Cracks in the Dome?

The huge investments made in defensive systems are slowly emerging as an exorbitant and costly failure—or at best a very partial and temporary success. The time has come to rethink Israel’s strategic paradigm.

…the ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive. Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”, circa 400 BC.

Earlier this week (5/21/2019), both Israel and Hamas denied reports that they had reached an agreement on a six-month cease fire. Irrespective of any credence one wishes to ascribe the denial, it underscored just how fragile the current lull in hostilities is and how easily they could re-ignite.

Although it has been barely two weeks since the violence in the South subsided, public recollection of what transpired has faded rapidly—with the intervening Independence Day celebrations and the Eurovision hullaballoo helping to dull collective memory.

A brief—but necessary—reminder

This is unfortunate—and disturbing.

For it is vital to recall that the latest round of fighting between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip raised troubling questions as to the soundness of the strategic rationale underpinning Israel’s missile defense system—particularly the much vaunted “Iron Dome”.

Indeed, even before the heavy barrages that rained down on Israel in early May, doubts began to emerge as to the efficacy of the system, when projectiles launched from Gaza penetrated, un-intercepted, deep into Israel, hitting residences in the city of Beer Sheva and in Mishmeret, a village North of Tel Aviv—and two others landed close to Tel Aviv itself, fortunately causing no damage.

According to Israeli military sources, during the last flare-up, 690 rockets and mortars were fired toward Israeli targets from Gaza by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. About 90 failed to make it across the border. Of those that did, 240 were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, which assesses whether a rocket is likely to strike open ground or needs to be intercepted. The system reportedly had 87% accuracy on attempted interceptions, with 35 rockets striking urban areas. In the barrage, four Israelis were killed and over 200 were treated in Israeli hospitals.

Depressingly, there appears to be wide consensus among pundits that another, probably broader and more intense, round of fighting is merely a matter of time.

Significantly, the number of Israeli civilians killed in the two-day conflict was almost identical to that incurred during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, which lasted nearly two months, when the Gaza-based terror organizations launched more than 4,500 missiles, rockets, and mortar shells at Israeli civilian population centers.

Has the “Iron Dome” become the “Iron Sieve”?

One of the reasons advanced for the Iron Dome’s ostensibly diminished capacity was the intensity of the barrages fired at Israel concentrated within a short time period. Seemingly affirming that this was a purposeful tactic, a spokesman for Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades proclaimed: “The Qassam Brigades, thanks to God, succeeded in overcoming the so-called Iron Dome by adopting the tactic of firing dozens of missiles in one single burst.

These results prompted expressions of skepticism—even unfounded derision—as to the true ability of the Iron Dome system to effectively protect Israel’s civilian population—even prompting once source to claim—somewhat unfairly—“It’s not Iron Dome. It’s Iron Sieve.”

Of course, such censure may be excessively harsh. After all, the Iron Dome is an extraordinary technological achievement, which has in the past greatly reduced loss of life and physical damage that otherwise may have been inflicted on Israel.

Nonetheless, in light of its somewhat spotty performance of late, there certainly appears to be a strong case for critical reexamination of the strategic rationale underlying the use of the Iron Dome.

Indeed, it far from unreasonable to assert that the Iron Dome has, in effect,  provided protection for Gazans no less—arguably more—than for Israelis. After all, if the bulk of the on-target rocket barrages had not been intercepted, and had inflicted largescale damage on its cities and casualties among its civilians, Israel would have been compelled to retaliate with massive punitive measures to silence the fire. Inevitably, this would have caused extensive destruction and loss of life in the Gaza Strip—far beyond that which Israel was able to permit itself to inflict with its civilian population relatively protected.

Flawed strategic rationale

Indeed, the adoption of this kind of strategic passivity was confirmed—and endorsed—in a recent paper published by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), entitled Long-Range Rocket Fire on Israel’s Depth: Lessons for Homefront Defense, authored by Meir Elran and Carmit Padan, who write approvingly:

The State of Israel has so far invested significant sums in passive defense and complementary technologies, with the lion’s share going to the “Gaza envelope.” The main lesson is that existing plans for improving public and private shelters should be implemented in other parts of Israel, as a fatal strike on the civilian space would generate pressure on any Israeli government and reduce its leeway in the face of Hamas … fire.”

But in the context of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian-Arabs, there is a grave strategic flaw in this kind of reasoning.

For it is precisely because the Iron Dome and “passive defense” have given the Israeli government “leeway in the face of Hamas fire”, that the fire has continued.

Thus, paradoxically, because much of their projectiles have indeed been intercepted, the terror organizations have been left intact, enabling them to continue launching further attacks whenever they see fit—typically either when they feel strong enough to do so, or too weak not to.

Defensive vs Offensive

The perverse situation is the result of the Iron Dome (and other missile defense systems) being perceived as solely defensive. Indeed, it is precisely this defense oriented strategy that has led to hostilities with Gaza continuing—with no end in sight.

The defining difference between defensive and offensive strategies is twofold:

(a) The element of surprise: The first is that relying heavily on defensive measures denies the defender the element of surprise in that, almost by definition, one cannot launch a surprise defense—in the sense that one can only defend against an attack once launched—often by surprise. So while it is possible that defense systems may comprise elements unexpected by the attacker, typically they can only be deployed against an ongoing attack.

(b) The damage inflicted: The second is that defensive measures cannot inflict greater losses than the resources any prospective aggressor is prepared to commit to an assault on his adversary. In the case of the Iron Dome, the maximum damage that can be inflicted is the destruction of the incoming missile, which the aggressor expected to lose anyway. Accordingly, missile defense systems, including the Iron Dome, cannot deter attacks by threatening to wreak unacceptable costs on the attacker and thus dissuade him from any further aggression.

The combination of these two elements—the one allowing Hamas and its terror affiliates to choose the time and scope of any attack; the other, allowing Hamas et al. to determine the limits of the damage wrought on them—provide in large measure the reason why the hostilities in Gaza persist.

