Why Did Gillum’s Campaign Share a Building with a Taxpayer-Funded Solar Project and His Consulting Firm?

TALLAHASSEE, FL- Andrew Gillum recently moved his campaign headquarters, and as reported by the Tallahassee Democrat, Gillum has yet to pay rent for the new space. Perhaps Gillum is getting another sweetheart deal in Tallahassee, but as with most stories about Andrew Gillum, it gets worse.

As noted in the Democrat story, Gillum’s campaign was previously located at 1550 Melvin St. in Tallahassee, the same address shared by three other entities with questionable ties to Gillum: P&P Communications, People for the American Way Foundation, and Solar Distributors of America.

Why was a company who is a direct beneficiary of millions of taxpayer dollars registered at the same address as Gillum’s other interests?

  • In 2011, as a Tallahassee City Commissioner, Andrew Gillum voted to give $5.4 million in taxpayer money to Sunnyland Solar for a solar farm project that failed shortly afterwards. That solar farm project is now a direct target of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in Tallahassee’s city government.
  • A company called Solar Distributors of America partnered with Sunnyland Solar and was the purchasing entity for the property that the solar resided on. Solar Distributors of America is registered at 1550 Melvin St. in Tallahassee. At the time, 1550 Melvin Street was also the address of the following:
    • Andrew Gillum’s campaign headquarters
    • P&P Communications
    • People for the American Way Foundation

Why did Gillum’s alleged PR firm receive rent money from his campaign? How is this not a violation?

  • After leaving his job with the People for the American Way Foundation ahead of his run for Florida governor, Mayor Andrew Gillum joined P&P Communications, a PR Firm in Tallahassee founded by longtime Gillum supporter Sharon Lettman-Hicks.
  • P&P Communications was located in the same building, owned by Lettman-Hicks, as the People for the American Way Foundation.
  • As noted by the Tallahassee Democrat: “The building was home to the PFAW Foundation for years until its lease expired in February 2017, just as Gillum was about to launch his gubernatorial campaign. After PFAW moved out, Gillum’s campaign moved in the following month, Lettman-Hicks said.”
  • Gillum’s campaign paid P&P rent, from which Gillum takes an over $70,000 a year salary from.
  • P&P, an alleged PR Firm, has no listed clients, no website, and virtually no trace of existence other than its registration.

The people of Florida deserve answers:

  • Why would a company who is a direct beneficiary of millions of taxpayer dollars be registered at the same address as Gillum’s other interests?
  • After voting to allocate over $5 million in taxpayer money, and the project collapsed, where did that money go? And why was one of the companies with ties to the project located at his campaign HQ?
  • What does P&P Communications do? If they truly are a PR Firm, where is their website? Who are their clients? Why were they receiving rent money from his campaign? How is this not a violation?

SOURCES

  • City Commission Meeting Summary, TalGov.com, p. 30
  • Jeffrey Schweers, “‘Setup for failure’: How fortunes dimmed for Sunnyland, a company under FBI scrutiny (UPDATE),”Tallahassee Democrat, 6/27/2017
  • Jeff Burlew and Jeffrey Schweers, “Andrew Gillum’s other job: P&P Communications shares building with campaign HQ,”Tallahassee Democrat, 8/1/2018
  • “Mayor Andrew Gillum Paid by PR Firm with No Website, Will Not Identify Clients,” Tallahassee Reports, 7/30/2018

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Trump and Congress Just Gave the Military a Big Boost

The military can celebrate some great news this weekend.

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed the appropriations package that provides funding for the 2019 defense budget, giving the military a much-needed boost.

The nondefense elements of the bill are less welcome, however, and will not serve our country’s overall economic health. The totality of the bill will contribute to our increasing debt and deficit, while not reforming the unsustainable trajectory of federal spending.

The bill also fails to address any conservative policy priorities outside the realm of defense.

Many members of Congress stomached all the shortcomings of the bill because of the importance of the defense-related elements in the legislation. Most members of Congress understand that the current state of our armed forces warrants an increased and timely budget.

Since its inaugural edition in 2015, The Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength has catalogued the current state of our military, measured against its ability to engage in two simultaneous major wars.

Recent years have been unkind to our armed forces, as all four branches have experienced decline in multiple areas. For example, the Air Force is the smallest it has ever been and possesses the oldest planes since it was formed. At the same time, a rising China, an aggressive Russia, a terror-supporting Iran, and a nuclear-armed North Korea all present new and formidable threats to U.S. interests.

Thankfully, because of Trump’s early push to rebuild the military and his partnership with Congress in passing appropriations in 2017 and 2018, we now have some hopeful indications that the tide has begun to turn. For example, readiness among Army brigade combat teams has improved since 2017.

These and other key changes will be discussed when The Heritage Foundation releases the 2019 edition of the Index of U.S. Military Strength on Oct. 4. The keynote speaker, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, has long championed a strong and robust military.

The newly passed 2019 defense appropriations bill is an important part of the road to recovery. There are many things to applaud in the bill.

First of all, it was signed before the beginning of the new fiscal year. This means that for the first time since 2010, the Pentagon will not have to deal with the negative effects of operating under a continuing resolution. This rare funding constancy at the start of the fiscal year will allow the services to actually use all 12 months of the year to train and rationally spend the money provided for their use.

The bill also provides military personnel with a well-deserved 2.6 percent pay raise. The raise will help to attract new recruits and retain current service members. This is especially critical in a day when fewer and fewer Americans are eligible to serve and the Army in particular is struggling to meet its recruitment goals.

