Governor Despots? Panic Is Stripping Americans Of Essential Liberties

Ignored or buried in this global pandemic panic is the giant risk we have already taken not to the economy, as horrible as that is, but to our essential liberties. This is not theoretical anymore.

Forget the President. Since when does every governor, mayor, county executive and dog catcher in the country have unlimited powers over peoples’ lives in a time of crisis? Since never, at least if the Constitution has any relevance anymore.

But in this crisis, in which fear has driven public policy, they are all acting as though they do. And the question is whether the American people, once hearty, self-reliant and freedom-loving are now willing to bend the knee to every dictate from the local overlord or not.

Do I overstate? I hope so. But read the headlines.

One from today is that L.A.’s mayor is threatening to shut off water and electricity to businesses who are staying open after HE ordered them to close. Where does his authority come from to do that? I doubt it’s in the L.A. city charter. The City Council has not voted to make him a little despot. He’s  just doing it, with the power of the police force behind him.

At a press conference, Garcetti was frustrated some businesses did not obey his order. “You know who you are. You need to stop it. This is your chance to step up and shut it down, because if you don’t, we will shut you down.”

How far away from an overlord is that? Will he cede it all back when the crisis is past? Just think of the apocalyptic language used around climate change. It gets real sobering in a hurry.

Governors are shutting down whatever they want, whenever they want, without even pretending to show their homework — almost one-upping each other even as the evidence is now coming in that the virus apparently is not nearly as deadly as we thought two weeks ago. Yet several state’s are on lock-down, based on one person’s orders. (Side note: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been very cautious about doing so, and he’s been pilloried in the media and by Democrats. But he’s been right to not jump to such autocratic control.)

Governors do not have unrestrained powers even in quarantine situations. They have the power to quarantine those who are sick, because they do need some authority. But do they have the authority to tell every person in their state to stay home — except the ones they say can go to work? When they limit gatherings to 10, or even less, do they have the authority to abrogate the First Amendment’s right of freedom of assembly?

Beyond governors, it gets much more threatening. Mayors and county executives are acting in much the same way. We see it in New York and LA. Before that in San Francisco.

In Florida, there is an interesting mix because of DeSantis’ correct reticence to issue blanket orders. Miami-Dade and Broward and many other counties have issued stay at home “orders” through their county commissions. (Florida counties are run by elected commissions with a hired chief executive.)

But interestingly, the County Attorney’s Office here in Sarasota County, Florida has ruled that County Commissioners do not have the legal authority to issue a stay at home order with any further restrictions than those already ordered by Gov. DeSantis. Perhaps being a charter county makes a difference. Or being a very red county.

This is not a case against restrictions per se, but who orders them and with what authority. Because the risk is that many of these potentates-in-training may be reluctant to give up all of that power after the crisis — or simply label the next issue a “crisis.” And an even greater risk is that we the people may not force them to.

As Benjamin Franklin famously said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

That’s a truism through the ages.

RELATED ARTICLES:

We’ve been had, and Trump knows it

Dem Gov Goes Full Totalitarian in Response to Virus

RELATED VIDEO: TOTALITARIAN ALERT! L.A. Mayor Garcetti Stalks Citizens through cell phones; promises to ‘hunt down’ people who don’t comply.

EDITORS NOTE: This Revolutionary Act column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Little of Pelosi’s Wish List Made It Into COVID-19 Relief Bill. That’s a Relief in Itself.

On Friday, the House passed the massive $2 trillion-plus coronavirus relief package that the Senate had passed on Wednesday.

There’s a lot in those 880 pages, and much of it is problematic: The bill is neither targeted and temporary, nor directed exclusively at the coronavirus—as scholars at The Heritage Foundation and its president, Kay C. James, have explained.

Before the bill made it through the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., temporarily derailed it by insisting that any relief bill include a left-wing wish list unrelated to the ongoing pandemic and the economic slowdown that it’s causing.

Among other things, Pelosi would have:


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


  • Mandated “diversity” on corporate boards and in banks.
  • Required airlines to disclose and reduce emissions.
  • Mandated that states allow voting by mail.
  • Increased union bargaining power.
  • Expanded tax credits for wind and solar power.
  • Prohibited universities from disclosing the citizenship status of their students.
  • Provided a bailout for some private pensions.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Pelosi was not going to be accused of letting a crisis go to waste.

In what is becoming a familiar theme (think of her failed attempt to control how the Senate conducted its impeachment trial), Pelosi backed down shortly after making her demands.

With the legislation now through Congress, how much of Pelosi’s wish list made it into the bill?

None of the wish-list items listed above made the cut, but there remains a lot of unnecessary and unwise spending in it.

Diversity requirements for banks and corporate boards are out, as is Pelosi’s demand for a Securities and Exchange Commission advisory group to promote corporate “diversity.”

Also out is her demand that companies taking relief funds establish and staff a minimum five-year “diversity and inclusion” program. Indeed, the words “diversity” and “inclusion” don’t appear in the legislation passed by the Senate.

The package also does not include any new carbon emissions restrictions or disclosure requirements for airlines or other industries.

Similarly missing are any of her proposals for a federal takeover of state elections.

Her attempt to give unions a handout failed, too, as did her attempt to give a handout to wind and solar power providers.

The bill does not prevent colleges and universities from disclosing their students who are illegal aliens, or provide any other shroud for illegal status.

Likewise, the private pension bailouts she demanded are nowhere to be found in the Senate bill.

Pelosi succeeded in delaying the relief package by several days, but she failed to capitalize on what her No. 2 lieutenant, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., called a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

Still, Pelosi took to Twitter to celebrate her success in turning the Senate Republicans’ bill “upside down.”

In the end, Pelosi supported the bill wholeheartedly.

But despite her self-proclaimed success in turning the Senate bill upside down, progressives in her party are not happy with it.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., thinks that the relief package favors the businesses that employ the vast majority of Americans. She had threatened to delay the bill’s passage.

Even before this relief package becomes law, politicians on both sides of the aisle were already calling for another one to follow, so expect Pelosi and the progressives to try again to make the wishes on their wish list come true.

COMMENTARY BY

GianCarlo Canaparo is a legal fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLES:

It’s Fine to Talk About How This Crisis Ends

Trump Compels GM to Build More Ventilators for Coronavirus Response

Latest UN Report Forecasts Grave Economic Consequences From COVID-19 Shutdowns

South Korea Provides Lessons, Good and Bad, on Coronavirus Response


A Note for our Readers

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET ACCESS NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Why Are There Toilet Paper Shortages around the World?

There are a few explanations for the run on toilet paper, but one basic economic lesson explains the shortage.


Americans have seen scarcity, bailouts, price fluctuations, and epidemics before, but one thing seems to set the coronavirus emergency apart:

The toilet paper.

Shelves where the product once was stored are bare—and not just in the US. The United Kingdom has experienced similar shortages, leading consumers to purchase toilet paper substitutes (at the risk of the sewage system), and an Australian newspaper went so far as to print eight blank pages in a recent issue to be used in case of emergency for, you guessed it, toilet paper.

The desire to hoard during a pandemic may be totally natural, but hoarding for some means scarcity for others.

