Who Are America’s Friends?

Have you ever been out to a large family dinner at a restaurant? Typically someone picks up the check for the entire party, such as a rich uncle. During the meal, he is kidded and listened to, but he is always expected to pick up the bill, with tip. It gets interesting when, one day, the family sits down at the table and the waiter asks who will be taking care of the bill at the end of the meal. The family is aghast when the uncle speaks up and says, “Separate checks.” Suddenly, the uncle isn’t quite so funny anymore, nor do people listen to him during the meal; in fact, he is ostracized and accused of being cheap. This pretty much describes America’s relationship with other countries.

On May 8th, President Trump announced the United States was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. This sent shock waves through our European allies as they had hoped we would stay in it, believing the Iranians would keep their end of the bargain and not develop nuclear weapons down the road. Mr. Trump didn’t read it the same way and saw it as producing long-term problems. It must be remembered this agreement was never ratified as a treaty by the Senate as the Obama administration didn’t want to see the Congress upset one of his landmark achievements.

Following America’s withdrawal, protests were formed in Iran, American flags were burned, and “Death to America,” was chanted by protesters and members of the Iranian parliament. Then again, this was also done when the agreement was first signed, so nothing has really changed; the Iranians never did like us, and probably never will.

This is another example of Mr. Trump’s “Big Stick” foreign policy where we no longer cajole countries into trying to see things our way. Whereas other presidents hoped to entice countries into working together, Mr. Trump is more results oriented, likely because of his business background. Time and again he has been using his “America First” mantra as an intricate part of his foreign policy.

We have used the “carrot and stick” approach for many years, but what did we get in return, loyalty? Hardly. For example, in December 2017, the United Nations held a resolution disapproving of America’s recent decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, something many past presidents had promised to do, yet failed to deliver. The vote passed 128-9 with 35 countries abstaining. Among those countries voting against the United States included our “friends,” the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

Others also voted against the United States, including many receiving generous foreign aid from America, including:

(From FY2017) –

Afghanistan – $977M
Bangladesh – $179M
Brazil – $25M
Congo – $395M
Cuba – $7.3M
Egypt – $143M
Ethiopia – $939M
Ghana – $167M
Iraq – $529M
Jordan – $813M
Lebanon – $116M
Libya – $64M
Nepal – $181M
Nigeria – $684M
Pakistan – $485M
Somalia – $416M
South Africa – $360M
Sudan – $151M
Viet Nam – $81M
West Bank/Gaza (Palestine Auth) – $285M
Yemen – $573M
Zimbabwe – $154M

SOURCE: USAID

In all, $21B was spent on foreign aid last year, which is used for such things as disasters, poverty relief, technical cooperation on global issues, including the environment, U.S. bilateral interests, and socioeconomic development. However, this does not include military aid which would probably double the figures shown. Yet, all of these countries voted against the United States, thereby creating an embarrassing moment for us.

If you study the individual donations listed here, which is only a partial list, one can only wonder if there is a better way of spending this money, particularly in our own country instead of giving it to our “friends.” Don’t we still have a national debt?

In refuting the resolution, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said,

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

The Palestinian Authority has declared it will not with work the Trump administration in peace talks because of the Jerusalem decision, and will negotiate with other parties instead. Fine. I’m sure they will not need the $285 million they are currently receiving from our country.

Countries ask their rich “Uncle Sam” for money for a variety of reasons, such as to cooperate with American military policy, payola, and because they desperately need it. Whatever the reason, they have to learn to play ball with the administration. A vote against the United States, such as what happened at the United Nations, should be felt in the pocket book.

We would like to believe the European countries are our friends, particularly the United Kingdom. The truth is, it is a myth. Even Australia, Canada, Mexico, and the Philippines, long considered friendly to the United States, opted to abstain as opposed to rejecting the UN resolution outright. We should know by now, the other countries only want deals favoring their countries, and not our own. This is what Mr. Trump has been warning us about since he began to run for president. There is nothing wrong in helping others in time of need, but it should come with the stipulation they will support us in return. Otherwise, it is a Win-Lose proposition and as our president can tell you, the only good business relationship is when both parties prosper.

Keep the Faith!

P.S., Be sure to see my video, “The PRIDE Renewal Tour,” on YouTube.

RELATED ARTICLE: Hamas Turmoil in Gaza is a Reflection of a Deeper Development in the Arab World

EDITORS NOTE: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies. The featured image is of Iranians holding anti-Israel and anti-U.S. placards during a protest in Tehran. (AFP/Getty Images)

Muslims defraud U.S. taxpayers of over $100 million, use it to fund terrorist group al-Shabaab

Non-Muslims paying for the upkeep of Muslims is a Qur’anic dictate:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29).

The caliph Umar said the jizya payments from the dhimmis were the source of the Muslims’ livelihood:

“Narrated Juwairiya bin Qudama at-Tamimi: We said to `Umar bin Al-Khattab, ‘O Chief of the believers! Advise us.’ He said, ‘I advise you to fulfill Allah’s Convention (made with the Dhimmis) as it is the convention of your Prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e. the taxes from the Dhimmis.)’” (Bukhari 4.53.388)

UK jihad preacher Anjem Choudary said in February 2013:

“We are on Jihad Seekers Allowance, We take the Jizya (protection money paid to Muslims by non-Muslims) which is ours anyway. The normal situation is to take money from the Kafir (non-Muslim), isn’t it? So this is normal situation. They give us the money. You work, give us the money. Allah Akbar, we take the money. Hopefully there is no one from the DSS (Department of Social Security) listening. Ah, but you see people will say you are not working. But the normal situation is for you to take money from the Kuffar (non-Muslim) So we take Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.”

