INFOGRAPHIC: A Revolutionary Way to Get Funded — ICO Roundups

Initial coin offerings, or ICOs for short, are the latest craze in the cryptocurrency world. Despite being just a couple of years old, ICOs have managed to attract a lot of attention. It seems that in the past few months every news outlet had something to say about them, both good and bad. Some praise them for enabling startups to receive funds quickly, but some people despise ICOs because of their unregulated and fraudulent nature. However, one thing is for sure; they have revolutionized how projects receive funding.

While no one can argue that ICOs are flawless, a case can be made that they offer more pros than cons. Sure, ICOs have little, if any, regulatory oversight, and their track record is riddled with thefts, frauds, and failures. However, without them, we wouldn’t have Ethereum, the second biggest cryptocurrency right now, as well as numerous other new-technology startups. Judging ICOs based on the failed projects and without acknowledging their advantages creates a false image. After all, even some traditionally funded projects have turned out to be frauds.

Therefore, to avoid any future confusion, we at BTXchange.io have created this ICO round-up infographic. You can find information about the good and the bad side of this revolutionary way to get funded. Enjoy.

Supreme Court Rules for Federalism in Sports Betting Case

On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that prevented states from legalizing sports betting in Murphy v. NCAA. The ruling struck a blow against federal overreach and restored to states the power to set their own policies related to gambling.

The court ruled 7-2, with Justice Stephen Breyer joining all but one part of the majority opinion. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and, in part, Breyer.

For the past half-century, most states have barred sports betting, and in 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which makes it unlawful for states to “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law … a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based” on competitive sports.

In short, the law prevented states from passing new laws or repealing old ones, with the goal of keeping sports betting illegal in most states. The law grandfathered in four states (including Nevada) and also gave the state of New Jersey a one-year window to legalize sports betting.

New Jersey waited until 2011, when the voters passed a constitutional amendment authorizing the state Legislature to legalize sports betting in Atlantic City. When the Legislature passed such a law in 2012, the NCAA and professional sports leagues immediately challenged it, and a federal district court halted its implementation under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

Then in 2014, the state tried another tactic. The Legislature passed a law repealing an earlier law that barred sports betting. Under the new law, betting would be allowed in Atlantic City for sporting events that did not take place in New Jersey or involve New Jersey collegiate teams.

The NCAA and professional sports leagues challenged the 2014 law—and that’s the subject of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Murphy v. NCAA.

The court agreed with New Jersey that the federal law violates the Constitution.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito explained that the 10th Amendment of the Constitution “with[e]ld from Congress the power to issue orders directly to the States.” Known as the anti-commandeering doctrine, this structural constitutional principle holds that Congress may not force states into the service of the federal government.

As the court explained in New York v. United States (1992), a case dealing with states’ disposal of radioactive waste, while Congress may incentivize states to pass certain laws, the Constitution does not allow Congress to override states’ sovereignty to regulate the private conduct of their own citizens.

Certainly, Congress can take a “carrot or stick” approach to encourage states to enact federal priorities. But Congress can’t force state governments to enact its preferred policies.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act violates this principle because, as Alito wrote, it “unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may and may not do.” Indeed, he asserted that a “more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine.” Alito compared it to federal officers being placed in statehouses across the country “armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals.”

He further explained:

The legislative powers granted to Congress are sizable but they are not unlimited. The Constitution confers on Congress not plenary legislative power but only certain enumerated powers. Therefore, all other legislative power is reserved for the States, as the Tenth Amendment confirms. And conspicuously absent from the list of powers given to Congress is the power to issue direct orders to the governments of the States.”

The court also rejected the claim that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act pre-empted state law in this area. Alito quickly knocked down that argument, explaining that in order to pre-empt state law, a federal law must be based on “the exercise of a power conferred to Congress by the Constitution” and regulate private actors, not the states. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act fails on both accounts.

Alito concluded that Congress could regulate sports betting directly, but having chosen not to, “each state is free to act on its own.”

A dozen or so states were already considering legalizing sports betting, and this ruling gives them the green light. But it could also have an impact far beyond the sports world—in the legal battle between the Trump administration and sanctuary cities, and in conflicts between states and the federal government over legalizing marijuana.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Elizabeth Slattery

Elizabeth Slattery writes about the proper role of the courts, judicial nominations, and the Constitution as a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research. She co-hosts SCOTUS101, a podcast about everything that’s happening at the Supreme Court. Twitter: .

RELATED: Listen to “SCOTUS 101”: Elizabeth Slattery and Tiffany Bates bring you up to speed on their Supreme Court podcast.

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of the U.S. Supreme Court building is by Wil Etheredge/Getty Images

Hard Times for Dick’s as Second Amendment Supporters Respond to Company’s Anti-Gun Bent

We have recently been reporting on the bizarre anti-gun activism of one of the nation’s larger firearm retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods and its affiliated Field & Stream stores. First, the company announced it would stop selling most centerfire semi-automatic rifles at its stores, carry only limited capacity magazines for semi-automatic guns, and ban firearm sales to certain legally eligible adults. It then took the further step of declaring it would destroy its inventory of the newly-restricted firearms at company expense. And if that weren’t enough, the news also recently broke that the company had hired expensive D.C. lobbyists to push for gun control measures on Capitol Hill.  

Dick’s, in other words, was positioning itself as a rising star in the field of corporate gun control activism, in obvious contradiction of its own financial interests. 

Now, however, the pro-gun community is parrying Dick’s gun control thrust with their own countermeasures, while customers appear to be eschewing Dick’s to search for bargains elsewhere.

Last week, the Board of Governors of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) – the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries – voted unanimously to expel Dick’s Sporting Goods from membership in the organization. While the NSSF noted it supports the rights of its members to make individual business decisions, it determined that Dick’s new polices do not “reflect the reality of the vast majority of law-abiding gun owners” and constitute “conduct detrimental to the best interests of the Foundation.” Law-abiding gun owners, the company added, “should not be penalized for the actions of criminals.”

Meanwhile, members of the firearms industry have also begun withdrawing their products from Dick’s and Field & Stream outlets. 

First, Illinois-based Springfield Armory – maker of several lines of highly-popular rifles and pistols — announced early this month that was “severing ties” with the two retailers. In announcing the decision, Springfield Armory stated, “we believe in the rights and principles fought for and secured by American patriots and our founding forefathers, without question.” It concluded, “We will not accept Dick’s Sporting Goods’ continued attempts to deny Second Amendment freedoms to our fellow Americans.”   What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that Dick’s has inserted itself into a tight spot from which it might not emerge unscathed, if it manages to survive at all. Its business with Second Amendment supporters in particular may well grind to a halt.

Iconic shotgun maker O.F. Mossberg & Sons followed up this week with its own announcement that it will “not accept any future orders from Dick’s Sporting Goods or Field & Stream” and is “in the process of evaluating current contractual agreements.” Mossberg’s press release on the decision cited its own “staunch support[] of the U.S. Constitution and our Second Amendment right” and its disagreement with “Dick’s Sporting Goods’ recent anti-Second Amendment actions.” 

MKS Supply, marketer of Hi-Point Firearms and Inland Manufacturing, LLC, has now become the latest supplier to cut off Dick’s and Field & Stream. Its president, Charles Brown, justified the decision on the basis that “Dick’s Sporting Goods and its subsidiary, Field & Stream, have shown themselves, in our opinion, to be no friend of Americans’ Second Amendment.” He went on to cite several “wrong” moves by Dick’s in recent months, including “villainizing modern sporting rifles in response to pressure from uninformed, anti-gun voices” and “hiring lobbyists to oppose American citizens’ freedoms secured by the Second Amendment.”  

This industry pressure on Dick’s comes at a sensitive time for the company. Its shares took a steep 6.3% dive in March, amid what analysts described as a “downbeat outlook.” Indeed, its own CEO Edward Stack admitted his new investment in gun control “is not going to be positive from a traffic standpoint and a sales standpoint.”

How that assessment squares with his own obligations to the company and its shareholders is unclear. Profits, after all, are where the rubber meets the road in any business enterprise. 

What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that Dick’s has inserted itself into a tight spot from which it might not emerge unscathed, if it manages to survive at all. Its business with Second Amendment supporters in particular may well grind to a halt.

