Cuban Doctors Say They Are Treated Like Slaves

You are trained in Cuba and our education is free. Health care is free, but at what price? You wind up paying for it your whole life.” –Dr. Yaili Jiménez Gutierrez

In 2013, the World Health Organization brokered a deal through which Cuba would export doctors to Brazil to serve in its poorest and most remote areas. Yet as Brazil began to reap the benefits of improved care and decreased mortality rates, the Cuban doctors began to see their home’s regime in a new light.

“When you leave Cuba for the first time, you discover many things that you had been blind to,” says Yaili Jiménez Gutierrez, one of the program’s doctors, in a New York Times profile. “There comes a time when you get tired of being a slave.”

The Cuban doctors began noticing the disparity in their government’s “take” from the Brazilian government—nearly four times their own salary—as well as the higher wages and greater freedoms enjoyed by their fellow “export doctors” from other participating countries.

“We began to see that the conditions for the other doctors were totally different,” Jiménez explains. “They could be with their family, bring their kids. The salaries were much higher.”

In response, more than 150 Cuban doctors have now filed lawsuits in Brazilian courts, claiming equality protections under Brazil’s constitution and requesting that they remain in the country as independent contractors with the ability to earn a full salary.

The New York Times summarizes the situation as follows:

The seeds of the rebellion were planted a year ago in a conversation between a Cuban doctor and a clergyman in a remote village in northeastern Brazil.

Anis Deli Grana de Carvalho, a doctor from Cuba, was coming to the end of her three‑year medical assignment. But having married a Brazilian man, she wanted to stay and keep working. The pastor was outraged to learn that, under the terms of their employment, Cuban doctors earn only about a quarter of the amount the Brazilian government pays Cuba for their services.

…In late September of last year, she sued in federal court to work as an independent contractor. Within weeks, scores of other Cuban doctors followed Dr. Grana’s lead and filed suits in Brazilian courts.

As for how the Cuban government has responded thus far, some have been allowed to keep their jobs or return home, while others were fired and face exile:

Late last year, judges issued temporary injunctions in some cases, granting Cuban doctors the right to remain as independent contractors, earning full wages. One federal judge in the capital denounced the Cuban contracts as a “form of slave labor” that could not be tolerated.

But the federal judge who handled Dr. Grana’s case ruled against her, finding that allowing Cuban doctors to walk away from their contracts posed “undue risks in the political and diplomatic spheres.”

Soon after the first injunctions were issued, Cuban supervisors in Brazil summoned doctors who had filed suits and fired them on the spot, several doctors said. Each was given the chance to get on a plane to Cuba within 24 hours — or face exile for eight years.

The costs have been high for those who left family behind in order to pursue a better livelihood or improve their prospects upon returning home. But for many, the risks have been well worth it.

“It’s sad to leave your family and friends and your homeland,” says Maireilys Álvarez Rodríguez, a doctor who sued the government but managed to keep her job and bring her children to Brazil. “But here we’re in a country where you’re free, where no one asks you where you’re going, or tells you what you have to do. In Cuba, your life is dictated by the government.”

We routinely hear critics of capitalism decry the supposed injustices of free wages set by free markets driven by the actions free people. Without the steady hand of heavy government control and redistribution—we are told—the ideals of equality and justice will never prevail.

Yet note how, in the present case, we see doctors from Cuba—a land that supposedly places excessive priority on “equality”—running from their government to the Brazilian constitution for equality protections. The irony is painful and shows the illusory nature of an equality based only on material outputs.

Without true freedom, self-constructed, arbitrary, materialistic notions about “equality” quickly devolve, crowding out new growth and creating other disparities in the process, whether among neighbors abroad or among workers at home.

Likewise, when given a taste of freedom, the view gets clearer, and the supposed communist ideals of “equality” are quickly placed in the context of what’s truly at the driver’s seat: control.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Acton Institute.

Joseph Sunde

Joseph Sunde

Joseph Sunde is an associate editor and writer for the Acton Institute. His work has appeared in venues such as The Federalist, First Things, Intellectual Takeout, The City, The Christian Post, The Stream, Patheos, LifeSiteNews, Charisma News, The Green Room, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work. Joseph resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and four children.

GOP Picks Cotton to Lead Justice Fight

The only bars liberals seem preoccupied with are the ones Brett Kavanaugh visited in college. But Senate Democrats may want to focus on a bar of another kind: the Washington, D.C. Bar. According to Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), that’s the investigation Americans should be watching. Because, unlike the FBI’s seventh trip through Brett Kavanaugh’s past, the Bar Association could prove who’s actually lying. And as far as he’s concerned, it’s not who the media thinks it is.

“Just look at the timeline that came to light during the hearing last week,” Senator Cotton told me on Monday’s “Washington Watch.” “Shortly after Miss Ford went to Dianne Feinstein, what happened? They recommended that she hire a left-wing attorney from Washington, D.C. to represent her. Attorneys who then went on to lie to Ms. Ford, apparently — because she testified last week that she didn’t know the Judiciary Committee had offered to fly to California to interview her. And that if she had known that, she would have accepted the offer, rather than go through the circus the Democrats put her through.” Dr. Ford has been just as abused and exploited by the Left as Kavanaugh, he insists. “They betrayed her.” Remember, he points out, “Ms. Ford said all along that she didn’t want her allegations to be made public.”

Like a lot of Republicans, Cotton was shocked to find out that Dr. Ford hadn’t been told about the Judiciary Committee’s offer to meet with her privately in California. “If you were gonna come out to see me, I would have happily hosted you and would have been happy to speak to you out there. It wasn’t clear to me that that was the case.” If Dr. Ford’s attorneys lied to her, hoping to turn this into a public spectacle that hurt Kavanaugh, that’s a violation of the D.C. Bar.