In addition, the bill will fund the Pentagon to increase its forces by over 24,000. It will also begin the process of increasing the size of the Navy’s fleet, investing over $24 billion in the construction of new ships. It also funds 93 new F-35 combat aircraft—the most capable fighter in the world.

The bill also provides more funding for military hardware and research and development efforts that, if sustained, will be of great help to our military.

Notwithstanding these positives and the military’s recent modest gains in readiness, the United States cannot consider the rebuilding of our military completed.

It took years of over-use and budget cuts for our armed forces to deteriorate to the degree that they have. It will therefore take years to reverse the decline in readiness and restore our military to serve the nation’s needs, as our national leaders have described.

Rebuilding our military is not a one-year process, and it will require continued investment and care in the coming years. We cannot and should not consider the job done.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Frederico Bartels

Frederico Bartels is a policy analyst for defense budgeting at The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. Twitter: .


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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of an F-35C Lightning II preparing to launch from the USS Abraham Lincoln, Aug. 20, 2018. (Photo: Us Navy/Zuma Press/Newscom). Reprinted with permission.

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.


RELATED ARTICLES:

Kavanaugh at the Tip of the Smear

A World on Fire in Myanmar

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

U.S. Spends $90 Million to Help a few Dozen Afghan Women Get Jobs

The U.S. government has blown almost $90 million on a doomed project to help Afghan women enter the workforce with a big chunk of the money going to a Clinton-aligned “development” company that reaped big bucks from Uncle Sam while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

The cash flows through the famously corrupt U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID), which is charged with providing global economic, development and humanitarian assistance. In this case USAID allocated $216 million to supposedly help tens of thousands of Afghan women get jobs and gain promotions over five years. Known as “Promoting Gender Equity in National Priority Programs,” the endeavor was launched in 2014 and tens of millions of dollars later it’s proven to be a major failure.

Someone must be pocketing the cash because the costly program has helped between zero and 60 women. This isn’t a joke, though it sounds like a bad one. All the dirty details are laid out in a scathing federal audit released this month by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

Investigators found that around 55 women got “new or better” jobs in three years and they can’t even fully credit the U.S.-backed program for the women’s prosperities. SIGAR writes that it found “multiple problems” in the program, including security, staffing and economic conditions in Afghanistan.

“In addition, SIGAR found that USAID/Afghanistan’s records on the contractors’ required deliverables were incomplete and inaccurate because the agency’s management did not give contracting officer’s representatives enough guidance on record keeping,” the report states. Of interesting note is that one of the biggest contracts went to a company, Chemonics International, with close ties to the Clintons. The Washington-based development firm was awarded $38 million, according to the figures included in the SIGAR report.

“Chemonics thrived during Clinton’s tenure, nabbing more contracts during the Haiti reconstruction effort than any other company,” a 2015 news report reveals. “Peter Schweizer noted the extensive Clinton connections to development failures in Haiti in his book, Clinton Cash.”

Here’s a nugget from this month’s SIGAR report that illustrates how poorly this boondoggle was planned by the government; even when the Afghan women complete the program, there are not jobs waiting for them. The audit reveals that the Afghan government won’t sustain the program, referred to as Promote, because it can’t hire all the graduates.

“It is also unclear whether the graduates will obtain jobs in the private sector in large numbers due to the country’s low projected economic growth rate,” the report states. “This raises questions about whether Promote is sustainable at all and could put USAID’s investment in the program in jeopardy.” So, the U.S. government is spending enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars to train women in a crime-infested, third-world country for jobs that don’t exist. Afghanistan has a poverty rate of 39.1 %, according to the World Bank, and an unemployment rate of 22.6%.

The security situation has worsened and civilian casualties are at their highest since 2002, with an unprecedented level of conflict-induced displacement.

Nevertheless, in the summer of 2013 the Obama administration announced it was launching the “largest women’s empowerment program in [USAID] history.” The goal was to advance opportunities for Afghan women to become political, private sector, and civil society leaders and to build upon existing and previous programs for women and girls. Of course, this requires a lot of money so the administration allocated the $216 million to get the job done.

The money was supposed to educate, promote and train a new generation of Afghan women in order to increase their contributions to the country’s development. “Promote strengthens women’s rights groups,” USAID proclaims, and boosts female participation in the economy while increasing the number of women in decision making positions within the Afghan government. It also helps women gain business and management skills. The SIGAR report identifies Promote as the “largest single investment to advance women globally.”

A few years ago, Judicial Watch reported on another scandalous USAID program aimed at helping women in Afghanistan escape repression. After spending a whopping $64.8 million on 652 projects, programs and initiatives, a federal audit determined lack of accountability and follow up made it impossible to know if they made a difference. That disastrous project was also funded by the departments of State and Defense and federal investigators found that none of the three agencies had effective mechanisms for tracking the funding associated with the projects.

EDITORS NOTE: The modified featured image is by Unsplash/Jimi Filipovski@jimiburg.

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

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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Elizabeth Warren’s ‘New Deal’ Is Closer to National Socialism than Democratic Socialism

In an episode of the HBO comedy series Crashing, libertarian Penn Jillette offered this provocative opinion:

The most important revolution in human history, more important than agriculture, more important than writing, is the scientific revolution. The scientific revolution came down to these three words: I don’t know.

Jillette added, “No institution, no church, no king, no power structure had ever said in history, I don’t know.”

The Greek historian Thucydides put it this way: “Ignorance is bold, knowledge reserved.”