Should that happen, Dick’s will have no one to blame but itself, and especially Mr. Stack. Dick’s example should serve as a warning for other businesses in the firearm sector that would hope to find common cause with activists who are seeking nothing so much as to put gun sellers out of business for good.

See What Foreign Country Your State Matches in Total GDP

Mark J. PerryAdjusted for the size of the workforce, there might not be any country in the world that produces as much output per worker as the US.

by Mark J. Perry


The map below (click to enlarge) was created (with assistance from AEI’s graphic design director Olivier Ballou) by matching the economic output (Gross Domestic Product) for each US state (and the District of Columbia) in 2017 to a foreign country with a comparable nominal GDP last year, using data from the BEA for GDP by US state and data for GDP by country from the International Monetary Fund. For each US state (and the District of Columbia), we identified the country closest in economic size in 2017 (measured by nominal GDP) and those matching countries are displayed in the map and in the table below. Obviously, in some cases, the closest match was a country that produced slightly more, or slightly less, economic output in 2017 than a given US state.

It’s pretty difficult to even comprehend how ridiculously large the US economy is, and the map above helps put America’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $19.4 trillion ($19,400,000,000,000) in 2017 into perspective by comparing the economic size (GDP) of individual US states to other country’s entire national output. For example:

  1. America’s largest state economy is California, which produced $2.75 trillion of economic output in 2017, just slightly below the GDP of the United Kingdom last year of $2.62 trillion. Consider this: California has a labor force of 19.3 million compared to the labor force in the UK of 33.8 million (World Bank data here). Amazingly, it required a labor force 75 percent larger (and 14.5 million more people) in the UK to produce the same economic output last year as California! That’s a testament to the superior, world-class productivity of the American worker. Further, California as a separate country would have been the 5th largest economy in the world last year, ahead of the UK ($2.62 trillion), India ($2.61 trillion) and France ($2.58 trillion).
  2. America’s second largest state economy—Texas—produced nearly $1.7 trillion of economic output in 2017, which would have ranked the Lone Star State as the world’s 10th largest economy last year. GDP in Texas was slightly higher than Canada’s GDP last year of $1.65 trillion. However, to produce about the same amount of economic output as Texas required a labor force in Canada (20 million) that was nearly 50 percent larger than the labor force in the state of Texas (13.5 million). That is, it required a labor force of 6.5 million more workers in Canada to produce roughly the same output as Texas last year. Another example of the world-class productivity of the American workforce.
  3. Even with all of its oil wealth, Saudi Arabia’s GDP in 2017 at $683 billion was below the GDP of US states like Pennsylvania ($752 billion) and Illinois ($820 billion).
  4. America’s third largest state economy—New York with a GDP in 2017 of $1.55 trillion—produced slightly more economic output last year than South Korea ($1.54 trillion). As a separate country, New York would have ranked as the world’s 11th largest economy last year, ahead of No. 12 South Korea, No. 13 Russia ($1.53 trillion) and No. 14 Australia ($1.38 trillion). Amazingly, it required a labor force in South Korea of 27.9 million that was nearly three times larger than New York’s (9.7 million) to produce roughly the same amount of economic output last year! More evidence of the world-class productivity of American workers.
  5. Other comparisons: Florida ($967 billion) produced almost the same amount of GDP in 2017 as Indonesia ($1 trillion), even though Florida’s labor force of 10.1 million is less than 8 percent of the size of Indonesia’s workforce of 127.1 million. GDP in Illinois last year of $820 billion was just slightly higher than economic output in the Netherlands ($825 billion), even though the labor force in Illinois (6.5 million workers) is 28 percent smaller than the labor force in the Netherlands (9 million workers).

Overall, the US produced 24.3 percent of world GDP in 2017, with only about 4.3 percent of the world’s population. Three of America’s states (California, Texas and New York)—as separate countries—would have ranked in the world’s top 11 largest economies last year. Together, those three US states produced nearly $6.0 trillion in economic output last year, and as a separate country would have ranked as the world’s third-largest economy and ahead of No. 4 Japan ($4.8 trillion) by more than $1 trillion. And one of those states—California—produced more than $2.7 trillion in economic output in 2017—and the other two (Texas and New York) produced $1.7 trillion and $1.5 trillion of GDP in 2017 respectively.

Adjusted for the size of the workforce, there might not be any country in the world that produces as much output per worker as the US, thanks to the world-class productivity of the American workforce. The map above and the statistics summarized here help remind us of the enormity of the economic powerhouse we live and work in. So let’s not lose sight of how ridiculously large and powerful the US economy is, and how much wealth, output, and prosperity is being created every day in the largest economic engine there has ever been in human history.


click to enlarge

Special thanks to Kevin Kiefer for assistance with the data collection for this post.

Reprinted from the American Enterprise Institute.

The Fiscal Cost of Resettling Refugees in the United States

Report by Matthew O’Brien and Spencer Raley.

Executive Summary

At the end of 2016, the United Nations estimates that a record-setting 65.3 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflict or persecution. Many of those people will seek refuge in the developed countries of the West, including the United States. Reflecting America’s long tradition of providing refuge to the oppressed, we have admitted over 3.5 million people since 1980 and 96,900 refugees just in the last year in 2016.

As the nation considers what levels of immigration we can fiscally and environmentally sustain, it is important to understand the costs of resettling both refugees (people seeking refugee status abroad) and political asylum seekers (those applying for refugee status from within the United States).

According to a new study released by FAIR, the annual cost to U.S. taxpayers is $1.8 billion and over five years, that financial burden skyrockets to $8.8 billion.

Those figures are only estimates because refugees will access welfare and other government assistance at different rates and the number of refugees entering the U.S also changes from year-to-year.

Using the most recent admissions figures, data on federal and state public assistance programs, and information from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), our analysis found:

  • The cost per refugee to American taxpayers just under $79,600 every year in the first five years after a refugee is resettled in the U.S.;
  • In 2016, the State Department spent nearly $545 million to process and resettle refugees, including $140,389,177 on transportation costs;
  • Of the $1.8 billion in resettlement costs, $867 billion was spent on welfare alone;
  • In their first five years, approximately 54 percent of all refugees will hold jobs that pay less than $11 an hour;
  • $71 million will be spent to educate refugees and asylum-seekers, a majority of which will be paid by state and local governments.
  • Over five years, an estimated 15.7 percent of all refugees will need housing assistance, which is roughly $7,600 per household in 2014 dollars.

It is important to note that this analysis does not address the costs associated with any incurred national security and law enforcement costs associated with some refugees who pose a threat. The total price of additional vetting and screening expenditures, law enforcement and criminal justice costs, and federal homeland security assistance to state and local agencies is hard to quantify.

Introduction

At present, the United Nations estimates that there are approximately 65.3 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict or persecution1. Many of those people will seek refuge in the developed countries of the West, including the United States.

America has a long tradition of providing refuge to the oppressed. We admit both refugees (people seeking refugee status abroad) and political asylees (people requesting refugee status from within the United States).2 And doing so is consistent with our history and our values. But the way in which we integrate refugees/political asylees into our society has changed drastically over the years.

The largest groups of refugees arrived in United States the aftermath of World War II.3 Significant numbers of anti-communist dissidents sought political asylum during the Cold War.4 However, the admission of WWII refugees, and Cold War asylees, took place in an overall context of very low immigration.5 And, until the 1980’s most refugee assistance was provided through private networks of charitable ethnic and religious groups that provided both financial assistance and help in assimilating to the American way of life.6 Many Americans contributed generously to those groups but their contributions were voluntary. Under the current model, taxpayers are involuntarily bankrolling the significant costs that resettling refugees and asylees imposes on the citizens of the United States.