And that’s not the only time Democrats took advantage of Dr. Ford, Cotton insisted. What most people don’t understand is that there’s a well-established procedure for allegations like hers. The two senior members of the committee — in this case, Republican Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Democrat Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) — work with the FBI to review the matter quietly. “I can tell you, Tony, it happens all the time — hundreds of times for all of the nominees that are vetted. And it’s not uncommon for the FBI to discover something in a nominee’s background like abuse or a drinking problem or a gambling problem. And the nominee will frequently withdraw — and do so discreetly…”

“Let’s just remember what happened here,” Senator Cotton went on. “Ms. Ford sent a letter, confidentially, to Dianne Feinstein in late July raising these allegations… Dianne Feinstein hid it from Chuck Grassley, she hid it from the FBI. She and Chuck Schumer kept it in their back pocket until after Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing, until after they had a private session to ask about any sensitive matters, and then linked it to the media right before the vote — solely to try to torpedo his nomination. The media got it, and only Dianne Feinstein and the Democratic congresswoman from California and their staffs had it, so it had to come from them somehow. And I think Congress needs to get to the bottom of it.”

In the meantime, voters in battleground states aren’t going easy on Democrats. At the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival on Sunday, Senator Joe Manchin (D) got an earful from locals, who made it clear: “If you don’t vote for him, I won’t vote for you.” “I get that a lot,” Manchin said. Another yelled, “Vote Kavanaugh!” and Manchin insisted, “I hear you.” If he doesn’t, he’ll almost certainly hear the polls, which showed just how potent the issue is. West Virginia voters are solidly in Kavanaugh’s camp, supporting his confirmation by a 30-point margin (58 percent to 28). Out in North Dakota, Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D) is feeling the heat of the Kavanaugh nomination, as Republican challenger Kevin Cramer continues to surge ahead, now with as much as a 10-percent lead.

The numbers follow the trend in Missouri, where red-state Democrat Claire McCaskill is watching her advantage melt away in the firestorm of the Kavanaugh hearings. Like a lot of Americans, they understand what the debate about the courts is all about. That’s why the issue topped the social conservatives’ list of concerns in 2016. They know the Left will use the court as a hammer to beat the country into submission on views that are too radical and unpopular to survive democratically.

Most voters agree with Senator Cotton, who knows what the Left is interested in — and it isn’t the truth. “They don’t want to get to the facts, they don’t want to reach a reasonable conclusion. They want to destroy Brett Kavanaugh and keep the president from filling this vacancy on the Supreme Court.”


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


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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Tony Perkins Washington Update. It is republished with permission.

How Trump Rescued Our Economy From Obama’s ‘New Normal’

It’s hard to believe that just two short years ago, our economy was limping along with no sign of a massive boom around the corner.

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the pivotal factor in the last two years has been President Donald Trump.

Consider this. From 2009 to 2014, real median income fell overall. It did jump a few times between 2012 and 2014, but the overall trend was one of malaise. The reason? President Barack Obama’s regulations and taxes sat like a wet blanket over our economy.

Many of his policies aimed at curing perceived social injustices rather than promoting economic growth. He reasoned that it was an injustice that every American did not have health insurance, and that CEOs made hundreds of times more income than the average worker. It was also an injustice that banks and big business took advantage of consumers.

Obama convinced Congress to pass Obamacare in 2010, which resulted in health insurance being extended to an additional 6 percent of the population. But Obamacare came with new taxes—21 to be exact—and these helped suppress middle-class income, slowing economic growth.

Obamacare also forced employers to provide health insurance to all full-time workers or pay a fine, which could be as high as $3,000 per employee. This added to the cost of labor, which again had the effect of slowing growth. Since Obama defined a full-time employee as anyone working at least 30 hours per week, employers hired more part-time workers. This drove down household income and slowed economic growth.

Obama also made the 2001 Bush tax cuts permanent for all Americans, except for the highest income earners. For them, taxes increased by 10 percent. This reduced the amount of investment capital flowing into our economy, which slowed economic growth and tended to reduce household income.

Obama also said that the financial crisis was a result of predatory lending by banks. This occurred when households freely applied for mortgages that they simply could not afford. Because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were buying these predatory mortgages from banks, the banks made those loans.

Obama convinced Congress to pass the Dodd-Frank bill, which stopped banks from predatory lending. The problem was that Dodd-Frank reduced all lending, which slowed economic growth and resulted in countless small community banks having to close their doors.

And yet again, this had the effect of reducing household income.

It’s no wonder that Obama was the only president in history to never see economic growth above 3 percent. The economy averaged just over 2 percent for his entire two terms. He referred to 2 percent growth as the “new normal.”

Trump flatly rejected this “new normal.” After entering office in January 2017, he spent much of February and March reversing many of Obama’s counterproductive regulations. By April 2017, the economy was back growing at a healthy 3 percent, which has since been maintained or increased.

By the end of 2017, Trump had convinced Congress to cut income taxes for all Americans, including those who supply capital: high income-earners and corporations. Since April of this year, the economy has been booming at a rate of more than 4 percent.

That growth has driven down underemployment, increased the proportion of Americans in the labor force, increased the number of part-time employees finding full-time work, boosted wages, and reduced the unemployment rate overall.

This all will lead to ever higher incomes for families. The real median income is set to hit a record level by the end of 2018.

Some have said that most of the growth will affect the highest income-earners. Whatever benefit they are getting (and they are certainly getting a lot), the facts are plain and simple: Over 700 companies have boosted wages, given bonuses and other benefits to their employees because of tax reform.

As President John F. Kennedy said, “A rising tide will lift all boats.” It’s happening. Why would we try anything else?

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Michael Busler

Michael Busler, Ph.D. is a public policy analyst and a professor of finance at Stockton University. Twitter: .


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EDITORS NOTE: This column is reprinted with permission. The featured image of President Donald J. Trump is by Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Newscom.

CFACT public comment on Administration’s Endangered Species Act reform

Proposed Revisions to Regulations Implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Submitted by Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D.,

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow

September 17, 2018

Revisions of Regulations for Listing Species and Designating Critical Habitat and Revisions of the Regulations for Prohibitions to Threatened Wildlife and Plants

Several proposed changes relate to section 4 of the ESA, which deals with procedures for listing species recovery and designating critical habitat (areas deemed essential to support the conservation of a species). There are two key provisions in this section of the proposal. First, FWS and NOAA propose to revise the procedures for designating critical habitat by reinstating the requirement that they will first evaluate areas currently occupied by the species before considering unoccupied areas. Second, the agencies propose to clarify when they may determine that unoccupied areas are essential to the conservation of a species.