It’s hard to find a politician willing to say, “I don’t know.” Senator Elizabeth Warren is no exception. Her ignorance is bold. Recently she proposed The Accountable Capitalism Act. Under her proposed law, Warren and others in government will pretend to know much about that which they know nothing—running every large business in America.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Senator Warren urges Americans to insist “on a new deal.” Under her Accountable Capitalism Act,

Corporations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue would be required to get a federal corporate charter. The new charter requires corporate directors to consider the interests of all major corporate stakeholders—not only shareholders—in company decisions. Shareholders could sue if they believed directors weren’t fulfilling those obligations.

Warren’s language is vague. Kevin Williamson, writing in the National Review, explains what the Accountable Capitalism Act would mean in practice:

The federal government would then dictate to these businesses the composition of their boards, the details of internal corporate governance, compensation practices, personnel policies, and much more.

In short, Williamson concludes that Senator Warren is proposing “the wholesale expropriation of private enterprise in the United States, and nothing less.”

Today, Warren’s proposal has no chance of passing. In a few years, under a democratic socialist president—I almost wrote national socialist president—Warren’s dystopia could become a reality.

Warren believes firms have an “obsession with maximizing shareholder returns.” Warren mistakenly believes that firms fail to consider other stakeholders. Does the United States Post Office or FedEx deliver a better user experience for you? The only firms who don’t consider other stakeholders are monopolies isolated from the forces of competition. To effectively compete, firms routinely consider the interests of customers, employees, suppliers, investors, and others, including the communities in which they locate.

The libertarian founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey has a name for considering all stakeholders, Conscious Capitalism. Mackey writes in his book Conscious Capitalism,

We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free-enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to something even greater.

The something greater is “higher purposes that serve, align, and integrate the interests of all their major stakeholders.”

In Mackey’s universe, this is all voluntary. For example, Whole Foods has been phasing out the sales of products containing GMOs. This is in response to demand from Whole Foods’ customers. As part of their strategy to maximize profits and attract customers, Whole Foods issues press releases explaining how they listen to customers and farmers and take actions that are good for the environment. Customers are free to buy GMO products from other stores if they prefer.

Warren doesn’t have in mind the voluntary actions of companies which must meet the test of serving consumers. Warner wants corporate decisions to be made by armchair quarterbacks who lack essential tacit knowledge and the knowledge of “particular circumstances of time and place,” as Hayek calls it. Without such knowledge, it is impossible to make decisions that effectively allocate resources to best serve consumers.

Being accountable to all stakeholders is a vague mandate. Williamson warns the intention of the Accountable Capitalism Act is to compel corporations to be “accountable to politicians, who desire to put the assets and productivity of private businesses under political discipline for their own selfish ends.” He adds:

It is remarkable that people who are most keenly attuned to the self-interest of CEOs and shareholders and the ways in which that self-interest influences their decisions apparently believe that members of the House, senators, presidents, regulators, Cabinet secretaries, and agency chiefs somehow are liberated from self-interest when they take office through some kind of miracle of transcendence.

Decision-makers accountable to politicians are a recipe for disaster. Venezuela sits on the worlds’ largest proven oil reserves, yet their socialist decision-makers are so incompetent in running a business that Venezuela has to import oil.

North Korea already has a term for instructions being offered by those who know nothing about enterprise. When Kim Jong-un visits a barely-functioning enterprise and offers inanities prescribing improvements, his instructions are called “field guidance.”

Like his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, and father, Kim Jong-il, Kim tours the county dispensing his bottomless “wisdom” providing instructions for everything from producing more buses to increasing farm yields.

With his “benevolence” and “wisdom” Kim presumably claims to take into account the interests of all stakeholders. In North Korea, there are no messy market dynamics to get in his way.

The North Korean Worker’s Party newspaper has an English-language version. The front page is dedicated to reports of all the places that Kim Jong-un has recently dispensed his field guidance. Recently, he was at a fish farm and Kim “knew” just what the farm needed:

Stressing the need for the farm to become an engine leading the fish farming field of the country and a pioneer, educator and pedigree farm for the dissemination of ultra-modern fish farming technology, he set forth the tasks and ways for it.

He gave valuable teachings concerning the management and operation of the farm and the fish farming field, including the issue of keeping researchers to meet the goal of shortening the catfish production cycle and lowering the feed unit to the worldwide level.

Perhaps you have seen photos of government acolytes engrossed in taking notes as Kim dispenses his “guidance.” Does Warren have in mind the government acolytes she’d like to see running America’s corporations?

North Koreans, having little experience or understanding of a market economy, believe their leader is a living God whose wisdom provides the guidance the economy needs to run. Although citizens barely survive at a level of meager subsistence, North Koreans believe their country is thriving due to their leaders’ greatness.

In her book The Girl with Seven Names, North Korean defector Hyeonseo Lee describes her indoctrination as a child as she came to believe in the divinity of the North Korean despot:

The story of the nativity of…the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, brought me out in goose bumps. His birth was foretold by miraculous signs in the heavens—a double rainbow over Mount Paektu, swallows singing songs of praise with human voices, and the appearance of a bright new star in the sky. We listened to this and a shudder of awe passed through our small bodies. My scalp tingled. This was pure magic.

Another defector, Yeonmi Park, in her book In Order to Live describes how she came to believe Kim Jong Il was sacrificing himself on her behalf as he delivered field guidance:

In school, we sang a song about Kim Jong Il and how he worked so hard to give our laborers on-the-spot instruction as he traveled around the country, sleeping in his car and eating only small meals of rice balls. “Please, please, Dear Leader, take a good rest for us!” we sang through our tears. “We are all crying for you.”

If you tell me America is a ways away from such a destructive mindset, instilled by generations of propaganda and brutality, I would agree. Yet, economic illiteracy is widespread. Those illiterate of economics “teach” each other through school systems and social media. Among journalists are many hostile to economic freedom. Dissenting views are no longer tolerated. For example, Prager University’s mainstream conservative site was recently censored by Facebook and YouTube.