Since 1980, the United States has admitted over 3.5 million people seeking refuge.7 We continue to admit refugees at a rate of roughly 50,000 to 100,000 refugees per year8 and 20,000-50,000 political asylees per year.9 Most of this cohort arrives here without financial resources and possessing few marketable job skills. And the American taxpayer is being asked to feed, clothe and shelter them, in addition to funding job training programs.10

Most refugee/asylee resettlement expenditures come in the form of cash assistance, welfare programs and other social services. Federal welfare programs that refugees and asylees can access include the following:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) formerly known as AFDC
  • Medicaid
  • Food Stamps
  • Public Housing
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Child Care and Development Fund
  • Job Opportunities for Low Income Individuals (JOLI)
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Postsecondary Education Loans and Grants
  • Refugee Assistance Programs
  • Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit11

State and local welfare programs that refugees and asylees can apply for include but are not limited to:

  • Housing assistance
  • English as a Second Language programs
  • Special education programs
  • Job training and employment search assistance
  • Social services programs
  • Immigration assistance programs (aiding asylees in filing green card applications, citizenship applications, and petitions for relatives to immigrate to the U.S.)12

Eligibility for some of these programs expires seven years after an individual is admitted to the United States as a refugee or asylee. However, many welfare programs are available for as long as a refugee/asylee resides in the United States.13

Additionally, the U.S. incurs significant expenses before refugees even get here: vetting applicants for refugee status, processing immigration applications and transporting approved applicants to the United States. Asylum seekers may cost taxpayers even more, considering they are present in the United States when they apply for protection. Because of this, they are entitled, as a matter of law, to a hearing on their asylum claim before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an additional hearing before the U.S. Immigration Court if the government intends to deny their claim, and an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Funding all of these programs places a heavy burden on the public treasury. Below is FAIR’s estimate of the calculable cost, per refugee/asylee, for their first five years in the United States.

NB: Both refugees and political asylees are admitted to the United States based on the definition of refugee found at 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a). The major difference between the two statuses is that applicants for refugee status are abroad, applicants for political asylum are at the U.S. border or within the United States. Hereinafter, for the sake of convenience, FAIR uses the term “refugee” to refer to both traditional refugees and political asylees (unless otherwise specified).

Methodology

When calculating refugee costs, it is important to understand that the usage of various federal assistance and benefit programs is far from static. Welfare usage by refugees typically decreases the longer they reside in the country. However, even after five years, the rate at which refugees use public assistance programs is still much higher than the overall national average. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) releases up to five years’ worth data on the use of welfare programs by refugees in their annual report to Congress. To find a consistent annual rate, we calculate the average rate of usage based on the available data during that allotted five-year period.

In addition to varying welfare usage rates, the number of refugees entering the U.S also changes from year-to-year. We base our calculations on the most recent admissions data. As such, if the United States decides to increase the total number refugees it admits on an annual basis, these costs will increase. Unanticipated surges in the number of individuals admitted as refugees commonly occur in response to geopolitical events.

After determining how many refugees are likely to use a welfare benefit, we then multiply this number by the annual average benefit to find the mean yearly cost to U.S taxpayers. We conservatively estimate that amount of public assistance received by refugees each year is roughly equal to the overall national average.

In contrast to welfare expenses, the majority of specifically budgeted federal costs associated with refugees occurs during the initial resettlement phase. This includes costs such as transportation, processing, reception, placement, and programs designed to help entrants find employment and welfare benefits. For simplicity, we break these costs up and include them in the annual cost over five years.

Unless otherwise noted, we draw all statistics relating to the overall number of refugees utilizing specific welfare programs from ORR’s latest Annual Report to Congress, compiled at the end of fiscal year 2015.14The total number of refugees and asylees is also derived from the ORR’s latest figures.

Federal Budgeted Costs to Refugees/Asylees – $777,443,000

Education Costs for Refugees/Asylees $71,275,000

In 2015, FAIR estimated that education costs for students with limited English proficiency (LEP) averaged out to $12,128 across the nation, compared to $10,763 for non-LEP students.24 Nearly 90 percent of all refugees and asylees who entered the United States in FY2011 were not fluent in English. That number improved to 58 percent by the end of FY2015, averaging out to approximately 75 percent throughout the FY2011 – FY2015 period.25

Based on immigration data from The Migration Policy Institute, and understanding that most (but not all) UAMs are covered by funding that is separate from the refugee program, it appears that approximately 10 percent of admitted refugees will enroll in a public school.26 Assuming the cost to educate LEP students in the United States remains mostly unchanged since 2015, that would make the cost of educating new refugees approximately $71,275,000 annually over their first five years in country.

Taxation Calculations-$215,386,500

According to ORR, refugee’s earnings are meager throughout their first five years in the United States, increasing from $10.22/hour to $10.86/ hour – only a 6.3 percent increase over five years, on average. This means they are unlikely to pay any federal income taxes, and could end up receiving a net credit from the federal government when programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit are considered.

Furthermore, their state and local income tax contributions will be also negligible, after any returns. This is largely because approximately 15 percent of all recent refugees have been settled in states with no income tax, and more than half come from states where the state tax rate for low-income filers is 4.5 percent or lower, based on data from the Pew Research Center27 and the Tax Foundation.28

However, based on unemployment and labor participation data from ORR, an average of approximately 54 percent of all refugees will participate in the workplace during their first five years in the country. Their average income will come out to just over $21,000 per year, based on ORR data.

Accordingly, we estimate that the average state and local income tax contribution per working refugee comes out to $843, annually, or just over $4,200 over five years. This totals roughly $215.4 million in state income tax payments overall. However, these relatively low payments do not cover the costs of cash programs and services received by refugees.

There are other, less substantial rebates and credits for which refugees are eligible. Additionally, there many more state and local assistance programs through which refugees may receive taxpayer-funded payouts, especially once they’ve resided within the United States for an extended period of time. It is also likely that there are certain other state and local taxes that refugees pay. However, due to the lack of available data, we are unable to integrate those numbers into our overall calculations. And, in any case, it is virtually certain that such data would simply show that the refugee program is even more expensive than is presumed by most estimates.

The purpose of our benefits vs. taxation calculations is not to provide an exact cost associated with the admission of large numbers of refugees (even if it were possible to do so). Rather, our intention is to demonstrate that the majority of readily available data clearly indicates that the refugee program, as it is currently constructed, is a net drain on the United States’ economy and represents an ever-increasing burden on the American taxpayer.

Conclusions

    • Based on the above data, refugees (including recipients of political asylum) cost American taxpayers nearly $1.8 billion, annually, or approximately $8.8 billion over five years.
  • This totals $15,900 per refugee, annually, or just under $79,600 per refugee over their first five years in America.

While the United States certainly has an interest in assisting those who are truly in dire straights, it is now doing so in a manner that is increasing the already crushing burden that state, local and federal governments impose on American taxpayers. Most of the charitable ethnic and religious groups which once helped to assimilate refugees into our way of life have morphed into contractors who earn significant sums of money by billing the government for services provided to refugees. Therefore, these groups have a vested interest in keeping refugee numbers high. And taxpayers are footing the bill.

In addition, refugees are often resettled in small to mid-sized communities without any attempt to consult with local political officials, educational administrators or public safety officers. This results in additional strains on already tight school, public health and social services budgets as communities attempt to cope with a rapid influx of individuals who may lack the language, cultural and job skills needed to integrate into the life of American cities and towns.

Increasingly, some refugees also pose national security and public safety costs that are difficult to quantify. These include vetting and screening expenditures, law enforcement and criminal justice costs, and federal homeland security assistance to state and local agencies. They also include funding for intelligence community agencies, which play an increasingly important role in checking the background of refugees who come from countries with significant terrorist activity.

America is currently faced with massive budget deficits, a tense global security climate, and an economy that, while improving, is still experiencing growing pains. Accordingly, government policy should shift away from relocating refugees to the United States. The costs, both fiscal and social, outweigh the benefits provided to a relatively small portion of the overall refugee population in the world.

Instead, the U.S. should begin using its considerable economic, diplomatic and military influence to de-escalate the conflicts that give rise to refugees. In situations where de-escalation is not possible, the U.S. should provide direct assistance to refugees within, or nearby, their country of origin, rather than relocating them to the United States. These alternatives are both more cost-effective – up to 10 times cheaper29 – and safer for the American public, than resettling refugees in the United States. They would also allow the United States to compassionately help hundreds of thousands more refugees on an annual basis, without continuing to add to the already high costs of immigration currently being borne by American taxpayers.