The proposal dealing with unoccupied critical habitat is no doubt rooted in the case of the dusky gopher frog. FWS’s designation several years ago of 1,544 acres of forested land in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana as critical habitat for the endangered frog has triggered a legal dispute that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Louisiana land in question contains no dusky gopher frogs. In fact, the only such frogs known to exist are in neighboring Mississippi. The designation of the unoccupied Louisiana land as critical habitat has devalued the property by an estimated $20 million. The case underscores the importance of the proposed revisions to the ESA’s critical habitat provisions.

By limiting the power of officials implementing the ESA so that they can no longer designate an area as critical habitat that is not currently, or even in the recent past, occupied by an endangered or threatened species, the proposed revision restores a much-needed measure of integrity to implementation of the statute. It also gives landowners some assurance that their property will not be arbitrarily designated as critical habitat for a listed species that does not reside there.

Vague language is a problem with many laws, and the ESA is no exception. The ESA defines a threatened species as one that is likely to become in danger of extinction within the “foreseeable future.” But the statute provides no definition of “foreseeable future.” For the first time, the reform proposals contain an interpretation of “foreseeable future” that makes it clear that it extends only so far that it can be reasonably be determined that both the future threats and the species’ response to those threats are probable.

In a similar vein, the proposal seeks to clear up confusion on what constitutes “destruction or adverse modification” of critical habitat under section 7 of the ESA. The ESA provides no definition, leaving it to regulators to apply the term as they see fit. The proposed rule simplifies and clarifies the definition by removing redundant and confusing language. This confusion has led to protracted litigation that has benefited neither species nor landowners and has been one of the key reasons behind the slow recovery of species.

Over the decades, government officials have developed different standards for listing and delisting a species. This has resulted in substantial delays in getting a recovered species removed from the endangered species list. The proposal seeks to have the same standard used to delist that are applied to list a species and will curtail the ESA’s often arbitrary enforcement.

In a significant change of policy, the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to rescind its blanket rule under section 4c of the ESA, which automatically conveyed the same protections to threatened species as for endangered species. The distinction between the two categories has become blurred over the years, and the administration’s proposal would end that practice, thereby restoring the original intent of the law.

Revision of Regulations for Interagency Cooperation

Poorly coordinated interagency cooperation has been a hallmark of ESA implementation since the statute was enacted in 1973. This has raised the level of confusion for communities harboring endangered species and brought additional and absolutely unnecessary delays to the recovery process. By clarifying how biological opinions and interagency submissions are to be formulated, the proposal will avoid, minimize, or off-set adverse effects on listed species and their habitats when conducting interagency consultations.

In summary, the biggest losers in the way the ESA has been enforced over the past 45 years have been landowners with listed species on their property and the species themselves. Landowners have been punished for having listed species on their land and have been given little if any incentives to cooperate in their recovery. Taken as a whole, the steps proposed by FWS and NOAA Fisheries will break some of the bureaucratic logjams that have plagued the ESA from the outset, and begin to give landowners incentives to restore and improve endangered species’ habitat.

About the Author: Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Jack Hamilton on Unsplash. Republished with permission.

Building a better world for female entrepreneurs

While in New York for the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump took some time to focus on a message central to her work in the White House: economic empowerment for women across the globe.

“We know that investing in women is a priority in terms of our global security, in terms global prosperity, in terms of global peace. We also know that women around the world are one of the greatest under-tapped resources. When you invest in women, they invest back into their communities, they can invest back into their families, they invest in things that have a generational impact on their societies,” Ms. Trump said.

“At #UNGA 2018, I had the honor of joining @WorldBank @JimYongKim, @ConcordiaSummit + global leaders for impactful discussions on #WomensEconomicEmpowerment in furtherance of @POTUS’s National Security Strategy, as we strive for peace, prosperity & stability at home & abroad,” she tweeted.

Watch Ivanka Trump talk women’s economic empowerment at UNGA 2018:

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of First Lady Melania Trump is courtesy of the White House.

Giving Credit Where Babies Are Due

While the world’s eyes were on Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. House did something worth celebrating!

After watching a year of trying, Republicans managed to do something no other Congress has done: they recognized the humanity of the unborn child in the U.S. tax code.Some of you might remember this debate from last year, when Republicans finally managed to pass the first round of tax cuts. As part of that bill, pro-lifers had worked to write this same provision into the language on 529 education savings accounts (ESAs). We were disappointed when Senator Steve Daines’s (R-Mt.) idea to give unborn children a tax credit never materialized, along with the House’s push to give expectant parents the opportunity to start planning for their future kids their ESAs. But unfortunately, those were the natural casualties of the reconciliation process. Unlike the House, which has a lot more freedom to think creatively, Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) party had to work within the tight confines of the budget rules. And when it came to this tax credit, Republicans would’ve had to prove to the parliamentarian that the concepts weren’t overly policy-driven. In the end, it proved too much of a struggle, and they dropped it.

That shouldn’t be a problem this time around, thanks to Rep. Mike Kelly’s (R-Pa.) Family Savings Account Act — part of the GOP’s second basket of tax cuts that are working their way to President Trump’s desk. This afternoon, the House passed the bill on to the Senate, giving parents, grandparents, or other relatives the unprecedented opportunity to open a 529 plan for an unborn child and begin to save for that child’s education.

But the good news didn’t stop there. The proposal also took a major pro-adoption step by letting people withdraw money from their retirement funds — without penalty — if it’s specifically used to pay for the costs associated with raising a child. Then, rescuing another part of last year’s tax bill that ended up on the cutting room floor, conservatives finally leveled the playing field for homeschool families, who weren’t allowed to participate in 529 education savings accounts — even though parents who enroll kids in private and religious schools could. This bill put an end to that discrimination and removes an obstacle for millions of moms and dads in exercising their right to educate their kids the way they see fit.

The House did its job. Now it’s time for senators to do theirs. Help us move the Family Savings Account Act to President Trump’s desk by contacting your senators. When families thrive, everyone benefits!


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


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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Tony Perkins Washington Update. It is republished with permission.

The New York Times Explains Why the Minimum Wage Should Be $0.00

The minimum wage is the Jason Vorhees of economics. It just won’t die.

No matter how many jobs the minimum wage destroys, no matter how many times you debunk it, it always comes back to wreak more havoc.