“Millions of dollars in suitcases fly out of MSP, but why?,” by Jeff Baillon, KMSP, May 13, 2018 (thanks to Ken):

MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) – For five months, Fox 9 has been investigating what appears to be rampant fraud in a massive state program.

This fraud is suspected of costing Minnesota taxpayers as much as $100 million a year.

The Fox 9 Investigators reporting is based on public records and nearly a dozen government sources who have direct knowledge of what is happening.

These sources have a deep fear, and there is evidence to support their concerns, that some of that public money is ending up in the hands of terrorists.

SUITCASES FILLED WITH MONEY

This story begins at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where mysterious suitcases filled with cash have become a common carry-on.

On the morning of March 15, Fox 9 chased a tip about a man who was leaving the country. Sources said he took a carry-on bag through security that was packed with $1 million in cash. Travelers can do that, as long as they fill out the proper government forms.

Fox 9 learned that these cloak-and-dagger scenarios now happen almost weekly at MSP. The money is usually headed to the Middle East, Dubai and points beyond. Sources said last year alone, more than $100 million in cash left MSP in carry-on luggage.

The national, go-to expert on what is behind these mysterious money transfers is Glen Kerns.

“What we were interested in is where it was going,” Kerns said.

He is a former Seattle police detective who spent 15 years on the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, until his retirement.

“It’s an outright crime, it’s unbelievable,” he said.

Kerns tracked millions of dollars in cash that was leaving on flights from Seattle.

It was coming from Hawalas, businesses used to courier money to countries that have no official banking system.

Some immigrant communities rely on Hawalas to send funds to help impoverished relatives back home.

Kerns discovered some of the money was being funneled to a Hawala in the region of Somalia that is controlled by the al Shabaab terrorist group.

“I talked to a couple of sources who had lived in that region and I said, ‘If money is going to this Hawala do you think it is going to al Shabaab?’” said Kerns. “And he said, ‘Oh definitely, that area is controlled by al Shabaab, and they control the Hawala there.’”

He said when the money arrives, whether it was intended for legitimate purposes or not, al Shabaab or other groups demand a cut.

As Kerns dug deeper, he found that some of the individuals who were sending out tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of remittance payments happened to be on government assistance in this country.

How could they possibly come up with such big bucks to transfer back home?

“We had sources that told us, ‘It’s welfare fraud, it’s all about the daycare,’” said Kerns.

FOX 9 REPORTED ON THE FRAUD FIVE YEARS AGO

To better understand the connection between daycare fraud and the surge in carry-on cash, you have to look at the history of this crime.

Five years ago the Fox 9 Investigators were first to report that daycare fraud was on the rise in Minnesota, exposing how some businesses were gaming the system to steal millions in government subsidies meant to help low-income families with their childcare expenses.

“It’s a great way to make some money,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.

In order for the scheme to work, the daycare centers need to sign up low income families that qualify for child care assistance funding.

Surveillance videos from a case prosecuted by Hennepin County show parents checking their kids into a center, only to leave with them a few minutes later. Sometimes, no children would show up.

Either way, the center would bill the state for a full day of childcare….

RELATED ARTICLE: Corruption and bribery alleged in UN refugee office in Sudan

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Jihad Watch.

More Pay for Unionized Teachers Is the Wrong Solution to the Wrong Problem

Daniel J. Mitchell The real issue at hand is why more and more money never produces better outcomes.

by Daniel J. Mitchell

Education spending and teacher pay have become big issues in certain states.

Unfortunately, not for the right reason. In an ideal world, taxpayers would be demanding systemic reform because government schools are getting record amounts of money (higher than any other nation on a per-student basis) while producing sub-par results.

Instead, we live in a surreal parallel universe where teacher unions are pushing a narrative that taxpayers should cough up more money because teachers supposedly are underpaid.

 

Let’s look at the data.

An article in City Journal debunks the claim that teachers are underpaid.

…protests across the country have reinforced the perception that public school teachers are dramatically underpaid. They’re not: the average teacher already enjoys market-level wages plus retirement benefits vastly exceeding those of private-sector workers. Across-the-board salary increases, such as those enacted in Arizona, West Virginia, and Kentucky, are the wrong solution to a non-problem. …At the lowest skill levels—a GS-6 on the federal scale—teachers earn salaries about 26 percent higher than similar white-collar workers. …The average public school teaching position rated an 8.8 on the federal GS scale. After adjustment to reflect the time that teachers work outside the formal school day, the BLS data show that public school teachers on average receive salaries about 8 percent above similar private-sector jobs. …Data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation show that teachers who change to non-teaching jobs take an average salary cut of about 3 percent. Studies using administrative records in Florida, Missouri, Georgia, and Montana showed similar results. …public-employee retirement and health benefits are bleeding dry state and local budgets. Neither the public nor teachers fully appreciates the costs of these programs. We forget the value of benefits when considering how teacher pay compares with private-sector work.”

And keep in mind those lavish pensions are woefully underfunded, so taxpayers are paying too much now and they’ll have to pay even more in the future.

