Despite Senator Schumer’s Assurances, Democrats Do Not Support Border Security.

On November 27, 2018, Senator Chuck Schumer stood in the Capitol before a crowd of reporters and reassured them that Democrats favor border security.  Sadly, the overwhelming evidence points to the contrary.  

Democrats have long been engaged in a battle to dismantle America’s border defenses.  On November 8, 1971, Berkeley, California became the first city in the United States to offer itself up as a sanctuary city. Many municipalities followed in the 1980s such that today, a host of local jurisdictions are refusing to cooperate with ICE.  (To access ICE’s list of sanctuary jurisdictions click here.) 

To a tee, these municipalities are democratically controlled, and in 2017, California, a Democratic stronghold, became the first and still only sanctuary state.

As we know, imparting sanctuary status upon a jurisdiction serves to protect the illegal inhabitant from detainment by ICE, as the jurisdiction will not cooperate with such detainers.  Such a permissive policy serves as a magnet for illegal immigrants who stand a significantly lower chance of being turned over to federal authorities should they break the law.  

Democrats have also proclaimed their support for open borders.  Ignorantly, Democrats have repeatedly argued that the unencumbered flow of people across the border, including that of the United States, is a human right and should be allowed as a matter of justice.  They voice disdain at the Trump Administration’s reticence in cooperating with the United Nation’s global migration pact.  Specifically, in 2017, when President Trump said he would not be sending American representatives to the United Nations’ conference on migration in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Democrats attacked him over the decision.

It likely bears no need for explaining, but a no-borders policy by the United States and the world stands in direct opposition to efforts at securing America’s borders.  

In 2018, when the caravan was headed north to America’s southern border, Democrat elements denied the caravan’s existence maintaining that it was a fabricated problem used by President Trump only for political expediency.  Today, these are the same Democrats decrying the horrible conditions of these migrants in the hopes that they are given free passage into the United States.

With few exceptions, the party leading the charge to maximize the standing for asylum seekers to gain legal entry into the United States is the Democratic Party.  The party that dismisses the injustice of having those same asylum seekers enter the United States, remain there for over three years before their case is evaluated by an immigration judge, and then not show up for the hearing is the Democrat Party.

The Democrats support catch and release and want to abolish ICE.  They oppose allocating $5.7 billion of the national, multi-trillion dollar budget to the construction of a wall at our southern borders despite the fact that the President has compromised on his initial ask of over $20 billion and despite the fact that the difference between the two parties is $3.3 billion. And when Senator Schumer repeatedly goes to the airwaves and says that the President will never get his wall despite risking a government shutdown, it is clear that Schumer could not care less about border security.

Adding to the evidence of their contempt for border security is the Democrats’ ire towards any attempt at keeping illegal immigrants out of the United States and their repeated misrepresentations of both the demographics of the problem and America’s justifiable response to it.

And let’s not forget, it is the Democrat Party that remains silent when an illegal immigrant guns down an American citizen while ignoring the grave and unpalatable injustice of having had that illegal immigrant previously released by a sanctuary jurisdiction.

No.  Despite Schumer’s reassurances, the Democrats are not in the least bit interested in border security.  They have never made it a driving issue for their party nor have they supported it actively in their daily undertakings.  Schumer’s claim to the contrary represents a mere, disingenuous capitulation to the fact that the majority of Americans find controlling our borders fundamentally important to our security, our economy, and our safety. 

Sadly, and despite the fact that every major American political party should be lock-step on this issue, if an American citizen values border security (and the rule of law for that matter) he or she cannot stand with the Democrats despite the Schumer’s fake assurances.  

RELATED ARTICLES:

Trump Calls Congressional Leaders for Meeting in Situation Room as Shutdown Reaches 12th Day

3 Things to Watch in Trump’s Shutdown Negotiations With Democrats

Mexico’s New Pres. Bows to Trump, Offers 2,000 Miles Worth of Help on Illegal Immigration

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Federalist Pages. The featured photo is by Radek Homola on Unsplash.

Why California’s 1% Dip in Homelessness Is No “Success Story”

If my friends on the left see this as an example of success, I’d hate to see their definition of failure.

I often write about the failure of government.

In other words, there’s lots of evidence that government spending makes things worse.

Needless to say, this puts a lot of pressure on folks who favor bigger government. They desperately want to find any type of success story so they can argue that increasing the size and scope of the public sector generates some sort of payoff.

And they got their wish. Check out the ostensibly good news in a story from the San Fransisco Chronicle:

Investing billions of dollars in affordable housing and homeless programs in recent years has apparently put the brakes on what had been a surge in California’s homeless population, causing it to dip by 1 percent this year, a federal report released Monday showed. …The report put California’s homeless population this year at 129,972, a drop of 1,560 in the number of people on the streets in 2017. …“I think San Francisco has shown that when targeted investments are made, we see reductions in homelessness here,” [Jeff Kositsky, head of the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing], said. He pointed out that family, youth and chronic veterans homelessness dropped in the city’s last full count — although the number of chronically homeless people went up.

Maybe I’m not in the Christmas spirit, but I don’t see this as a feel-good story.

Are we really supposed to celebrate the fact that the government spent “billions of dollars,” and the net effect is that the homeless population dropped just 1 percent?

The story doesn’t contain enough details for precise measurements, but even if we assume “billions” is merely $2 billion, then it cost taxpayers close to $1.3 million to get one person off the street. For that amount of money, taxpayers could have bought each of them a mansion!

In other words, the program has been a rotten investment. Heck, it makes Social Security seem like a good deal by comparison.

To be sure, maybe the number isn’t quite so bad because we’re comparing multi-year outlays with a one-year change in the homeless population, though it’s possible the number is even worse because taxpayers actually coughed up far more than $2 billion.

The bottom line is that if my friends on the left see this as an example of success, I’d hate to see their definition of failure.

This article was reprinted with permission from International Liberty.

COLUMN BY

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a Washington-based economist who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review. 

EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE, with images, is republished with permission. Image credit: Pixabay

2018 Saw A Global Revolt Against Climate Change Policies

  • 2018 saw a global revolt against policies aimed at fighting global warming
  • Australia, Canada, France and the U.S. have all seen push back against global warming policies
  • That included weeks of riots in France against planned carbon tax increases

Despite increasingly apocalyptic warnings from U.N. officials, 2018 has seen a number of high-profile defeats for policies aimed at fighting global warming. Politicians and voters pushed back at attempts to raise energy prices as part of the climate crusade.

It started in June with election of Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Ontario residents overwhelmingly voted Ford’s conservative coalition into power on a platform that included axing the Canadian province’s cap-and-trade program.

Ford said his first priority upon taking office would be to “cancel the Liberal cap-and-trade carbon tax.” Ford then joined a legal challenge led by Saskatchewan against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s policy of a central government-imposed carbon tax on provinces that don’t have their own.

Carbon tax opponents called Trudeau’s plan an attempt to “use the new tax to further redistribute income, which will increase the costs of this tax to the economy.”

Roughly ten thousand miles away in Australia another revolt was brewing. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saw his power base crumble within days of failing to pass a bill aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to the press following the First Ministers' Meeting in Montreal
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to the press following the First Ministers’ Meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi.