Change of strategy imperative

 The pattern of violence in Gaza is almost monotonously repetitive. Time and again, the Gazan terrorists have developed some offensive tactic to assault Israel. In response, Israel devised some countermeasure to contend with it. However, all these counter measures were designed to thwart the attacks, rather than prevent them being launched in the first place.

Thus, suicide attacks resulted in a security fence and secured crossings; which led to the development of enhanced rocket and missile capabilities; which lead to the development of the multimillion dollar Iron Dome; which led to the burrowing of an array of underground attack tunnels; which lead to the construction of a billion dollar subterranean barrier; which led to the use of incendiary kites and balloons that, last summer, reduced much of the rural South adjacent to the Gaza border, to blackened charcoal—and look likely to do so again in the coming months.

Indeed, Israel’s decade long policy of ceasing fire whenever the other side ceases fire has allowed Hamas, and its terror affiliates, to launch repeated rounds of aggression, determining not only when they are launched and when they end, but also largely controlling the cost incurred for such aggression –ensuring it remains within the range of the “acceptable”.

Significantly, after each round of fighting, despite the damage inflicted by the IDF, the Gazan-based terror groups have typically emerged with vastly enhanced military capabilities and political standing.

Soon drones with biological/chemical payload?

This is clearly a recipe for unending and escalating violence — and must be abandoned before it culminates in inevitable tragedy.

After all, the Gazan-based terror groups have shown consistently that they can transform everyday children’s playthings, such as kites, into instruments of extensive destruction, and forced Israel to develop hugely expensive defenses (such as Iron-Dome interceptors) to deal will risibly cheap weapons of attack (such as mortar shells).

Indeed, it is hardly beyond the limits of plausibility that Israel might soon have to face incoming missiles with multiple warheads, which disperse just before being intercepted, greatly challenging its missile defense capabilities. Or the development of some kind of anti-aircraft capabilities that could restrict — or at least hamper — Israel’s present unlimited freedom of action over the skies of Gaza.

Or worse, will Israel have to contend with the specter of a swarm of drones, possibly armed with biological or chemical payloads, directed at nearby Israeli communities — rendering the billion dollar anti-tunnel barrier entirely moot? For those who might dismiss this as implausible scaremongering– see here, and here.

Indeed, adhering to a purely defensive/reactive strategy will virtually ensure that some kind of offensive measure will be developed to make it ineffective—at least partially.

The offensive imperative: Arabs in Gaza or Jews in Negev

Clearly then, there will be no end to the recurring rounds of violence and the escalating enhancement of the enemies’ aggressive capabilities unless Israel undertakes a dramatic change in strategy. Accordingly, instead of focusing on thwarting attacks and limited reprisals for them, Israel must strive to eliminate the ability to launch them.

Rather than ‏employ systems such as the Iron Dome as a purely defensive measure, it should be incorporated as an auxiliary in offensive action –i.e. by minimizing danger and damage to the civilian sector while a large offensive is launched in order to take—and hold—the areas from which attacks were launched—preventing them from being used for future attacks.

This is the only sustainable long-term strategic rationale for a defense system which comprises launching very costly interceptor missiles at very cheap incoming ones.

The compelling imperative for this modus operandi, is of course, reinforced by the prospect of a coordinated attack by Hamas et al. from the South and Hezbollah—with its even more formidable arsenal—in the North.

Clearly, the prospect of Israel retaking and holding the Gaza Strip raises the perennially irksome question of what is to be done regarding the Arab population of Gaza.

As I’ve pointed out on numerous previous occasions, in addressing this question Israel must face up to—and internalize–the unpalatable, but inevitable, reality that, in the long run, there will either be Arabs in Gaza or Jews in the Negev. Eventually, however, there will not be both.

Perhaps the greatest Zionist challenge

Accordingly, then, to prevent the Jewish population being denuded by unabated Arab aggression—whether overhead missiles targeting kindergartens or underground tunnels targeting border communities; whether incendiary balloons or explosive kites or anti-tank rockets on cars buses and trains—the only policy is the evacuation of the Gazan population to third-party countries by means of a large scale initiative of incentivized emigration.

Although the details of such an initiative are clearly well beyond the scope of this essay, I have, elaborated on them frequently in the past –see here.

Marshaling the ideological commitment, the political legitimacy and international acceptance for such an initiative is perhaps one of the greatest challenges for Zionism today.

Heritage Foundation Blueprint Would Balance Budget While Cutting Taxes, Stressing Defense

Balancing the budget while reducing taxes and prioritizing national defense are the main goals in a blueprint for smarter government spending released Monday by The Heritage Foundation.

The think tank’s new “Blueprint for Balance” “lays out an agenda both for our long-term governing vision [and] what our conservative policy priorities [are] that we want lawmakers to champion,” Romina Boccia, director of Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, said during a roundtable with reporters to introduce the plan.

“Overall,” Boccia said, the blueprint specifies “what Republicans especially should be pushing for in the spending bills in order to realize conservative policy priorities and reduce spending in accordance with our values.”

The Budget Control Act, passed in 2011, sought to curb government spending and control the growth of government programs, capping discretionary spending at $1.07 trillion for fiscal year 2018.

Justin Bogie, a senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at Heritage, wrote in a recent commentary that congressional Democrats are looking to raise the Budget Control Act’s caps on discretionary spending by at least $357 billion over 2020 and 2021.

Heritage’s “Blueprint for Balance,” if implemented, would reduce spending by $10.8 trillion over 10 years and eliminate budget deficits by 2029, as well as permanently extend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and reduce taxes by $800 billion.

During a second event in which Heritage presented its blueprint to congressional staff, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., drew comparisons between the document and a budget released May 1 by the Republican Study Committee.

“We get a large task force and members with unique perspectives in a room and hash out differences and avoid some of the land mines that might cause some members not to vote for it,” Banks said of arriving at the Republican Study Committee budget.

“And that’s why I think our budget proposal this year is as strong as ever and very important for all of you to pay attention to because it has that broad support and it still balances [in] six years.”