But I think the key factoid from the above article is that teachers take a pay cut, on average, when they leave the profession. Along with the “JOLTS” data, that’s real-world evidence that teachers are getting paid more than counterparts in the economy’s productive sector.

Allysia Finley of the Wall Street Journal also punctures the false claims of the union bosses.

Teachers unions… They’re using misleading statistics… They conflate school funding and state education spending. In Oklahoma, unions proclaimed that per pupil school spending fell by 28.2% over the past decade. That refers to the inflation-adjusted state’s general funding formula. But total per pupil outlays increased by 16% in nominal terms between 2006 and 2016… They use elevated spending baselines. Teachers unions nearly always compare school spending and teacher salaries today with peak levels before the great recession, which were inflated like housing prices. Between 2000 and 2009, average per pupil spending across the country increased 52%…per pupil spending ticked up by 7.5% between 2012 and 2015. School spending growth…increased faster than the consumer price index. …They don’t account for other forms of compensation. Since 2000, per pupil spending on employee benefits has doubled. …pensions and health benefits are the fastest-growing expenses for many school districts, and most of the money goes to retired teachers. …the unions are lying with statistics.”

In a column for the Denver Post, a parent showed that his state’s teachers are getting above-average compensation.

Teachers are…mostly paid via a union “salary schedule,” meaning they get pay raises based on only two factors: the number of college degrees and certificates they earn, and how many years they’ve been on the job. That makes a pretty lousy incentive structure… We keep hearing Colorado is 49th in the country for educational spending. That lie is repeated so often it becomes legend. Funding for Colorado schools are split between the local school district and the state. So, if you compare only the state funding part to states that have no local match, yep, ours looks low. But when you look at total funding, which can be counted in different ways, the picture doesn’t look so dire. …According to the Colorado Department of Education, the average salary for teachers here is $52,728. But that’s only one piece of the compensation. The school year is about 180 days, or 36 weeks. So, the pay is $1,465 for every week a teacher is teaching. Vacation time? Well, 52 weeks in a year, minus 36 weeks in the classroom, that’s 16 weeks off, roughly 4 months! Compare that to someone who only gets 2 weeks off but still gets paid $1,465 a week when working, that’s the equivalent of $73,233. And let’s count the present-cost value of their retirement benefits. …Not bad for a system where you can retire at 58.”

Let’s close with some excerpts from Jason Riley’s column in the Wall Street Journal.

The nation’s K-12 schools are…turning into hotbeds of political activism. …teachers are demanding higher pay, better benefits and more education funding overall. …The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have thousands of state and local affiliates. They are among the richest and best-organized pressure groups in the country. And they are on a roll. That’s good news for their members but not necessarily for children, parents and taxpayers. …Teachers unions support work rules that prevent the most capable teachers from being sent to low-performing schools, that shield teachers from meaningful evaluations, and that require instructors to be laid off based on seniority instead of performance. …those rules do nothing to address the needs of students. …politicians love to highlight education outlays. It helps them win votes and ward off union agitators. But the connection between school spending and educational outcomes is tenuous. …total spending per pupil at the state level rose, on average, by an inflation-adjusted 18%. During this period, it fell in Arizona… Yet on 2015 federal standardized exams, Arizona made more progress than any other state. New York, by contrast, boasts the highest spending per pupil and teacher pay in the country, but you wouldn’t know it from the test results.”

For what it’s worth, the final few sentences in the above excerpt should be the main issue being discussed in state capitals. Lawmakers should be asking why more and more money never produces better outcomes.

But that’s really not the problem. It’s the symptom of the problem.

Our primary challenge in education is that we rely on government monopolies that are captured by special interests. We need school choice so that competitive forces can be unleashed to generate better results. There’s strong evidence that choice produces good outcomes in the limited instances where it is allowed in the United States.

And in that kind of system, we may actually wind up with better teachers that are paid just as much. Or maybe even more.

P.S. There’s also strong evidence for school choice from nations such as SwedenChile, and the Netherlands.

P.P.S. Needless to say, eliminating the Department of Education is part of the solution.

Reprinted from International Liberty.

A Government Loan Program for Auto Manufacturers on Road to Repeal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Nicolas Loris

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

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

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

No, Teachers Are Not Underpaid

Salaries lag in some states, but nationally, wages and benefits outpace the private sector.

by Andrew BiggsJason Richwine


Recent protests across the country have reinforced the perception that public school teachers are dramatically underpaid. They’re not: the average teacher already enjoys market-level wages plus retirement benefits vastly exceeding those of private-sector workers. Across-the-board salary increases, such as those enacted in Arizona, West Virginia, and Kentucky, are the wrong solution to a non-problem.

Comparing Salaries

Most commentary on teacher pay begins and ends with the observation that public school teachers earn lower salaries than the average college graduate. This is true, but in what other context do we assume that every occupation requiring a college degree should get paid the same? Engineers make about 25 percent more than accountants, but “underpaid” accountants are not demonstrating in the streets.