RELATED ARTICLE: Catholic Charities of Minnesota drops refugee program; will take care of poor and homeless already among us

Footnotes and endnotes

[1] Adrian Edwards, “Global Forced Displacement Hits Record High,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, June 20, 2016, http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/latest/2016/6/5763b65a4/global-forced-displacement-hits-record-high.html
[2] Both refugees and political asylees are admitted to the United States based on the definition of refugee found at 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a). The major difference between the two statuses is that applicants for refugee status are abroad, applicants for political asylum are at the U.S. border or within the United States. Accordingly, for the sake of convenience, unless otherwise specified, FAIR uses the term “refugee” to refer to both traditional refugees and political asylees.
[3] Milan Kubic, “A Refugee Looks Back: What the 1940’s Teach Us About Today’s Crisis,” Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2016, https://wilsonquarterly.com/quarterly/the-post-obama-world/a-refugee-looks-back-what-the-1940s-teach-us-about-todays-crisis/
[4] Lisa Reynolds Wolfe, “Immigration to the U.S. During the Cold War,” Cold War Studies, September 22, 2016, https://coldwarstudies.com/2016/09/22/immigration-to-the-us-during-the-cold-war/
[5] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Agency History: Post-War Years,” https://www.uscis.gov/history-and-genealogy/our-history/agency-history/post-war-years
[6] Xiaojin Zhao, “Immigration to the United States After 1945,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, July 2016, http://americanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-72#ref_acrefore-9780199329175-e-72-note-12
[7] Office of Immigration Statistics, “2015 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics,” U.S. Department of Homeland Security, December 2016, p. 43, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Yearbook_Immigration_Statistics_2015.pdf
[8] Jens Manuel Krogstad, Jynnah Radford, “Key Facts About Refugees to the U.S.,” Pew Research Center – Fact Tank, January 30,2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/30/key-facts-about-refugees-to-the-u-s/
[9] Jie Zong, Jeanne Batalova, “Refugees and Asylees in the United States,” MPI – Migration Information Source, June 7 2017, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/refugees-and-asylees-united-states
[10] Kerry Picket, “U.S. Government to Offer Each New Refugee Thousands of Dollars in Social Services and Cash,” The Daily Caller, September 18, 2015, http://dailycaller.com/2015/09/18/each-refugee-to-be-offered-thousands-of-dollars-in-tax-payer-assistance-and-welfare-for-years/
[11] Jennifer Mayorga, Ann Morse, “The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program: A Primer for Policy Makers,” National Conference of State Legislatures, December 4, 2017, http://www.ncsl.org/research/immigration/the-u-s-refugee-resettlement-program-a-primer-for-policymakers.aspx#6
[12] For a complete list of programs and services, by state, see: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Refugee Resettlement, “Find Resources and Contacts in Your State,” https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/state-programs-annual-overview
[13] “Refugee Resettlement Fact Sheet,” Refugee Resettlement Watch, June 20, 2013, https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/refugee-resettlement-fact-sheets/
[14] Office of Refugee Resettlement, “Annual Report to Congress,” Fiscal Year 2015, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/orr/arc_15_final_508.pdf
[15] Ibid
[16] Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, “FY 2016 Summary of Major Activities,” https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/265231.pdf
[17] International Organization for Migration, United States, “Refugee Travel Loans,” https://www.iom.int/countries/united-states-america#rtl
[18] The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Medicaid Spending per Enrollee (Full or Partial Benefit,” FY 2014, https://www.kff.org/medicaid/state-indicator/medicaid-spending-per-enrollee/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D
[19] Ife Floyd, “TANF Cash Benefits Have Fallen by More than 20 percent in Most States and Continue to Erode,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October, 2017, https://www.cbpp.org/research/family-income-support/tanf-cash-benefits-have-fallen-by-more-than-20-percent-in-most-states
[20] Social Security Administration, “SSI Federal Payment amounts for 2018,” FY 2018, https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/SSI.html
[21] Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, “Refugee Cash Assistance,” https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/community-services-offices/refugee-cash-assistance
[22] Liz Schott, “State General Assistance Programs are Weakening Despite Increased Need,” Center for Budge and Policy Priorities, July, 2015, https://www.cbpp.org/research/family-income-support/state-general-assistance-programs-are-weakening-despite-increased
[23] Congressional Budget Office, “Federal Housing Assistance for Low-Income Households,” September, 2015, https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/reports/50782-lowincomehousing-onecolumn.pdf
[24] Spencer Raley, Marc Ferris, “The Elephant in the Classroom: Mass Immigration’s Impact on Public Education,” The Federation for American Immigration Reform, September, 2016, https://fairus.org/issue/publications-resources/elephant-classroom-mass-immigrations-impact-public-education
[25] Op. Cite. ORR Budget
[26] Jie Zong, Jeanne Batalova, “Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States,” Migration Policy Institute, March, 2017, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/frequently-requested-statistics-immigrants-and-immigration-united-states#Demographic
[27] Jynnah Radford, Phillip Connor, “Just 10 States Resettled More than Half of Recent Refugees to U.S.,” Pew Research Center, December, 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/12/06/just-10-states-resettled-more-than-half-of-recent-refugees-to-u-s/
[28] Nicole Kaeding, “State Individual Income Tax Rates and Brackets for 2016,” Tax Foundation, February, 2016, a href=”https://taxfoundation.org/state-individual-income-tax-rates-and-brackets-2016/”>https://taxfoundation.org/state-individual-income-tax-rates-and-brackets-2016/
[29] Rob Williams, “Syrian Refugees Will Cost Ten Times More to Care for in Europe than in Neighboring Countries,” The Independent, March, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syrian-refugees-will-cost-ten-times-more-to-care-for-in-europe-than-in-neighboring-countries-a6928676.html

A Government Loan Program for Auto Manufacturers on Road to Repeal

Among programs on the chopping block in the White House’s new plan to cut more than $15 billion in wasteful government spending is the Department of Energy’s loan program for certain automakers. Congress should drop the guillotine and rescind the $4.3 billion remaining in this Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program.

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 authorizes the president to rescind funding previously enacted into law.

Established by Congress under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program illustrates why the federal government should not finance energy investments.

In handing out only five loans, the program has wasted taxpayer dollars by subsidizing economic losers, promoted corporate welfare by subsidizing well-off companies, and distorted market decisions by steering private capital toward politically proffered projects.

One loan recipient and failure of the program is Fisker Automotive, an electric car company that received $529 million in April 2010 to develop and produce two lines of hybrid plug-in vehicles at a plant in Delaware.

Fisker’s inability to meet performance targets prompted the Energy Department to cap the money lent at $192 million. Fisker filed for bankruptcy in November 2013. The federal government recovered $28 million, and then recovered another $25 million by selling the loan at auction, leaving a loss of $139 million.

Red flags should have made it apparent that Fisker was not credit-worthy for a government loan. Fisker spent $600,000 per car, which was sold to auto dealers for an average of $70,000, and had a CCC+ credit rating.

After the Fisker failure, the head of the loan program office, Peter Davidson, explained why the government sank money into the project, writing: “Early on, Fisker Automotive looked very promising—raising more than $1.2 billion from leading private sector investors who believed in the company and its business plan, and also attracting strong support from both Republicans and Democrats.”

If a company can attract $1.2 billion from the private sector, it should not need help from the federal government. The question is, would Fisker have generated that much investment absent the government’s loan?

The Energy Department loan artificially made this dubious investment appear more attractive and lowered the risk of private investment. For instance, private investors sank $1.1 billion into Fisker, but much of the private financing came after the department approved and closed the loan.

Another company, Vehicle Production Group LLC, received a $50 million direct loan through the program in March 2011 to develop and produce vehicles that were powered by natural gas and wheelchair-accessible. The company failed to make loan payments, the Energy Department discontinued the project, and the company ceased operations in May 2013.

The government recovered $3 million by selling the loan and recovered $5 million from an escrow payment, leaving a loss of $42 million.

In addition to picking losers, the federal government doled out billions in what is blatant corporate welfare and effectively an auto bailout by another name.

The DOE also issued the loans to both Ford Motor Co. and Nissan North America to retool factories to produce more fuel-efficient and electric vehicles.