We’ve covered the issues at length at FEE, and quite effectively, if I do say so myself. But I have to admit that one of the greatest takedowns of the minimum wage you’ll ever find comes from an unlikely place: The New York Times.

There are many reasons people and politicians find the minimum wage attractive, of course. But the Times, in an editorial entitled “The Right Minimum Wage: 0.00,” skillfully rebuts each of these reasons in turn.

Noting that the federal minimum wage has been frozen for some six years, the Times admits that it’s no wonder that organized labor is pressuring politicians to increase the federal minimum wage to raise the standard of living for poorer working Americans.

“No wonder. But still a mistake,” the Times explains. “There’s a virtual consensus among economists that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed.”

But why has the idea “passed”? Why would raising the minimum wage not help the working poor?

“Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market,” the editors explain.

But wouldn’t the minimum wage increase the purchasing power of low-income Americans? Wouldn’t a meaningful increase allow a single breadwinner to support a family of three and actually be above the official U.S. poverty line?

Ideally, yes. But there are unseen problems, as the editors point out:

There are catches…[A higher minimum wage] would increase employers’ incentives to evade the law, expanding the underground economy. More important, it would increase unemployment: Raise the legal minimum price of labor above the productivity of the least skilled workers and fewer will be hired.

But if that’s true, why would progressives support such a law? What’s their rationale for supporting a minimum wage if it does more harm than good? Is it sheer political opportunism?

Not necessarily. The Times explains:

A higher minimum would undoubtedly raise the living standard of the majority of low-wage workers who could keep their jobs. That gain, it is argued, would justify the sacrifice of the minority who became unemployable.

There’s just one problem with this logic, the editors say:

The argument isn’t convincing. Those at greatest risk from a higher minimum would be young, poor workers, who already face formidable barriers to getting and keeping jobs. The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old, honorable – and fundamentally flawed. It’s time to put this hoary debate behind us, and find a better way to improve the lives of people who work very hard for very little.

It’s a compelling, reasoned, and erudite argument. But it’s not exactly what one expects to see in The New York Times these days. (A naughty person might say the same about reason and erudition in general in the paper.)

So what gives? Alas, the editorial is a relic. It was written way, way back in 1987. A lot has changed since then.

We’ve had a couple wars. The internet was introduced to the masses. There was 9-11. We elected the nation’s first black president. The Cubs and Red Sox won the World Series. There was even a female reboot of Ghostbusters.

At least one thing, however, did not change. That would be the laws of economics. They hold as fast and true in 2018 as they did in 1987.

The Times’ editorial board might have changed. The perception of the minimum wage certainly changed. Relatively recent polls show seven out of ten Americans support raising the federal minimum wage. Several cities—Seattle, New York, and Minneapolis, among them—have passed laws that raised (or will soon raise) the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

So it’s safe to say the minimum wage laws have become more popular, no doubt in part from campaigns promoting them and an education system sympathetic to them. Still, economic laws do not change based on how popular humans find them. They remain true and constant whether they are popular or not.

In fact, some have observed that economic laws are inherently unpopular.

“In economics, the majority is always wrong,” John Kenneth Galbraith once allegedly quipped.

Now, there have been a lot of complaints directed at corporate media in recent years, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. So let’s give the Times a hand.

The paper was right in 1987. And if politicians are genuinely interested in helping the poor, they’ll stick a stake in the heart of the minimum wage once and for all.

Jon Miltimore

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. Serving previously as Director of Digital Media at Intellectual Takeout, Jon was responsible for daily editorial content, web strategy, and social media operations. Before that, he was the Senior Editor of The History Channel Magazine, Managing Editor at Scout.com, and general assignment reporter for the Panama City News Herald. Jon also served as an intern in the speechwriting department under George W. Bush.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is provided by FEE and is republished with permission.

How the Janus Decision Could Vastly Improve Public Education

Two new pieces of research give us reason to be encouraged by the Janus decision.

On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled 5–4 in favor of the plaintiff in the case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (AFSCME). Dry as it sounds, this was a landmark ruling; the Court said that public sector unions could not force non-members to pay fees to them. Furthermore, in the future employees will have to “opt in” to pay fees; their consent cannot be assumed.

What is likely to happen to teachers and students in the wake of Janus v. AFSCME? Typically, teachers unions have argued that weakening their power to collectively bargain would hinder both students and teachers. Fortunately, however, two new pieces of research give us reason to be encouraged by the Janus decision.

The first is a paper titled “The Labor Market for Teachers Under Different Pay Schemes,” by economist Barbara Biasi.

The vast majority of districts pay teachers according to similar lock-step schedules. This means that all teachers with the same education degree and years of experience are paid exactly the same amount, regardless of their effectiveness, their skills, or the demand for their labor. There is often little variation in these schedules across all districts within a state, owing to pattern bargaining, facilitated by the state’s teachers’ union, one of those services allegedly at risk following the Supreme Court’s decision.

Biasi’s paper asks, “If allowed to set pay in a more flexible way, could school districts improve the quality of the teaching workforce?”

Data from Wisconsin allow Biasi to address this question. In 2011 the Wisconsin legislature passed Act 10. The law limited collective bargaining over teachers’ salary schedules in the state. Previously, Wisconsin had seen strict adherence to lock-step schedules, which were negotiated between each school district and its teachers’ union. Act 10 gave districts full autonomy to decide on compensation, allowing them to negotiate salaries with individual teachers using any criteria the two sides desired.

The result, according to Biasi, was that “Teacher quality increased in these districts [which adopted flexible pay schedules] relative to those with seniority pay, due to a change in workforce composition and an increase in effort.”

A switch away from seniority pay [SP] towards flexible pay [FP] in a subset of Wisconsin districts, following the interruption of [collective bargaining] on teachers’ salary schedules mandated by Act 10 of 2011, resulted in higher-quality teachers moving to FP districts and lower-quality teachers either moving to SP districts or leaving the public school system altogether. As a result, the composition of the teaching workforce improved in FP districts compared with SP districts. Effort exerted by all teachers also increased.

In short, the labor market for teachers in Wisconsin worked much as you’d expect. There was more movement, better teachers earned more money, and teachers were encouraged to work harder.