What is a good solution for this problem? Many stores have instigated their own rationing devices (limits of X amount of toilet paper, hand sanitizers, etc., per customer), with others instituting hours of shopping reserved for the elderly or immunocompromised.

These are creative and compassionate ideas, and they may solve some of the problem of hoarding—but the market has another way.

The problem? It’s incredibly unpopular, and, of course, even illegal in many places.

Price gouging” has a particularly negative connotation. It refers to a phenomenon wherein customers at an especially vulnerable time are charged unusually high prices by “greedy” business owners taking advantage of their need.

But think about the incentives of business owners—do you know a single entrepreneur, business owner, or honest employee who wants to intentionally upset their customers? The incentive of business owners is always to provide great service and reasonable prices. To act otherwise is to eventually run out of business.

These incentives do not suddenly change during a crisis—business owners are still judged by the court of public opinion, and those who treat customers unfairly will not go unnoticed, at least not for long.

So why do prices rise during times of need? The answer is found in the basic economic principles of supply and demand.

When demand increases, it’s a signal that customers want to consume more of a certain product.

The graph below demonstrates these changes. The demand line shifts up from D1 to D2—increasing prices, but only temporarily. Prices are a rationing device and signal of scarcity, so this higher price naturally encourages customers to make do with less while simultaneously indicating to producers to expand production.

Though buyers have to pay more for each product, it reduces the risk of shortages by making it easier for suppliers to meet the increased demand for their goods. [See chart]

What’s perhaps more relevant to our current situation is that hoarders are indirectly discouraged from hoarding. A higher price makes consumers think twice before buying a cart-full of toilet paper, leaving more product on the shelves and limiting or delaying, perhaps indefinitely, any shortage.

But that’s not all, remember that the higher price is only temporary, since higher prices will spur production.

Sellers see product flying off the shelves and note that they need to ramp up production to meet the growing demand. Potential entrepreneurs also recognize that there may be room for extra business in this particular market, so they start production.

Once supply is able to catch up, the supply line shifts from S1 to S2, and prices normalize once again. [See chart 1 and chart 2]

Sure these are merely graphs, and it is difficult to appropriately convey the nuances of human behavior and the complexity of the economy in a single graph.

However, we’ve already seen these forces at work in the past few weeks. Distilleries have taken note of hand sanitizer shortages and are helping to meet the increased demand by producing their own—some even giving their product away for free. Last week Georgia-Pacific, a toilet paper supplier, increased production capacity by 120 percent.

Amplified production by existing companies, and the entrance of new business into markets, will lower prices to pre-crisis levels.

Referring to rising prices as “price gouging” will not change the economic fact: in a free economy, prices are a vital signal to producers and consumers alike. It’s incredible that a single number can do so much.

This is the miracle inherent in free markets—no solitary, all-knowing authority is dictating the direction of prices or production in a single market (let alone an entire economy). It happens naturally, as if led by an invisible hand.

So why was there a sudden run on toilet paper? Who knows.

Perhaps in anticipation of long periods of quarantine, shoppers are looking for any necessary household goods to stockpile. One consumer psychologist explained that it could simply be retail therapy; stressed consumers rushing for feelings of security during a pandemic. Others simply blame herd mentality—the idea that if everyone else is hoarding toilet paper, you might as well be too.

The ultimate lesson? Let prices rise and markets do their work. As long as economic freedom exists, ingenuity and innovation will never be in short supply—and neither will toilet paper.

COLUMN BY

Amanda Snell

Amanda Snell is an analytics associate at FEE. She grew up in small-town Idaho and is a recent graduate of BYU-Idaho in Economics. Prior to joining FEE, she completed the Charles Koch Internship Program and interned with The Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom. She enjoys working with entrepreneurs and is passionate about the potential for innovation in the private sector. Amanda was deeply impacted by FEE and the freedom philosophy as a high school student and is thrilled to be part of an organization committed to individual liberty and economic freedom.

RELATED ARTICLE: Flexibility Is Needed for Economies to Cope With COVID-19, Not $2,000 Checks

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Moving Against China’s Military for Hacking U.S. Company

As if identity theft alone isn’t enough of a concern for Americans, the Equifax hacking indicates that China’s military wants to weaponize sensitive personal information to undermine U.S. national security.

Three members of China’s People’s Liberation Army have been indicted by the Justice Department in the 2017 data breach of Atlanta-based Equifax Inc., one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies.

The charges include conspiracy to commit computer fraud, economic espionage, and wire fraud.

This was a data breach—a “release of personally sensitive, protected, and/or confidential data”—rather than a security breach, which refers only to the hacking of websites and applications without theft.

In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>

And it was a large one, with the names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers of 145 million Americans.

These are not ordinary criminal hackers with a motive to sign up for credit cards using another person’s name. The accused are members of a foreign military branch—the People’s Liberation Army’s 54th Research Institute, which falls under the scrutiny of the Chinese army’s Strategic Support Force.

The Strategic Support Force works on information operations, such as cyberspying, to conduct a form of hybrid warfare that uses diverse elements such as propaganda, economics, and cyberattacks against its adversaries.

The Equifax hack provides the unit with personal financial information that can help the Chinese recruit spies within our national security sector, as well as influence key business and media figures.

Financial information can help intelligence operatives identify those who are susceptible to bribery or other economic pressure, such as former CIA officer Kevin Patrick Mallory, who provided secrets to the Chinese in exchange for money to pay off his mortgage and other debts.

The Chinese have used human intelligence—targets include military forces, defense industrial companies, national security decision-makers, and critical infrastructure entities—to undermine the U.S. strategically and economically.

The Equifax breach could have implications beyond identity theft. The information could be used to target individuals for espionage, bribe, or blackmail.

U.S. national security matters are at stake here. Both the U.S. government and private businesses must take stronger security measures against these acts of theft and espionage.

COMMENTARY BY

Lizandro Pieper is part of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

Riley Walters is a policy analyst in the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

RELATED ARTICLES:

White House to Restrict Travel Across Both Borders

Calculating the Coronavirus Mortality Rate? It’s Complicated

In Combating Coronavirus, Trump and Governors Act Constitutionally

What Conservatives Think of Senate’s Coronavirus Aid Package


A Note for our Readers:

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET ACCESS NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Who Defines Fundamental Human Rights?

David Carlin wonders if fundamental human rights really can be “discovered” by a majority vote of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.


People who (like me and, I suppose, most readers of The Catholic Thing) object to the Roe v. Wade ruling made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 – the ruling that declared that the U.S. Constitution contains a right to abortion – often point out that despite reading the Constitution very carefully, often with a magnifying glass, we can find no mention in it of a right to abortion.

We find rights to freedom of speech and freedom of press and freedom of religion; we find a right to bear arms; we find a right to trial by jury; we find a right to vote; we find a right not to be a slave; we find a right to purchase alcoholic beverages; and so on.  But we find no right to abortion.

Therefore, we conclude that there is no such Constitutional right.  We conclude that the Court invented this “right.”  The Court, by a 7-2 margin, made it up.  It didn’t make it up exactly out of thin air.  No, it made it up out of the very thick air of sexual revolution that was characteristic of the cultural atmosphere of the sixties and seventies.