However, neither the RSC budget nor the Heritage proposal has much of a hope of making it onto the House floor for a vote, given the Democrat majority led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“While we wanted to avoid our budget proposal being aspirational per se, we aren’t naive enough to [think] that Nancy Pelosi [is] going to put the RSC budget on the floor,” Banks said.

Government funding runs out Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2019.

The Hill reported earlier this month that lawmakers suggested another government shutdown could occur if Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on funding, including a $19 billion disaster aid bill passed May 10 by House Democrats that is opposed by the Trump administration.

The Heritage plan, which would balance the budget within 10 years, would expand the Republican tax reform plan signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, 2017.

Specifically, it would end 29 tax subsidies and make permanent both the individual tax cuts and the ability of businesses to fully expense investments in equipment.

“This is something that wasn’t included in the president’s budget but is a really important piece of extending the entire Tax Cuts and Jobs Act going forward,” Adam Michel, senior policy analyst at Heritage’s Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, said during the roundtable.

“And if we can pay down our debt and start balancing the budget, there are real economic dividends beyond all of the other benefits of getting the government out of our lives in various different ways,” Michel said.

Bogie said similarities between the RSC and Heritage budgets include permanently extending the 2017 tax cuts; providing another $850 billion in tax relief; prioritizing defense spending; and significantly reducing nondefense discretionary programs that fall outside the government’s constitutional responsibilities.

“Both budgets undertake comprehensive entitlement reform,” Bogie said in an email to The Daily Signal. “One of the most important aspects is that both budgets balance in 10 years and significantly reduce debt as a share of GDP.”

COLUMN BY

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.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE “BLUEPRINT FOR BALANCE.”

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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: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

VIDEO: Steve Bannon on the US-China Trade War

This is a GREAT interview and shows what Trump is really trying to do.

Steve Bannon on CNBC.

RELATED VIDEO: Steve Bannon: China was not prepared to have Trump in office

House Democrats Are Shortchanging the Military

House appropriators have now released their budget top lines for every government agency, and their number for the Department of Defense shows they acknowledge the defense budget needs an increase.

But that increase still isn’t enough, as it falls short of the president’s budget request and of what the military needs to continue its rebuild.

The numbers released by Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, shows $622 billion for the base defense discretionary budget. That would be a 2.3% increase over the 2019 enacted budget.

It’s a good initial step that highlights a bipartisan understanding on the need to properly fund our national defense and make sure that our military has the necessary tools to engage in the great power competition outlined by the National Defense Strategy.

It is directionally correct, but Congress and the nation need to be more ambitious.

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, have expressed multiple times that the Department of Defense requires between 3% and 5% real growth in the coming years in order to keep pace with the current threats facing our nation.

Meanwhile, the president’s budget request asks Congress for an increase of 4.8%. The president’s budget could still improve, but his defense budget top line is more in line with the challenges that our military faces.

As the Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of U.S. Military Strength shows, the military has seen improvement in its readiness, capacity, and capabilities because of the extra resources dedicated to it over the past two budget cycles.

Nonetheless, these gains need to be consolidated over time with continuous investments and improvement. The current emphasis on readiness recovery is especially fragile, because we’re dealing with human beings that need constant practice to keep their skills updated and sharp.

Furthermore, many of the investments in new platforms will take years to come to fruition.

For instance, an aircraft carrier contracted in January 2019 has a delivery date of March 2028. Or take the controversial F-15X. The Air Force wants to purchase eight of them in 2020, and the first two have a delivery date of June 2022. Even the Army is aiming to reach its readiness goals by 2022 and then focus on actualizing its modernization efforts.

These efforts will take time and persistent attention.

The military will not be fully ready in a couple of years and then everyone can go to Florida to relax on the beach. It requires a long-term vision and perspective.

One only needs to look at China, our pacing military threat, to get a better understanding of the time horizon of the challenge. The goal of the Chinese Communist Party is to have a modern military force capable of operating jointly in every domain of warfare by 2049. Talk about a long game.

If the United States wants to be able to counter Chinese ambitions, it needs to make sure we’re doing today what will help make us ready in the future.

That starts with recognizing the need to properly fund our military—and to do it.

COMMENTARY BY

Frederico Bartels

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


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: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

New York Times May Have Broken Law by Publishing Trump’s Tax Returns

The New York Times no doubt considers it quite a coup to have obtained and published President Donald Trump’s tax return information from 1985 to 1994. But doing so violated Trump’s right under federal law to the confidentiality of his tax returns.

The Times—which reported that Trump’s businesses lost $1.17 billion during the 10-year period—has no more right to Trump’s tax returns than it has to mine or those of any of you reading these words.

Confidentiality, as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in 1991 in U.S. v. Richey, is essential to “maintaining a workable tax system.”

Taxpayer privacy is “fundamental to a tax system that relies on self-reporting” since it protects “sensitive or otherwise personal information,” said then-Judge (now Supreme Court Justice) Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1986 in another case when she served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Federal law—26 U.S.C. §7213(a)(1)—makes it a felony for any federal employee to disclose tax returns or “return information.” Infractions are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine as high as $250,000 under the Alternative Fines Act (18 U.S.C. §3571).

Regardless of the accuracy or inaccuracy of The New York Times story, tax returns themselves, as well as tax return information such as these IRS transcripts (which are a summary of the tax returns), are protected from disclosure by federal law. And this provision applies to private individuals as well as government employees, a fact that should be considered by the New York Times’ source.

According to the newspaper, it did not actually obtain Trump’s tax returns but “printouts from his official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, from someone who had legal access to them.”

The Times quotes a lawyer for the president, Charles J. Harder, as saying that the tax information in the story is “demonstrably false” and that IRS transcripts, particularly from the days before electronic filing, are “notoriously inaccurate.” However, that claim is disputed by a former IRS employee now at the liberal Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

The president tweeted Wednesday in response to the Times story: “Real estate developers in the 1980’s & 1990’s, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases. Much was non monetary. Sometimes considered ‘tax shelter,’ … you would get it by building, or even buying. You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes….almost all real estate developers did – and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport. Additionally, the very old information put out is a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!