Turnbull’s so-called National Energy Guarantee to reduce energy sector emissions was opposed by a group of conservative members of Parliament led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Turnbull tried to delay the vote on his climate bill in response to the opposition but was too late. Turnbull stepped down in late August and has since been replaced by Scott Morrison.

Back in the U.S., $45 million was being pumped into the battle over a Washington state carbon tax ballot measure. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who has 2020 presidential ambitions, supported the measure though refiners, but other opponents outspent carbon tax supporters.

The Inslee-backed measure called for taxing carbon dioxide emissions at $15 a ton in 2020, which would increase at $2 a year above the rate of inflation until the state meets its emissions goals. 

However, Washington voters rejected the carbon tax measure in the November election despite Inslee’s support. It was the second time in two years that Washington voters rejected a carbon tax ballot initiative.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaks during a rally at the beginning of the March For Science in Seattle, Washington

Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaks during a rally at the beginning of the March For Science in Seattle, Washington, U.S. April 22, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder.

The November elections also saw the defeat of a group of Republican lawmakers in the House Climate Solutions Caucus. Among those defeated was caucus co-chair Florida GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who introduced carbon tax legislation in July.

Curbelo’s legislation called for a $23 per ton carbon tax that would primarily fund the Highway Trust Fund. Despite this, environmentalists funneled money to his Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Shortly after the U.S. elections, it became clear trouble was brewing across the Atlantic in France. French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms, which included planned fuel tax increases, were not winning over much of the population.

Macron spent years styling himself as a staunch supporter of efforts to tackle global warming, including the Paris agreement. Indeed, raising taxes on diesel and gasoline was part of Macron’s plan to meet France’s Paris accord pledge.

It backfired. Angered over the new carbon taxes on fuel, tens of thousands of protesters, called “yellow vests” for the vests drivers are required to have in their cars, took to the streets calling for an end to the taxes and for Macron to resign.

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint news conference with President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kabore at the Elysee Palace in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint news conference with President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kabore (not seen) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool.

Macron initially resisted, arguing France needed to do more to address global warming, but the French government capitulated in December and scrapped the planned tax increases. Macron also said he’d increase the minimum wage and begged companies to raise salaries, if possible.

Macron’s backpedaling on climate policy couldn’t have come at a worse time for the climate-conscious president. The U.N. annual climate summit was being held in Poland as Macron conceded to the “yellow vests.”

France’s carbon tax revolts sent a clear message to Democratic lawmakers across the Atlantic Ocean. Democrats will take control of the House in 2019 and want to make global warming a central part of their agenda.

Democrats and even environmentalists distanced themselves from carbon taxes in the wake of French riots. However, far-left Democrats are pushing “Green New Deal” legislation, which could become the largest expansion of government in decades.

Follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter

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Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” Represents the True Wishes of Democrats and Globalists

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

15 Things You Should Know about the 2018 Partial Government Shutdown

Because the spending bill requires a filibuster-proof majority to pass in the Senate, Republicans need several Democrats to support the funding proposal that includes border wall funding.

On Friday, the federal government entered a partial shutdown after the Senate failed to pass a spending bill that includes border wall funding. President Trump refuses to sign any additional funding that does not include $5.1 billion in additional money to pay for an extension of the border wall, allowing him to fulfill his primary campaign promise.

A government shutdown occurs either when Congress fails to pass funding bills or when the president refuses to sign a funding bill before the current appropriations expire.

A partial government shutdown occurs when many or most government agencies have already been funded by other legislation but there remain some areas that still need funding.

Several government agencies were already funded for fiscal year 2019. But another funding bill was needed to cover several agencies for about seven weeks. Nine out of 15 federal departments, dozens of agencies, and several programs will be closed or reduce operations:

  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of Interior
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environment Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Federal Drug Administration (FDA)
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Programs related to science, financial services, and other agencies
  • The National Flood Insurance Program
  • The Violence Against Women Act
  • The Pesticide Registration Improvement Act
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Immigration extensions (EB-5, E-Verify, Conrad 30 program for international medical school graduates, Special Immigrant Religious Workers program, and H2B returning worker authority for DHS)
  • The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act
  • Two expiring provisions of the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act
  • Medicaid Money-Follows-the-Person and Spousal Impoverishment, through March 31

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, more than 41,000 federal law enforcement and correctional officers will be affected, including:

  • 2,614 ATF agents
  • 16,742 Bureau of Prisons correctional officers
  • 13,709 FBI agents
  • 3,600 deputy US Marshals
  • 4,399 DEA agents
  • 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents and customs officers
  • 42,000 Coast Guard employees

Under a federal law known as the Anti-Deficiency Act, it can be a felony to spend taxpayer money without an appropriation from Congress.

The US Constitution grants Congress the power to allocate all funds collected through taxes (“No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”). Most government spending is mandatory spending, which means Congress has passed a law requiring monies to be used for specific purposes. Examples of mandatory spending are Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, and unemployment benefits.

Approximately 35 percent of government spending, though, is non-discretionary spending. This type of spending includes spending on such things as defense, homeland security, and education. For the federal agencies to receive this funding, Congress has to authorize this spending. In December, Congress passed the Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 (HR 1370), which provides non-discretionary funding through January 19, 2018.

No. Even in a full, rather than partial, shutdown, programs deemed “essential”—which include, among other agencies and services, the military, air traffic control, food inspections, etc.—would continue as normal. “Non-essential” programs and services such as national parks and federal museums would be closed. Federal workers deemed non-essential would also be furloughed.

Not directly. Benefits like Social Security, Medicare, and retirement for veterans are mandatory spending, so they are unaffected. However, if the workers who mail the checks are considered “non-essential,” it may result in delays in the checks being sent out.

Congress is exempted from the furloughs, and the Capitol building will stay open, so lawmakers aren’t really affected. Several types of executive branch officials and employees are also not subject to furlough. These include the president, presidential appointees, and federal employees deemed excepted by the Office of Public Management.

Yes. The United States Postal Service is exempt from the federal government shutdown because it does not receive its budget from annual appropriations from Congress.

Federal workers placed on furlough will not get paid during a shutdown. However, after past shutdowns, Congress has always voted to pay furloughed workers retroactively.

Not if past shutdowns are any indication. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reports that estimates vary widely, but “evidence suggests that shutdowns tend to cost, not save, money.” A recent shutdown cost the government $1.4 billion, according to an estimate by the Office of Management and Budget.

Since 1976, there have been almost two dozen shutdowns—including three under President Trump. However, before the 1980s, the government continued operating at reduced levels without furloughing workers. The two shutdowns in 2018 lasted mere days, while the shutdown in 2013 lasted 16 days.

Prior to that was the longest shutdown in modern history—a 21-day shutdown in December 1995 that came soon after a five-day shutdown that lasted from November 13-19. Those shutdowns were sparked by a disagreement over tax cuts between then-President Bill Clinton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Because the spending bill requires a filibuster-proof majority to pass in the Senate, Republicans need several Democrats to support the funding proposal that includes border wall funding.