The second paper is “The Long-run Effects of Teacher Collective Bargaining” by economists Michael Lovenheim and Alexander Willén. They investigate how teacher collective bargaining, one of the key services offered by their unions, “impacts student outcomes.”

The authors focused on “duty-to-bargain (DTB) laws, which require districts to negotiate with teachers’ unions in good faith.” These laws have been shown to increase union membership and the likelihood that a district elects a union to bargain collectively. Lovenheim and Willén use the timing of the passage of DTB laws between 1960 and 1987 and data on educational and labor market outcomes among 35-49 year-olds to investigate how teacher collective bargaining impacts a broad array of long-run outcomes.

They find, among male past students, “negative effects of exposure to teacher collective bargaining laws on the long-run labor market outcomes of students who grew up in states with these laws. These results are consistent with the “rent-seeking” hypothesis of teacher unionization.”

This hypothesis, according to the authors, states that “unions lead to a re-allocation of resources towards teachers while also making educational resources less productive.” Specifically, Lovenheim and Willén find that ten years of exposure to collective bargaining reduces annual earnings by $2,134.04 (or 3.93%) and weekly hours worked by 0.42 (or 1.09%). These individuals are also 1 percentage point less likely to be employed, are 0.8% less likely to be in the labor force and find themselves in lower-skilled occupations.

Furthermore, the negative effects of collective bargaining are particularly pronounced among black and Hispanic males. Here, ten years of exposure to collective bargaining lower annual earnings by $3,246 (9.43%), hours worked per week by 0.72 (2.18%), and the likelihood of being employed by 1.3 percentage points. All told, the authors concluded the following:

A back-of-the-envelope calculation indicates these laws reduce total labor market earnings by $213.8 billion per year, which suggests our findings have large implications for earnings in the US due to the prevalence of duty-to-bargain laws…In total, our estimates indicate that state duty-to-bargain laws have sizable, negative labor market consequences for men who attended grade school in states with these laws.

The teachers’ unions might be correct that the Janus vs AFSCME verdict will compromise their ability to effectively offer its membership such services as collective bargaining. But, on the basis of these two new pieces of research, it is unclear that its other warnings stack up. They suggest that teacher pay will be more closely related to their output and that students—particularly black and Hispanic boys—will be better off.

Whenever a representative of producers, like teachers unions, claims to be motivated by a concern for the welfare of their consumers, students, it might be more appropriate to raise a quizzical eyebrow. This new research suggests that, contra union claims, it is they who will be negatively impacted by Janus vs AFSCME. Students and even teachers may well be better off thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision.

John Phelan

John Phelan

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment and fellow of The Cobden Centre.

How to Spot Misleading Statistics in the Gun Control Debate

The question should not be, “Do guns prevent crime?” The question should be, “Are guns useful at resisting crime?”

The academic debate over gun control consists mainly of a war of statistics. New studies come out every few weeks, and as a result, both sides are constantly locking horns over the validity or invalidity of this-or-that study in this-or-that country.

For those who aren’t formally trained in data analysis, this debate can seem impossible to navigate. How should untrained laypersons go about interpreting the findings of statistical studies?

It’s About Resistance, Not Prevention

Statistics come in all shapes and sizes, so the first thing we need to do is determine which kinds of statistics are relevant to the gun control debate and which are irrelevant. To do this, we need a clear understanding of what the gun control debate is fundamentally about. We can’t separate the relevant from the irrelevant if we aren’t clear about how to frame the issue.

So, what is the debate over gun ownership fundamentally about? Many seem to think that it’s about deterrence; that is, whether gun ownership prevents crime. The most well-known proponent of this view is John Lott, who argues that shall-issue right-to-carry laws are effective at reducing crime rates by means of deterring criminals. Lott’s research has been corroborated by a number of other studies and criticized by others.

Regardless of whether Lott’s research stands up to scrutiny, I want to suggest that it’s mistaken to think about the gun ownership debate chiefly in terms of crime prevention. On the contrary, whether there exists a right to own guns depends chiefly on whether guns are reasonable means of resisting crime.

Although prevention is more socially desirable (it is better that a crime not happen in the first place), any deterrent benefits that guns may have would owe to their resistance benefits, so the latter is more fundamental. Guns are valued for self-defense primarily because of their ability to dispense lethal force, which means that resistance—not prevention—is primary. Prevention is an added benefit, but it is secondary.

None of this is to say that Lott’s research is wrong. Rather, the point I’m making is that prevention and resistance are two very different things, and the latter is what the gun debate is fundamentally about.

To illustrate the difference, let’s suppose that I encounter a mugger while taking a walk. I brandish my firearm to the mugger, who is undeterred and rushes me with a knife. I then shoot the mugger, stopping the crime. In that situation, my gun has failed to prevent a crime, but it was successful at resisting a crime. The gun was an effective and reasonable means of self-defense even though it failed to deter the would-be mugger.

This is a very crucial point that must be carefully appreciated. Even if guns don’t prevent crime by reducing the overall crime rate, it wouldn’t mean that guns are not a reasonable means of resisting crime. As far as gun rights are concerned, the single most important issue is simply the question of whether guns do a good job when deployed against a criminal assailant. Deterrence is not the key issue at stake.

The Wrong Kinds of Studies

With that point in mind, we are now in a position to evaluate the relevance of empirical studies. Suppose for the sake of argument that pro-control advocates are right that gun ownership or right-to-carry laws do not deter crime. What follows from this? Nothing much, actually. Since the gun debate is primarily about whether guns are reasonable means of resisting crimes, the fact that guns may not work to prevent crime doesn’t really damage the case for gun ownership.

This same is true even if guns increase crime. Let’s revisit the earlier scenario involving the mugger. Suppose that upon seeing my brandished gun, the mugger becomes enraged and charges me. In that case, not only has my gun failed to prevent a crime, it may actually have worsened one. But that wouldn’t mean that my gun wasn’t a reasonable means of resisting crime, nor that I wasn’t justified in using it to defend myself.

The point here is this: even if studies showing that gun ownership or right-to-carry laws increase crime are right, they’re irrelevant. It doesn’t follow that guns are not effective when used in self-defense. Since the merits of gun ownership center around their resistance benefits, it is misleading to attack that by focusing on their lack of preventative benefits. The failure of a gun to prevent crime doesn’t imply its failure at resisting crime.