Regardless of the accuracy or inaccuracy of The New York Times story, tax returns themselves, as well as tax return information such as these IRS transcripts (which are a summary of the tax returns), are protected from disclosure by federal law. If the newspaper obtained this information from an employee of the IRS, that employee will be in big trouble if he or she is identified.

Could the editors and reporters at The New York Times be prosecuted for publishing this information?

Section (a)(3) of the law makes it a felony for any person who receives an illegally disclosed tax return or return information to publish that return or that information. But it’s unknown if the bar on publication by a media organization could survive a First Amendment challenge.

What we do know is that in previous incidents, the government did not attempt to prosecute the publisher of tax return information. In 2014, the IRS agreed to pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000 to settle a lawsuit after an IRS clerk illegally disclosed the organization’s tax return.

The clerk gave the tax return to Matthew Meisel, a former employee of Bain & Company, who gave it to the Human Rights Campaign (a political opponent of the National Organization for Marriage). The tax return was then posted on the Human Rights Campaign website and published by The Huffington Post.

Although the IRS paid to settle the lawsuit, none of the individuals or organizations involved in the illegal disclosure and publication were prosecuted.

If such a prosecution were attempted, there is no doubt that a First Amendment challenge would be filed.

The courts would then have to answer an important question: Are the interests of the government in an effective tax system and that of citizens in maintaining the confidentiality of their financial information outweighed by the First Amendment right of the press, and by and the public’s interest in obtaining financial information on elected officials?

In the midst of this illegal disclosure to The New York Times, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Monday that he would not comply with a demand by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., to provide the committee with copies of tax returns filed by Trump and eight of his companies for the last six years.

Mnuchin sent a letter to Neal telling him that “the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution requires that congressional information demands must reasonably serve a legitimate legislative purpose.”

The treasury secretary is correct. Numerous court decisions hold that legislative investigations must have a legitimate legislative purpose. Mnuchin says that Neal’s request “lacks” such a legitimate purpose.

The court decisions supporting Mnuchin’s decision include the 1957 decision in Watkins v. U.S., in which the Supreme Court told the House Un-American Activities Committee that “there is no congressional power to expose for the sake of exposure” the “private affairs of individuals.”

Neal has claimed that the legislative purpose of getting the Trump tax returns is to examine how the IRS audits presidents. But as Trump’s legal counsel has pointed out, Neal didn’t ask for the tax returns of any other presidents and hasn’t asked any questions of any kind about IRS policy and procedures for such audits.

Mnuchin tells Neal in his letter that he is willing to provide the congressman with complete information on “how the IRS conducts mandatory examinations of Presidents, as provided by the Internal Revenue Manual.”

If examining how the IRS audits presidents is really Neal’s legislative purpose—as opposed to simply wanting to expose anything embarrassing the committee finds in Trump’s tax returns—IRS information on its policies and procedures would be the only information the House committee would need.

So the Treasury Department has put House Democrats in check for now. It will probably be up to the courts to see who achieves checkmate when it comes to the Trump tax returns.

Now the interests of protecting the privacy of taxpayers warrants the opening of a government investigation to find the leaker who provided the Trump tax information to The New York Times.

The IRS and the Justice Department should investigate how this disclosure happened, find out who did it, and prosecute anyone who violated the law.

COMMENTARY BY

Hans von Spakovsky

Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative. 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: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

Your Tax Dollars Flowing to Islamist Groups Like the Muslim American Society [Video]

If you missed the news about the Philadelphia controversy over the Muslim American Society program that featured young children reading aloud about killing Jews and Christians [below], here is one recent report about the on-going investigation.

In the wake of that shocking performance we learn, thanks to the Middle East Forum (via Creeping Sharia) hat tip: Michael, that the Muslim American Society is one of many Islamist-influenced organizations receiving government grants.

New Research Uncovers $41 Million of U.S.-Taxpayer-Subsidized Islamism

Research by the Middle East Forum has found that since 2007, federal government agencies have handed over $47 million to 61 Islamic institutions in the forms of 411 various grants and contracts.

On the face of it, this need not be of any particular concern. The government has long relied on contractors and charities from all faiths to implement its programs.

Alarmingly, however, radical Islamic movements completely control 36% of the Muslim institutions that received government monies, taking 42% of the total funding. A further 36% of the grantees, which received 44% of the funds, operate under varying degrees of radical influence. A mere 14% of identified government funds given to Muslim organizations were directed toward institutions free of Islamist influence.

In total, if the government’s own data is accurate, at least $41 million was given to institutions either controlled or under the partial influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-e-Islami (a violent South Asian Islamist movement), Salafis, Deobandis (a hardline South Asian Sunni sect from which the Taliban was created) and the Iranian regime, among others.

Some of the largest amounts involve grants to aid charities. Long favored by Islamist movements as a means to spread ideology through welfare, charities also provide extremists with plentiful funding and the occasional accompanying credibility of government partnership.

Continue reading here to see all of the groups getting gifts from you, via the US Treasury!

It is the same old maddening s***!  Just like all of the so-called religious charities busy changing America by changing the people and doing it with our money!

We have Donald Trump in the White House! Is this kind of funding ever going to end?

This post is filed in my ‘Charity fraud’ category.

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Colorado: Building Owner Must Pay Muslim Father/Son $675,000 in Discrimination Case

EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column is republished with permission.

Elizabeth Warren’s Debt ‘Cancellation’ Plan Would Make College More Expensive, Not Less

Elizabeth Warren wants free college for every American. But what the Massachusetts senator doesn’t seem to realize is just how much more costly college would get if her “free” proposal passed.

Shortly after Valentine’s Day in 1987, Education Secretary William J. Bennett wrote a now-famous op-ed in The New York Times titled “Our Greedy Colleges.” In it, he suggested that “increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.”

This observation became known as the “Bennett Hypothesis.” As the years go by, it seems more apt to call it the Bennett truism.