On December 11, President Trump told two Democratic leaders of Congress, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security . . . I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”

The president has backtracked, though, and attempted to avoid blame. On Friday he tweeted, “The Democrats now own the shutdown!”

However long the shutdown lasts, the GOP will likely be considered at fault. Since the 1990s, polls show that Republicans are the party most blamed for government shutdowns.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Acton Institute.

COLUMN BY

Joe Carter

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

RELATED ARTICLE: Look how much of these federal departments is ‘nonessential’

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by FEE is republished with permission.

The Cure for Republican ‘Shutdown-ophobia’ Is Forceful Messaging on the Wall, Not Surrendering

Supporters of border security can only hope that, over the Christmas recess, Santa gifted congressional Republicans with a crash course in effective messaging on the need for funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall.

They will need it when Congress reconvenes Thursday amid the partial government shutdown caused by Democratic intransigence over funding the border barrier.

The crash course should be taught by psychologists who would start by counseling weak-kneed GOP lawmakers that the best way to overcome a phobia—in this case, “shutdown-ophobia”—is to confront the fear head-on, rather than running away from it.

The tutorial in messaging is needed because, until Trump forced their hand, GOP leaders in Congress were poised to throw away the only leverage they have to secure funding for the wall, by agreeing to another continuing budget resolution with almost no money for the wall.

That capitulation would have only ensured the wall would never get funded, much less built, with Democrats—who are indefensibly opposed to border security, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding—set to retake control of the House next week.

So, why were congressional Republicans willing to surrender unilaterally, and why did it require Trump’s vow to veto the continuing resolution to inject some much-needed steel into their spines?

It can all be traced back to shutdown-ophobia.

Psychologists define phobias as “an extreme or irrational fear of, or aversion to, something,” and the Republican leadership’s shutdown-ophobia is nothing if not irrational, given that Republicans scored presidential landslides in 1984 and 1988 despite no fewer than eight government closures during the Reagan administrations alone.

More recently, Republicans actually added to their House majority and took control of the Senate in the 2014 midterms following a 2013 shutdown of more than two weeks’ duration brought about by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s opposition to Obamacare.

So much for the elephant’s memory.

Despite having a winning hand on the issue of the border wall if it’s messaged properly and consistently, Republican leaders in Congress inexplicably feared the government-shutdown boogeyman more than they feared angering the party’s base, which overwhelmingly supports building the wall.

Congressional Republicans were about to blink and throw their base under the bus in exchange for, well, nothing, until Trump put his foot down.

Democrats were setting the stage for a reprise of 1992, when they prodded President George H.W. Bush to repudiate his “Read my lips; no new taxes” pledge. That as much as Ross Perot’s third-party candidacy ensured that there would be no new term for Bush.

Capitulation on border wall funding likely would have had that same dispiriting effect on the GOP base, because the wall was and is Trump’s signature issue.

Throwing in the towel rightly would have been seen as a betrayal, and it would almost certainly doom any chances Trump has of re-election in 2020.

But GOP congressional leaders were seemingly paralyzed by shutdown-ophobia, fear that the mainstream media—who, like the Democrats, support open borders—would blame them for the shutdown, even though Democrats’ intransigence is the real cause.

If the GOP’s overrated K Street consultants were any good at strategy and messaging (they’ve demonstrated time and again they’re not), it would be an easy matter to recast the blame for the shutdown on Democratic unwillingness to defend America’s borders.

That brings us back to the need for better messaging. Presidential tweets are insufficient. Trump should request nothing less than TV airtime for a prime-time address to the nation on the issue of border security.

Yes, national sovereignty is that important, and that’s precisely how the issue should be cast.

The president could begin his address—which he should have given weeks ago, before the prior continuing resolution lapsed—by citing a Dec. 11 tweet from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel.

McDaniel noted:

In ’13 under Obama, all 54 Dems in the Dem Senate voted to:

*double length of border barrier w/Mexico

*spend $40B on border security

*end diversity visa lottery

*double # of border agents to 40K

* create merit-based visas

Now that @realDonaldTrump’s in office, they’re opposed.

That hypocrisy would put the lie to Senate Democrats’ insistence that they’re not against border security, just against a border wall as a way to achieve it.

The president should also borrow a tactic from leftist Saul Alinsky’s playbook, “Rules for Radicals”; namely, ridicule, which Alinsky described as “man’s most potent weapon.” Underscore the absurdity of the Democrats, who have never met a spending program they wouldn’t increase, claiming the mantle of budget hawks in arguing we “can’t afford” $5 billion for a border wall.

In a $4.4 trillion annual federal budget, $5 billion doesn’t even qualify as a rounding error. It’s significantly less than the $5.89 billion the Treasury says we spent on food stamps in October alone.

The president should also explain that the one-time cost of building a wall is absolutely dwarfed by how much illegal immigration costs federal, state, and local governments every year. Estimates range from a 2013 tally by The Heritage Foundation of a net cost of  $54 billion a year to a 2017 calculation of $115.9 billion by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Democrats opposed to the wall must be made to answer two simple questions: How many is too many illegal immigrants? And how much is too much for taxpayers to have to pay for their presence here?

During his address from the Oval Office, Trump should be flanked by Border Patrol agents and border county sheriffs, who overwhelmingly support the wall, and by survivors of the victims of the crimes of illegal immigrants, like the parents of Kate Steinle and Mollie Tibbetts.

The president could call on representatives of both groups to make remarks reinforcing his own, as if to say, “If you don’t believe me, believe them.”

That’s what an effective, compelling messaging strategy would look like if Republican leaders would just overcome their irrational shutdown-ophobia and fight back with all the weapons at their disposal.

COMMENTARY BY

Peter Parisi is an editor and writer for The Daily Signal.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by The Daily Signal is republished with permission. Photo: Douliery Olivier /ABACA/Newscom.

House Democrats Are Lining Up Behind What Could Be The Largest Expansion Of Government In Decades

  • Democrats are lining up to support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal.”
  • The proposal could be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society or New Deal.
  • Ocasio-Cortez’s plan could cost tens of trillions of dollars.

Democrats are increasingly lining up to support a “Green New Deal,” which, while vague on details, could end up being the largest expansion of government in decades.

As it stands, the “Green New Deal” is more aspirational than actual policy. Indeed, it takes its name from the New Deal of the 1930s, and its main backer, incoming Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, compared it to the Great Society of the 1960s.

More than 40 Democratic lawmakers support the “Green New Deal” as part of a broad plan to fight global warming and bring about what they see as “economic, social and racial justice.” A poll found most Americans supported the deal, but knew little about it.

But the big question is when Americans find out what’s in the “Green New Deal,” will they be willing to pay for it?

Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” calls for creating a House committee to draft legislation to fight global warming and turn the U.S. economy into something akin to what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders envisions. Indeed, the “Green New Deal” could be a preview of what policies the Democratic Party will back in the 2020 elections.

Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at her midterm election night party in New York City

Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at her midterm election night party in New York City, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly.

“This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a panel event in early December alongside Sanders, a likely 2020 presidential contender.

Those goals include moving the U.S. to 100 percent green energy, federal job guarantees for workings forced out of their fossil fuel jobs, guaranteed minimum income and universal health care.