Teachers rally outside the state Capitol on the second day of a teacher walkout to demand higher pay and more funding for education in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, April 3, 2018. Reuters

Wages are not determined by years of schooling but by the supply and demand for skills. These skills vary by field of study. About half of teachers major in education, among the least-rigorous fields at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Incoming education majors have lower SAT or GRE scores than candidates in other fields, but—thanks to grade inflation—they enjoy the highest GPAs. Data from the Collegiate Learning Assessment indicate that students majoring in social science, humanities, and STEM fields not only start college with greater skills than education majors but also learn more along the way.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analyzes the skill requirements of different jobs, assigning each a pay grade based on the federal government’s General Schedule (GS). At the lowest skill levels—a GS-6 on the federal scale—teachers earn salaries about 26 percent higher than similar white-collar workers. At GS-11, the highest skill level, teaching pays 17 percent less than other white-collar jobs. This explains how shortages can exist for specialized positions teaching STEM, languages, or students with disabilities, while elementary education postings may receive dozens of applications per job opening.

Contrary to myth, teachers are generally not foregoing higher salaries by staying in the classroom.

The average public school teaching position rated an 8.8 on the federal GS scale. After adjustment to reflect the time that teachers work outside the formal school day, the BLS data show that public school teachers on average receive salaries about 8 percent above similar private-sector jobs.

Contrary to myth, teachers are generally not foregoing higher salaries by staying in the classroom. Data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation show that teachers who change to non-teaching jobs take an average salary cut of about 3 percent. Studies using administrative records in Florida, Missouri, Georgia, and Montana showed similar results; the Georgia study found “strong evidence that very few of those who leave teaching take jobs that pay more than their salary as teachers.”

It’s Not Just Wages

It’s true that teacher salaries in several states are lagging. Teachers in Arizona, West Virginia, and Oklahoma have good reason to be dissatisfied: their salaries rank near the bottom nationally, even after controlling for cost of living. Even in these seemingly underpaying states, though, pensions can more than make up the difference.

Oklahoma teachers accrue new pension benefits each year, with a present value equal to 30 percent of their annual salaries. Subtract Oklahoma teachers’ own contribution of 7 percent, and employer-paid retirement benefits are worth 23 percent of annual salaries. By contrast, the typical private-sector employer contribution to a 401k plan amounts only to about 3 percent of employee pay.

Many teachers also qualify for retiree health coverage, now practically extinct in the private sector. In some states, retiree health care is modest: Oklahoma teachers get an insurance supplement of about $100 per month. But for teachers in Illinois, future retiree health benefits are worth an additional 8 percent of annual pay, while in North Carolina, retiree health benefits are worth an additional 12.5 percent.

As the New York Times recently reported, public-employee retirement and health benefits are bleeding dry state and local budgets. Neither the public nor teachers fully appreciate the costs of these programs. We forget the value of benefits when considering how teacher pay compares with private-sector work. And research suggests that teachers value deferred compensation less than upfront salary.

Possible Reforms

This opens the possibility of a constructive reform. States could offer newly hired teachers higher pay, coupled with switching those teachers to a generous, well-designed 401(k)-type retirement plan. In Oklahoma, for instance, the state could give new teachers an 11 percent raise—costless to the taxpayer—by providing a 401(k) plan with an employer contribution, which would still be four times greater than private-sector levels.

Research has found that better pay has only a modest impact on teacher quality.

For areas with legitimate teaching shortages—such as in STEM fields or special education—districts could offer targeted salary increases. A strategic approach to filling teacher shortages is particularly important to poorer states such as West Virginia and Oklahoma, where resources are limited.

Across-the-board pay increases, by contrast, are expensive and inefficient. Arizona governor Doug Ducey’s promised 20 percent teacher salary increase will cost $400 million annually before a single new teacher is hired. Such efforts create no incentive for prospective teachers to specialize in areas where shortages exist. And if the salary boost winds up reducing teacher retirements, fewer spots will open up for better-qualified new teachers. Research has found that better pay has only a modest impact on teacher quality.

Teachers enjoy widespread public favor, and their desire for higher pay is understandable. But no nationwide crisis of teacher compensation exists. Most teachers receive market-level salaries and generous retirement benefits. Local hiring problems can and should be addressed without granting windfall benefits to teachers whose compensation is already better than adequate.

Reprinted from the American Enterprise Institute.

Andrew Biggs

Jason Richwine

Jason Richwine

Jason Richwine is a public policy analyst in Washington, D.C.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Myth of Institutionalized Learning

Why Florida is a Magnet for Illegal Alien Workers

In 1986, 32 years ago, Congress agreed to implement a mandatory system in the U.S.A. To protect American workers jobs by verifying that all workers were legal workers. Obviously that did not happen as all attempts failed.

In 2010 Governor Scott ran promising to make E-Verify mandatory in Florida. He lied. In 2012 he said it was a Federal not state matter. Another lie.

In 2017 the Miami Herald reported:

South Florida is home to nearly half a million immigrants who are in the country illegally, making it the metropolitan area with the fifth-largest undocumented population in the United States, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center.

About 450,000 unauthorized immigrants reside in the greater Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area, Pew found, based on 2014 estimates from government data. About 55,000 live in the city of Miami alone.

In 2007 the cost to Floridians was $1.85 Billion, in 2017 it was more than triple 2007 at $6.3 Billion. Unchecked, will it triple again in another decade to $20 Billion?

Meanwhile, seven states around us in the South passed what Scott said wasn’t their responsibility and so today we are the only state in the Southeastern part of the country that does not have mandatory E-Verify.