The vast majority of the population believes the government should “strengthen the economy” and many fear the future. The combination is a combustible mixture. Imagine a major bear market and the resulting spike in fear. Then, it is not so hard to imagine a future president, with a mindset like that of Senator Warren, barnstorming the country dispensing field guidance. Is not President Trump managing trade via “bold ignorance” paving the way for more politicians like Senator Warren?

COLUMN BY

Barry Brownstein

Barry Brownstein

Barry Brownstein is professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore. He is the author of The Inner-Work of Leadership. To receive Barry’s essays subscribe at Mindset Shifts.

Meet the Man Who Saved Early America From Debt

When Thomas Jefferson appointed Albert Gallatin to be secretary of the treasury in 1801, Federalists expected the worst.

They had just lost the presidency for the first time, in an election so sharply contested that it took 36 ballots in the House of Representatives to make Jefferson president. They had also lost their majority in Congress.

Now Jefferson was putting the man who had led the Republican congressional opposition in charge of the largest and most powerful department of government.

They knew this man Gallatin all too well. He was a foreigner, a tax rebel, and a dangerously clever man. For the last six years, he had been the ablest and most vocal critic of the federal financial system. His objections to taxes, federal spending, and public debt were relentless.

Now he would turn those objections into policies that would endanger the fragile federal regime. At the least, he would starve the embryonic military establishment in order to repay the debt.

Gallatin had come to national attention only six years earlier when the Pennsylvania backcountry rose against Alexander Hamilton’s tax on distilled spirits in what later would be called the Whiskey Rebellion.

Gallatin had taken a lead in the early protests against Hamilton’s whiskey excise, but he opposed the protesters’ turn toward violence. His moderation earned him respect and an unexpected election to Congress.

Hamilton was a formidable man, “an host within himself” in the biblical phrase Jefferson later applied to him. He had the support of Washington, the virtually unassailable embodiment of revolutionary virtue. And he had a masterful grip on public finance, a subject with which Madison, Jefferson, and their supporters struggled. Hamilton’s Treasury operations bewildered them; they could not escape the feeling that he meant to dupe them.

Gallatin was an essential addition to the Republican cadre when he entered the House in 1795. His natural talent with numbers and his experience with public finance in Pennsylvania at last put the Republicans on equal terms with the Treasury.

Gallatin demystified Treasury operations, showed how the Washington administration had increased the public debt, and exposed the administration’s financial proposals to more open debate. He had an instinct for making shrewd amendments, often—his opponents complained—at the end of the day when they were tired or distracted.

His speeches were persuasive, and despite a thick French accent, his delivery was compelling.

Madison was soon reporting to Jefferson that Gallatin was “a real treasure,” and at his aerie in Virginia, Jefferson caught Madison’s enthusiasm. “If Mr. Gallatin,” he wrote, “would undertake to reduce [Hamilton’s] chaos to order, present us with a clear view of our finances, and put them into a form as simple as they will admit, he will merit immortal honor. The accounts of the U.S. ought to be, and may be made, as simple as those of a common farmer, and capable of being understood by common farmers.”

Jefferson knew that Gallatin was controversial, but he did not hesitate to appoint him. Jefferson believed that Gallatin was the only man in their party who understood Hamilton’s financial system well enough to reform it.

And Jefferson never swerved from that conclusion. The year after he left the presidency, he urged Gallatin to remain at the Treasury. Repayment of the public debt was “vital to the destinies of our government,” he reminded the treasury secretary, and “that great hope” would be lost without him.

Gallatin deserves a properly historicized treatment. The politics and economics of another time were more complicated than they appear in retrospect, and the fiscal policies of the past often turned on factors that elude us in hindsight.

We cannot understand the Jeffersonian Republicans’ strident objections to Alexander Hamilton’s financial system unless we look closely at what they actually did about the system when they came to power. We cannot understand what they did about it until we reencounter their choices.

It is not enough to look at the taxes they repealed and the debt they repaid, the troops they disbanded, and the national bank they closed. Nor is it enough to generalize about their economic and social aspirations, their agrarian bias, and their views on political economy.

We need to watch the actors struggle over practical decisions and deal with unwanted contingencies. Instead of simply quoting their rhetoric, we must ask what they accomplished and why they failed. We must get to know the man who was in charge of the Treasury.

No one doubts that Gallatin was a central figure in the early republic. “What Hamilton was to Washington, Gallatin was to Jefferson,” wrote Henry Adams. If the “historical Jefferson hardly would have been possible without a Madison,” as another historian has said, then neither of them would have been possible without Gallatin.

All three men rejected Hamilton’s vision for America, but only Gallatin was capable of undoing the fiscal system through which Hamilton had hoped to implement it.

Gallatin was treasury secretary for 12 years, longer than anyone else would lead an executive department for the next century. He put the country’s finances on a bold new republican course.

He abolished internal revenue taxes in peacetime, slashed federal spending, and repaid half of the national debt. He stoutly resisted military spending because he thought a well-armed government was more likely to waste the country’s resources in war.

His frugality became the hallmark of American public finance for more than a hundred years. His statue on a tall pedestal in front of the Treasury building bears witness to his hold on the American imagination well into the 20th century.

This excerpt was published with permission from the book, Jefferson’s Treasure: How Albert Gallatin Saved the New Nation from Debt” (Regnery, 2018).

Purchase Gregory May’s book,

Jefferson’s Treasure: How Albert Gallatin Saved the New Nation from Debt

COMMENTARY BY

Gregory May is an internationally known tax expert with a long career in tax and corporate finance.