Democrats will take control of the House in 2019 and many want to see global warming become a central part of their agenda. Republicans are unlikely to go along with a green deal in any form, and cracks are even appearing among Democrats on climate policy.

Since the “Green New Deal” lacks specifics, it’s hard to gauge the total cost, but similar climate and welfare policies are estimated to cost trillions of dollars.

For starters, moving the U.S. to a 100-percent renewable electric grid could cost as much as $5.2 trillion over two decades, according to a 2010 study by the conservative Heritage Foundation. That’s about $218 billion to move the grid away from coal and natural gas.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks after the senate voted on a resolution ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks after the senate voted on a resolution ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Robert.

On top of that, the non-energy-related portions of the Green New Deal could cost trillions more, including universal health care and guaranteed income.

The libertarian Mercatus Center released a study in July that found Sanders’s “Medicare for All” plan would cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years. That same month, hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio estimated the cost to taxpayers of a universal basic income policy would top $3.8 trillion a year — and that’s assuming every American citizen got just $12,000 a year.

For comparison, the Great Society policies pursued by the Johnson administration during the 1960s cost $22 trillion, according to estimates from the Heritage Foundation. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” of the 1930s during the Great Depression cost $500 billion in today’s dollars, The Nation reported in 2008.

Of course, both the New Deal and Great Society have left U.S. taxpayers on the hook for trillions in debt and unfunded liabilities — somewhere between $87 trillion and $222 trillion.

COLUMN BY

Michael Bastasch

Energy Editor. Follow Michael on Facebook and Twitter

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Democrats Are At Each Other’s Throats Over An Issue That Barely Got Mentioned In The 2018 Elections

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RELATED VIDEO: Murdering Mother Earth.

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

Trump Is Right to Withdraw From Syria

The U.S. military presence in Syria has not been authorized by Congress, is illegal under international law, lacks a coherent strategy, and carries significant risks.


President Trump has ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. This is the right decision. The U.S. military presence in Syria has not been authorized by Congress, is illegal under international law, lacks a coherent strategy, and carries significant risks of entangling America in a broader quagmire in yet another Middle Eastern country.

As I wrote in Axios:

The Obama administration first deployed U.S. troops to Syria to complement its aerial bombing campaign against ISIS with special operations forces and coordinate with local anti-ISIS militias on the ground, gradually expanding from hundreds of troops to roughly 4,000.

The mission expanded, too, from merely defeating ISIS (substantially accomplished some time ago) to ushering Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of power, expelling Iranian forces, and edging out Russia.

The bottom line: Absent achievable goals and a strong national security imperative backed up by congressional authorization, the U.S. presence in Syria is illegitimate and better off wound down.

One prominent criticism of Trump’s decision is that it lacks a clear public explanation and evades the carefully planned and coordinated inter-agency process that enables such a withdrawal to be executed safely and responsibly. This is a fair criticism. Indeed, Trump seems not to have consulted the Defense Department, State Department, or really any of the national security principals in his administration before making this announcement.

But the fault for evading process may lie more with the president’s hawkish advisors than with Trump himself. Trump has long expressed disapproval for the U.S. military presence in Syria, but his own officials—including National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and the current Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey—either resisted or ignored the Commander-in-Chief’s clearly stated preferences on an ongoing military mission. That may have made the president feel he had no choice but to circumvent process and issue the order to withdraw on his own, via Twitter.

That said, I do worry about an administration that is too deferential to Trump’s every whim. I was heartened, for example, that cabinet officials spent months pushing back on Trump’s call to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Likewise with the president’s request for military options against North Korea, which the Pentagon reportedly slow-walked in the months before Trump shifted from maximum pressure to diplomatic negotiations with Kim Jong-un. And when Trump reportedly asked Mattis to assassinate Assad, it was probably a good thing that the Secretary of Defense chose not to take the suggestion seriously.

That withdrawal is the right decision does not mean Syria will flourish in peace and security. Several undesirable contingencies may occur in the aftermath of our exit. The Turks may engage in operations against the Kurds in Syria’s northeast. ISIS may make some gains here and there. But if these things materialize, they should not be cited as proof that withdrawal was unwise. That’s exactly the flawed argument hawks employed to criticize the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq. Sure, it left a vacuum in which ISIS emerged. But ISIS itself is a product of the US invasion of Iraq. And our presence in Syria could very well be creating comparable unintended consequences, instead of preventing them.

It can’t be America’s purpose to indefinitely forestall every plausible misfortune that may or may not bedevil this troubled region. In the near term, we can engage in diplomacy to try to curb Turkish plans to target the Kurds. And with regard to ISIS, it’s not at all clear that their permanent defeat depends on maintaining a U.S. ground presence in Syria. The extremist group is already decimated, and even without an indefinite U.S. presence, it is surrounded by enemies to whom we can pass the buck (should resurgence even occur, which is not a given).

Anyone who favors a U.S. military presence in Syria should be calling for Congress to formally authorize it. That process will require making a strong public case that deployment is required to preempt an immediate threat to U.S. security and that the mission has coherent, achievable goals that clearly define what victory looks like. Otherwise, our presence in Syria is illegitimate.

This article is reprinted from Cato At Liberty.

COLUMN BY

John Glaser

John Glaser is associate director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. His research interests include grand strategy, basing posture, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, the rise of China, and the role of status and prestige motivations in international politics.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

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EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE with images is republished with permission.

Texas City Featured in Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Sequel’ Lost Millions in Its Green Energy Gamble

Former Vice President Al Gore hailed the city of Georgetown, Texas, for powering itself with only solar and wind energy, but now the city is losing millions on its green energy gamble.

Georgetown’s bet against fossil fuel prices cost the city-owned utility nearly $7 million this year, and prompted officials to look for a way out of their long-term contracts for solar and wind energy.

“It’s costing them big time,” Bill Peacock, vice president of research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. “This doesn’t appear to be the first time they’ve lost money, just the first time it was big enough to have to go public with it.”

Georgetown made national news after being featured in Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Sequel,” which was released in 2017. The film followed up on Gore’s inaccurate 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“I think Georgetown is already a trailblazer,” Gore said during his 2016 visit to learn about Georgetown’s plan to get 100 percent of its energy from wind and solar power.

“And one thing that Georgetown demonstrates to other places that are just beginning to think about it is that the power supply is not only more affordable, the cost is predictable for at least 25 years into the future and really beyond that,” Gore said.

Standing next to Gore when he made those remarks was Mayor Dale Ross, the town’s Republican part-time mayor. Smithsonian Magazine called Ross the “unlikeliest hero of the green revolution.”

“This is a long-term pocketbook issue,” Ross said in August. “It’s a win for economics and a win for the environment.”

Ross said the decision was based on dollars and cents, not environmental concerns, but now the city is trying to renegotiate its long-term green energy contracts.

The Daily Caller News Foundation was scheduled to interview Ross on Saturday. The mayor canceled the phone interview, but did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s inquiry about rescheduling.

Since being featured in Gore’s film, other media outlets have asked if Georgetown is the “future” of U.S. cities. However, Peacock said Georgetown is becoming more of a cautionary tale.