Proponents of gun control are therefore guilty of a subtle sleight of hand when they cite studies showing that guns lead to more crime or that gun-owners have a higher risk of being killed by a gun. Even if all these studies are true (and there is considerable reason to doubt that they are), they are wholly irrelevant to what is actually at stake in the debate over gun ownership. It confuses the risk that guns have in general with their effectiveness when used for self-protection.

Now to be fair, many gun advocates are guilty of making this same mistake, in that they frame the entire debate in terms of deterrence and crime prevention. While it’s not wrong to look at these questions, they should be secondary to what really matters. Gun advocates should direct their primary attention to the number of defensive gun uses and the effectiveness of guns in self-defense, as they pertain directly to the core issue of the gun debate: resisting crime.

So, the next time you see a study showing how gun ownership may increase crime or one’s chances of dying, know that it is irrelevant to what is actually at stake. Being able to make the distinction between prevention and resistance won’t make you an expert at data analysis, but it will go a long way in helping you wade through the morass of anti-gun statistics.

The Right Kinds of Studies

The type of studies we should be paying attention to are those studies that deal directly with the effectiveness of guns when used in a self-defense scenario. On that topic, there is a clear and overwhelming consensus that guns are effective when used in self-defense.

A 1993 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology found that out of eight different forms of robbery resistance, “victim gun use was the resistance strategy most strongly and consistently associated with successful outcomes for robbery victims.”

A 2000 study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice found that men and women who resisted with a gun were less likely to be injured or lose property than those who resisted using some other means or who did not resist at all. In the case of women, “having a gun really does result in equalizing a woman with a man.”

A 2004 study published in the journal Criminology found that out of sixteen different forms of victim self-protection, “a variety of mostly forceful tactics, including resistance with a gun, appeared to have the strongest effects in reducing the risk of injury.”

Finally, a 2010 study published in Crime and Delinquency found that resistance with a gun decreased the odds of robbery and rape completion by 93 percent and 92 percent, respectively.

Taking stock of these points, the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council concluded in a 2013 review of the literature that

studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.

When it comes to the use of studies and statistics, both sides tend to focus on the impact of gun ownership and right-to-carry laws on causing or deterring violence. These are certainly interesting issues to examine, but deterrence (or lack thereof) isn’t actually relevant to the key question in the gun debate. What matters is simply the question of whether guns are effective at doing what they’re designed to do. And on that question, there is clear consensus that guns are extremely effective at self-defense.

Tim Hsiao

Tim Hsiao

Tim Hsiao is Instructor of Philosophy and Humanities at Grantham University. His website is timhsiao.org

How Congress Can Make Tax Cuts Permanent Without Worsening the Debt

The economy is thriving under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Wages are upscores of jobs are being created, and small businesses are more optimistic than ever about the future.

Making those tax cuts permanent and passing additional pro-growth tax reforms would help sustain higher economic growth, creating long-term benefits for all Americans.

Even so, those benefits would be limited if policymakers fail to address the unsustainable mountain of debt we have already taken on. This part is critical because left unaddressed, the debt will inevitably lead to either an economic crash or decades of economic malaise.

The root problem is not low taxes. After all, the IRS collected record revenue in fiscal year 2018. The problem is excessive government spending, and no amount of tax increases can fix that.

Without restraining spending, further tax cuts today will only mean higher taxes in the future. To achieve fiscal sanity while respecting individual liberty, Congress should pursue tax reform 2.0 by eliminating tax credit spending in the tax code and reducing federal spending.

The Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for Balance shows how this can be done. The blueprint would achieve an extra $735 billion in additional tax revenues by eliminating narrowly targeted and inappropriate tax credits, or disguised spending, in the tax code.

Getting rid of these credits would more than cover the estimated $657 billion drop in revenues over 10 years that would result from Tax Reform 2.0. Other measures would also help with this, like fully eliminating the state and local tax deduction so that people earning the same incomes across America pay the same in federal taxes.

The state and local tax deduction is deeply inefficient, as it mainly benefits the wealthy and does little for the poor. It also encourages fiscal mismanagement by subsidizing state and local tax increases and discouraging tax cuts.

Replacing this deduction and other narrow and inefficient tax credits with broad-based, pro-growth measures contained in Tax Reform 2.0 would achieve all the benefits of tax cuts without incurring the consequences and risks of higher debt.

An even better proposal would be to simply cut spending and use the tax savings described above to lower taxes even further.

Tax Reform 2.0 would solidify our economic growth and give a boost to working Americans. But regardless of whether or not Congress enacts it, and regardless of the revenue impact, one thing remains certain: Our current deficits are unsustainable.

Without significant cuts in federal spending, no amount of tax cuts can grow the economy out of its debt, and no amount of tax hikes can cover federal spending without crashing the economy.

If lawmakers want to prevent an eventual economic crash or a long period of meager or negative economic growth, they will need to reassess the size and scope of the federal government.

The Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for Balance gives Congress specific ways that it can reduce spending by $12.3 trillion over the next decade, balance the budget by 2025, and cut the projected debt by 23 percent in 2028.

Tax Reform 2.0 has the potential to give our economy a significant long-term boost. To realize this full potential without future tax increases, lawmakers should couple Tax Reform 2.0 with commonsense tax policies that would get rid of narrow, perverse, and detrimental subsidies and credits in the tax code, as well as instituting structural spending reforms to reduce the size and scope of the federal government.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Rachel Greszler

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.


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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash.

President Obama’s True Economic Record

Former President Barack Obama was back on the campaign trail recently, less than two years after leaving office. Most former presidents stay out of the fray, but he was called out of mothballs to help elect Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. As such, he took swipes at President Trump’s economic agenda, saying:

“When you hear how great the economy’s doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started.” “Suddenly, Republicans are saying it’s a miracle. I have to kind of remind them, actually, those job numbers are the same as they were in 2015 and 2016.” – former President Barack Obama September 7, 2018

Whenever you study economic trends, there are two fundamental variables, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which reflects production, and unemployment. For the record, how did President Obama do as compared to President Trump?