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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Albert Gallatin secretary of the treasury under President Thomas Jefferson. (Photo of painting: akg-images/Newscom)

More than half of refugees in U.S. receive food stamps

Screenshot (620)

Click on the image to read the full report.

That is from a recent Center for Immigration Studies report by Jason Richwine who analyzed the most recent Office of Refugee Resettlement Annual Report to Congress.

More than half of the annual inflow of foreign refugees arriving in the United States are on food stamps, a government report reveals.

Since 2008, as Breitbart News reported, the U.S. has permanently resettled more than 1.7 million foreign nationals and refugees through a variety of humanitarian programs like the Special Immigrant Juveniles and the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act. This is a foreign population larger than Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — a city with more than 1.5 million residents.

An annual report by the Office of Refugee Resettlement was analyzed by the Center for Immigration Studies’ Jason Richwine, in which the analyst revealed that about 56 percent of households headed by foreign refugees who arrived in the U.S. between 2011 and 2015 are using taxpayer-funded food stamps.

Nearly 30 percent of refugees received cash welfare of some sort, while 34 percent of refugees 18-years-old or older said they had no health insurance. Of the refugees who said they did have health insurance, about 50 percent said they were either on Medicaid or Refugee Medical Assistance, both of which are taxpayer-funded.

More here.

Frankly I suspect the numbers are much worse.

The sampling used by the Office of Refugee Resettlement is tiny and dependent on how many of the refugees they can find via phone calls and how many will even participate by answering questions if they are found.

A large number are not even participating in the survey because of language barriers.

We have told you about the Annual Reports for years. Here is just one post in 2013 where we reported that food stamp use was 70% in Obama’s first year in office—2009!

Even in spite of the possible under counting in the welfare use sections, the reports are treasure troves of information for those of you trying to better understand how the refugee program works and what it might be doing to your towns and cities.

One of the things you will see in the reports is information on how many other grants and goodies the contractors receive over and above their per refugee head payment.

The US is no doubt importing poverty, something that the designers of the original Refugee Act of 1980 promised would not happen.

And, if you are saying to yourselves that new immigrants aren’t supposed to be eligible for welfare, remember that prohibition does not apply to refugees!

Below is the table from the 2016 Annual Report:

Screenshot (621)

SNAP is of course food stamps. Note that nearly 20% receive Social Security disability benefits—yikes!

Screenshot (622)

Next after food stamps, taxpayers fund medical care for a very large percentage of refugees.

Just so you know we admitted 69,933 refugees to the US in FY2015 and for the whole accounting period above (FY11 through FY15) the total was 324,508 according to data at Wrapsnet.

Cutting numbers is a good start and we applaud the President, but the whole program must be reformed.

Do it now!

Contact the White House and tell the President what you think! See contact link in right hand sidebar here at RRW.

The Earliest Signing of the NDAA in 40 Years Is a Giant Step in Rebuilding the Military

With President Donald Trump’s signature Monday at Fort Drum, New York, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019 will be the earliest a defense authorization bill has become law since 1978.

Forty years ago, the bill was 16 pages long and was called the “Department of Defense Appropriation Authorization Act, 1978.” This year’s NDAA is close to 800 pages. The early date is even more impressive considering that the last time that the NDAA was signed into law before the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 was in 1997.

The early passage of the 2019 NDAA represents a level of stability and predictability uncommon in the recent history of the Department of Defense, and it should be very helpful in the efforts to rebuild our military.

There are two important factors worth noting that contributed to the early timing of the 2019 NDAA: the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and the shadow projected by the absence of Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Bipartisan Budget Act has its flaws and represented the capitulation of substantial budgetary controls for 2018 and 2019; nonetheless, it brought a much-needed defense budget increase for both years. The 2019 defense base budget was set at $647 billion, of which a little over $639 billion was under the auspices of the NDAA.

The increased and certain budgetary number removed the biggest point of contention that lawmakers usually have with the NDAA. It enabled both the House and Senate to start working from a common top line and all but eliminated the debates on how to balance defense with other priorities in the budget.

Since late December, McCain has been in Arizona dealing with the effects of the treatment for his brain cancer. In his absence, Sen. James Inhofe, the second-ranking Republican on the committee, has been performing the duties of Armed Services Committee chairman. Still, Inhofe has expressed multiple times that the NDAA and the work of the committee were shaped by McCain.

Naming the NDAA after the absent chairman is a fitting recognition for the senator’s influence and role played in many consecutive bills. It recognizes the importance of his work, not only on the 2019 version of the bill, but in the defense community in general.

Despite all the positive signs that the Fort Drum signing ceremony brings, it is important to highlight that it does not mark the end of the effort to rebuild the military.

It took the military many years to get in a state of deteriorated readiness described by The Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength. By the same token, it will take time to rebuild it. It is not a two-year effort.

When Secretary of Defense James Mattis was discussing the rebuilding efforts, he mentioned the need for sustained and increased funding at least until 2023 to be able to fully rebuild military capabilities.

The defense budget will require more resources if we are to build out those capabilities to face the threats described by the national defense strategy.

The Budget Control Act caps that limit how much the country can invest in its defense will return in 2020 and 2021. If the country were to observe those caps, it would represent a decrease of $71 billion over the 2019 base budget.

That will require sustained engagement with Congress and the American people to explain and make the case for the defense budget and the military rebuild.

Despite the successes in 2018 and 2019, the American people cannot and should not think that the job is done. It will still take time and resources to rebuild the military that America requires.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Frederico Bartels

Frederico Bartels is a policy analyst for defense budgeting at The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. Twitter: .