In the last 20 years, the federal government’s total spending on student loans has skyrocketed, from $24.8 billion in the 1995-96 school year to $93 billion in 2017-18.

At the same time, the price of college tuition has soared. Between 1998 and the present, tuition at four-year institutions has roughly doubled, and at private four-year colleges tuition has gone up 58%.

The price increase is even more dramatic looking at the last 40 years. Since 1980, the cost of attending a four-year public university has increased 287%—an uptick rate surpassed only by increases in the cost of medical care.

Enter Warren.

On Monday, she published a proposal that includes the following:

  • Students with household incomes below $100,000 would have the first $50,000 of their student loan debt canceled.
  • For every additional $3 of income over $100,000, the amount of loan forgiveness offered would be cut by $1.
  • Borrowers from families earning more than $250,000 annually would receive zero debt cancellation.

On the whole, as Robert VerBruggen has pointed out, her proposal would cancel all loans for about 75% of borrowers and provide partial cancellation for 95% of borrowers.

This debt cancellation portion of the plan would cost taxpayers $640 billion, as Warren pointed out herself.

And that’s just the retroactive part of the proposal.

The plan would also provide “universal free college,” allowing students to attend a two- or four-year college “without paying a dime in tuition or fees,” as she says. The total tab? $1.25 trillion over just the next decade.

Warren suggests her “free” college and debt cancellation plan would be financed (again) by an “ultra-millionaire tax,” singling out the 75,000 families in America she estimates to have more than $50 million in assets.

This is a group she has already identified to finance her “free” childcare plan. Things are getting expensive in a hurry.

Her latest proposal is problematic for a host of reasons, not least of which is the exorbitant cost to taxpayers. But it would also fail to achieve the goal of greater equality in access to education. A similar proposal for “free” college was already tried in England, and it ended up benefiting the wealthy rather than the needy.

But beyond these failures, Warren’s proposal would likely expedite the rise in college tuition. It comes down to simply math: When colleges know the federal government is financing “free” tuition in perpetuity, they’ll have all the more reason to raise tuition and fees, which taxpayers will then absorb.

In fact, a growing body of literature has already shown that federal subsidies have this tendency to push tuition prices higher.

In one study, researchers Grey Gordon and Aaron Hedlund found that raising subsidized loan limits led to a 102% increase in tuition from 1987 to 2010. Absent that additional federal money, the authors estimate tuition would have only gone up by 16% on net.

Another study by David O. Lucca, Taylor Nadauld, and Karen Shen of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found additional evidence of the Bennett Hypothesis at play. The authors found that credit expansion (increasing subsidized federal student loans) leads to a tuition increase of 60 cents for every additional dollar of subsidized federal loans. Their conclusion bluntly states:

… a credit expansion will raise tuition paid by all students and not only by those at the federal loan caps because of pecuniary demand externalities. Such pricing externalities are often conjectured in the context of the effects of expanded subprime borrowing on housing prices leading up to the financial crisis, and our study can be seen as complementary evidence in the student loan market.

As Carlo Salerno of CampusLogic points out, students choose to take on college loan debt, and are not assigned that debt. So loan forgiveness “unfairly rewards the person who borrows to get a Ferrari over the one who got a Kia.”

That inequity is underscored by the numbers. As Salerno calculated, a wealthy student who borrowed $100,000 a few years ago and has been delinquent on repayment would get more forgiveness than the low-income student who responsibly worked to pay down $40,000 in debt over the past 20 years and only has $10,000 remaining, which would be forgiven.

Some would clearly benefit from this scheme, but it would penalize students who choose to work while in college to minimize their debt, those who pursue an apprenticeship over an expensive degree, and those who take out debt, but live modestly post-graduation in order to fully pay back what they owe.

Moreover, as the Urban Institute found (in an analysis unrelated to the Warren plan), “the top 25% of American households by income hold nearly half of all student debt—and the bottom 25% holds just a tenth of it. Canceling all student loans would deliver $5 to rich Americans for every $1 given to poorer families.”

Proposals to make college “free” or to forgive vast amounts of student loan debt reward one entity more than any other: the universities.

Subsidizing the already-dysfunctional student loan system is not the solution. If we want to get serious about addressing the student loan issue, we must pursue structural changes to accreditation, along with innovation in financing through options like income share agreements. Making sure colleges have some “skin in the game” also holds promise.

But above all, Washington should get out of the student loan business. The federal government currently originates and services 90% of all student aid, leaving taxpayers greatly exposed when defaults occur or when loan forgiveness becomes more generous.

Getting the feds out of the student loan business would go a long way toward finally addressing the root causes of soaring tuition.

COMMENTARY BY

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: .

RELATED ARTICLE: Elizabeth Warren’s College Plan Is a Bailout for the Elite


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: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

PODCAST: Trump’s Tax Returns, Part Deux

TRANSCRIPT

You’ve got to hand it to the Democrats and their lap dogs, the main stream media, as they do not give up easily. This month it is President Trump’s tax returns. Only God knows what it will be next month. At least they know how to mount an attack. I would love to see their strategy room adorned with a portrait of George Soros, their patron saint of counter-culture.

I brought the subject of presidential tax returns up a few years ago, but it recently resurfaced. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-MA), made a request of the the Internal Revenue Service commissioner for six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns, which will inevitably result in a spirited brawl with the White House. Actually, we shouldn’t be surprised; after all, we’re in an election cycle and the Democrats have again embarked on another smoke and mirrors campaign to assassinate the president’s character. They couldn’t take him down with the Mueller investigation, so now they are grasping at straws to find a way to besmirch his character. So, this isn’t about obtaining his tax returns, which they know they are not entitled to, as much as it is a part of their overall strategy to bash the president.

Donald Trump’s failure to disclose his tax returns thus far has once again come under scrutiny by the press. They contend it is their “right” to review all candidate returns to assure they are not cheating or using unscrupulous tax schemes. Mr. Trump contends his tax returns are being audited by the IRS and, based on the advice of his lawyers, he should not release them prematurely. Of course, the Democrats and the press do not accept this and adamantly demands to see his tax returns. Frankly, it is none of their business

Let’s see if we can clear up a few things regarding this issue.