The younger generation had discovered sexual freedom, which to be complete required freedom of abortion; and so seven of the nine old men of the Court (no women in those days) decided to show that they too, despite their advanced corporeal age, were young in spirit.

We conclude also that once the Court decided it has the authority to make up a right to abortion, thereby amending the Constitution in a manner that bypasses the amendment process spelled out in the Constitution itself (Article V), it could make further illicit amendments by “finding” other nonexistent rights.  For instance, it could find a right to homosexual practice (Lawrence v. Texas, 2003; a 6-3 ruling).  And it could find a right to same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015; a 5-4 ruling).

Unless the Court changes its ways (which it might if it has a stable conservative or “originalist” majority), we expect that in the not-too-distant future it will “find” in the Constitution a “right” to polygamy, a right to be euthanized, and a right to be transgender.

Those on the other side, the liberal side, however, who deplore our literal and narrow-minded reading of the Constitution, those who hold that we have a “living” Constitution – enthusiasts for abortion and homosexuality and transgenderism and euthanasia – can argue that un-Constitutional “rights” we object to actually are alluded to in the Constitution.

Where?  In the Ninth Amendment, which says: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  Without question, this sentence implies that there are at least a few other rights, perhaps many, besides those enumerated.

So there you have it.  All human rights (or “fundamental human rights” as we are now in the habit of calling them) are protected by the Ninth Amendment.  If abortion or same-sex “marriage,” or euthanasia is a human right, then these rights are implicitly contained in the U.S. Constitution.

Now, I agree that all human rights are protected by the Ninth Amendment.  For example, if there is a fundamental human right to ride a horse down Main Street while totally naked, then this right (let us call it the Lady Godiva rrght) is protected by the Ninth Amendment.

But who decides what is, and what is not, a fundamental human right?  Judicial liberals seem to believe that this decision should be made by the Supreme Court – or more exactly by five or more members of the Court.

In 2015 the Court decided by a 5-4 margin that same-sex marriage is a fundamental human right.  This seems awfully odd.  I would have supposed that X would count as a fundamental human right only if mankind generally had so decided, or at least the American portion of mankind.  And it would not be enough for all Americans to decide that X is a fundamental right by a narrow margin; an overwhelming margin would be required.

And not merely an overwhelming margin on this or that particular day or year, but an overwhelming margin for a long, long time, perhaps for centuries.  Or so it seems to me.

But judicial liberals tell me I’m wrong.  They think a 5-4 Supreme Court majority is sufficient to establish X or Y or Z as a fundamental human right.  And then they appeal to the principle of stare decisis to argue that, once X or Y or Z has been established as a fundamental human right, it can never be dis-established.

This gives liberals a great tool for enacting whatever may be their public policy agenda – not through legislatures but through courts.  Would you like America to have a $100 per hour minimum wage?  Well, if you can get a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court to declare that workers have a fundamental human right to be paid $100 per hour, then everybody will have to be paid at least $100 per hour.

This is a far-fetched example, I admit.  But there are many other potential examples that are not at all far-fetched.  In fact they are waiting just around the corner.  Like polygamy.  Like euthanasia.  Like transgenderism.

I’m an old man, and I’ve been living in the USA for a long, long time.  I should feel at home here by now.  But I feel on some days that I’m a stranger in a strange land.  On those days, I find it hard to believe that a majority, probably a large majority, of my compatriots seem to agree that fundamental human rights can be discovered by a 5 to 4 vote of a panel of judges – something that seems to me to be an utter absurdity.

Ah well.  This is perhaps one more bit of evidence that I have lived past my expiration date.  Take me off the shelf.

COLUMN BY

David Carlin

David Carlin is a professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America.

EDITORS NOTE: This Catholic Thing column is republished with permission. © 2020 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.org. The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Feds Streamline Immigration Fraud Reporting Procedure

NumbersUSA alerted its members last week to a new system at the USCIS for citizens to report fraud.  Thanks to reader Michael for telling me about it.

USCIS Launches New Online Form for Reporting Fraud

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has launched a new online tip form to help the public provide the agency with information about immigration fraud. The new online form, available on the USCIS public website, prompts the user for the information that the USCIS’ fraud investigators need to investigate allegations of immigration benefit fraud or abuse.

See that USCIS had previously provided e-mail addresses to report fraud, but will be phasing those out.

The new online tip form collects information related to the relevant fraud, identifies the type of benefit in question and provides space for the user to describe the alleged fraud or abuse in additional detail.

This online form streamlines fraud reporting by replacing three email boxes USCIS now uses for fraud and abuse reporting. The tip form will make the tip process more effective and efficient. Every day, well-intentioned people try to report immigration fraud or abuse to USCIS, but our USCIS’s internal procedures did not allow for a consistent and timely way to respond.

More here.

Marriage fraud, such as I reported in my previous post today, would be something you could report through this new system.  See USCIS list.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Whistleblowers Earn Millions Turning in Medicare/Medicaid Scammers

New Jersey: Woman Sentenced to Prison for Enslaving Foreign National for a Decade

Lewiston, ME: The Back Story on the Election of a CAIR-candidate for City Council

EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

A Day in the Senate with the Born-Alive Act

Hadley Arkes: For Democrats, abortion is a “right” that extends beyond pregnancy and entails nothing less than the right to kill a child born alive. 


The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act finally came before the Senate in the last days of February. This was the sequel to the Act passed in 2002, the Act that sought to cast the protections of the law on babies who survived abortions.

As the readers of this column know by now, that bill sprang from a proposal I had written for the debating kit of George H.W Bush in 1988.  By the time it was put in legislative form, the penalties were dropped, in part to avoid a veto from President Clinton (in 2000), but in part also to make the bill a pure “teaching” bill.”

The bill would break out to the public news that most people would find jolting.  Most people did not know that under Roe v. Wade and its companion case of Doe v. Bolton, the right to abortion would extend through the entire length of the pregnancy – and even when a child survived the abortion.

It turned out that there were far more of these babies surviving than we had known at the time.   But it was the mass of killings taking place in the abattoir of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia that brought a new attention to the problem – and offered the moment to act.

With the support of Trent Franks of the Judiciary Committee in the House, I joined with some accomplished friends to draft a new bill, to restore the penalties that had been dropped from the original bill.  That move has made the difference for the Democrats – and further illuminated the landscape.

People curiously forget that when the original bill was enacted in 2002, the Democrats were in control of the Senate.  They did not like the bill, but they were willing to vote for such a modest measure carrying no penalties, especially if they could do it with a voice vote, with no one going on the record.

That is what makes it disingenuous for Democrats now to say that the bill isn’t needed because we already have a law that forbids the killing of  a child who survives an abortion. What comes into play now is an old aphorism of Lord Bracknell, roughly translated in this way: that “it would be superfluous to make laws, unless those laws, when made, were to be enforced.”

To add serious penalties, civil and criminal, for the killing of the child is finally to take this legislation seriously as legislation.

And when that was done, the dramatic change in the Democrats could  then be read in a vote so startling that even the Republicans seem struck dumb in how to deal with it.  With Republicans in control of the House, the new Born-Alive Act was brought to the floor in September 2015, when it passed  248-177.  It was brought again in January 2018, when it passed 241-183.  Every voting Republican voted for these bills, and every Democrat but five or six, voted in opposition.