In September 2009, the department loaned $5.9 billion to Ford to upgrade facilities in Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio. In January 2010, it loaned Nissan a $1.45 billion loan to build a battery manufacturing plant and retool existing factories to expand development of its electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF.

Ford and Nissan are well-established companies. Drivers value energy efficiency and saving on fuel costs. If Ford and Nissan thought these investments and retooling of manufacturing plants were a way to meet market demand, they should have been completely privately financed outside the government.

The real economic question mark of the loan portfolio, however, is Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc., the California-based company that specializes in electric vehicles, energy storage, and solar panel manufacturing.

The Energy Department and proponents of government-backed loans and loan guarantees advertise Tesla as a success of the loan program. The department loaned Tesla $465 million in January 2010 to reopen a former plant in California to produce electric vehicles and to develop a manufacturing plant to produce battery packs.

Tesla fully paid back the loan in May 2013. But whether Tesla continues to be profitable remains to be seen. Both federal and state governments are doing a lot to help—using taxpayers’ money to subsidize consumption of electric vehicles, which disproportionately benefits the rich.

A recent Bloomberg article headlined “Tesla Doesn’t Burn Fuel, It Burns Cash” warns that the company could run out of money this year. The article notes that Tesla spends $7,430 every minute and features a nifty little calculator that shows you how much money Tesla has spent since you started reading the story.

Regardless, if companies like Tesla promise to be the wave of the future, they should secure investment and loans through the private sector. A system that privatizes the profits and socializes the losses does much more damage than put hard-earned taxpayers’ money at risk.

Government interventions distort free enterprise and allow Washington to direct the flow of private-sector investments. This is not a recipe for more innovation and economic growth. It’s a recipe for ever-expanding cronyism.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Nicolas Loris

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

RELATED ARTICLES: 

White House Rolls Out Agenda for More Deregulation to Boost Business

Podcast: Trump Becomes First President in Nearly 20 Years to Ask Congress to Cut Spending This Way

The Left’s Chilling Refusal to Stop Flirting With Marxist Ideas

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

Leading Economist Now Says Trump Policies Are Restoring America’s Economy

Sean Snaith is not a household name but he is one of the nation’s top economists and highly regarded in economic circles for the depth and accuracy of his projections.

So much so that he is on multiple national economic forecasting panels, including The Wall Street Journal’s Economic Forecasting Survey, the Associated Press’ Economy Survey, CNNMoney.com’s Survey of Leading Economists, USA Today’s Survey of Top Economists, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters, Bloomberg and Reuters.

All this is stated upfront because what he says rightly carries weight in a lot of influential circles, and probably should outside those circles. And he is now supremely optimistic about the American economy going forward.

He made projections last year he said were based on the assumption of a Hillary Clinton victory and her policies being instituted — because that is what all of the political pundits told him. When Trump won, he says, he had to re-think things. He went back to the drawing board and began a new set of calculations which he is constantly updating. The differences are dramatically better for the American economy and the American worker.

In fact, to hear Snaith speak recently to a large Florida economic development group, its almost jarring how much of a MAGA Trumper he sounds like — well, on economic policies anyway. And the projections he announced were almost goose-bumpy good.

Snaith said the tax cuts and deregulatory efforts will generate a 3.5 percent national GDP this year — much higher than at any point since before the Great Recession — and will remain very strong at least through 2020. He said this is more where the American economy should be and will be (barring any major, unforeseen disruptions.)

That has positive implications for American workers. The jobless rate is hovering at about 4 percent right now, but he predicted that as policies really start generating economic activity, the unemployment rate will fall to 3.4 percent by late 2020 — and that is even as the labor participation rate increases. So even as more Americans re-enter the job market after giving up for the past six years or more, they will all be absorbed into new jobs, plus some.

This tight labor market means there will be competitive market pressures driving wages and salaries specifically at the lower ends to begin with. In fact, that is already beginning to happen.

“Markets are magical and will solve the labor problem” by increasing wages to attract workers, he said. “The lowest end jobs are seeing the fasted income growth rate right now.”

Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, said there are two driving policies at work here. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act and the ongoing regulatory relief.

The key elements of the tax reform package boosting the economy include: lower income tax rates; higher standard deductions; expansion of the child tax credit; reducing the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world from 35 percent to 21 percent; tax breaks for small businesses; and a one-time tax break to 15.5 percent to repatriate American companies’ offshore profits — which Apple already announced they will take advantage of to the tune of $252 billion.

The tax package will increase take-home pay for American workers — something that has not happened since President Bush was in office — and will generate more consumer spending, stimulating the economy and GDP growth. American companies will be more apt to keep their profits at home and reinvest a portion of them — several have already announced their intentions with plant expansions and sharp increases in employee pay.

But Snaith sees deregulation as every bit as important because of the tremendous drag that excess regulation places on companies and the economy. “Deregulation is the special sauce that will juice the economy,” Snaith said.

The Code of Federal Regulations exploded from 140,000 pages in 2005 to 185,000 today, he said. Those endless rules strangled the economy by trillions of dollars as companies spend so many resources on compliance rather than innovation, expansion and employee pay. Last year, the Trump administration took 22 deregulatory actions for every one new regulation, saving about $8 billion in regulatory compliance costs alone.

Interestingly, Snaith is not worried about a trade war undercutting his economic projections because he does not think there will be one.

“Are we going to have a trade war? My answer is no. Everybody knows that no one wins in a trade war,” he said. However, he thinks that some of the nation’s trade deals do need renegotiating because they were unbalanced, and China was cheating on them.

“If you are a manufacturer, you are not on an even playing field with China,” he said.

Snaith is about as mainstream as you can get in the economics field. And his projections record is stellar. His optimism is worth paying attention to.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act. Please visit The Revolutionary Act’s YouTube Channel.

Small Business Confidence Way Up in the Trump Era

This week, America is celebrating the annual National Small Business Week.

Highlighting the vital contribution of small businesses to the U.S. economy, President Donald Trump proclaimed that “small business owners embody the American pioneering spirit and remind us that determination can turn aspiration into achievement.”

Indeed, small businesses are critical assets to the economy. Defined as firms employing fewer than 500 employees, they play a huge role in America’s $20 trillion economy.

There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, employing about half of the private workforce, according to the Small Business Administration.

Small businesses are also a proven source for job creation. Historically, they have generated two out of every three net new jobs created in America

In his recent proclamation honoring small business, Trump elaborated:

My administration worked with the Congress to enact a tax-relief plan that provides small businesses with hundreds of billions in additional tax cuts.

Moreover, we remain focused on eliminating unnecessary and unduly burdensome regulations, which hurt hardworking Americans. …

As we usher in a new era of American prosperity, my administration will continue to implement a pro-growth agenda based on policies that champion small business creation and growth, giving more Americans the opportunity to start, scale, and succeed in businesses of their own.

As documented in The Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom, economic freedom is the vital link between opportunity and prosperity. The overarching objective of economic policies should be to create an environment that provides the best chance of translating opportunity into prosperity, enhancing economic dynamism.

The index’s findings over the past two decades have shown that such economic dynamism can be sustained when governments adopt economic policies that empower individuals and firms with more choices, thereby encouraging greater business creation and growth.

According to a recent survey, confidence among America’s small business owners remains near an all-time high, perhaps reflecting the Trump administration’s significant pro-growth economic reforms to date.

Yet, the administration’s trade policies have generated a considerable degree of uncertainty. Maintaining the freedom to trade—both exporting and importing—is particularly important for small businesses, which generate more than 97 percent of all trade activity.

At a recent Heritage Foundation event that unveiled the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross acknowledged the importance of enhancing America’s economic freedom.

By better aligning trade policy with its tax and regulatory reform agendas that brush off government intervention, the Trump administration can advance the economic freedom that is critical to further nurturing America’s small businesses.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Anthony B. Kim

Anthony B. Kim researches international economic issues at The Heritage Foundation, with a strong focus on economic freedom. Kim is the research manager of the Index of Economic Freedom, the flagship product of the Heritage Foundation in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Read his research. Twitter: .

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

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

16 Blockchain Disruptions [Infographic]

Blockchain technology is probably one of the most impactful discoveries in the recent history. After all, it has a massive potential to change how we handle online transactions. Despite some skeptics, the majority of experts agree that blockchain has the potential to disrupt the banking and financial industry, and many other ones!