A campaign was launched by Floridians for E-Verify Now to get on the 2018 state ballot to be voted on to become a Constitutional Amendment. Early votes by the Commission were favorable but the final vote was negative. The Chamber of Commerce, Ag owners and criminal illegal alien employers exerted pressure to kill it.

So what some would ask?

The answer is as illegal aliens invade the country looking for jobs they will come to Florida where their legality won’t be checked.

Currently Chairman Bob Goodlatte has a bill, HR 4760, in Congress with 95 co-sponsors that includes mandatory E-Verify. We need to support the bill to protect Florida’s workers and our wallets.

Florida has 27 Representatives in Congress. ONLY FIVE representatives are currently co-sponsors. They are: Rep. Rutherford ®, Rep. Yoho ®, Rep. Posey ®, Rep. Rooney ® and Rep. Bilarakis ®. They are all Republicans and should be applauded for trying to protect Florida’s workers.

That leaves 22 Florida Representatives who either don’t care to protect Florida workers or are being compensated in some way to not support HR 4760.

Give them a call and ask them their reason for not wanting to support Florida’s legal workers. Encourage them to join Goodlatte and get the legislation passed.

Congressional Delegation from Florida

SENATE

Name Room Phone
Nelson, Bill 716 HSOB 202-224-5274
Rubio, Marco 284 RSOB 202-224-3041

HOUSE

District Name Room Phone
1 Gaetz. Matt 507 CHOB 202-225-4136
2 Dunn, Neal 423 CHOB 202-225-5235
3 Yoho, Ted 511 CHOB 202-225-5744
4 Rutherford, John 230 CHOB 202-225-2501
5 Lawson, Al 1337 LHOB 202-225-0123
6 DeSantis, Ron 1524 LHOB 202-225-2706
7 Murphy, Stephanie 1237 LHOB 202-225-4035
8 Posey, Bill 2150 RHOB 202-225-3671
9 Soto, Darren 1429 LHOB 202-225-9889
10 Demings, Val 238 CHOB 202-225-2176
11 Webster, Daniel 1210 LHOB 202-225-1002
12 Bilirakis, Gus M. 2112 RHOB 202-225-5755
13 Crist, Charlie 427 CHOB 202-225-5961
14 Castor, Kathy 2052 RHOB 202-225-3376
15 Ross, Dennis 436 CHOB 202-225-1252
16 Buchanan, Vern 2104 RHOB 202-225-5015
17 Rooney, Tom 2160 RHOB 202-225-5792
18 Mast, Brian 2182 RHOB 202-225-3026
19 Rooney, Francis 120 CHOB 202-225-2536
20 Hastings, Alcee L. 2353 RHOB 202-225-1313
21 Frankel, Lois 1037 LHOB 202-225-3001
22 Deutch, Ted 2447 RHOB 202-225-9890
23 Wasserman Schultz, Debbie 1114 LHOB 202-225-7931
24 Wilson, Frederica 2445 RHOB 202-225-4506
25 Diaz-Balart, Mario 440 CHOB 202-225-4211
26 Curbelo, Carlos 1404 LHOB 202-225-2778
27 Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana 2206 RHOB 202-225-3931

RELATED ARTICLE: More than 56 per cent of crimes in German town are committed by asylum seekers

Small Business Confidence Way Up in the Trump Era

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

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

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

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

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

In his recent proclamation honoring small business, Trump elaborated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Anthony B. Kim

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

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

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

High Public School Spending in D.C. Hasn’t Produced Desired Outcomes

Spending by Washington, D.C., public schools can be difficult to pin down.

Estimates suggest spending is somewhere between $27,000 and $29,000 per child per year, which is roughly double the national average. Assuming $27,000 per student per year, D.C. taxpayers spend about $350,000 on a student from kindergarten through graduation.

One could be forgiven for expecting good educational outcomes for such breathtaking sums. Yet educational outcomes in the District of Columbia are one of the clearest examples of the disconnect between spending and academic achievement.

Recently released National Assessment of Educational Progress scores make that clear.

Although the District has made considerable progress on the national assessment—often referred to as “the nation’s report card”—over the past two decades, the city’s scores for eighth-graders still fall short of the national average by nearly 20 points—approximately two grade levels of learning.

In eighth-grade math, for example, D.C. students scored 16 points below the national average. In reading, D.C. students were 19 points behind their peers across the country.

Proficiency levels in reading and math also leave much to be desired. Among fourth-graders, 32 percent scored proficient or better in math, and 29 percent scored proficient in reading. Just 20 percent of eighth-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and just 21 percent in math.

That’s right: Just two out of 10 eighth-graders in D.C. public schools can read or do math proficiently.

In addition to lackluster academic outcomes, achievement gaps persist among students. If future performance replicates the past 20 years, the reading achievement gap between children from low-income families trail three grade levels behind their more affluent classmates in math.

“Expert-driven” reforms in the District have failed to produce notable improvements. As the Manhattan Institute’s Max Eden and I note:

Education reformers used to celebrate D.C.’s dramatic decline in school suspensions. Then a Washington Post investigation revealed that it was fake; administrators had merely taken suspensions off the books.

The same reformers used to celebrate D.C.’s sharp increase in high-school graduations. Then an NPR investigation revealed that it, too, was fake; almost half of students who missed more than half the year graduated.