“They went all-in on one thing. Anybody looking at this from a financial standpoint could have foreseen these problems,” Peacock said. “This doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is suing Georgetown for the pricing details of its long-term solar contracts. Energy rates are considered trade secrets under Texas law and must be sought with a government records request.

Georgetown began its shift toward 100 percent wind and solar energy several years ago, and the city says it reached that goal in July after the Buckthorn solar plant went online. The city owned utility contracts with Buckthorn and the Spinning Spur 3 wind farm for all its power needs.

Georgetown Utility Systems contracted to buy wind and solar at fixed prices until 2035 and 2043, respectively. Georgetown is obligated to buy about twice as much power as it actually needs from green power plants. The city is the first in Texas and the second-largest in the U.S. to go 100 percent renewable.

The idea was that Georgetown would have enough green power to grow into at fixed prices, avoiding market volatility and what it saw as the rising costs of fossil fuels. In the meantime, Georgetown would sell any excess power back to Texas’ electricity market.

But energy prices plummeted in recent years, particularly natural gas prices, meaning the city lost money selling power back to the market. Georgetown Budget Manager Paul Diaz told city councilors in late November the utility had lost $6.84 million. City officials are looking for ways to make up the shortfall.

“[Georgetown Utility Systems] is in the process of opening negotiations with our current energy suppliers to adjust the terms of our contracts,” City Councilman Steve Fought wrote in an email to constituents.

“Additionally, we are working to change our management strategy for daily energy market operations,” Fought wrote in his Nov. 26 email. “We also need to implement belt tightening measures in the electric department and shift funds to balance the GUS accounts.”

Georgetown Utility Systems’ energy costs were more than $23 million over budget in 2016 and 2017, according to Lisa Linowes, the founder of the anti-wind power group Wind Action.

Fought did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Representatives for Gore also did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s inquiry.

COLUMN BY

Michael Bastasch

Michael Bastasch is a reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation. Twitter: @MikeBastasch.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org. Photo: Beata Zawrzel/Sipa USA/Newscom.

Here Are The Six Most Corrupt Congressmen of 2018, According To A Watchdog Group

A conservative-leaning watchdog group says House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are the biggest congressional scofflaws of 2018, for their anemic handling of the settlement slush fund that used an unlimited pot of taxpayer money to pay off congressional staff in exchange for signing legal papers barring them from taking public their claims of sexual harassment and other mistreatment by their congressional employers.

Congress members briefly claimed to be shocked at the victim-gagging slush fund when the media reported on it, but in reality, members of both parties in the House’s leadership oversaw it for years. The Committee on House Administration voted on each settlement and put out statistics that severely understated the scope of the problem. Former Democratic Michigan Rep. John Conyers, whose settlement sparked the initial furor, resigned, and the media moved on from the story.

A bill by then-Rep. Ron Desantis that would have named the congressmen who benefited from these payoffs in past years went nowhere, while the bill agreed to by the administration committee and the Senate is more anemic.

“Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now has an opportunity to act further and we will be encouraging her to finally bring an end to this systematic cover-up. Every day that goes by without releasing the names of Members who have received taxpayer money to settle harassment and discrimination claims is another day of cover-up and another day more innocent people are put at risk of becoming victims,” said Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT).

Here is a photo of Reps. Gregory Meeks and Elijah Cummings. (Photo: Meeks Congressional office)

Rep. Gregory Meeks, right, settled a complaint involving alleged retaliation against a staffer who said she was sexually assaulted by a politically-connected supporter (Photo: Meeks Congressional office)

FACT was once led by now-acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker.

Others on FACT’s list of worst ethics violators of 2018 include:

  • Former Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut, for her role in the sexual harassment scandal. When the female Democrat learned that her chief of staff was accused of  “physically beating, sexually harassing and threatening to kill another one of the Congresswoman’s staff members, Esty tried to cover it up,” FACT wrote. She continued to employ him for months, then gave him a golden parachute.
  • Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, who solicited campaign funds based on their involvement in the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, while they were still ongoing. “Senators are prohibited from campaign fundraising tied to their official duties,” FACT wrote.
  • Former Republican congressional candidate Russell Taub of Rhode Island, for operating an illegal “scam PAC” that raised and failed to distribute $1.5 million to candidates.
  • Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who claimed that voting machines in Florida were tampered with by Russia. Since there is no public evidence of this, FACT said he either lied or improperly disclosed classified information.
  • New York Democrat Rep. Yvette Clarke, for having 10 percent of her taxpayer-funded office budget go missing in what her own deputy chief of staff believed was a theft scheme between the chief of staff and the IT aide, Abid Awan. Since Clarke failed to take action and refused to discuss the incident publicly, she managed to win re-election by 1,000 votes. The missing funds would be enough to buy 20 iPads for every employee, and the former chief of staff, Shelley Clarke, signed off on the invoices. Clarke later had the missing items removed from the House inventory as if they never existed.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Here Are The Largest Congressional Payments The House Has Admitted

Clarke’s Chief Of Staff Tried To Expose Suspected Theft Ring On Capitol Hill, Was Met With Resistance

Watchdog Group Names Two Top Dems As ‘Top Ethics Violators Of 2018’ For Kavanaugh Antics

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by The Daily Caller is republished with permission.

7 Questions Explained about France’s Yellow Vest Protests

The massive demonstrations have led to six deaths, 1,648 injuries, and roughly 2,300 arrests—and they have forced the French government to respond to the protesters’ demands.


For the past two months, a protest movement known as Gilets Jaunes (the Yellow Vests) has rocked France. The French government has considered imposing a state of emergency to prevent a recurrence of some of the worst civil unrest in more than a decade.

The protests were started to oppose a “green tax” increase on gasoline and diesel fuel. The taxes are part of an environmental measure to encourage a reduction in the use of fossil fuels. The protesters are demanding a freeze on these taxes because they disproportionately hurt the working class.

However, the protests have expanded to include other economic and social issues, including an increase in the minimum wage, more generous pensions, lower taxes, and easier university entry requirements.

Taxes on diesel fuel have recently gone up 7 euro cents (nearly 8 US cents) and 4 euro cents on gasoline (about 5 US cents).

The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by around 23 percent over the past 12 months to an average of 1.51 euros ($1.71) per liter ($6.47 per gallon). Gasoline currently costs about 1.64 euros a liter in Paris ($7.06 per gallon).

In January, France was scheduled to boost a carbon tax another 3 euro cents per liter of gas and 6 euro cents per liter on diesel.

For the past decade, French law has required all motorists to have a “high-visibility upper-body garment” within arm’s reach in case the driver needs to get out of an immobilized vehicle. The protestors adopted them because they are widely available, and their distinctive color helps to serve as an identifying marker for the fuel protests.

According to the Interior Ministry, the number of protesters peaked last month at 282,000.

To date, the protests have resulted in the deaths of six people. (Editor’s note: The death toll has since increased to eight.) Approximately 1,648 others have been injured, including 552 police officers. More than 1,600 people have been taken in for questioning and 2,300 arrested.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has promised several concessions. He agreed to raise the minimum wage by 100 euro per month starting in 2019 (a 7 percent increase), canceled a planned tax increase for low-income retirees, removed a tax on overtime pay, and said that employers would be encouraged to pay a tax-free end of year bonus to employees.