Gross Domestic Product (GDP):

Under President Obama – In 2016 (his last year in office) – went from 1.5% to 1.8%

Under President Trump – Since taking office in January 2017 – went from 1.8% to 4.2%

Unemployment Rate:

Under President Obama – In 2016 (his last year in office) – went from 4.9% to 4.7%

Under President Trump – Since taking office in January 2017 – went from 4.8% to 3.9%

The economy is not based on the performance of the stock markets, which only reflect confidence in the economy. I have had people ask me, “If the economy is so good, why won’t my portfolio go up?” It never occurs to them they may have invested badly.

There are many other variables that could be examined, such as wages, earnings, consumer confidence, inflation, the prime rate, the national debt, etc., but it is the GDP and unemployment which matter most.

President Obama supervised the recovery from the recession in 2009, one of the slowest on record. So many people were unemployed, they gave up and wouldn’t report their status, which lead to fallacious statistics and caused polling companies, such as Gallup, to define “true” unemployment.

For Mr. Obama to claim responsibility for today’s economic boom is simply fantasy land. If anything, it represents a refutation of his policies. It came about primarily for two reasons: President Trump repealing many of the bureaucratic rules strangling American business, and his reduction of the corporate tax. Consequently, companies were invigorated to invest in their businesses, pay their workers more money, hire more employees, and bring back jobs to America.

Let us not forget what President Obama said in June 2016 at an Indiana town-hall meeting, when asked about Candidate Trump’s promise to kick-start manufacturing jobs in the country:

“Well, how exactly are you going to do that? What exactly are you going to do? There’s no answer to it. He just says, ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.’ Well, what, how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is, he doesn’t have an answer.”

According to Bloomberg in March 2018, a rebound in manufacturing has indeed occurred, “Over the past year, according to today’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the sector has added 222,000 jobs, resuming a recovery that had paused in 2015 and 2016 amid strength in the dollar and weakness in the U.S. oil and gas industry.”

Making claims to the contrary is simply nonsense. This is another example of how the Democrats are laying down a smoke screen regarding successful Republican economic policies prior to the midterm elections. It is an act of sheer desperation.<

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

EDITORS NOTE: President Obama is correct in saying that we should all remember when the recovery started, it was when Obama left office. The featured image of street art is from Unsplash/Paweł Czerwiński@pawel_czerwinski

VIDEO: Dianne Feinstein’s Failed Logic on ‘Assault Weapons’ During Kavanaugh Hearing

“Dianne Feinstein was trying to claim that Kavanaugh was somehow wrong to suggest that these weapons aren’t unusual since there are millions and millions of people who own them… It was horrible logic from a woman who once held a press conference with Michael Bloomberg wherein they pointed all of the barrels at the press.” — Dana Loesch

Foreign Nationals Who Were Indicted for Illegally Voting Still on North Carolina’s Voter Rolls

Foreign nationals who were indicted on Aug. 24 for allegedly voting illegally in North Carolina are still on the voter rolls and officials are struggling to take them off.

Eighteen of the 19 individuals who allegedly voted illegally had registered at local Department of Motor Vehicle locations, according to The Washington Times Monday. Four were registered as Republicans, one unaffiliated, and 13 as Democrats.

dcnf-logo

One of the indicted, Elvis David Fullerton, voted in 16 elections over nearly two decades, according to the Times. Many voted on or before Nov. 8, 2016, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Wake County election officials could not investigate the people who allegedly voted illegally until an “official or formal source” provided notification, according to Wake County Board of Elections Director Gary Sims, the Times reported. The elections board said it will be able to investigate if the Department of Justice provides information on individuals convicted of voter fraud or the indicted admit they are not citizens.

Logan Churchwell of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, an organization that focuses on election laws, said election officials need to be more proactive in stopping illegal voting. However, he said officials were in a tough position.

“Federal law did not anticipate this kind of fraud,” Churchwell told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Officials in Wake County may not have the tools to fix the voter registration system or may be “hindered by outdated and increasingly bad laws,” he added.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation wrote in its study “Safe Spaces” that the 1993 National Voter Registration Act makes it easier for noncitizens to register to vote because there are no other verification systems required to be in place.

The National Voter Registration Act was an initiative to ease voter registration and maintenance, according to the DOJ. People could register to vote at the same time they applied or renewed driver’s licenses.

“If a noncitizen checks ‘Yes’ to the citizenship question in any setting, they are simply enrolled without any further verification, even if they presented a Green Card or foreign passport to identify themselves at the time of registration,” the Public Interest Legal Foundation study said.

The August 2018 study looked into noncitizen voting in 13 sanctuary cities and counties across the nation. Over 3,100 noncitizens were registered to vote or were taken off of voter rolls between 2006 and 2018.

Fairfax County in Virginia topped the list of noncitizens removed from voter rolls with 1,334 people.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation’s suggestions to decreasing noncitizenship voter registration included election officials having access to E-Verify and officials being able to enforce immigration and voting laws.

The study also proposed that states check the citizenship status for new voter registrants through other state databases like a driver’s license customers list. Arizona and Virginia currently employ this system.

“This reform places no upfront burden on new registrants,” the study said.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation uncovered some of the indicted voters in North Carolina, according to the Times.

The 19 who were indicted could face a maximum fine of $350,000 and six years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina reported.

“The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement is printing signs to be placed at all polling places and early voting sites in the 2018 general election with the goal of notifying individuals who are not eligible to vote before they cast ballots,” Patrick Gannon, public information officer for the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

A spokesperson from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles told The Daily Caller News Foundation the DMV does not register voters and that people apply to register to vote.

EDITORS NOTE: 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 for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org. Photo: fstop123/Getty Images.

3 Examples of How Social Security Robs Americans of Greater Income Before, During Retirement

Social Security takes a whopping 12.4 percent of American workers’ paychecks, but a new backgrounder by The Heritage Foundation shows that workers are getting a bad deal from the program.

Despite its popularity, Social Security typically provides very low—and in many cases, negative—rates of return.

Although the program provided high returns and windfall benefits to its earliest recipients, Social Security is no longer a good deal for workers.

The Heritage Foundation analysis shows that younger workers—even low-wage ones—would receive at least three times greater rates of return from private savings than Social Security will provide.