But what is this technology exactly? We at BitFortune.net will try to explain that in Layman’s terms, as well as provide you with insights into how different industries can benefit from blockchain.

To put it simply, blockchain enables decentralized transactions across a P2P network. There is no need for a middleman, resulting in almost instantaneous operations and most importantly, low fees. Plus, transactions carried out through a blockchain are much more secure, transparent, and private.

As mentioned earlier, different industries will have different benefits from implementing blockchain technology, and that is what this infographic is all about. For example, the banking sector will get faster transactions, lower costs, improved security, and better record keeping. Also, the blockchain technology can improve electronic voting systems. With this technology integrated into a voting system, governments won’t be able to tamper with votes because blockchain creates publicly viewable and singed transaction that can’t be changed or rewritten.

This infographic will help you understand how the blockchain technology can and will improve 16 different industries, from music to government. So, read on and find out what their future will look like.

Act Now: Join Pro-gun Lawmakers Seeking Answers and Accountability from Anti-gun Banks

We recently reported on the disturbing trend of large U.S. banks – most notably Bank of America (BofA) and Citigroup – using their enormous market power to discriminate against customers based on lawful firearm-related business activities. These decisions were unabashedly prompted and lauded by anti-gun activists as political statements and social engineering, not as business decisions based on any alleged financial unsoundness or criminal activity of the affected customers. This feigned high-mindedness is particularly galling to gun-owning Americans whose billions of tax dollars helped bail out these financial behemoths after the banks’ reckless business practices brought their companies and the U.S. economy to the brink of disaster. Now, pro-gun members of Congress are demanding answers and accountability. You can do your part, too, by lodging your own complaints against the banks with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) led the way with a March 29, 2018 letter to Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat. Kennedy expressed “significant concerns” about the bank’s new policies and asked to be provided with “the specific number of entities in Louisiana which stand to lose banking services as a result of [Citigroup’s] increased scrutiny on law-abiding businesses.” He pointedly reminded the bank, “It feels like yesterday when Citi received nearly half a trillion dollars in taxpayer-backed guarantees and cash after putting the entire financial system at risk,” a move Kennedy called, “the largest government bailout in American history.” Kennedy encouraged Citigroup to be a good corporate citizen by refocusing on business decisions, including “addressing apparent shortcomings like overcharging credit card interest rates to account holders and compliance with U.S. anti-money laundering laws.”

Also joining the effort were 16 Congressmen led by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), who on April 11 wrote to Emily W. Murphy, head of the General Services Administration, asking her to reconsider a $700+ billion contract with Citigroup to help implement the federal charge card system, SmartPay 3.  The letter noted that the bank’s new firearm policies “run counter to laws and regulations passed by Congress, and they infringe and discriminate against an individual’s Second Amendment rights.” Such policies, the signatories opined, “should not be endorsed by our federal government,” which instead should “do business with companies that respect all of our constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment.” The letter urged the GSA to “take all necessary steps to review and terminate its contract with Citibank unless they rescind their guidelines … .”

The most recent action came from Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. On April 25, Crapo sent letters to the CEOs of both BofA and Citigroup demanding answers about their recent anti-gun activity. “It is deeply concerning to me,” he wrote, “when large national banks … which receive significant forms of government support and benefits, use their market power to manage social policy by withholding access to credit to customers and companies they disfavor.” 

Crapo also raised the issue of the banks’ collection of personally identifiable information (PII) and how it might be used “to monitor and deny financial services to individuals and companies who are engaging in completely legal and, in this case, Constitutionally-protected activity.” He additionally sought further information about the banks’ restrictive firearm policies and any other legal transactions, industries, and businesses they disfavor, prohibit, or boycott. “We should all be concerned if banks … seek to replace legislators and policymakers and attempt to manage social policy by limiting access to credit,” he concluded.

One way banking consumers concerned about BofA’s and Citigroup’s antigun discrimination can make their views known is to submit a complaint directly to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is an entity of the U.S. Government charged with “mak[ing] consumer financial markets work for consumers, responsible providers, and the economy as a whole.” Its mandates include “[r]ooting out unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices,” taking “consumer complaints,” and “[m]onitoring financial markets for new risks to consumers.” 

Particularly useful would be complaints by any business or individual who was directly affected by the BofA’s or Citigroup’s new policies.

But every American adult likely uses or will need banking services to survive in the modern economy. Law-abiding gun owners have legitimate concerns about possible collusion and collective efforts between banks and/or banks and advocacy groups aimed at denying them services simply for exercising their rights under the U.S. Constitution and laws. These efforts also can create a hostile and chilling climate for the exercise of Second Amendment rights, particularly for those hoping to obtain financing for such things as home and auto purchases or running a small business. Once financial institutions take it upon themselves to set social policy that exceeds the requirements of the law, it’s impossible to know where they will stop or what other indicators of disfavored activity might become relevant to them. No American should be treated as a scapegoat for someone else’s crimes. 

Complaints may be submitted directly through the CFPB’s website and will be forwarded to the banks themselves. Information on complaints may also be made publicly available so other consumers can evaluate for themselves whether the banks’ are behaving improperly and possibly share their own relevant experiences.

The NRA thanks Sens. Kennedy and Crapo and Rep. Rokita for their leadership in fighting discrimination against law-abiding gun owners.

Conservative Lawmakers’ Blueprint Would Trim Nondefense Spending, Balance Budget in 8 Years

House conservatives propose to cut nondefense spending and balance the federal budget within eight years in a blueprint released Wednesday.

The document produced by the Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus of GOP lawmakers in the House, includes a long list of policy goals such as repealing Obamacare, restoring power to states, making tax cuts “permanent,” reforming welfare programs, and “saving” Social Security and Medicare.

The 169-page blueprint, called “A Framework for Unified Conservatism,” proposes to cut government spending by more than $12.4 trillion over the next 10 years, compared with current law.

“I am very hopeful, when it comes to the legitimacy of this, if we are ever going to talk about the expectation of the federal government to live within its means, here’s the framework, this is the blueprint,” Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., chairman of the 150-member caucus, said Tuesday during a press briefing.

“I don’t believe for one second that everything can be immediately instituted,” Walker told reporters, but “our job … is to put together some kind of blueprint, the framework that I have discussed, where we show, ‘Here is the path.’”

The Republican Study Committee traditionally seeks to unify GOP lawmakers to promote a conservative agenda, and this proposal boasts that it “refocuses federal spending on core constitutional responsibilities like national security.”

Under the budget framework, total defense spending would rise from the current $700 billion in fiscal 2018 to $716 billion in fiscal 2019.

The framework would reduce nondefense discretionary spending from the current $579 billion to $355 billion in fiscal 2019.

It also would reverse the decision by Congress to break caps on spending, which President Donald Trump approved Feb. 9 and again last month in signing the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill for the remainder of fiscal 2018.

The RSC plan also calls for:

  • Cutting or eliminating programs that fall outside Congress’ constitutional authority and those that are “duplicative, unnecessary, wasteful, or ineffective,” and limiting funding for “unauthorized programs.”
  • Increasing defense spending from $716 billion in fiscal 2019 to $800 billion in fiscal 2028, with an emphasis on military readiness, a “robust naval fleet,” and responsiveness to threats in multiple theaters
  • Banning budget earmarks for lawmakers’ pet projects, ending permanent authorizations, and increasing transparency in the budget process.
  • Making permanent full and immediate expensing, which allowsbusinesses to immediately deduct expenses from taxable income.
  • Reforming and ensuring solvency for Social Security, including more accurately calculating cost-of-living adjustments and phasing in a higher eligibility age of 70 to avoid tapping out the trust fund by 2035.
  • Improving Medicare through more choices, lower costs, and a simpler model, including implementing premium support in 2023, retaining the traditional fee-for-service approach as an option, and phasing in the higher eligibility age of 70.

The blueprint also calls for saving taxpayers’ money by converting some mandatory government programs to discretionary programs. With “discretionary” programs, Congress must set funding levels each year, while the funding of mandatory programs such as Social Security and other entitlements is determined by the number of those enrolled.