There have, however, been some bright spots in the nation’s capital. Although charter schools scored only eight points higher than noncharter schools in eighth-grade math, charters deserve recognition, having achieved better results at significantly lower cost.

And as education scholar Matthew Ladner noted, the charter schools are at a disadvantage, since transfer students often “experience a temporary academic setback.” Consequently, as charter schools become more established with more stable student bodies, they can “improve with age.”

Overall, the scores on “the nation’s report card” illustrate the District of Columbia’s acute need for improved education performance.

The past 20 years illustrate some progress, especially at the fourth-grade level, where students are within one grade level of the national average. However, the slow momentum gained with the fourth-graders does not persist at the eighth-grade level, where students struggle to improve, trailing the national average by 16 to 19 points in math and reading.

In 2003, the city laid the groundwork for what has been the brightest spot in education in the District—namely, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program—a school voucher program open to students from low-income families—has produced excellent academic attainment results.

Beyond other reasons to applaud the school choice option, such as happier parents and safer students, an experimental evaluation commissioned by the Department of Education found that students who used a scholarship graduated at a rate 21 percentage points higher than their peers who were awarded a voucher but did not use it.

D.C. would be well-served by expanding access to the Opportunity Scholarship Program and by formula-funding the program so that parents can rely on it to be there in the future.

Expanding school choice in D.C. will enhance education at all grade levels because parents will be able to match their children with educational options that are the right fit. Instead of having limited options based largely on where they live, parents empowered by choice can find the school that best fits the academic and social needs of their children.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress scores show that D.C. children remain in dire need of access to better education options. Expanding school choice can make that a reality.

COMMENTARY BY

Jude Schwalbach is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

Portrait of Lindsey Burke

Lindsey M. Burke researches and writes on federal and state education issues as the Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research. Twitter: .

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

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

Justice Department Funded ‘Parent’ of Group Whose App Helps Illegal Immigrants

An organization whose parent group received taxpayer funds developed and offers an app that allows illegal immigrants to notify family and lawyers when they encounter law enforcement.

The app, a computer program designed to run on a cell phone or other mobile device, also allows the user to warn other illegal immigrants when authorities are in the neighborhood.

A division of the Justice Department awarded at least $206,453 to the National Immigration Law Center, which advises illegal immigrants on their rights, according to records obtained by Judicial Watch.

The Office of Justice Programs awarded the grants between fiscal years 2008 and 2010, the records cited by the conservative government watchdog group show. That would overlap the administrations of both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

One of the projects of the National Immigration Law Center is United We Dream, which describes itself as a youth program for “undocumented” immigrants.

United We Dream created the smartphone application, or app, which is called Notifica.

In a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act, Judicial Watch seeks to determine whether the federal government has given any other money to the National Immigration Law Center, said Irene Garcia, editor of the Judicial Watch blog and the group’s Spanish media liaison.

“Judicial Watch believes that using the app to warn someone could definitely be considered abetting, since it is helping lawbreakers—illegal immigrants—avoid law enforcement,” Garcia told The Daily Signal.

United We Dream also receives funds from liberal megadonor George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Garcia said.

“We are working on getting the latest OSF [Open Society Foundations] funding, but essentially OSF is United We Dream’s biggest financial supporter,” Garcia said. “We are also in the process of obtaining the latest U.S. funding records. It appears that United We Dream may receive money under different umbrella groups.”

Neither United We Dream nor the National Immigration Legal Center responded to phone and email inquiries from The Daily Signal.

The Laredo Morning Times quoted Adrian Reyna, director of membership and technology strategies for United We Dream, as saying that “when something actually happens, most people don’t know what to do at that moment.”

The Texas newspaper also reported that United We Dream is working on a second version of Notifica that will include the ability to use more languages besides Spanish and English.

The second version, set to be released this summer, would include Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese. The updated app also will be able to determine where an illegal immigrant is being detained, the newspaper reported.

United We Dream pushes to give legal status to so-called Dreamers, illegal immigrants brought to the United States when they were children. The organization, which has a hotline, advises illegal immigrants against cooperating with agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In a press release, the group says: “United We Dream calls on our communities to defend their rights, not open the door to ICE, and to report ICE activities to the United We Dream MigraWatch hotline.”

The April release adds: “United We Dream has also developed the mobile app, Notifica, which immediately alerts your loved ones and legal advocates to the user’s location in cases of detention. Text ‘Notifica’ to 877-877 for a link for download.”

The Soros-backed Open Societies Foundations don’t have a direct role in the app, but doesn’t find it objectionable, said Angela Kelley, the senior strategic adviser on immigration at the Open Society Foundations.

“The Open Society Foundations does provide general support to both United We Dream and the National Immigration Law Center. The foundations do not specifically fund this app,” Kelley told The Daily Signal.

“The app allows immigrants who face detention to notify loved ones of their whereabouts, and encourage them to contact a lawyer,” Kelley said. “It is a way of ensuring that people confronted by immigration enforcement are aware of their rights, are afforded due process, and have access to legal counsel in their hour of need.”

COMMENTARY 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.

RELATED ARTICLE: Soros-Funded Group Launches App to Help Illegal Aliens Avoid Feds.

The Real Costs Of Florida’s Hasty Parkland Legislation Are Coming Out

This is the price of letting the mob, even one led by sympathetic teens, rule over sound principles: the loss of Constitutional rights and wrecked budgets.