And now, with the bill in the Senate, every Republican voted for it, along with three Democrats, while every vote in opposition came from Democrats, holding the line.   The bill garnered 56 votes, but short of the 60 needed to overcome the Democratic filibuster.

The Democrats had arrived at the most radical position yet on the matter of abortion – so radical that the Republican managers of the bill, along with President Trump, still haven’t quite figured out how to express it.

The matter was blurted out, almost in passing, by Sen. Patty Murray from Washington. She remarked that “Republicans are peddling a ban that is blatantly unconstitutional.”  That is, this move to protect children born alive is incompatible with that “right” proclaimed in Roe v. Wade. For virtually all Democrats now in Congress and national politics, that right to abortion is a right that extends beyond pregnancy itself and entails nothing less than the right to kill a child born alive.

That is the ground now on which the question should be called and fought out in the presidential election.  But President Trump hasn’t apparently grasped this gift that has been given to him.

And yet, neither has the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who persistently failed to draw out the meaning of what his colleagues on the other side were revealing. Twenty years ago Sen. Rick Santorum asked Sen. Barbara Boxer  to offer the earliest moment when a newborn child could be protected by the law, and she said “when you bring your baby home.”

That answer became a source of embarrassment, as Boxer could never explain her way out of the problem. At every turn Sen. Sasse has passed up the chance to draw his colleagues into colloquies of this kind.  That would not affect the vote, but the confrontation could draw the attention of a wider public.

Twenty years ago, the beloved Henry Hyde was astonished that the National Organization of Women would come out so strongly against this modest bill.  But the other side knew that we were asking what was different about that same child five minutes earlier, before it was born – but then five days, five months earlier.

Hyde’s happy bewilderment revealed a state of affairs that still holds:  the other side understands this bill better than some of our own allies, because it understands the principle that lies at the heart of the thing.

COLUMN BY

Hadley Arkes

Hadley Arkes is the Ney Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Amherst College and the Founder/Director of the James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights & the American Founding. His most recent book is Constitutional Illusions & Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Law. Volume II of his audio lectures from The Modern Scholar, First Principles and Natural Law is now available for download.

EDITORS NOTE: This Catholic Thing column is republished with permission. © 2020 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.org. The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Liberals’ FAMILY Act Would Hurt Low-Income Workers and Families

If liberals want to provide access to paid family and medical leave, they need to come up with a better solution than they have so far.

According to a recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, Democrats’ proposed Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act would fail to benefit most of the workers who need it and leave policymakers with a choice between rationed benefits or massive tax hikes.

That’s because, according to the CBO analysis, the new payroll tax revenues proposed to fund the initiative would fall short of the program’s expenses just one year after benefits were to begin.

As more and more people applied for benefits, the so-called FAMILY Act’s costs would soar to 240% of the program’s tax revenues in 2028, just six years after benefits are slated to start.

But because the legislation sets up a new unfunded entitlement program, Congress either would have to ration benefits—limiting who could take leave, for how long they could take it, and the amount of benefits they could receive—or else raise taxes.

The legislation is being sold to Americans as costing a “cup of coffee a week,” but it could end up costing a tank of gas instead. According to the American Action Forum, a federal paid family leave program would cost the average American approximately $1,500 a year.

If you think that’s an exaggeration, America’s first entitlement program—Social Security—started out as a 2% payroll tax. Today, it’s 12.4%. And by 2040, it will have to be 16.6% to pay scheduled benefits.

The pain of higher taxes would be worst for low-income workers and families who, evidence shows, tend to lose more than they gain from government-paid family leave programs.

There are many reasons for that reality, including lower awareness of the programs, inability to make ends meet with partial benefits (such as the FAMILY Act’s 66% benefit level), lower eligibility for government benefits, and rigid rules and administrative barriers.

Consequently, government-run paid family leave programs are regressive, redistributing resources from low-income workers and families to middle- and high-income ones:

  • In California, 38% of the workforce has wages below $20,000, but only 1% of them use the state’s paid family leave program, and workers in the highest income bracket are five times more likely to file paid family leave claims.
  • Even in San Francisco, which provides 100% benefits, low-income mothers were only half as likely as higher-income mothers to receive government benefits.
  • New Jersey’s program was characterized as “simply unaffordable, even for middle-class families, many of whom still live paycheck to paycheck in high-cost New Jersey,” and criticized for “put[ting] many workers below the poverty level for the duration of their leaves, and push[ing] people who are already struggling deeper into poverty.” Recent expansions aimed at increasing awareness and use are projected to quadruple workers’ maximum payroll taxes.
  • Canada’s paid family leave programs have exacerbated class inequality as “the distribution of benefits is unbalanced and aids the social reproduction of higher-income families.”
  • In Norway, which expanded paid leave to 100% replacement rates for nearly all mothers, researchers found that “the extra leave benefits amounted to a pure leisure transfer, primarily to middle- and upper-income families.” They concluded that “the generous extensions to paid leave were costly, had no measurable effect on outcomes, and [also had] poor redistribution properties.”

The FAMILY Act’s provisions would fail to meet most workers’ leave needs, particularly those in the lowest income brackets. Moreover, it would provide windfall benefits to employers and workers who already provide and have access to paid family leave.

Increasingly, employers are providing paid family and medical leave because their workers want it. With a strong economy and competitive labor market, employers find they can lose good workers and incur high turnover costs if they don’t provide paid leave.

Instead of implementing a one-size-fits-all federal program, policymakers should seek to build upon the recent increase in more flexible, generous, and accommodating employer-provided policies.

One way to do that is through the Working Families Flexibility Act, which allows employers to give lower-wage, hourly workers the choice of accumulating “comp time” instead of pay for their overtime hours.

If lawmakers want to help with family leave, they should reject the FAMILY Act, which would cost too much, serve too few, and become more of a burden on taxpayers over time.

Instead, they should take a closer look at the Working Families Flexibility Act and other measures that would encourage more flexible and accommodating leave options.

COMMENTARY BY

Rachel Greszler is research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements in the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, of the Institute for Economic Freedom, at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research.


Virginia US Senate Candidate, Victor Williams, Speaks on Dual Threats of Coronavirus and Democrats’ Leftist Lurch to Socialism

ARLINGTON, Va.March 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — “The Fed must act immediately to cut interest rates and boost liquidity” says Prof. Victor Williams. “The Fed must act now.  The Fed has foolishly fallen behind other central banks. The US Fed must lead in rate cuts and liquidity boosts immediately.”

According to Prof. Williams, a Law & Economics expert who is also a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate in Virginia, the Fed is again showing a woeful lack of leadership.  Prof. Williams stated:

“By its delayed response to coronavirus uncertainty, the Fed threatens to stall the booming American economy.  A significant (75 basis point) rate cut and a substantial boost to liquidity is needed now.  By delay, the Fed jeopardizes America’s economy and its own credibility.”

Williams argues that American markets actually face two different threats – coronavirus uncertainties and the Democrats’ leftward-lurch to socialism:

“The Fed must act now to protect the economy against uncertainties of coronavirus but Fed action is also needed to buffer the markets reaction to the Democrat Party’s hard-left lurch to economic socialism.”