The RSC plan says it considered input from congressional committees, individual lawmakers and their staff, conservative think tanks, and the executive branch to put forward over 300 specific policy reforms and spending cuts.

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., chairman of the group’s budget and spending task force, told reporters Tuesday that this is the right way forward:

We block-grant many programs back to the states, giving them the freedom to innovate according to their own best judgment and needs; we fully fund the president’s defense requests while eliminating several wasteful programs and moving them to core defense priorities; [and] we save Medicare from impending insolvency in 2029 by moving to a premium support plan, very similar to the existing Medicare Advantage program.

McClintock is a senior member of the House Budget Committee as well as the Natural Resources Committee.

Besides calling for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, the RSC blueprint proposes to make the health care market more affordable and competitive by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines, and by budgeting block grants for Medicaid at pre-Obamacare levels and limiting eligibility to U.S. citizens.

The budget blueprint says it “aims to go well beyond the least common denominator of politics to reflect the American people’s desire to see a more responsible and accountable government.”

It says it would do so in part by building on recent reforms such as making permanent the tax relief for individuals and other elements of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that took effect Jan. 1 after Trump signed the package that passed Congress without a single Democrat vote.

And it calls for:

  • Reforming the regulatory process and expanding congressional oversight of government programs.
  • Increasing opportunity and self-sufficiency by rewarding work and “earned success” and requiring work, job searches or training, or volunteering for able-bodied adults who want to qualify for welfare programs.
  • Reaffirming conservative principles such as the right to bear arms, the sanctity of life, religious freedom, and border security.

The RSC framework follows the Feb. 12 release of Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019, which begins Oct. 1.

That document includes the president’s recommendations to Congress, but Stan Collender, a former staffer for the House and Senate budget committees, is among those arguing that a rational budget process no longer exists. In an op-ed Tuesday in Forbes, Collender writes:

The federal budget process is not broken: It’s dead. Under Trump administration and congressional Republican control, the budget rules that are supposed to guide what the president and Congress do about the budget each year have died an ignominious death because of a combination of abject abuse and atrocious neglect.

In the congressional tradition known as regular order, the House Appropriations Committee passes 12 spending bills covering different aspects of government from transportation and social services to foreign policy and defense. Then the full House does the same, and the Senate follows suit. Finally, the president signs the 12 appropriations bills into law.

Congress hasn’t followed this process for more than 20 years, however.

In the latest go-round, Congress passed the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill to fund the government through Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2018. By that time, Congress will need to approve a budget for fiscal 2019, or at least short-term funding, to avert a government shutdown.

With such problems for Congress in mind, the Republican Study Committee proposes “reclaiming the … power of the purse by limiting spending and reforming the budget process.”

The next move on a budget for fiscal 2019 and beyond essentially is that of the House Republican leadership team under Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who recently announced he will not seek re-election in November and will retire in January.

All 435 seats in the House are up in the November elections; Republicans currently hold 236 seats and Democrats 193, with six vacancies.

Justin Bogie, a senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at The Heritage Foundation, said that if the RSC’s budget plan were to clear Congress, Americans “would see a smaller federal government certainly, less regulation, basically less of the federal government getting into areas that businesses and state and local government should be into.”

Instead of passing 12 separate appropriations bills this year, Bogie said, Congress might choose to do smaller omnibus spending bills, or “mini-buses,” where spending legislation is packaged into three or four bills. Congress technically would pass all 12 bills by Sept. 30, but not individually.

If Congress tries to pass the same type of omnibus that Trump threatened to veto before he signed it March 23, though, Republicans could be in hot water with the president.

“If they do it the exact same way that they did it last time, he probably doesn’t sign it or at least that threat is out there; if they pass more bills or most of the bills and then put them into an omnibus, then I think he probably signs it,” Bogie said.

Congress has no excuse for failing to start work on the budget, McClintock said.

“I think it would be an inexcusable dereliction of duty for the House Budget Committee to fail to produce a budget, and I am disappointed and embarrassed that it has not even begun that work, now a full week after the deadline for the House to adopt a budget,” the California Republican said.

“That’s why the RSC budget is so important,” he said. “It is the only credible and comprehensive plan put forward in this session to turn us back toward fiscal solvency before it is too late.”

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

Portrait of Rachel del Guidice

Rachel del Guidice

Rachel del Guidice is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. Send an email to Rachel. Twitter: @LRacheldG.

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., chairman of the Republican Study Committee is by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom.

The Humanitarian Hoax of the Federal Reserve System: Killing America With Kindness

The Humanitarian Hoax is a deliberate and deceitful tactic of presenting a destructive policy as altruistic. The humanitarian huckster presents himself as a compassionate advocate when in fact he is the disguised enemy.

Most Americans do not realize that the Federal Reserve is NOT constitutionally part of the United States Government and is not even a bank! The Federal Reserve is a system. International banker Marilyn Barnewall explains that the Federal Reserve System is a privately held corporation owned by bankers and it is most definitely not part of the federal government.

The Federal Reserve Act that created the Federal Reserve System (Fed) was passed in Congress on December 22, 1913 and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson the next day. Barnewall describes the dramatic effects of its passage.

The Act transferred the right to print currency from the United States Congress to an independent and privately-owned entity calling itself a bank but which is not a bank and changing the Constitution which cannot be changed without Amending it. The Fed is somewhat federal in form, but is very privately owned and operated. President Wilson lived to regret signing The Federal Reserve Act and on his deathbed is quoted as saying:

‘I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men.’”

So, who are these men and why was President Wilson so remorseful about signing the Federal Reserve Act? And why is the Federal Reserve System so disingenuously named that the average citizen assumes it is a banking institution and part of the federal government?

Sometimes it is necessary to look back to understand the present and anticipate the future.

Banking in the world has a long history that began with merchant trading. People living in small isolated agricultural communities exchanged pigs for goats or wheat for milk and personal bartering among members of the community was enough to satisfy their survival needs – there was no need for currency or banking. As populations grew and trade between communities began, currency was introduced to make commerce more efficient. Currency was assigned a monetary value and buying and selling with money replaced bartering as the preferred form of commerce.

Determining the value of currency and the relative value of the goats, pigs, wheat, and milk being bought and sold was the beginning of banking. Currency use requires that people trust the banknotes and coins to represent an actual and real valued commodity. Gold was chosen as the standard that backed the currency and banks became repositories for both. Today we use fiat currency – money – as the medium of exchange and it is the taxpayers’ labor that backs it. WHAT?

Think about it. As long as the Federal government can tax its citizen labor force and confiscate their money to pay its debts it is the taxpayers who are actually backing the currency. We the people are the 21st century gold standard!

Banking is and always has been a for-profit business. The Federal Reserve Bank is no exception.

Prior to 1913 there were two central banks in the United States – both non-governmental entities. The First Bank of the United States (1791-1811) was chartered by the First Congress in 1790 and modeled after the Bank of England. Thomas Jefferson opposed the First Bank as an engine for speculation, financial manipulation, and corruption. When its 20 year charter expired it was not renewed.

Its successor bank, the Second Bank of the United States (1816-1836) was also a private bank with public duties and Andrew Jackson, like Thomas Jefferson, opposed the Second Bank as an engine of corruption. Jackson, who became president in 1828, was unable to get the bank dissolved but refused to renew its charter. President Jackson required all Federal land payments be made in gold or silver which produced the Panic of 1837. Runs on the banks,  bank failures, and economic depression followed. The panic unleashed riots and domestic unrest which ultimately resulted in more state policing and more professional police forces.

The depression lasted five years until 1842 when the American economy began to rebound. In 1848 the California gold rush boosted the economy and by 1850 the US economy was booming again. Still, a national system was required to facilitate banking between regions that could avert another financial crisis. When President Woodrow Wilson signed the 1913 Federal Reserve Act the current central banking system of the United States was created. 12 United States cities were chosen as locations for one of 12 Federal Reserve District Banks. This is how it happened.

A secret gathering took place on Jekyll Island November 1910 that laid the foundation for the Federal Reserve System in the United States. In attendance were:

• Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, chairman of the US Senate Finance Committee, chair of the National Monetary Commission
• Abram Piatt Andrew, assistant secretary of the US Treasury and special assistant to the National Monetary commission
• Charles D. Norton, president of the Morgan dominated First National Bank of New York
• Frank Vanderlip, president of National City Bank
• Henry P. Davison, senior partner at J.P. Morgan & Co.
• Benjamin Strong, representing J.P. Morgan
• Paul Warburg partner at Kuhn, Loeb & Co.