To assess Social Security’s so-called “rate of return,” Heritage’s analysis compares what workers would receive if their payroll taxes were invested in personal accounts compared with what Social Security will provide under two scenarios: 1) current law, with roughly 20 percent benefit cuts beginning around 2034; and 2) a scenario whereby payroll taxes rise immediately to a level necessary to pay the program’s prescribed benefits.

While virtually all workers—across income levels, both genders, and generations—would be far better off with personal savings than Social Security, younger workers get the worst deal from the government program.

The average young male worker is virtually guaranteed a negative rate of return from Social Security. Take these hypothetical examples:

Marc Perez is 23 years old and earns an average income of $60,006 per year. He will pay $547,088 in Social Security taxes (excluding disability insurance taxes) throughout his lifetime. In return, he will receive a monthly benefit of $2,209 in retirement.

If he instead invested that same amount—$547,088—in a conservative mix of stocks and bonds, he would accumulate more than $1.5 million in a retirement account and could use that to purchase a lifetime annuity that would pay him $6,185 per month, or nearly three times what Social Security will provide.

Even lower-income earners, like Ashley Martin, who generally receives higher returns from Social Security, would be better off saving and investing in their own personal retirement accounts.

Martin is also 23 and makes $19,768 per year. She will pay an estimated $119,426 in Social Security taxes toward a program that will provide her with a $902 monthly benefit in retirement.

If she instead invested that same amount—$119,426—in her own retirement account, she would accumulate $354,731 in savings. That would be enough to purchase an annuity that would provide her with $1,262 per month, or 40 percent more than Social Security can provide.

Given the preceding examples, it will come as no surprise that high-income earners like Courtney Jones get the worst deal from Social Security.

Jones is also 23 and makes $128,400 per year (Social Security’s taxable maximum). She will pay $860,050 in Social Security taxes throughout her lifetime and can expect to receive a monthly benefit of $2,683 from the government program.

However, if she invested that $860,050 in her own retirement account, she would accumulate more than $2.8 million in retirement savings—an amount that could provide her with a monthly annuity of $10,132, or almost four times what Social Security can provide.

If workers did not use their personal savings to purchase annuities, but instead drew down on them as needed in retirement, they would be able to leave sizable bequests to their heirs.

In contrast, workers who die before reaching Social Security’s retirement age or shortly thereafter often receive little to nothing in return for their hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes.

The ability to leave bequests would be especially meaningful for lower-income workers. Not only do lower-income workers tend to have lower life expectancies, and therefore receive less in Social Security benefits than higher-income counterparts, but their families do not receive the same leg up from bequests that middle- and upper-income families often receive from their elders to pay for a grandchild’s education or to purchase a home.

After payroll taxes and other levies, there simply isn’t much left for lower-income workers to save for the benefit of their heirs.

A young male earning only half the average wage would have enough in a personal account to provide the exact same income that Social Security provides, and to also leave $479,000 to his heirs if he died at the average life-expectancy age of 76. Even if he were to live to age 90, he would have $270,000 left in savings to leave to his heirs.

Allowing workers to more easily save for their own needs today, and in retirement, instead of taxing them heavily to provide them with public benefits would enable workers to accrue higher retirement incomes in addition to greater take-home pay during their working years.

Supplemental Security Income benefits for elderly individuals who face poverty could provide a floor below which no worker would fall, but such income security benefits would require only a fraction of Social Security’s current payroll taxes.

Lawmakers need to act now—not only to address Social Security’s looming insolvency, but to reform the program in a way that reduces the tax burden on  workers, leaving them with more money to pursue their goals today and to put toward personal savings.

Pairing Social Security reforms that limit the program’s size and taxes with universal savings accounts would help accomplish that goal by allowing workers to save, tax-free, for whatever purposes they want.

The American people, not Washington bureaucrats, should be the ones to decide how much and how best to save for their needs today and in retirement.

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.

Julia Howe

Julia Howe is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.


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Refugee processing slowdown due to FBI’s new vetting procedures

If you didn’t see my first post this morning go here.

Then FBI Director Comey told the Senate last year that 300 refugees (about 200 of them Iraqis) were being investigated for possible connections to terrorists.

fbi logo

This is number two in a three part series today on how the Trump Administration has been beefing up vetting and thus slowing the flow of refugees in to the US.

From Reuters (remember I told you yesterday that the Pentagon is the new ally of the Open Borders Left):

Exclusive: Pentagon raises alarm about sharp drop in Iraqi refugees coming to U.S.

After a lead-in about Pentagon concerns, we learn this:

As of Aug. 15, just 48 Iraqis have been admitted to the United States this fiscal year through a special refugee program meant for people who worked for the U.S. government or American contractors, news media or non-governmental groups, according to data provided by the State Department. More than 3,000 came last year and about 5,100 in 2016. [They are referring to Special Immigrant Visas and note that someone can get in as a refugee if they worked with NGOs, with no connection to the military!—ed]

At the meeting last week, officials examined the multiple security checks that Iraqis must pass, including one background check that all refugees undergo, called the Interagency Check.

They determined the obstacle was a separate process called Security Advisory Opinions (SAOs), which are required for a smaller subset of people – male and female refugees within a certain age range from Iraq and 10 other countries, mostly in the Middle East and Africa.

The FBI and intelligence agencies conduct the SAOs while the State Department coordinates the process.

Pictured right are some of Obama’s Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa holders. See brutal rape story from Colorado.Colorado Iraqi gang rapists

Yikes!

At the meeting, the FBI revealed that of a batch of 88 Iraqis it had recently completed SAOs for, it found suspicious information on 87 of them, said the two officials aware of the meeting. Current and former officials said that is a much higher “hit rate” than in past years.

It was unclear to officials what exactly is causing the higher hit rate, and the meeting did not get into the details of the FBI’s screening methodology and how it might have changed.

Not just Iraqis!

Last year, the Trump administration instituted more stringent screening for refugees, including a requirement that they submit phone numbers and email addresses for many more family members than before. That information is now assessed in the SAOs for those refugees who require them.

The countries whose refugees automatically require SAOs before they can be admitted, in addition to Iraq, are Egypt, Iran, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Of course, shamefully missing are Afghanistan and Burma (Rohingya!).

More here.

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Memory lane: Then FBI Director Comey told the Senate that 300 refugees were being investigated by the FBI for terror connections

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