First, there is absolutely no legal requirement for a candidate to disclose his/her tax returns. This is something the press views as unwritten law, but there is no sand in it. Further, not releasing tax returns is certainly not without precedent. Tax Analysts, a nonprofit organization who monitors presidential tax returns, lists many exceptions:

  • “For tax year 2001, both President Bush and Vice President Cheney released partial returns. For tax year 2000, Bush released only his Form 1040; Cheney provided a summary of his taxes, but released no forms.”
  • Ronald Reagan did not report his returns for the 1980 election.
  • Jimmy Carter also didn’t report his for the 1976 campaign.
  • “Gerald Ford did not release his returns, but he did release summary data about his federal taxes for the years between 1966 and 1975.”
  • “Franklin Roosevelt did not release tax returns during his presidency, but many returns were later made available by his presidential library.”

And there are no tax returns listed for Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy. So, as you can see, there is no mandate to release tax returns. It’s just something the Democrats and the press insists they have a right to. They do not.

As an aside, the only tax report on record for President Trump is for 2005 which was mysteriously produced in 2017 and revealed nothing improper.

Second, rarely does anyone read the tax returns, people just want to know if they have been released. In President Trump’s case though, the attacking liberal media will go through it with a fine tooth comb, spotting any possible indiscretion and blowing it out of proportion. If and when the president releases his tax returns, they will undoubtedly be squeaky clean, leading the press to conclude, “Well, yes, I guess he knows how to make money” (but will never openly admit it to the public).

Third, Mr. Trump provided a summary of his financials in his book, “Crippled America.” Why is the press not interested in analyzing this report?

As long as President Trump holds on to his tax returns, the press and his political opponents will claim this is a liability, that he has something to hide. However, let’s assume the president is correct, that he is being audited by the IRS. Those of you who have suffered through such a review will probably side with the President by saying, “It’s none of your business,” or possibly something a little stronger.

First published: June 15, 2016. Updated 2019.

Keep the Faith!

EDITORS NOTE: This Bryce is Right podcast is republished with permission. All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Putting Readiness First: Transgender Military Policy Finally Takes Effect

Today is a banner day for any American who is committed both to the best interests of the military and the rule of law. After nearly two years of judicial obstruction, President Trump’s commonsense policy on transgender service in the military has finally taken effect (although legal challenges to it are still being litigated).

In July of 2016, as President Barack Obama’s second term was coming to a close, he left another gift to his far-left constituents by lifting long-standing restrictions on military service by transgender persons — those who identify psychologically with something other than their biological sex. Although long justified on grounds of both mental and physical health, President Obama and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter decided that political correctness was a more important priority than military readiness.

A year later, though, Donald Trump was President, and he fulfilled a campaign promise to stop using the military for social experiments, announcing on Twitter that he would reverse the Obama/Carter policy. After careful study by a panel of experts, in March 2018 Defense Secretary James Mattis announced the detailed new policy — and the substantial justifications for it — in a 44-page Report and Recommendations.

Lawsuits were filed against the policy in four different U.S. District Courts, though, and all four judges issued preliminary injunctions to prevent the policy from taking effect. It was not until after the Supreme Court intervened that the last of the injunctions was lifted, allowing the Trump/Mattis policy to take effect.

While none of the cases have reached a final decision yet, the Supreme Court’s decision — that the policy does not cause the kind of “irreparable harm” that would justify a preliminary injunction — is encouraging. It may rest in part on the fact that Service members who have “come out” as transgender from the time the Obama/Carter took effect until yesterday are “grandfathered in” and will still be allowed to serve.

In the end, the courts must uphold the commander-in-chief’s power to make personnel policy for the armed forces. To understand the details of the Trump/Mattis policy and the compelling justifications for it, see FRC’s publications “Summary of Trump Administration Policy on Transgender Military Service” and “Department of Defense on Why Those with ‘Gender Dysphoria’ Are Disqualified from Military Service.”


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


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The Truth About How Much Americans Are Paying in Taxes

As Americans file their taxes this April, they might be in for a surprise: Most Americans got a tax cut last year.

It shouldn’t be a surprise given the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, but unfortunately, the media have produced a neverending deluge of misleadingor inaccurate reporting on the issue.

Last year, The Heritage Foundation studied how the tax cuts would affect Americans in every congressional district across the country. We found that each of the 435 districts got a tax cut and that the average American household paid about $1,400 less in taxes as a result in 2018.

Americans with children also benefit from the tax cuts. A married couple filing jointly with two children saw their tax bills fall by an average of $2,917.

Depending on how much you make, where you live, and how many kids you have, the numbers can look different. You can check out the average tax cut in every congressional district here.

Americans don’t just benefit from the lower taxes. They benefit a second time from higher wages generated by a faster-growing economy. Lower taxes for businesses and individuals help fuel more investment and innovation, which means more jobs and higher wages.

Over the next 10 years, thanks to a larger economy, the typical American will benefit from over $26,000 more in take-home pay, or $44,697 for a family of four.

Tangible Results

Average tax cuts can be a bit abstract and can seem too good to be true, so we crunched the numbers for specific taxpayers. Here are two examples.

Sofia Lopez, a single teacher making $50,000, paid $5,474 in federal income taxes for 2017. This year, she paid $1,104 less to the federal government. Her marginal tax rate dropped from 25% to 12%. Overall, she got a 20% tax cut.

Under the old tax code, John and Sarah Jones—a married couple with combined earnings of $75,000, three children, and a home mortgage—paid $1,753 last year. They just finished filing their taxes, and this year 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.

As a result of tax reform, 9 out of 10 taxpayers got a tax cut, which most Americans received through lower employer withholding.

Even if most people got a tax cut, some people are concerned that their tax refunds might be smaller after initial reports showed that some refunds could be smaller than in previous years.