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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of President Donald Trump talking with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Walter “Walt” Piatt, the commanding general of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum, as the president observes a demonstration with U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division troops and helicopters at Fort Drum, New York, on Aug. 13. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters/Newscom)

President Trump to De-fund Over 100 Chinese Communist Party ‘Confucius Institutes’ in America

Grace Gottschling an investigative reporter for Campus Reform writes in an article titled “Trump to sign Confucius Institute funding ban“,

President Trump is about to sign the new National Defense Authorization Act, which will prohibit funding to Chinese-run Confucius Institutes on American campuses.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz added the key amendment to “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” which also restricts funding to universities that host Confucius Institutes and requires them to provide a public record of any agreements or contracts they have with the program, which has deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

“The Confucius Institutes are the velvet glove around the iron fist of their campaigns on our campuses.”   

Earlier this week, the White House confirmed that Trump plans to sign the bill during a visit to Fort Drum, New York, according to Fox-28.

In March, the Central Intelligence Agency issued a classified report labeling the institutes as a threat, according to an unclassified page of the document obtained by The Washington Free Beacon.

“The [Chinese Communist Party] provides ‘strings-attached’ funding to academic institutions and think tanks to deter research that casts it in a negative light,” the unclassified portion of the report reads. “It has used this tactic to reward pro-China viewpoints and coerce Western academic publications and conferences to self-censor. The CCP often denies visas to academics who criticize the regime, encouraging many China scholars to preemptively self-censor so they can maintain access to the country on which their research depends.”

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) in an April 9, 2018 article titled “How Many Confucius Institutes Are in the United States?” by Rachelle Peterson reports:

Image Credit: Kreeder13 CC BY-SA 4.0

Updated July 18, 2018. This list, originally published in March 2018, will be updated periodically. If you know of additional Confucius Institutes that have opened or closed, please let us know at contact@nas.org

Since 2004, the Chinese government has sponsored Confucius Institutes on college and university campuses around the world. An agency of the Chinese Ministry of Education, called the Hanban, provides teachers, textbooks, and operating funds.

In April 2017, the National Association of Scholars released Outsourced to China: Confucius Institutes and Soft Power in American Higher Education, a comprehensive report on the way the Chinese government infiltrates American colleges and universities to enhance its own image. At that time, we counted 103 Confucius Institutes in the United States.

As of July 2018, NAS counts a total of 107 Confucius Institutes in the United States. We identify 100 Confucius Institutes at American colleges and universities. We also identify 1 Confucius Institute at a private educational organization, the China Institute, and 6 Confucius Institutes at K-12 public school districts.*

Our count differs from that of the Hanban, which lists 110 Confucius Institutes in the US. However, the Hanban includes two Confucius Institutes that have since closed: Pfeiffer University, the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and the University of West Florida. It also includes one that never opened: Dickinson State University. Finally, the Hanban’s list omits two Confucius Institutes that opened in 2017: Baruch University and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

*Most K-12 schools that partner with the Hanban have “Confucius Classrooms,” of which there are about 500 in the United States. However, the Hanban does designate these six school districts as home to Confucius Institutes as part of a collaboration between the Hanban and the College Board.

Download the NAS chart of the current Confucius Institutes in the United States.

Download NAS chart of US-based Confucius Institutes that closed. 

EDITORS NOTE: Here are the Confucius Institutes in Florida.

University of South Florida
Qingdao
University FL President Judy Genshaft
cvisot@usf.edu
http://global.usf.edu/confucius/College/university

Miami Dade College
Jiangsu Normal
University FL President Eduardo J. Padrón
epadron@mdc.edu
http://www.mdc.edu/mdcglobal/ci/College/university

University of North Florida
Shaanxi Normal
University FL President John Delaney
tom.serwatka@unf.edu
http://www.unf.edu/confucius/College/university

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VIDEOS: Kelli Ward for U.S. Senate Battle Literally Heats Up Arizona

Were we insane waving signs on an Arizona street corner in 116 degree heat? No, we are patriots.

Hello America. Mary and I are in Arizona. Our Conservative Campaign Committee team was joined by local patriots to wave signs for Dr. Kelli Ward for U.S. Senate Arizona. We have more sign waves scheduled. This low-tech campaigning is important because enthusiastic supporters waving signs for Dr Ward reminds voters that an election is coming, inspires her voters and possibly sways voters who are on the fence. Particularly in primary elections, voter turnout is extremely important.

Folks, Dr Kelli Ward is one of us. She believes in lower taxes; fewer regulations; personal responsibility and following the Constitution. As a physician, Dr Ward witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of Obamacare on people’s lives. She wholeheartedly supports Trump’s efforts to repeal it.

Dr. Ward says we have people in Washington DC in both parties who are addicted to spending. This robs our kids. We must get spending under control. Amen sister.

She thinks Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh is an excellent pick. Dr Ward says most important, Judge Kavanaugh says the Constitution says what it says and it does not say what it doesn’t say. Kavanaugh vows to apply the law as written.

Dr. Ward is a strong advocate of securing our border and building the wall. Dr Ward said the wall is,

“a symbol of a right and wrong way to come into the country”. It is also “a significant deterrent to the people who are trying to bring bad things into the country; the traffickers; the drug cartels who are bringing drugs and weapons and people across that border.”