Williams continued:

“We do not know the extent of future disruptions by coronavirus. However, we know from history — with absolute certitude – what horrendous economic and social damage will be caused by the Democrats’ dangerous socialism.”

“For America’s economic health and future, Democrats like Bernie SandersJoe Biden, AOC+3, and Mark Warner must be stopped.  There is not a dime’s worth of difference between Sanders, Biden, and Warner. Warner has joined in the hard-left lurch as his party threatens to:

  • Legalize and Encourage Late Term Abortions (including post-birth infanticide);
  • Kill Economic Growth and Fiscal Stability (with increased taxes and regulations bankrupting Virginia’s coal industry);
  • Throw Open the Southern Border (to allow a massive flow –invasion — of aliens who will then be given free health care and other largess);
  • Eliminate Medicare (insuring “Medicare for None” with socialist schemes raising taxes on American workers and making private-employer insurance illegal).”

Williams’ statement against Warner continued:

“Virginians remember that Mark Warner has never adequately explained his own 2014 Phil Puckett scandal.  He has never explained his offer to sell a federal judgeship in a quid pro quo for a local politician’s partisan cooperation?  “Puckettgate” remains a viable issue in 2020. “

Warner’s weak and conflicting responses to the 2019 Northam/Fairfax scandals are best described as Puckettgate II” as Warner again chooses corrupt politicians over Virginia’s interests.  Sen. Warner actually said that Ralph Northam had a “right” to keep his high office if the Governor could manage to talk his way out of the racist scandal. ”

16 years of Warner is enough.  Virginia deserves much better.”

On July 4, 2019, Prof. Williams announced his campaign with the intention of promoting an early, strong GOP field of candidates.

Today, Williams praised all his competitors in the primary contest.  However, Williams gave special praise to veteran Daniel Gade for his proven fundraising abilities and his tireless campaigning throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia:

“I announced my campaign stating that I wanted to encourage the strongest, best Republican candidate to emerge early.

As Virginia filing deadline approaches, veteran Daniel Gade is fast emerging as that strongest candidate.

Dan Gade clearly has the public support, dedication, and passion to defeat Mark Warner in November 2020.

Williams, who is the  founder of “Law Professor for Trump” also predicted that Donald Trump will win Virginia in the 2020 presidential contest.

Prof. Williams returned to his more immediate message:

“But meanwhile, the laggard Fed must significantly cut rates and substantially boost liquidity.”

Paid for by: Victor Williams for Virginia  vw4v.com.

© All rights reserved.

Surprise: Bloomberg Refuses to Apologize for Counter-terror Program [Video]

My latest in PJ Media:

The main impression that Michael Bloomberg has given the world as a presidential candidate is one of weakness. He has fumbled awkwardly when fielding questions about his crude remarks about women. He allowed himself to be bullied into apologizing for New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk program, despite the fact that crime levels have risen significantly since it was scrapped. No one would have been surprised if he succumbed to pressure and renounced New York’s post-9/11 counterterror program of surveillance in Muslim communities. Instead, against all expectations, on Thursday he defended it.

WATCH:

In an interview on PBS NewsHour, Bloomberg said:

“We sent to some officers into some mosques to listen to the sermon that the imam gave. We were very careful. And the authorities that looked at us said, yes, you complied with the law. But we had every intention of going every place we could legally to get as much information to protect this country. We had just lost 3,000 people at 9/11. Of course we’re supposed to do that.”

That’s true. Of course the mayor of a major city that has just been hit with a catastrophic jihad terror attack should take realistic and effective steps to prevent another such attack. This shouldn’t even be controversial; it’s a sign of the effectiveness of the sinister campaign to paint all resistance to jihad violence as “Islamophobia” that anyone is upset with Bloomberg about this. “There were imams who publicly at that time were urging the terrorism. And so of course that’s where you gonna go. That does not, incidentally, mean that all Muslims are terrorists or all terrorists are Muslims. But the people who flew those airplanes came from the Middle East.”

There is much more. Read the rest here.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Illinois: Muslim leader says “Allah will grant us the Caliphate….Under its leadership, Rome will be conquered”

France: Macron condemns “Islamist separatism,” “political Islam” and Sharia inferiority of women

Macron Tries to Harden His Stance on an “Islam of France” (Part 1)

Christ Subverts Iran’s Islamic Republic

India: Media whitewashes how Muslim school was used as an attack base and Hindu school was vandalized

Netherlands: Muslim murderer wrote “Those who follow Sharia go to paradise…Allah lets me kill you” on his gun

EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Tax Cut Gains and Losses, Health Care Costs and the Tidal Wave Exodus from High Tax States

“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” – Thomas Jefferson – Founding Father and U.S. President

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents…” – James Madison – Founding Father and U.S. President

“The power to tax is the power to destroy.” –  John Marshall – Founding Father and 4th U.S. Chief Justice

“Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary (according to our Constitution) is legalized robbery.” – President Calvin Coolidge

“If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute.” –  Thomas Paine – Founding Father


The whores in Washington D.C. are money junkies who will ultimately suck the life out of our country for the benefit of their friends and family.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt was no different, his administration was infiltrated with communist agents, agents he allowed to destroy and dismantle the standards set forth by the founders of our Constitutional Republic.

FDR told us the arrangement with Stalin after WWII was a “good deal.” China turned Red, half of Germany was controlled by Communists, and the world was sold to the devil.  Do I trust government, not then and not today!  Yet, I know the President we have in our White House is one of the best men we have ever chosen and he truly loves this country.

Nevertheless, in the long run, the economists who designed both Reagan’s and Trump’s tax programs ended up hurting taxpayers, and ultimately the entire country.  The Democratic socialists always regain power, and when they do, the taxes get raised, but the eliminated deductions are never given back to us.  Worse yet, the 2017 tax reduction has motivated liberals to move out of high tax states into Red states, eventually turning them Blue.

Reagan’s Tax “Cuts”

In 1981, Reagan lowered federal income tax rates significantly with the signing of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which lowered the top marginal tax brackets and slashed estate taxes and trimmed corporate taxes over five years.

Unfortunately, his 1982 tax increase undid a third of his initial tax cut. Reagan agreed to the tax hikes on the promise from Congress of a $3 reduction in spending for every $1 increase in taxes.  Promises made, but never kept.

In 1983, Reagan instituted a payroll tax increase on Social Security and Medicare hospital insurance. In 1984 another bill was introduced that closed tax loopholes. According to tax historian Joseph Thorndike, the bipartisan bills of 1982 and 1984 “constituted the largest tax increase ever enacted during peacetime.”

Then came the Tax Reform Act of 1986 where Reagan and Congress sought to simplify the tax system by eliminating many deductions, reducing the highest marginal rates, and reducing the number of tax brackets. It exempted millions of low-income families from a federal income tax by expanding the standard deduction, personal exemption and earned income tax credit (wealth redistribution). It drastically reduced the number of tax brackets, with the top rate for individuals cut from 50 percent to 28 percent; and it slashed corporate tax rates from 48 percent to 34 percent, paid for by eliminating or reducing corporate tax breaks.

