rep. McMorris Rodgers: please continue to encourage those around you to be unreasonable knowing that only unreasonable people are able to make transformative change in our world.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Black Press USA.

VIDEO: A Taxing Week for Republicans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Also in the November 10 Washington Update:

The Heart of a Warrior

Strategic Partners for the New Year!

GOP Tax Reform is Democrat-Lite. Where’s the Conservatism?

When the GOP unveiled the outline of their big tax reform plan last week, they billed it as one of the largest tax cuts in history. If only that were true. It cuts the corporate tax rate which even Democratic economists (not politicians, they have to demagogue everything) see as necessary. This is easily the strongest point in the plan. But there’s now a hitch even there.

All of our western nation competitors have cut their corporate tax rates in recent years (Germany went from 40% to 15%!) leaving the U.S. as the highest rate in the industrialized world at 35%. That makes U.S. soil uncompetitive, and that’s bad for American jobs, companies and the economy. So, yes, that is good and necessary — but more later as even it may be imperiled.

Once we get past that corporate tax cut, there is very little cheer from a conservative perspective for individual American taxpayers. There’s an actual tax increase for the wealthy with a bubble tax rate of 46% for those earning more than $1 million until they make up for a tax cut at the lower ends — which pay hardly any taxes now at all. So an actual tax increase! How is that in any way conservative? Does anyone need reminding that the rich are already carrying most of the income tax load — far more than their “fair share?” Or that it is the rich who are the job-creators? Apparently just the party representing conservatism.

It will change from here for the worse as it looks to get votes in both chambers. But overall, it looks a lot like the GOP tax cut plan is largely a sop to class warfare, a totally swampy cave from the most basic principles of conservatism. Outside the corporate tax cut, it is nothing more than Democrat-lite. It looks like one big shell game to ensure that the government keeps growing and the “rich” get soaked, because rich people are, you know, evil.

Getting into the details is not worthwhile as it will change. Essentially, it reduces tax brackets except the highest one and eliminates some deductions — that latter of which means more taxes paid.

Fortune magazine fact-checked the middle class cuts and found a mixed bag:

“But the proposal’s conflicting provisions and phase-outs of certain benefits suggest that taxes could rise for some middle-class earners over time. Middle-income people in states with high state income taxes or who have many children, high medical bills or heavy student debt are particularly at risk of a bigger tax hit. Others may benefit modestly from the lower tax rates and revamped credits and deductions.”

Shell game.

Remember, this proposal is essentially the starting negotiating point. If the swamp acts as normal, what will happen from here is that this proposal will be larded up with more special interests and hidden garbage like the bubble tax and become worse. Bottom line: We could end up with even worse than we have right now.

Good job, guys. Glad we gave you a majority so you could act like little Democratic class warfare warriors and make sure leviathan keeps chewing us up — while pitching it as this huge tax cut. More and more conservatives outside the ruling class are catching on as the details get examined.

This all is more than disappointing. Just like repealing Obamacare (although that was really on a small number of Senate Republicans who lied during re-election, including John McCain.) Just like keeping the Dreamer Act (Trump.) Just like no money for building the wall (Congress.)

The only big promises kept so far are by Trump on deregulation and appointing conservative justices and judges — few of which have been confirmed, yet. That’s a pretty short list of promises kept, and none of them from the GOP-controlled Congress.

The Republican Party used to stand for basic conservative principles: limited government, reduced tax burdens, de-regulation over an overly regulatory state, personal responsibility, individual freedoms, equality under the law.

Where are these to be found in this tax plan? Where are they found in the budget outline approved previously? Where are they in the various (and failed) Obamacare repeals? Where are they in building a wall and enforcing existing laws?

Do we have a party of limited government or do we have Democrats-but-burden-Americans-more-slowly?

Where is President Trump on the tax proposal?

Populists and conservatives look at the tax code differently.

Since Trump is more populist than conservative in philosophy — although a lot of his policies have been conservative — it was incumbent on actual supposed principled conservatives such as Speaker Paul Ryan to come through with strong tax reform that made American corporations more competitive, gave all Americans tax relief and for goodness sake, shrank government.

This does the first, but whiffs on the next two.

However, Trump was the avatar for Americans who wanted change, who knew we needed change. Washington was a place filled with self-promoting creatures who cared first and only about re-election as their pathway to power, prestige and wealth. They feed the beast.

And it works great for them, for lobbyists, for bureaucrats, for the nest of hangers-on that feed off ever burgeoning government. But not for Americans. And many Americans know this. Washington long has been out for only Washington. Trump was seen as someone who might be able to at least take a step forward in draining a little of the scumminess out, shake up the status quo.

So while he is a populist, it was still disappointing to see him so strongly onboard with this “biggest tax cut in history” nonsense. Part of this may be because Republicans aren’t presenting what he wanted. But part is because of the mantra that “Republicans need a win!”

Here’s an idea. How about if Americans get a win?

Starting to make any real change in Washington, D.C. requires an almost revolutionary vision for a Capitol that works for Americans. Trump rightly identified the problem being the seedy Washington culture. But tweeting and complaining about it doesn’t change anything. And calling a questionable class warfare tax plan the biggest tax cut in history doesn’t change the swamp, either.

Potential saving grace — repeal Obamacare mandate

Republicans are looking to include repealing the Obamacare individual insurance mandate. That would totally change the dynamics and value of the tax plan…if they actually do.

This is a two-fer winner. The first and most important part is that it is a win for individual American liberties. Personal freedoms from heavy, distant government intrusion is a bedrock conservative principle.

The individual mandate is maybe the most onerous element of Obamacare. Forcing all Americans to buy a private-sector product was always an atrocity — upheld 5-4 by an outrageous U.S. Supreme Court decision that put the reputation of the Court above the rights of the American people by calling the mandate a “tax.” The result was that it ended up eroding both. A terrible decision. Getting rid of this monstrous assault on individual liberties is a huge benefit.

Second, it’s good for Americans’ wallets by allowing millions to choose not to have insurance, or traditional health insurance, and keeping money they earn to spend how they choose.

Democrats would undoubtedly demagogue such a move — they laughably denounced the original proposals as tax cuts for the rich before even seeing it, because they are on autoplay — and the media would report the move as “throwing 13 million off their health insurance.” But of course it does no such thing. It allows people the choice, and an estimated 13 million Americans would choose not to have insurance. See how that works, media? Americans should have that freedom.

House leadership seems onboard with doing this, although it was not in their initial proposal. It still may be. However, the Senate plan revealed today does not include the mandate, and delays the corporate tax — the only strong element — for a year. Any delays are problematic because too often it has meant that it never actually happens.

The entire tax “reform” efforts just further reveal how badly the swamp needs draining — and how difficult that is to do.

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

Taxpayers Get a Win Over Sports Stadium Cronies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Michael Sargent

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

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