Macron refused to reintroduce the solidarity tax on wealth, though, saying “this would weaken us, we need to create jobs.” That solidarity tax was an annual direct wealth tax on those in France with assets in excess of 1,300,000 euros ($1.47 million).

The estimated cost of the measures is likely to be between 8-10 billion euros.

As Samuel Gregg, the research director for the Acton Institute, explains:

Much of the country is, for example, being crushed by taxes. By international standards, French income tax rates are steep. There’s also a 20 percent Value Added Tax applied to most purchases that disproportionately impacts the less well-off. Altogether, the total tax burden amounts to 45.5 percent of total domestic income. Macron’s now-suspended proposal to raise fuel taxes in the name of fighting climate change turned out to be the last straw for the France that lives outside Paris’s wealthy arrondissements, where few people drive cars.

Why then are taxes so high? One reason is that government spending in France amounts to a whopping 57 percent of annual GDP. Most of this is expended on France’s burgeoning welfare state.

Another longstanding economic problem is France’s labor laws. Despite recent changes, the country’s 3,000-page Code du Travail still makes it hard to fire anyone who possesses what’s called a contrat de travail à durée indéterminée—an open-ended contact with no closing date. Hence, many French businesses simply don’t bother expanding their permanent employee base. Numerous young French men and women are thus reduced to cobbling together part-time arrangements or drifting between temporary contracts. The resulting uncertainty corrodes their ability to make long-term plans, such as when to marry and have children.

For all the chatter about France being laid waste by “neoliberalism,” its large and modern economy isn’t all that free. In the heyday of economic liberalization in Europe in the 1980s and early 1990s, France never had a dynamic Thatcher-like figure. In the 2018 Index of Economic FreedomFrance comes in at an unimpressive 71 out of 180 countries. In the European region, it ranks an embarrassing 34 out of 44, wedged between Montenegro and Portugal.

With the exception of mildly market-friendly reforms implemented by Charles de Gaulle in 1958 and even milder changes introduced by François Mitterrand in the early 1980s, successive French governments have long pursued dirigiste economic policies. One manifestation of this heavy government involvement in the economy is the protection and subsidization of numerous industries at French taxpayers’ expense. Much of this assistance is justified in the name of maintaining what French governments refer to as the country’s “national champions.” It’s good, the argument goes, for France to support its high-flying companies. Contemporary examples include businesses like the train-maker Alstom or the telecom equipment manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent. But if these companies are such world-beaters, why do they require endless help from the French government?

This article was reprinted with permission from the Acton Institute.

COLUMN BY

Baltimore’s Gun Buyback Scheme Is Comically Bad Policy

The city’s pricing scheme provides an excellent way for Baltimore residents to make some quick cash.


I have many examples of gun control humor, all of which were created to mock anti-2nd Amendment zealotry.

But nothing I’ve ever read is as funny as this week’s gun buyback scheme by the Baltimore Police Department, which was organized by anti-gun politicians and bureaucrats.

Here’s what the Baltimore Sun reported about the buyback scheme.

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle announced the launch of the gun buyback program at a news conference Tuesday at police headquarters. Pugh said the program is one strategy to try to reduce violence in the city… “We are coming towards the end of the year and we are doing everything we can to stay under a certain number, but I don’t want to even talk about that,” Pugh said, describing the buyback event as part of the city’s violence reduction initiatives. …Pugh did not say how much the buyback program would cost, but she believes the city has enough money for it. She said nonprofits would be contributing.

So why is this so funny? Shouldn’t I be upset that Baltimore politicians and bureaucrats want law-abiding people to give up guns, which will make life easier for criminals?

After all, that is bad policy.

But there’s a very amusing part of this story. Baltimore is offering $25 for every “hi-capacity” magazine.

And this creates a very interesting opportunity to make a quick buck since a quick online search reveals that one popular magazine (holds 30 rounds, so easily qualifies) can be purchased for about $11-$13.

Before you buy a truckload of magazines in hopes of some easy cash, I must warn you that there is a slight obstacle. If the poster above is accurate, the buyback is only for residents of Baltimore.

That being said, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a local guy to act as your “straw seller.”

P.S. Some of you might feel guilty about participating since taxpayer money will be squandered on the buyback. That’s a noble sentiment. However, the story in the Sun also noted that some of the financing would come from nonprofits. And that means participants will probably be helping to deplete the bank accounts of George Soros and Michael Bloomberg. More money for you and less money for them is a win-win situation.

P.P.S. To the best of my recollection, my only other example of gun-buyback humor is at the end of this column.

This article is reprinted with permission from International Liberty.

COLUMN BY

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a Washington-based economist who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

RELATED ARTICLE: Baltimore Woman Says She Will Use Gun Buyback Cash To Purchase Bigger Gun

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission from FEE.

Electric Vehicle Tax Credits Another Form of Corporate Welfare

If America’s auto manufacturers wrote letters to Santa, it’s not hard to guess what would be high on their lists: retaining the federal tax credit for electric vehicles.

For several years now, Uncle Sam (who often acts like Santa’s U.S.-based cousin) has tried to encourage the public to buy electric vehicles by offering those who do so a tax credit of up to $7,500.

But the credit wasn’t created to be available forever, and it already caps out when a manufacturer has sold 200,000 electric vehicles.

General Motors Co., which is more than happy to have taxpayer money propping up part of its business, wants the credit made permanent and the cap lifted. So do other auto manufacturers, such as Nissan and Tesla. Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem more than happy to give them what they want.

Guess who isn’t? President Donald Trump. When General Motors recently announced plant closings and a 15 percent cut in its workforce, the president said he was “looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including for electric cars.”

As well he should. Government has no business interfering in the market and trying to push consumers to buy what they don’t want. And it’s even more galling when lawmakers use taxpayer money to do it.

This type of cronyism is bad enough on principle alone. But it gets worse in the case of electric vehicle tax credits.

For one thing, the cost is borne disproportionately by lower- and fixed-income families who can’t afford electric vehicles. Who’s taking advantage of the subsidies? Primarily America’s wealthiest households. They don’t need a tax break to afford an electric vehicle, but hey, if it’s there, they’ll take it.

So, in an ironic twist, we have the government taking money from a wide swath of Americans, including those on the low end of the income scale, to put those who are more well off into “green” vehicles.

The Pacific Research Institute found that in 2014, 79 percent of electric vehicle tax credits went to households making over $100,000, while 99 percent of them went to households making at least $50,000.

Auto manufacturers, like any other company, should base their decisions about what to make solely on what customers want—not on what government wants them to want.

If people want electric vehicles, fine. But it should be their free choice, not something they purchase because they get some “free” money.

But some people may say it’s worth it for the environmental benefit. “Switching to electric cars is key to fixing America’s ‘critically insufficient’ climate policies,” The Guardian wrote earlier this year. That’s the rationale the Obama administration used to justify its push for electric vehicles.