It destroyed the middle-class deductions we used to have. There were many, even for contact lens solutions and OTC medications, deductions for interest on credit card purchases and interest on car loans…now long gone, plus so much more.  Middle class Americans were screwed, but they didn’t realize it until Democrats regained power.

This reminds me of Hydra, the mythical Greek beast with hundreds of heads. Each time you cut one off, two more grow back. Like Hydra, our tax code has grown out of control. Since 1986, Congress has made 15,000 changes to the tax code.

President Trump’s Tax Overhaul

Gary Cohn is an American business leader who served as the 11th Director of the National Economic Council and chief economic advisor to President Trump from 2017 to 2018. When Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin’s confirmation hearings were held up, Cohn pushed ahead on taxes, infrastructure, financial regulation, and replacing the health-care law.

Cohn was a supporter of globalism and was nicknamed “Globalist Gary” and “Carbon Tax Cohn.”  He led the Trump administration’s efforts to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget said about Gary Cohn, “As a right-wing conservative and founding member of the Freedom Caucus, I never expected that the coworker I would work closest, and best with at the White House would be a globalist.”

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

So, what did the TCJA actually do for us?  It’s not all good news for taxpayers. The TCJA also eliminates or limits many tax breaks, and much of the tax relief is only temporary.  It includes significant changes for individual taxpayers, most of which took effect for 2018, but expires after 2025.  Once they expire, the tax rate will undoubtedly be hiked, but bye-bye to our former deductions, just like the ones we lost with Reagan.

TCJA calls for annual inflation adjustments to be calculated using the chained consumer price index.  This will push taxpayers into a higher tax bracket much quickly and far easier.  This part is permanent.

The increased standard deduction could compensate for the elimination of the exemptions, and perhaps even provide some additional tax savings. But for those with many dependents or who itemize deductions, these changes might result in a higher tax bill — depending in part on the extent to which they can benefit from the family tax credits.  Many common and righteous deductions are eliminated.

  • Moving expenses for work is eliminated, except for active duty military.
  • Alimony payments that were deductible, so that the receiving spouse paid the income taxes, are no longer a deduction for the payee.
  • State and local tax deductions were on the chopping block but survived in part. For 2018–2025, taxpayers can claim a deduction of no more than $10,000 for the aggregate of state and local property taxes and either income or sales taxes.
  • The TCJA tightens limits on the deduction for home mortgage interest. For 2018–2025, it generally allows a taxpayer to deduct interest only on mortgage debt of up to $750,000. However, the limit remains at $1 million for mortgage debt incurred before December 15, 2017, which will significantly reduce the number of taxpayers affected.
  • Home Equity loan interest is no longer deductible if it is not for home improvements. The rules are complex and the new law is still being interpreted.
  • A deduction for expenses such as certain professional fees, investment expenses and unreimbursed employee business expenses is suspended for 2018–2025. If you’re an employee and work from home, this includes the home office deduction.
  • Personal casualty and theft loss deduction. For 2018–2025, this deduction is suspended except if the loss was due to an event officially declared a disaster by the President.
  • For 2018–2025, the limit on the deduction for cash donations to public charities is raised to 60% of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from 50%.
  • Beginning after December 31, 2017, the TCJA prohibits taxpayers who convert a pretax traditional IRA into a post-tax Roth IRA from later “recharacterizing” (that is, reversing) the conversion.
  • The TCJA eliminates the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act requiring taxpayers not covered by a qualifying health plan to pay a penalty, effective for months beginning after December 31, 2018. However, we are still receiving notices that we must submit to IRS that we are covered by insurance…Why?

There are many more changes, especially to business, but these are just a few of those which affect individual taxpayers.

The Mass Exodus

Some folks are seeing smaller federal tax bites and bigger refunds, thanks to a more generous standard deduction in the tax overhaul of 2017, and this is the part the president wants to make permanent. But the millions of people who are accustomed to writing off state income tax and local property tax payments are feeling the pinch due to one of the most contentious aspects of the revised system.

It limits deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) to $10,000 on a joint return, which has the intended effect of increasing federal taxes, particularly on residents of high-taxing states such as California and New York, and don’t forget New Jersey, Oregon, Washington State, Massachusetts and others.  Folks who own homes in both warm and cold climates are limited to the deduction, but it’s not just luxury homes, the middle class is feeling the pinch as well.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that his state has collected $2.3 billion less during December and January of tax revenue.  And this is blamed on the flight of high-income taxpayers to states with low or no state income taxes, especially Florida.

States with no income tax like Florida, Texas and Tennessee are seeing population explosions.  Other states are popular, but these three are at the top, and all three are Red States!  People are leaving these high tax states in droves.  Did globalist Gary Cohn figure this into the tax plan?

Virginia used to be a conservative state until many of the Democrat DC residents moved south, and now they’ve taken over North Carolina as well.  When they leave the higher cost living areas, they don’t leave behind their politics, they bring them with them, and their newly occupied states eventually turn Blue.  This is the danger in the 2017 tax bill.  America could drastically change.

Healthcare Losses

Most middle class Americans gained in 2018 through the new tax bill, but we must remember that thanks to neo-con Trotskyite Republican Senators John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, Repeal and Replace for Obamacare failed.  McCain had campaigned on a promise to repeal the bill, but once again he lied to his constituents. His hatred for President Trump meant more than his promise to the people. The House passed the bill by a narrow margin.

In 2019, business insurance costs went up exponentially for employees.  Even privately held insurance went up again including higher deductibles. In 2020, many employees are paying increases of $2600 or higher per year to cover the cost of healthcare and that’s with deductibles reaching from $5,000 to $15,000 per family.

This easily wipes out the paycheck gains of the 2017 middle class tax cut.  Medical deductibles have risen every year across the board; most families never meet the deductibles for the year, and if they do, it’s not until September or October. The cost of medication has increased as well.

Under Obamacare, physicians who prescribe medications must be seen at least once a year to insure they can continue to fill your prescriptions throughout the year and each year new paperwork is required. And now, insurers including Blue Cross and Medicare insist that if you have hypertension, high cholesterol, or are on medications that used to be checked during yearly physicals, you must now see your physician two to four times a year for blood tests.  Americans who have been on medications for 15 to 20 years and only needed yearly checkups, are now stuck with extra checkups and blood tests.

The costs are increasing exponentially with the deductibles and having to pay for more blood tests and office visits per year is punitive. If patients fail to keep these appointments, insurers can and will consider them “non-compliant patients” and drop them from their insurance.

Yes, Obamacare needs to be destroyed, and national healthcare in America needs to be buried in the dustbin of toxic and murderous ideas and that is why we need to regain the House.

Conclusion

Communist Bernie Sanders and his Democratic socialist comrades love progressive taxation, and they support the Affordable Care Act as a first, but insufficient, step toward full national health care.  Like all socialists, their political theory is derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

The Trumps were close to Norman Vincent Peale and his family.  Peale was the nationally renowned pastor of Marble Collegiate in Manhattan.  He was also known for his opposition to collectivism, from FDR’s New Deal, to Soviet communism.  Peale knew communism was the biggest threat to liberty and freedom, and Donald Trump, who loved Peale, knows that as well.  It is why he ran for president.  He knows that freedom means individual choice, not communist collectivization.