The key to remember here is that tax refunds are the government paying you back if you overpaid your taxes throughout the year. They are not related to the size of your actual tax cut. Nonetheless, folks are still rightly concerned about the unanticipated change.

Since the initial reporting, revised numbers now show that average refunds are about the same as last year. Americans likely got a tax cut and still got the refund they were expecting.

Another change that has gotten a lot of negative attention is the capping of the state and local tax deduction (SALT). This cap begins to fix the deduction that until recently had subsidized unusually high taxes in some states at the expense of federal taxpayers in low-tax states.

After sustained negative press, Ryan C. Sheppard, an accountant at Knight Rolleri Sheppard in Fairfield, Connecticut, recently explained to Bloomberg that “[a] lot of folks are coming in assuming they’re going to lose under the new tax law when in fact, they’re not.” That’s because the cap was paired with new lower tax rates and other reforms, like a larger exemption for the alternative minimum tax.

It has now been more than a year since the tax cuts were signed into law, and many Americans may have forgotten how the law changed.

Here’s a brief summary of the major reforms for individual taxpayers in 2018:

  • Lower Tax Rates. Tax rates were cut across all seven of the income tax brackets. The top marginal rate decreased from 39.6% to 37%. The marginal rate for a single earner making $50,000 dropped from 25% to 22%, while the rate for a married couple with $75,000 of income declined from 15% to 12%.
  • Bigger Standard Deduction. The amount of income fully exempt from the income tax, called the standard deduction, almost doubled. For married joint filers, the deduction is $24,000; for single filers, it is $12,000. The new larger deduction takes the place of the personal exemption and simplifies tax filing. About 9 in 10 taxpayers will simply claim the new standard deduction in 2018 rather than itemize their taxes.
  • $2,000 Child Tax Credit. The child tax credit doubled from $1,000 to $2,000 per child and begins to phase out at almost quadruple the income level of $400,000. The new larger credit more than offsets the repeal of the personal exemption for dependents.
  • $10,000 State and Local Tax Deduction. Taxpayers who choose not to take the standard deduction are able to deduct up to $10,000 of state and local property taxes and income taxes (or sales taxes) paid.

For individuals, the bill also expanded 529 college savings accounts to K-12 expenses, limited the mortgage interest deduction for new mortgages, zeroed out the individual mandate tax, raised the death tax exclusion, eliminated the phase-out of itemized deductions, and increased the exemption for the alternative minimum tax, among many other changes.

But all of the individual tax cuts expire after 2025 and will need to be extended. Otherwise, Americans will face steep tax increases down the road.

Taken as a whole, these changes simplified taxpaying for typical American taxpayers and cut their taxes by thousands of dollars. Thanks to tax reform, paying taxes this year will be less painful than last year.

COMMENTARY BY

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: .

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Dear Readers:

Just two short years after the end of the Obama administration’s disastrous policies, America is once again thriving due to conservative solutions that have produced a historic surge in economic growth.

The Trump administration has embraced over 60 percent of The Heritage Foundation’s policy recommendations since his inauguration. But with the House now firmly within the grips of the progressive left, the victories may come to a screeching halt.

Why? Because they are determined more than ever to give the government more control over your lives. Restoring your liberty and embracing freedom is the best thing for you and the country.

President Donald Trump needs all of the allies he can find to push through the stone wall he now faces within this divided government. And the best way you can partner with him is by becoming a member of his greatest ally in Washington: The Heritage Foundation.

Will you activate your membership with a tax-deductible gift today?

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

The TEA Party is Back with ‘Stop Socialism Choose Freedom’ Rallies on April 15th!

President Trump has our economy booming. Unemployment claims are at an unprecedented 50 year low. There are more jobs available than there are workers to fill them.

And yet, every Democrat presidential candidate is on a mad dash to socialism. If a Democrat is elected president in 2020, we will be thrust back to the depressing days of Obama’s failed economy; record high numbers of Americans on food stamps, unemployment and disability. Democrats are like drug dealers seeking to insidiously addict Americans to government dependency solely to control their lives, behavior and voting loyalty.

From the beginning of the Tea Party movement, I traveled the country on numerous national Tea Party bus tours, speaking and performing my song, “American Tea Party Anthem” at over 500 Tea Party rallies nationwide.

Reflecting back to Obama’s horrible economy, I fondly remember the five dollar lady. After my performance on stage at a rally in Texas, I was approached by a humble woman. She thanked me for what our team of patriots was doing for our country. She explained that Obama’s anti-business policies cost her husband, a trucker, his job. With tears in her eyes, she grabbed my hand with both her hands, giving me a crumpled up five dollar bill for gas for our tour bus. I instinctively knew that five dollars was a huge contribution from her. The five dollar lady drove home the importance of our mission and responsibility to push back against Obama’s plan to transform America into a socialist nation.

On April 15th, Stop Socialism Choose Freedom Rallies are scheduled across America; 300 thus far with more added daily. Yes, the Tea Party is back. Please join us.

Actually, the Tea Party never went away. We matured, working behind the scenes to elect conservatives, becoming less visible. I became Chairman of the Conservative Campaign Committee, traveling the country helping to elect conservatives in House and Senate races

With their every attempt to remove Trump from office failing, the evil coalition of Democrats, fake news and the deep state have become totally deranged. They seek to create a race war and violence on Trump supporters while arrogantly breaking laws. No sacrifice is too large or scheme too low if it will remove Trump from of the White House.

Democrats’ extreme lawless resistance requires the Tea Party to become highly visible again. The Tea Party is the righteous legal-resistance to Democrats’ deranged, violent and illegal-resistance.

I am excited to announce that 34% of those who attended Trump’s latest rally in Michigan were registered Democrats. Trump is also winning blacks, Hispanics and millennials

This means despite fake news media’s 24/7 lies, deceptions and distortions about Trump, more Americans are beginning to discern that Trump is good for America. Lets pull formerly duped Americans into our Tea Party fold to rally behind our president.