After the deadly shooting of 17 people at a Parkland, Florida high school earlier this year that resulted in huge protests fronted by students of the school, the GOP-dominated Florida Legislature caved to the emotional mob and passed laws violative of Americans’ Second Amendment rights while causing havoc with the budgets of every School District and Sheriff’s Office in the state.

It’s the dirty little secret largely being ignored. This was not a well-thought-through, studied, principled piece of legislation. And it was not necessary. It would not have prevented Parkland.

Most of the news coverage focused on guns, guns, guns. The media narrative was all zeroed in on how much would the Republican Florida Legislature go against the wishes of the NRA in a pro-gun state. Quite a bit it turns out, particularly when activists bring uninformed teens into the chambers for gimmicky procedural votes specifically designed to elicit an emotional response.

The portion of the law most people know about is the one restricting gun ownership for those under 21 and requiring a three-day waiting period to buy all guns. So you can be in the military and go to war, you can be in law enforcement and engage bad guys, you can enter into contracts, you can drive trucks, you can get married and start a family — but you cannot do what the Constitution of the United States expressly protects your right to do: own a gun.

“This bill punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual,” said the NRA-ILA’s executive director Chris Cox. The NRA is suing on Constitutional grounds, which will cost plenty of money, as they have a strong case are not apt to back down.

The second part of the Parkland legislation news coverage was over whether “we should arm teachers” — as the media framed the verbiage. This provision allows districts to voluntarily create a program where educators can volunteer to be trained on an ongoing basis and then allowed to carry a weapon on campus to defend students and others. Of course, this was roundly opposed by the guns, guns, guns crowd and it appears only a handful of rural school districts will opt in to the program.

But given very little coverage was the requirement to beef up law enforcement at the schools by requiring a school resource officer in every Florida school that did not opt for allowing school personnel to conceal carry. This is a generally popular response, despite the total collapse of law enforcement in Broward County at Parkland — where there was a school resource officer who stayed outside during the slaughter.

This is an extraordinarily expensive provision given the size of Florida as the nation’s third largest state.

There are 4,000 public schools in Florida. Law enforcement figures each school resource officer costs about $100,000 in salary, benefits, supplies and general overhead. So putting one at every school represents a $400 million endeavor statewide, towards which the state only committed $100 million. This is an ongoing, $300 million expense, every year.

And there’s the rub. The Legislature responded to the Parkland tragedy and difficult environment with not only a bad law, but one that shoves its badness down to the local level for payment.

This has created a mini crisis among school districts, sheriff departments and the counties that fund them around the state. An average-sized school district in Florida (they are all countywide) would need to find $3 million to $5 million to accomplish this task. The big districts would need much more.

Again. Every year. While safe schools are felt to be an urgent need, what this means is taking funding from elsewhere in the operating budget — the largest single cost of which are teachers. So districts are hoping that local sheriffs will either cover all or part of the costs. But sheriffs have their own budget constraints and resource demands, including the desire of the population not inside a school building to be safe.

So this hasty legislation has pitted school districts against sheriffs when those relations were traditionally quite strong and cooperative.

Worse, it may prove impossible to even meet outside the financial constraints. Most sheriff departments have openings they cannot fill because there are not enough qualified applicants. Florida’s economy is so strong and unemployment so low (3.7 percent) that neither sheriff departments or private security companies can maintain full strength, and they are competing with each other for the few candidates that come available.

The guardian program could solve this, as it is much less expensive to train school personnel and they are already on campus, but professional school administrators prevent most from even considering it.

The Legislature’s action means finding thousands of new sheriff deputies to be trained as school resources officers; or reducing the number of deputies patrolling the streets, making the rest of the community potentially less safe — including students when they are not in school.

This damaging legislation should never have been rammed through so quickly, despite the unconscionable way anti-gun activists marshalled and organized sympathetic students for their cause.

RELATED ARTICLE: Same Policies That Failed to Stop Florida Shooter Exist in School Districts Nationwide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The RSC plan also calls for:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it calls for:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

Portrait of Rachel del Guidice

Rachel del Guidice

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

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

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

New National Test Scores Show Betsy DeVos Was Right About Public Schools

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ recent interview with Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes” caused quite a bit of backlash from critics.

As my colleague Jonathan Butcher has written, “60 Minutes” ignored many of the facts about the state of education in America. Response to the interview drew quite a bit of criticism of DeVos and her policy solutions.

Perhaps one of the most pivotal moments came when she suggested that the United States’ heavy federal investment in education has not yielded any results. Stahl hit back, asserting that school performance has been on the rise.

But the latest government data show otherwise. According to the recently released 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s “report card,” we now have more evidence that DeVos was correct.

In fact, recent scores show virtually no improvement over 2015 scores. Eighth-grade reading saw a single point improvement over 2015 scores (10 points is considered equivalent to a grade level), while all other categories saw no improvement.

These lackluster results come on the heels of declines on the 2015 assessment, suggesting the beginning of a trend in the wrong direction for academic outcomes.

Indeed, Stahl’s claim that the state of public schools has gotten better simply doesn’t hold up to the data. It fact, DeVos is entirely correct to point out that public school outcomes have not meaningfully improved, and that our nation’s heavy federal intervention in K-12 education has failed to help the problem.