President Donald Trump absolutely must be re-elected…but more importantly, true hardcore old-right conservatives must replace the neo-con Republicans and the socialist democrats in Congress.  We must regain the House and keep and enlarge the Senate with strongholds of true conservative old-right Constitutionalists.

President Trump is counting on us to help him Make America Great Again.

© All rights reserved.

Trump administration launches new unit to strip US citizenship from foreign-born terrorists

Long overdue and commonsensical.

“Trump administration launches new unit to strip US citizenship from foreign-born terrorists, criminals,” by Adam Shaw, Fox News, February 26, 2020:

The Trump administration is establishing a new section within the Justice Department to deal with the process of removing citizenship from foreign-born individuals who fraudulently obtained citizenship by failing to disclose past convictions for serious crimes — including terrorism and war crimes.

The section, which will be within the DOJ’s Office of Immigration Litigation, will be dedicated to denaturalizing those who had failed to disclose they had been involved in criminal activity on their N-400 form for naturalization. It requires the government to show that citizenship was obtained illegally or “procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation.”

That form includes questions asking whether an applicant has been involved in genocide and torture among other serious crimes, if they have ever been part of a terrorist or totalitarian organization, if they had been associated with the Nazi government in Germany, and if they have been charged or convicted with a crime or served prison time. Targets for denaturalization are those who have made material breaches of those questions.

“When a terrorist or sex offender becomes a U.S. citizen under false pretenses, it is an affront to our system — and it is especially offensive to those who fall victim to these criminals,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said. “The new Denaturalization Section will further the Department’s efforts to pursue those who unlawfully obtained citizenship status and ensure that they are held accountable for their fraudulent conduct.”…

RELATED ARTICLES:

NYC: Burqa-wearing man steals nearly $1 million in jewelry

Wikipedia refuses to include violence by Muslims in its article on the Delhi riots

Australia: Security chief says “Islamic extremism” top threat, ABC Australia focuses instead on neo-Nazis

Trump refuses to condemn India’s law granting citizenship to victims of Muslim persecution

NBC News: One of Bloomberg’s “most damning mistakes” was “Muslim surveillance”

EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

9th Circuit: Trump Administration Stripping Funding From Abortion Clinics Is Constitutional

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the Trump administration can continue stripping federal funding from clinics that offer abortions.

The court upheld the Trump administration’s June 2019 declaration that taxpayer-funded clinics must stop referring women for abortions or be stripped of their Title X funding.

Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote Monday’s majority opinion, stating that “there is no ‘gag’ on [nondirective] abortion counseling.”

The Department of Health and Human Services followed the decision in June by alerting clinics that it would enforce the administration’s ban. Planned Parenthood withdrew from the Title X federal family planning program, thereby forgoing about $60 million a year, in August 2019 rather than comply with this decision.

The rules, which advance President Donald Trump’s promise to stop funding businesses that perform abortions, require that organizations that perform abortions and make abortion referrals will have to do so in separate buildings from those that receive Title X federal funds.

“Today’s ruling is a vindication of President Trump’s pro-life policies and a victory for the American people,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement, adding that abortion is not family planning and that “a strong majority of Americans” oppose taxpayer-funded abortions.

“President Trump’s Protect Life Rule honors their will and the plain language of the Title X statute by stopping the funneling of Title X taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry, without reducing family planning funding by a dime,” Dannenfelser added. “We thank President Trump and HHS Secretary [Alex] Azar for their strong pro-life leadership and look forward to the end of further frivolous litigation by the abortion lobby.”

Americans United for Life President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster said in a statement that AUL is “grateful that the court of appeals has seen through the false cries of the abortion industry and upheld a rule that protects women’s health as well as taxpayer’s consciences.”

“We look forward to the implementation of the rule in a way that ensures that no public funding is ever used for elective abortions,” Foster said.

Other organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, protested the ruling.

“The rule prohibits family planning clinics—which previously served as the source of health care for more than four million low-income people every year—from providing Title X patients with referrals for abortion care and imposes other onerous requirements that have resulted in the widespread loss of critical Title X providers,” the ACLU said in a press release.

ACLU senior staff attorney Ruth Harlow noted that the ACLU is “deeply disappointed” at the decision.

“We are looking at any further options to rescue the Title X program and to restore the critical care it has provided to marginalized patients for almost five decades,” Harlow said in a statement.

COLUMN BY

Mary Margaret Olohan

Mary Margaret Olohan is a reporter covering social issues for The Daily Caller News Foundation. Twitter: @MaryMargOlohan.

RELATED ARTICLES:

He Was Born at 22 Weeks. His Parents Say Late-Term Abortions Should Be Illegal.

Only 3 Senate Democrats Vote to Protect Babies Who Survive Abortion

Abortion Debate Shows How Media Deploys Language Gymnastics to Serve Left-Wing Goals

In New Supreme Court Case, Religious Liberty Is at Stake

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

How America’s Gun Culture Cultivates Civic Virtue

From the colonists winning independence from Great Britain to African-Americans vindicating their civil rights, the role of the gun is inseparable from American identity.


It is through the enjoyment of a dangerous freedom that Americans learn the art of reducing freedom’s perils.” —Alexis de Tocqueville

Many people are often surprised to learn that I am a gun owner and firm defender of the Second Amendment. After all, I, a first-generation Chinese-American immigrant, do not fit the stereotype of the typical American gun owner. Of all of America’s cherished freedoms, the natural and unalienable right of self-defense, recognized and protected (not granted) by the Second Amendment, took me the longest to fully embrace.

But as an open-minded rationalist, the lessons of history and statistical research proved overwhelming (not to mention the sheer fun of learning the basic operations and mechanics of firearms) and eventually helped me understand why tens of millions of my fellow Americans treasure their right to keep and bear arms.

From the colonists winning independence from Great Britain to African-Americans vindicating their civil rights, the role of the gun is inseparable from American identity. The gun is the ultimate multipurpose tool that empowers its user with the means to put food on the table, as well as preserve one’s life, whether against common street criminals or government tyranny. The philosophical underpinnings and lived experiences that shaped American gun culture all matter (and reinforce each other), but I want to focus on one aspect in particular: the cultivation of civic virtue.

Owning and shooting a gun promotes self-reliance, personal responsibility, and community. Whenever I go to a gun range, I see parents teaching their young children how to shoot, men instructing their significant others, and people of all colors and ethnicities enjoying themselves. Nervous skeptics usually end up leaving with a big smile on their faces.

Further, I am surprised by the large number of foreign tourists eager to learn how to handle and shoot a gun for the first time, an activity that is often out of reach—if not outright illegal—for the average person in their homeland.

I served as an unofficial ambassador and taught European exchange students how to shoot my AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.In my experience, a typical day at the range is an ideal snapshot of American diversity tied to common principles. In the United States, gun culture fosters civic virtue and a healthy civil society as admired by Alexis de Tocqueville, one of America’s best foreign observers. In his classic Democracy in America, he was impressed by the young republic’s numerous voluntary associations, which provided the lifeblood and training grounds for self-rule among its people.