The clandestine 1910 Jekyll Island meeting produced draft legislation for the creation of the U.S. central bank and the Aldrich Plan was incorporated into the 1913 Federal Reserve Act.

Why is the Jekyll Island history so important? Why was the meeting so clandestine? Because the secret meeting at Jekyll Island failed to disclose its connections to the Bank of England.

J.P. Morgan & Co., and Kuhn, Loeb & Co. are the New York representatives of the Rothschilds Bank of England which means that the American Federal Reserve system is under the control of the Bank of England. The howling anti-Semitic memes that Jews control the banking is deliberate and misleading. The Federal Reserve Cartel, the Rothschild (Jewish), Rockefeller (Baptist), and Morgan (Episcopalian) families, are globalist, multireligious, and non-denominational. This is how it works.

The Humanitarian Hoax of the Federal Reserve System is evident in its deliberately deceptive name. There is an enormous public misconception that the Federal Reserve System exists to protect and to serve America. It doesn’t. The Fed is a for-profit corporation of globalist world bankers seeking to internationalize the world for their own power and profit. The Fed is NOT an advocate of American sovereignty or America-first policies. The Fed is not altruistic – it is a hoax.

President Donald Trump is an American patriot committed to American sovereignty and is, therefore, an existential enemy of the Fed.

The globalist elite use our Federal Reserve System to manipulate world economies through their banking malfeasance. By raising interest rates, lowering interest rates, and printing money they control the availability of funds to their member banks that make loans to individuals and businesses. World banking is based on the US dollar, so Fed decisions in America affect inflation, employment, and production worldwide.

When the Fed raises interest rates in America the interest rates go up on consumer credit cards, car loans, and mortgages making it harder for American consumers to get credit. This causes the US economy to shrink in the private sector. Raising interest rates makes business loans more expensive, increases unemployment, and degrades productivity which shrinks the US economy in the business sector. Most threatening is that raising interest rates increases the US national debt and makes it increasingly difficult to service the debt and repay the loans.

Conversely, the Fed can lower interest rates which floods the market with cheap money to artificially stimulate the economy – raising and lowering interest rates both have political consequences.

The power of the Federal Reserve System to collapse the American economy is held by a private corporation of international globalist bankers whose long-range political goals are to internationalize the world and establish a New World Order of one-government ruled by themselves of course.

Individuals who cannot repay their debts go bankrupt – so do countries.

The existential threat to American sovereignty is GLOBALISM. Globalism’s one-world government with one bank, one police force, one army, one flag, one language, one educational curriculum, one currency, one world with one ruling class – the globalist elite. Make no mistake – globalism is a catastrophic return to a master/slave feudal infrastructure.

Globalism is a non-denominational power grab by the globalist elite using anti-Semitism as a strategic sideshow. Sideshows are diverting incidents or issues designed to distract attention away from bigger issues. The Fed is manipulating the world economies while its globalist armies have boots on the ground indoctrinating America to accept collectivism and one-world government via the mainstream media, the educational system, Obama’s Resistance movement, and an unremitting assault on American traditional values.

If the Humanitarian Hoax of the Federal Reserve System continues, our Republic and the Constitutional freedoms our forefathers created will cease to exist. The globalist New World Order will be imposed by the ruling class of globalist elite. The useful idiots who support the globalist elite power grab, including the anti-Semitic memes that reinforce it, will succeed in killing America.

The globalist soldiers are the same useful idiots marching toward slavery in Goethe’s famous quote:

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free as they are marched into servitude.”

Goethe articulates President Woodrow Wilson’s remorse.

EDITORS NOTE: The column originally appeared in the Goudsmit Pundicity.

Out With the Old Tax Code, in With the New

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Adam Michel

Adam Michel

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

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Provide contract funding based on successful outcomes.

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

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

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

2. Accurately account for welfare spending.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Strengthen work requirements.

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

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

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

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

4. Stop penalizing marriage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long-Needed Reform

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

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

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

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Mimi Teixeira

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

Portrait of Robert Rector

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

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

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

‘Pay Gap’ Myth Ignores Women’s Intentional Job Choices

Tuesday is supposedly “Equal Pay Day,” but what does that mean?

Well, according to outdated, flawed, and incomplete statistics that say women make only 82 cents on the dollar, compared with men, Equal Pay Day signifies how long into the new year women have to work just to catch up to the earnings of their male counterparts from the previous year.

Equal-pay activists have declared April 10 as the approximate Equal Pay Day for 2018, but based on the 82-cent figure, the date should have been March 21.

Regardless of the actual “celebrated” date, if women actually had to work that much longer than men to make the same amount of money, women might as well pack their briefcases and go home. After all, who would really work an extra three months to earn the same pay for the same job as their male counterparts?

That level of pervasive pay gap simply doesn’t exist.

Statistics matter, and they can help households, businesses, and governments make informed decisions. But statistics—particularly selective and incomplete ones—can also be misleading, and even detrimental.

The pay gap is the perfect example of statistics gone awry.

For starters, the data cited in the gender pay gap looks only at the median earnings of full-time wage and salaried workers. It doesn’t differentiate really important factors, such as education, occupation, experience, and hours, which account for nearly all of the differential in earnings between men and women.

It turns out that accounting for all these factors eliminates all but an estimated 3 to 5 cents of the gender pay gap.

Data is also subject to human error. Comparisons between survey data and administrative records reveal substantially underreporting of income within some of the most widely used survey data.

Consequently, the data disregards substantial changes, such as large gains in women’s retirement incomes.

And finally, data isn’t the supreme indicator, because not everything comes with a price tag or pay stub. What is the value of a flexible work schedule; a job with huge upward-mobility potential; particular benefits packages; the ability to tap into flexible, sharing-economy labor platforms, such as Uber and Airbnb; or to access new business platforms, such as Etsy for additional income?

Workers who seek these job characteristics often do so despite lower pay. But those intentional choices don’t show up in the statistics.

If a woman has the exact same job title as a man, but works 30 hours a week instead of 40, and sets her own hours and telecommutes, her paycheck likely won’t match that of the man’s—nor should it.

One of the job qualities that women—particularly mothers—value most is flexibility. Flexibility is a difficult job feature to measure, but that’s exactly what a group of economists recently did using data from the Uber ride-hailing company.

After analyzing data from more than 1 million registered Uber drivers, the authors tagged the average value of being able to set one’s own work schedule on an hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute basis at $150 per week. That’s the equivalent of $7,800 per year, or almost 20 percent of the median earnings of women in the U.S.

In essence, this is the value of choice. It’s not the same value for everyone, but it shows that many workers are willing to sacrifice a lot in terms of pay for more flexibility and choice.

On the opposite side, some employers are willing to pay a high price for flexibility from their employees—to log long hours and to work day or night.

Economist Claudia Goldin has found evidence of “part-time penalties” in certain very high-income fields. This happens when certain companies—those in finance and law, for example—pay employees who work 80 hours a week more than twice as much as they pay those who work 40 hours per week.

This likely has to do with certain employers’ need for employees to respond at all hours or to log double or triple time when needed, coupled with employees’ demand for higher pay when sacrificing so much of their own time and flexibility.

Anecdotal evidence and the choices women and men make suggest that women value job choices more than men and that their preference for greater flexibility accounts for some—if not all—of the remaining pay gap between men and women.

But choice is what legislation such as the Paycheck Fairness Act would squelch. Equal pay for equal work is already the law of the land. Imposing further-reaching policies in an attempt to eliminate pay differences that have little or nothing to do with discrimination could actually backfire.

Pay regimes based on factors such as job titles or “equivalent work” would take away businesses’ freedom to determine the value of their work and undo decades of women’s progress by imposing one-size-fits-all jobs that take away women’s—and all workers’—freedom to negotiate pay in exchange for personal priorities.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Rachel Greszler

Rachel Greszler is a senior policy analyst in economics and entitlements at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. Read her research.

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by julief514/Getty Images.