Dr. Ward is a huge supporter of our military and veterans. Her husband served for 33 years. Dr Ward says as a physician, her health policy experience, her masters in public health, her time in private practice and medical education makes her uniquely positioned to be able to help our regular health-care system as well as the VA system that has been falling down on the job for way too long. “We’ve got to honor our promises to those men and women who signed on the line to protect our liberty and freedom.” Dr Kelli Ward

In a conversation with a family member who only watches fake news, I explained that Trump is not the bad guy in this issue of separating children from their parents. The bad guys are the parents who sacrifice their children to illegally enter America. Due to Chain Migration, a child getting on American soil eventually leads to the entire family invading America. These parents send their children alone on a nightmare journey to America, knowing they will be subjected to unspeakable horrors.

Dr. Ward said,

“Whenever I hear border control agents talking about 12 year old girls who their moms put on birth control because they know they’re gonna be raped as they come across their journey; four year olds with the only connection with their dad is a magic maker phone number written on their t-shirt or nine year old boys dying in the desert of heat exhaustion with no family around, it breaks my heart.”

Ten thousand of the twelve thousand children we have in custody came to this country without their parents. Dr Ward says it is a huge challenge to reconnect these children with their parents. She asked, “Where do we find these parents? Do we go and search in Mexico and Guatemala and El Salvador, in Honduras to look for those parents who sent their children across this border – put their kids in danger to come to this country illegally?” Dr. Ward says she is glad that HHS and DHS are stepping up, trying to put people back together.

Borrowing a line from the old TV show, To Tell The Truth, “Will the real candidate supportive of Trump’s agenda, please stand up.” Sit down Ms McSally, you are a fraud impostor.

Rock-solid conservative Dr Ward’s main opposition in the primary is Martha McSally. McSally is pretending to be for securing our borders and for Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda.

Conservative Campaign Committee team member national recording artist Diana Nagy is a strong advocate of our military. Team member Donald LaCombe’s son is serving in the military. During our 116 degree Arizona sign wave, Diana and Donald commented about the desert heat our troops endure in full gear to defend and protect our country.

Dr. Kelli Ward is great! So yes, our Conservative Campaign Committee team is enduring the crazy over 100 degree Arizona August heat, waving “Dr Kelli Ward” signs on street corners. We are also producing video and radio ads and more.

Patriots across America, you can help this conservative warrior through our Phone From Home program. CCC team member Miss LuLu coordinates this effort to mobilize conservatives from across the country to get engaged and get on the phone lines to help us turn out conservative Kelli Ward supporters. You can volunteer from the comfort of your own home by simply sending an email to: PhoneFromHome@ConservativeCampaign.org

Trump and America needs her in Washington, D.C. Please help Dr. Ward win the August 28th primary to represent Arizona in the November 6th election for U.S Senate.

My wife Mary and another CCC team member became a bit overheated. After taking a break in an air-conditioned car, both are doing just fine.

Things That Would Happen If You Fail to Pay Your Property Taxes

It’s one of the powers of the state or local government to impose real estate property taxes on the people living within its jurisdiction. Of course, taxes are necessary to finance the services that the local government provides to its citizens. Real estate property taxes enable the government to pay for services such as public education, utility, police, and fire services.

That’s the reason why your local government is serious in collecting taxes from property owners. In fact, most local governments don’t spare property tax shirkers. They put in place powerful collection tools and sanctions to make sure that homeowners paid their dues in owning a real estate property.

To avoid getting those sanctions from your local government, it’s crucial that you know the consequences if you fail to pay your property taxes. This blog article will be a huge help for that purpose. So take a read!

Your Property Taxes Will Incur Interest

Not paying your real estate property taxes on time will prompt the local taxing authority to levy interest on your tax account. Typically, the interest on overdue property taxes increases every month.

It’s also possible that local taxing authorities will charge monetary penalties on you. These penalties could mean an increase in the total balance that you have to pay to the local government.

A Tax Lien Will Be Placed on Your Property

In the case that you fall behind on the payment of your real estate property taxes, the local government can attach a lien on the property. If your property has a tax lien placed on it, the city or state you’re living in can’t allow you to sell or refinance your property until you’ve paid all your tax obligations.

Only the local government has the authority to sell the property tax liens. In fact, last year, the National Tax Lien Association (NTLA) said that almost a third of the $14 billion unpaid property taxes are sold as tax deed sales or tax lien certificate sales to private investors.

Tax deed sale means that the taxing authority puts the property on sale, and the buyer gets the property deed. In tax lien certificate sale, on the other hand, the government has the right to sell the tax lien, allowing the buyer to collect the debt with its interest and penalties.

However, in some jurisdictions, the taxing authority doesn’t sell your property outright. It just attaches a lien on the property and takes the title. Local property law then stipulates a procedure for the tax bureau to sell the home.

Placing tax lien on properties brings a considerable advantage to local governments because they quickly recover the money owed on the property.

What You Need to Do

House Lights Turned on

If ever you receive a notice of a tax sale because of overdue or unpaid property taxes, you should make sure that you call a lawyer as soon as possible. However, your options will depend on the city or state where you’re living.

For instance, there are tax authorities that enable a tax delinquent property owner to request for a decrease of the tax amount on grounds such as financial hardship. Of course, you need to prove that you’re indeed in that unfortunate situation.

Another option is to request that you pay the property tax you owe to the government in installments within a timeframe.

Takeaway

Paying your taxes is essential if you’re a property owner. Otherwise, the taxing authority can increase the interest of your overdue tax obligations or place a tax lien on your property. For you to avoid this situation, it’s crucial that you know about property taxes. You can read blog sites like SoCal Home Buyers to look for knowledge on this subject.