The activities and interactions at gun clubs, ranges, trade shows, and conventions have every effect in cultivating a virtuous citizenry as churches, sports teams, debate societies, and other civic groups do. From lectures on current firearms law to practical lessons on self-defense, experts and ordinary Americans alike freely share their knowledge. America’s gun culture is further reinforced by a vibrant online community that covers gun reviewscustom AR-15 buildsmilitary historycurrent politics, and virtually every topic one can think of pertaining to firearms.

After sharing a poignant story of true threats directed at him and his family, National Review writer and Iraq veteran David French describes how carrying a weapon leads to individual empowerment and, as one learns, discovers a welcoming network of support, solidarity, and community:

As your worldview changes, you expand your knowledge. You learn that people defend themselves with guns all the time, usually without pulling the trigger. You share the stories and your own experience with your friends, and soon they walk into gun stores. They start their own journey into America’s “gun culture.”

At the end of this process, your life has changed for the better. Your community has expanded to include people you truly like, who’ve perhaps helped you through a tough time in your life, and you treasure these relationships. You feel a sense of burning conviction that you, your family, and your community are safer and freer because you own and carry a gun….

Confidence is contagious. People want to be empowered. That’s how gun culture is built. Not by the NRA and not by Congress, but by gun owners, one free citizen at a time.

Although I’m fortunate not to have faced a true threat that convinced me of the need for self-protection like French and his family did, I fully understand that evil exists in this world and that under the right circumstances, people can do unspeakable things to each other. On a happier note, I can also confirm that my own journey into American gun culture introduced me to some of the most knowledgeable, kind, and supportive people who are now personal friends.

I especially want to emphasize the gun community’s overwhelming support for newcomers and marginalized groups. In the aftermath of the 2016 Orlando night club shooting, many gun ranges offered free training, and traditional pro-gun groups such as Open Carry Texas offered armed security for LGBT people. Many gun shops reported a rise in LGBT customers, and new self-defense groups, like the LGBT-centered Pink Pistols, experienced a surge in membership. Free citizens with diverse backgrounds united over shared principles and interests. If he were to witness how individual empowerment through the gun strengthened the fabric of civil society, Tocqueville would be proud.

As admirers of their Greco-Roman predecessors, the Founding Fathers of the United States understood that only virtuous citizens are capable of self-rule and preserving a free society. In the early American republic, statesmen and ordinary people alike saw no conflict between the individual right to bear arms and participating in a militia for collective self-defense, unlike many of today’s misguided debates. In his famed Commentaries on the Constitution, Justice Joseph Story articulated the orthodox view of the Second Amendment:

The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people.

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

And yet, though this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burthens, to be rid of all regulations. How it is practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see. There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.

As Justice Story and early Americans understood, an armed people upheld free institutions. Far from being lone wolves, individual gun owners throughout American history organized and participated in militia units as a counterbalance against a standing army and the prospects of centralized government tyranny. Even though the militia today no longer plays the important historical role it once did (as Justice Story and others would lament), that certainly does not mean the Second Amendment is obsolete, nor does it even slightly diminish the importance of gun ownership.

The Second Amendment is not a vestigial remnant from a bygone era. It grew out of the experiences of a people who understood the dangers of standing armies and martial law, successfully overthrew a tyrannical government, and recognized the reality of human nature, especially the tendency of men to seek power and dominate others.

Today, as in the Founding generation, our precious right to keep and bear arms remains indispensable for securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and loved ones in our persons, homes, and livelihoods.Most modern gun owners know they are the heirs of a constitutional legacy that stretches across the pages of history. A free society endures only when its people internalize its principles. As a naturalized American citizen, I can’t help but feel proud every time I shoot a gun, knowing I am one of millions who keep our heritage of freedom alive.

COLUMN BY

What the New Self-Reliance Rule Means for Immigrants

Politicians across the political spectrum have a penchant for bragging about how their parents or ancestors came to the U.S. with next to nothing, but worked hard to provide a better life for their children.

Yet when the Department of Homeland Security proposed taking self-reliance into account in weighing applications for green cards or immigration visas, liberals condemned the proposal as harsh and sued to block the proposed rule from taking effect.

Initially, they won court injunctions in several jurisdictions. Now, however, all have been dismissed. And so, the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds rule took effect nationwide Monday.

If you think that means poor immigrants must now abandon all hope of entering the U.S. or becoming permanent residents, think again. The left has tremendously overblown the scope of this rule.


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


The rule defines a “public charge” as one who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period (such that, for example, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months).

The rule defines “public benefit” to include any federal, state, local, or tribal cash benefits for income maintenance (including Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, General Assistance), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, most forms of Medicaid, Section 8 Housing/Rental Assistance, and public housing.

Benefits not considered include emergency medical assistance, disaster relief, national school lunch programs, the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, foster care and adoption subsidies, government-subsidized student and mortgage loans, energy assistance, food pantries, homeless shelters, and Head Start.

The rule will not be applied retroactively. It does, however, apply to future applicants for visas and green cards. According to Homeland Security,  each year about 382,000 immigrants seek a change in status that would make them subject to a public charge review.

The rule also sets forth the factors U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must consider in whether an applicant is likely to become a public charge. Those factors include age, health, income, education, and skills.

The agency also can, in certain circumstances, offer an applicant the opportunity to post a public charge bond. The final rule sets the minimum bond amount at $8,100, but the actual amount will depend on an individual’s circumstances.

The rule has many exceptions. It does not apply to humanitarian-based immigration programs for refugees, asylees, special immigrant juveniles, certain trafficking victims, victims of qualifying criminal activity, or victims of domestic violence. Members of the military and their families are also exempt.

The public charge rule is really nothing new. Long before there was any federal agency charged with implementing immigration policy, seaboard states enacted laws to restrict immigration by those deemed likely to become dependent on public welfare.

The first federal immigration law, the Immigration Act of 1882, reflected this concern, excluding from entry “any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.” The act also created a federal immigration head-tax, the proceeds from which were used to care for immigrants arriving in the U.S., including those who fell into economic distress.

In 1996, Congress passed, and President Bill Clinton signed into law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. It includes statements of national policy on welfare and immigration, including:

—Self-sufficiency has been a basic principle of U.S. immigration law since this country’s earliest immigration statutes.

—Immigrants will not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, their sponsors, and private organizations.

—The availability of public benefits will not constitute an incentive for immigration to the U.S.

Although the Immigration and Naturalization Service published a proposed rule to define “public charge” in 1999, it wasn’t finalized. As of Monday, however, that job was completed.

No, this limited rule will not cause the immigration sky to fall. It will, however, reaffirm the essential American value of self-reliance through hard work—a value that politicians from both parties claim to esteem.

COLUMN BY

Lora Ries

Lora Ries is a senior research fellow specializing in homeland security at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: @lora_ries.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Arizona GOP Leader Explains Why Area Voted Against Sanctuary Status

‘Endangers the Lives of the Public’: Trump Tears Into LA Mayor Over Sanctuary Status

Arizona Sheriff Describes Fight to Stop Cartels From Trafficking Drugs, Humans

What’s Really Driving the Homelessness Crisis

Cuban Americans Tell What Life Under Castro Was Really Like


A Note for our Readers:

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET ACCESS NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.