But as economist Nicolas Loris points out in a recent article, “the numbers tell a different story.” In a study published in May, the Manhattan Institute calculated the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from increased adoption of electric vehicles. The bottom line? Yes, electric vehicles reduce emissions, but in amounts far too small to make a difference.

“Based on the [Energy Information Administration’s] projection of the number of new electric vehicles, the net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions between 2018 and 2050 would be only about one-half of 1 percent of total forecast U.S. energy-related carbon emissions,” the report reads. “Such a small change will have no impact whatsoever on climate.”

Plus, let’s keep in mind that the mining of materials for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles itself pumps out a lot of carbon emissions. Add in the fact that the electricity being used to recharge these batteries is manufactured in coal-powered plants.

The auto manufacturers may disagree, but I have a better wish for Santa: End the electric vehicle credit and other forms of corporate welfare. Let the people decide what they want to buy without Uncle Sam putting his thumb on the scale.

Originally published by The Washington Times

COLUMN BY

Portrait of Ed Feulner

Ed Feulner

Edwin J. Feulner’s 36 years of leadership as president of The Heritage Foundation transformed the think tank from a small policy shop into America’s powerhouse of conservative ideas. Read his research. Twitter: @EdFeulner.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Gary Cameron/Reuters /Newscom.

The Curry Wall: Preventing access to public information. Maybe we should “recycle” politicians?

Putting stuff into the yellow-topped curbside recycling bins may make homeowners feel virtuous, but it probably isn’t saving the taxpayers any money.

The popular notion is that the garbage is sold and the operation breaks even or makes a profit.

Not quite.

The city does get $1.5 million in revenue, but it spends $2.2 million, not even counting the cost of collection. (It also avoids using space in the landfill.)

What is more, the prospects are dim for improving the situation.

Waste Management, which is heavily involved in trying to make recycling work, has been closing recycling centers and its CEO has noted: “To be sustainable overtime, recycling operations must make economic sense.”

The reasons that recycling is losing ground are that processing costs are up and commodity prices are down.

Contamination is a major problem and is the main reason much of the material collected after considerable time and expense ends up in a landfill, by a circuitous route.

Homeowners can help by recycling all empty bottles, cans and paper, and keeping food, liquids and loose plastic bags out of the recycling bin.

Turning garbage into gold isn’t magic.

Duval County collected nearly 3 million tons of solid waste last year. Only five other counties had more.

One interesting note: Among the largest counties, Duval collects the most waste per capita – an eye-opening 17.3 pounds per person per day. That number has been growing since 2013.

Duval had a recycling rate of 58 percent, which was better than the top five but more waste went into landfill than four of the top five, because Duval burns almost no solid waste. Hillsborough recycles less but burns 27 percent of the waste it collects and Palm Beach burns 36 percent.

At one time, Duval burned much of its waste. During the 1980s there was a proposal to build an incinerator that would produce energy, but it failed to pass the City Council.

Florida, incidentally, has an ambitious goal of reaching 75 percent recycling by 2020, but isn’t even meeting the current 60 percent goal.

One reason is that the commercial sector generates two-thirds of the waste. Household recycling alone simply won’t do the job.

Since recycling, burying and burning all entail a cost, the question is whether Jacksonville is using the most cost/efficient mix of waste disposal.

It affects everyone. Currently, using recycling is optional. It could become mandatory and even more burdensome on the homeowner if he is required to separate materials himself.

We wanted to ask City Hall about this and other matters pertaining to solid waste disposal but were unable to break through the Curry Wall, which prevents access to public information.

As the recent Task Force on Open Government noted, the Curry administration seals off access to public officials in order to “control the message,” which is one way of saying “spin it in the mayor’s favor.”

We couldn’t find the information on the city’s Web site (also criticized by the task force) so we went to the people who are supposed to provide the public with information.

Mayor Lenny Curry’s highly paid public information officer gave us several snarky replies to our requests, then basically told us to go get the information ourselves from the state government. That is where we obtained the figures about waste collection and disposal.

It doesn’t tell us anything about whether the city’s costly recycling program is efficient or worthwhile, but Eye on Jacksonville will continue to seek ways to climb Curry’s Wall and obtain information.

COLUMN BY

LLOYD BROWN

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images originally appeared on Eye on Jacksonville. It is republished with permission.

Why a Judge Ruled Obamacare Unconstitutional, and What Policymakers Should Do Next

A judge has declared Obamacare unconstitutional—but the case is far from over.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, granted a motion for summary judgement in favor of 20 states led by Texas that had filed a lawsuit seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act on Friday.

Now that O’Connor has ruled, the losing side is sure to appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and ultimately the Supreme Court.

However, as the case continues to wind its way through the legal system, it is imperative that policymakers pursue real health care reform. Obamacare isn’t working for too many American families and individuals slammed with high premiums and few choices. Rather than looking for ways to keep Obamacare in place amid these legal challenges, lawmakers should pursue real solutions.

The Judge’s Reasoning in Striking Down Obamacare

As part of the last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress repealed the financial penalty associated with failing to comply with the individual mandate, effective in 2019.

In 2012, in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate by the narrowest of margins when Chief Justice John Roberts, providing the deciding vote, devised a novel theory construing the penalty associated with violating the individual mandate as a tax that Congress has the power to levy under the Constitution.

Texas argues that once the penalty is reduced to $0, it can no longer be considered a legitimate tax, and that therefore the individual mandate would no longer have a constitutional leg to stand on.

Moreover, Texas argues, in upholding the individual mandate, the Supreme Court appeared to rely on the argument that Congress considered the individual mandate to be a central—indeed, indispensable—component of Obamacare that is not “severable” from the rest of its provisions, and that without it, the rest of the law should be invalidated.

A group of 17 states led by California are defending the law, arguing that even a tax of $0 is still a tax, and that it was never Congress’ intent to get rid of the rest of Obamacare when it repealed the financial penalty associated with the individual mandates as part of last year’s tax bill.

In granting the plaintiffs’ motion, O’Connor stated, showing his agreement with Texas’ argument:

The [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act] eliminated that [individual mandate] tax. The Supreme Court’s reasoning in NFIB—buttressed by other binding precedent and plain text—thus compels the conclusion that the individual mandate may no longer be upheld under the tax power. And because the individual mandate continues to mandate the purchase of health insurance, it remains unsustainable under the Interstate Commerce Clause—as the Supreme Court already held.

Finally, Congress stated many times unequivocally—through enacted text signed by the president—that the individual mandate is “essential” to the ACA. And this essentiality, the [Affordable Care Act’s] text makes clear, means the mandate must work ‘together with the other provisions’ for the Act to function as intended. All nine justices to review the [Affordable Care Act] acknowledged this text and Congress’s manifest intent to establish the individual mandate as the [Affordable Care Act’s] ‘essential’ provision. The current and previous administrations have recognized that, too. Because rewriting the ACA without its ‘essential’ feature is beyond the power of an Article III court, the Court thus adheres to Congress’s textually expressed intent and binding Supreme Court precedent to find the individual mandate is inseverable from the [Affordable Care Act’s] remaining provisions.