Trump Further Chips Away at Obamacare by Expanding Short-Term Health Plans

The Trump administration moved Wednesday to expand health insurance options and affordability for Americans, with a new rule allowing cheaper new and renewable health insurance plans that consumers can use for up to a year.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Labor Department, and Treasury Department released the final rule that allows consumers to buy “short-term, limited duration” health insurance plans that are not subject to the Obamacare requirements. Consumers can have the plans for up to a year, instead of three months under the new rule.

The average monthly premium for an individual with a short-term plan in the fourth quarter of 2016 was $124, compared to $393 for an unsubsidized plan in the Obamacare exchange, according to HHS.

“They can be as much as 50-80 percent lower cost than the Affordable Care Act exchange plans,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters Wednesday. “We believe this could provide relief for well over 1 million people.”

The new rule is largely a return to the existing rule before 2017, when Americans could keep the plans for almost a year, which changes as President Barack Obama was heading for the exit. To encourage more people to join the exchanges, Obama reduced short-term limited duration coverage to less than three months in an executive action just three weeks before leaving office.

The plans again cover an initial period of one year, as before Obama’s action. The difference is that the plans come with a renewable maximum period of no longer than three years.

Azar said he would like to see Congress repeal and replace Obamacare, but until then, he is going to work to expand more private choices for consumers. He said this would not undermine the Obamacare exchanges, where 87 percent of consumers are subsidized. But this does offer a choice for those who don’t qualify for subsidies, he said.

“If someone decides, ‘I’m paying too much for insurance I don’t value that gives me an inadequate benefit and I find what you allow to be offered here in the short-term, limited duration plans to be something that is more financially attractive and more attractive as a health benefit for me in terms of coverage,’ that type of voting with their feet, I would find quite meaningful,” Azar told The Daily Signal during the press conference Wednesday.

Azar also noted during the press conference the new rule requires more consumer notification of what the cheaper, short-term plans won’t cover.

“These may be a good choice for individuals, but they also may not be the right choice for everybody,” Azar said. “One of the things we are doing is requiring consumer protection notice on the plans. In fact, it’s a more robust notice than President Obama’s administration had on these very same plans to ensure the patient, the consumer, knows going in what they are getting and what they’re not getting through the plan.”

Beyond that, the plans will remain under state regulation, which can decide benefit or rate structure.

The low-cost, sometimes low-coverage, plans could be good for people transitioning from one job to another, students who anticipate a job but aren’t yet employed, independent contractors, and part-time workers, Azar said.

The administration has taken a strong step, but Congress should also act, said Marie Fishpaw, director of domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.

“The Trump administration is right to provide more options to Americans who have suffered under Obamacare and, in many cases, been priced out of health coverage,” Fishpaw said in a statement. “States should have more authority to regulate short-term, limited duration health plans. Unwinding Obamacare’s damaging regulations is just the first step.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in October directing executive branch agencies to look for ways to increase choice and competition in the health care market.

A release of three recent reports by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges is only stable for subsidized consumers, but has declined by 20 percent for nonsubsidized consumers. Meanwhile, premiums increased by 21 percent.

“We continue to see a crisis of affordability in the individual insurance market, especially for those who don’t qualify for large subsidies,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a written statement. “This final rule opens the door to new, more affordable coverage options for millions of middle-class Americans who have been priced out of ACA plans.”

COLUMN BY

Portrait of Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH.


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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of HHS Secretary Alex Azar. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Newscom)

Wind and Solar Power are the Welfare Dependents of the Energy World

Every turbine and panel that goes up raises the cost of electricity for the community it (allegedly) serves.

Take a look at this hard-hitting editorial at CFACT.org that reveals the hypocrisy of the wind and solar crowd.

Failing the laugh test: Wind, solar power make subsidy accusations

The lavishly subsidized wind and solar power industries apparently don’t like other meth dealers – er, make that energy subsidy recipients – on their federal-pork street corner. The evidence? Wind and solar apologists are squealing with outrage that coal and nuclear power may finally get their own small piece of the action.

For important context, the wind and solar power industries each receive such enormous taxpayer subsidies that all other energy industries combined do not receive as much taxpayer pork as either wind or solar power alone. According to the U.S. Energy Information administration, the net subsidies for coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power combined amount to only 1/9th of the amount of federal renewable energy subsidies (see Table 3: https://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/pdf/subsidy.pdf).

Keeping wind and solar power’s dominance of the energy subsidy racket in mind, wind and solar apologists are making laughable objections to Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to provide credit – on energy security grounds – to power facilities that can produce electricity 24/7 and can store their fuel onsite. With coal and nuclear power fitting these energy security goals, and wind and solar power falling short, renewable power apologists claim energy security considerations amount to “subsidies” and “bailouts” for coal and nuclear power.

For example, University of Michigan professor Mark J. Perry argued Tuesday in the Washington Examiner that coal and nuclear power “are being pushed out of competitive electricity markets by an abundance of cheap natural gas and renewable energy.” He may be correct that low natural gas prices are giving coal and nuclear power a run for their money, but wind and solar power prices certainly don’t. It is precisely because wind and solar power are so expensive and unreliable that the wind and solar industries need lavish subsidies and renewable power mandates to force consumers to purchase their products.

Perry digs himself a deeper hole by calling energy security considerations a “bailout” and then arguing, “It is time to let natural gas and renewable power earn their fair share of the electricity market, unencumbered by government interference.”

“Unencumbered by government interference”?!! This is a renewable power apologist talking? Forgive us for spewing our coffee all over our keyboard as we read this.

Free-market economists can debate whether the federal government should assign preference to baseload power that is available 24/7 and is relatively immune to supply interruptions. But people championing wind and solar power are the last ones who can criticize coal and nuclear power finally being considered for a small portion of the renewable power industry’s federal energy subsidies.