As Heritage Foundation education fellow Lindsey Burke writes:

Forty-nine out of 50 states were stagnant on the 2017 report card, and achievement gaps persist. Historically, federal education spending has been appropriated to close gaps, yet this spending—more than $2 trillion in inflation-adjusted spending at the federal level alone since 1965—has utterly failed to achieve that goal.

Increasing federal intervention over the past half-century, and the resulting burden of complying with federal programs, rules, and regulations, have created a parasitic relationship with federal education programs and states, and is straining the time and resources of local schools.

Indeed, for decades, Washington has poured billions of dollars into the public education system under the assumption that more federal spending will close achievement caps and improve the academic outcomes of students. With mounting evidence that more federal spending is not the answer, it may be time to consider other policy approaches.

DeVos is correct to suggest school choice as a solution to lackluster school performance. Parents who cannot afford to send their child to a school that is the right fit deserve to have options. As DeVos told Stahl:

Any family that has the economic means and the power to make choices is doing so for their children. Families that don’t have the power, that can’t decide, ‘I’m gonna move from this apartment in downtown whatever to the suburb where I think the school is gonna be better for my child.’ If they don’t have that choice, and they are assigned to that school, they are stuck there. I am fighting for the parents who don’t have those choices. We need all parents to have those choices.

In light of recent evidence from the nation’s report card, “60 Minutes” and other school choice critics should consider that DeVos was correct in her framing of problems facing the nation’s schools and is on the right track with possible solutions—namely, that empowering parents is the right approach to improving American education.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Mary Clare Amselem

Mary Clare Amselem is a policy analyst in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE:  Nation’s ‘Report Card’ Shows Federal Intervention Has Not Helped Students

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is by Amy Beth Bennett/TNS/Newscom.

Trump’s Vitally Important Anti-Poverty Initiative

It takes a lot of courage for a president to target almost a quarter of the federal budget for reform in an election year.

But this is exactly what President Donald Trump is doing with his executive order, “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility.”

We’re now spending more than $700 billion per year on low-income assistance, which is more than we are spending on our national defense. And there are plenty of reasons to believe this spending is inefficient, wasteful, and counterproductive.

Over the last half-century, some $22 trillion has been spent on anti-poverty programs and yet the percentage of poor in this nation remains unchanged. And it is not only a matter of the percentage staying the same but also that the people and families who are born poor stay that way.

The “Better Way” report produced by the House speaker’s office in 2016 reported that 34 percent of those born and raised in the bottom fifth of the income scale remain there all their lives.

The point has often been made that the greatest charitable gesture is teaching those in need to help themselves.

This principle defines the president’s reforms to our anti-poverty programs and spending. Let’s make sure that every dollar spent goes to those truly in need and that those dollars are spent to maximize the likelihood that the recipients will get on their feet and become independent, productive, income-earning citizens.

The executive order directs federal agencies to review the some 80 federal anti-poverty programs, consolidate where there is redundancy and overlap, and look to reform by applying the principles of hard work and self-sufficiency.

Needless to say, the usual left-wing megaphones, those that can’t tell the difference between compassion and spending billions of other people’s dollars, have wasted no time to go on attack.

The headline from the Southern Poverty Law Center screams, “Trump’s executive order on work requirements punishes low-income people for being poor.”

Calling the executive order “heartless,” the Southern Poverty Law Center rejects the premise that there are those receiving benefits from these programs who could work but don’t.

However, Robert Doar of the American Enterprise Institute reports that there are almost 20 million working-age Americans receiving benefits under Medicaid and food stamps who don’t work.

The Better Way report notes that “44 percent of work-capable households using federal rental assistance report no annual income from wages.”

But it’s not just about work requirements.

Vital to this reform project is moving programs out of Washington’s grasp and into the administrations at the state and local levels. Assistance programs need humanity and flexibility. This can only be done locally. There’s no way an army of bureaucrats in Washington can develop and implement programs for 50 million needy individuals that can properly recognize what unique individuals need to move out of poverty.

Assistance programs need to promote and embody those principles that go hand in hand with prosperity—ownership, investment, savings, and personal freedom and responsibility.

According to the Better Way report, almost 10 million Americans have no bank account and another 25 million have an account but get financial services outside of the banking system.

When I was a young woman on welfare, I saw the destruction that occurs when assistance programs penalize work, marriage, and saving, as was the case with the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. Subsequently, this was reformed and transformed with great success to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

We can’t go on spending hundreds of billions of dollars of limited taxpayer funds on programs that may have been conceived with sincerity and compassion but don’t work.

Trump deserves credit for exercising the courage and vision to move to fix what is broken in our anti-poverty programs. It is vital for the poor and vital for the nation.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Star Parker

Star Parker is a columnist for The Daily Signal and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Twitter: .

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Ivy Imboden, originally from Anchorage, Alaska, clutching a warm drink after arriving at a new tent established for the homeless in San Diego, California. (Photo: John Gastaldo/Zuma Press/Newscom). The Daily Signal depends on the support of readers like you. Donate now

Out With the Old Tax Code, in With the New

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Adam Michel

Adam Michel

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

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Provide contract funding based on successful outcomes.

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

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

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

2. Accurately account for welfare spending.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Strengthen work requirements.

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

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

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

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

4. Stop penalizing marriage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long-Needed Reform

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

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

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

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Mimi Teixeira

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

Portrait of Robert Rector

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

Dear Readers:

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

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