What Should Be Next

But the legal fight aside, we need a better health care solution than Obamacare.

One of Obamacare’s core conceits was that what (allegedly) worked in Massachusetts would also work on a national scale. That hasn’t borne out.

Instead, Obamacare led to years of increasing costs and decreasing choices. Premiums doubled in the first four years of the program. Millions lost the coverage they used to have. Americans found it harder to pick the right plan and doctor, as health plan choices declined and provider networks narrowed. Frustrated providers are drowning in red tape and increasingly feeling burned out. Meanwhile, taxpayers are on the hook for the money needed to paper over Obamacare’s flawed structure.

Those who seem to benefit most from Obamacare are big insurance companies that embraced the law and receive a steady stream of taxpayer subsidies and politicians who made endless promises to reform Obamacare but failed to deliver.

Real Solutions for Pre-Existing Conditions

Regardless of these facts, expect many in Congress to call for immediate restoration of Obamacare in the name of protecting the sick and people with pre-existing conditions.

Some on the left claim Congress must protect Obamacare because only Obamacare allows Americans with pre-existing conditions to get coverage. That’s an irresponsible, false dilemma and Congress should reject it.  

There are steps that states can take right now to ensure people with pre-existing conditions are protected, even if Obamacare ultimately goes away.

Congress should let states review their health care regulations and pursue innovative ways to make coverage more affordable and accessible to Americans—regardless of their income or medical status.  Every state legislature is about to go into session in early 2019, so this is both a desirable and possible approach.

Empower the States

Congress does have a role to play in helping families and individuals get the quality private coverage they want, and helping health care professionals meet their needs. Conservatives have a proposal to achieve this: the Health Care Choices Proposal, which undoes Obamacare’s damage by letting states innovate.

Under Obamacare, insurance companies receive taxpayer subsidies dollar for dollar as they raise prices.  This proposal does away with that flawed spending scheme.

Instead, it would convert existing Obamacare spending into a grant that states would use to ensure chronically-ill patients have access to the health coverage of their choice. Greater flexibility and resources to the states means that all Americans, even those who are chronically sick, would have access to more health plans at better prices.

The Health Care Choices Proposal would lower premiums up to an estimated 32 percent and ensure that everyone can access a quality private coverage arrangement of their choice.

And everyone who gets a subsidy could decide what coverage to use it for, including private or employer-sponsored health insurance.

Individuals and families would be able to decide what coverage arrangement works for them, and decide whether to work directly with a doctor for primary care and buy catastrophic coverage, or get a plan that covers more costs up front. The proposal would be especially helpful to the working poor, who may want to have private coverage but lack the means to pay for it.

For most people, this is a much better option than what happens today: being pushed onto a government-controlled plan a bureaucrat thinks is best for them.

This proposal would build on a promising, emerging trend already happening in the states. When states have been given even a little bit of freedom from Obamacare’s mandates, they’ve been able to lower premiums using tools that ensure that the sick still retain access to care.

Politicians have long promised to replace Obamacare with solutions that help everyone. It’s time to deliver—no matter which way the courts go.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Marie Fishpaw

Marie Fishpaw

Marie Fishpaw is director of domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity.

Portrait of John G. Malcolm

John G. Malcolm is the vice president of the Institute for Constitutional Government and director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, overseeing The Heritage Foundation’s work to increase understanding of the Constitution and the rule of law. Read his research. Twitter: .

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Paul Hennessy/Polaris/Newscom.

The Conceit Behind California’s Bad Idea to Tax Text Messages

State bureaucrats are moving to impose a texting tax on California residents in the name of providing mobile services to the poor.


California routinely makes national headlines for its big government policies. This week is no different, as bureaucrats move to impose a texting tax on state residents in the name of providing mobile services to the poor.

In a November proposal by the California Public Utilities Commission, Commissioner Carla J. Peterman laid out the “proposed decision” exploring the potential effectiveness of the tax.

According to that 52-page report, California’s budget continues to increase even as tax revenues fall:

“A review of California’s total reported intrastate telecommunications industry revenue, which is used to fund universal service, shows a steady decline in revenue from $16.527 Billion in 2011 to $11.296 Billion in 2017. At the same time, California Public Purpose Program budgets show a steady increase from $670 million in 2011 to $998 million in 2017…”

California’s Public Purpose program, which adds a surcharge to consumers’ bills for utilities like gas in order to provide universal services to those who can’t afford them, would be tasked with facilitating the proposed text tax. And though the analysis refers to “industry revenue,” the funds would come from taxing individual wireless customers.

Mercury News, a San Jose-based news outlet, noted that while it is still unclear how much consumers would be forced to pay, the fee would “likely would be billed as a flat surcharge per customer” as opposed to a per-text rate.

While the Commission’s analysis acknowledges opposing arguments—including carrier companies’ assertions that the tax “would not preserve and advance universal service because it does not broaden the base of universal service consumers”—the commission ultimately advocated the additional tax burden.

Parties supporting the collection of surcharges on text messaging revenue argue that it will help preserve and advance universal service by increasing the revenue base upon which Public Purpose Programs rely,” they write. “We agree.”

Business advocacy groups like the Bay Area Council, the California Chamber of Commerce, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group estimated that the proposed tax could generate $44.5 million in tax revenue per year. However, “they add that under the regulators’ proposal the charge could be applied retroactively for five years—which they call ‘an alarming precedent’—and could amount to a bill of more than $220 million for California consumers,” Mercury News reports.

“It’s a dumb idea,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council business advocacy group. “This is how conversations take place in this day and age, and it’s almost like saying there should be a tax on the conversations we have.”

Wunderman also questioned the necessity of additional taxes, referencing California’s current budget surplus:

“While perhaps well-intentioned, the specific programs that the commissioners are hoping to fund with your tax dollars already has around $1 billion to spend. These programs are not in need of greater funding from texting or any other source, and even if they were, there is already an approved, transparent process at the commission to raise the necessary funds without the need to create new taxes.”

Further, the proposed fees make even less sense considering the rise in popularity of internet-based messaging services like Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, and Telegram, which would not be subject to the tax. In fact, the tax could very well push consumers further toward these internet-based apps to avoid extra costs.

The November document is not legally binding, but it does assert the Commission’s alleged power to impose a texting tax.

Whether or not the proposed tax becomes actual policy come January, the simple fact that it has been suggested at all illustrates the misguided yet pervasive belief in California that government omnipotence can create prosperity.

It’s precisely this type of thinking that has caused the Golden State to squander one of the largest economies in the world, driving away businesses and individuals alike and inflating costs of living with the imposition of convoluted, interventionist policies. Because of restrictive zoning laws and bureaucratic regulations that make housing inaccessible to the middle class and the poor, for example, California continues to claim the highest rate of poverty in the country despite the billions of dollars it spends on welfare and social services.

Despite the best—and heavy-handed—efforts of politicians and bureaucrats, the people they claim to represent continue to suffer under their policies. This should all come as no surprise. As economist Friedrich von Hayek observed:

“To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.”

COLUMN BY

Carey Wedler

Carey Wedler

Carey Wedler is a video blogger and Senior Editor for Anti-Media.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.