Please allow me to address Democrats’ and fake news media’s despicable hate-generating lie that says the Tea Party and Trump are racist. I am a proud black American who attended over 500 Tea Party rallies nationwide. I was showered with patriot love and appreciation. Trump has an excellent record of hiring blacks. Blacks are experiencing unprecedented prosperity under Trump; historic low unemployment

Brother and sister Americans who love our country, lets join together to save America by keeping Trump in the White House. Please sign on to participate in the April 15th, Stop Socialism Choose Freedom Rallies

Thirty-two year old Todd Beamer was an American passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93 which was hijacked as part of the Islamic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Beamer lead a band of courageous fellow passengers in an attempt to regain control of the aircraft from the hijackers. During the struggle, control was lost of the aircraft. It crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, saving the hijackers’ intended target which prevented the murder of more Americans. Upon the passengers launching their attack, Beamer said, “Let’s roll.”

Yes, the Tea Party is back! Quoting heroic American Todd Beamer, “Let’s roll.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Tea Party Backs ‘Stop Socialism, Choose Freedom’ Rallies on Tax Day

Filing Income Taxes? Remember, TurboTax Funds Planned Parenthood

As income tax season enters its final week, there are many options for filing your returns. Fortunately, software programs and online platforms have reduced the paperwork needed for many taxpayers. However, not all tax filing services are created equal—some of the companies selling these services may be using a portion of your fees to fund organizations that you would not normally support on your own.

For example, Intuit (1.7 – Liberal), the maker of popular tax filing software TurboTax, is a direct supporter of abortion giant Planned Parenthood. According to the most recent available information, the company contributed $32,350 to various Planned Parenthood affiliates in 2016 through The Intuit Foundation, the company’s charitable giving arm. The TurboTax brand’s self-described “most popular” Deluxe edition costs $59.99—meaning the fees collected from at least 539 customers go directly to Planned Parenthood’s abortion business.

Our research has also found Intuit supports several more liberal organization such as the anti-2nd Amendment Brady Center, the pro-“cap-and-trade” Sierra Club, and the pro-sanctuary city ACLU and has also scored 100 on the Human Rights Campaign‘s anti-religious liberty index.

At Intuit’s annual meeting earlier this year, shareholder activists from the National Center for Public Policy Research challenged CEO Sasan Goodarzi over his company’s support for left-leaning organizations, particularly Planned Parenthood. Goodarzi seemed to dodge the National Center’s questions saying:

We deeply believe in our mission of empowering prosperity around the world… which means we care deeply and measure deeply around how inclusive we are. We think about diversity, and we think about that not only because it’s important internally — but those are the customers that we serve… We believe in doing what’s right and we always will adjust if we feel we’re not doing something right.

While we do hope adjustments will be made, Intuit has not signaled any change of heart since the exchange. Therefore, conservatives will want to look to tax filing options that better match their values and refrain from using their fees to fund organizations like Planned Parenthood.

However, conservatives should remember to pay close attention to Intuit’s competitors when it comes to selecting an alternative platform or service provider. H&R Block (1.4 – Liberal), for example, has funded the liberal Center for American Progress, a think tank founded by former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Fortunately for conservative taxpayers, our research has found Jackson-Hewitt (3 – Neutral) remains neutral on all the issues 2ndVote scores.

Filing tax returns is never pleasant, especially for conservatives who abhor the annual reminder of how much the federal government takes out of your paycheck. But, when you choose a better option to Intuit, and H&R Block for that matter, you can get a head start enjoying spring knowing you have taken action to defund Planned Parenthood, CAP, and other liberal activists.


Help us continue providing resources like this and educating conservative shoppers by becoming a 2ndVote Member today!


EDITORS NOTE: This 2ndVote column is republished with permission.

The Cultural Failure Of Free College

Economist Ludwig von Mises observed the reality that virtually every government action creates unintended consequences that cause problems greater than the ones that were meant to be solved.

But the Democratic Party that is now apparently fully on board with free college for everyone is clearly unaware of this truism. That’s not too surprising as it has to do with economics, history and rational thought — all areas largely abandoned by the modern Democratic Party.

So here are the almost assured consequences that will stem from such a policy (beyond the $7 trillion price tag) and each ends up conflicting directly with the goals of free college for everyone.

  • Most people will not graduate. Right now, according the National Digest of Education Statistics, fewer than one in three enrollees in four-year institutions of higher learning with open enrollment policies graduate — even after six years. So even if it is free, statistically it is reasonable to predict that two-thirds of those who enter will not come out with a degree. That means it becomes both an enormous misallocation of resources and it squanders years in pursuit of a fruitless endeavor for most. Further, for all these young people, there will be no increase in salary because there is no college degree — only lost time and likely some college-related expenses.
  • It will create skyrocketing costs. Is everyone accepted who wants to go? If it is guaranteed tuition payment to universities without academic requirements — which has been the Bernie Sanders’ rhetoric — it will mean that these institutions will have even less incentive to control costs. Right now, only health care costs have soared as fast as college costs over the past 30 years. Not coincidentally, both markets are deeply impacted by government. In the case of colleges, it is easily obtainable student loans backed by the federal government, along with Pell grants and other fundings. This guaranteed flow of federal money and the ongoing cultural push for kids to go to college regardless of the need for them to, has driven up college costs and created the debt issue. Making it ”free” would make it much more expensive for taxpayers.
  • Government will further screw up the college market. The obvious hike in costs would force the political reality of having to control costs by limiting or even lowering tuition. (This is all very akin to the dynamics in the health care debate, except the option of rationing is the opposite of what free tuition is for, so that likely would not be an alternative.) How would universities hire more professors, instructors and add classroom buildings and dorms along with administrators if the government is capping or cutting tuition? Obviously the quality and value of a college degree would plummet.
  • It wouldn’t accomplish the goal of everyone making more money. Assuming, however, that it does increase the number of college graduates, what does that accomplish? In the big picture, it would mean that a Bachelor’s Degree becomes the equivalent of a high school degree within about a half of a generation, except that the B.A. comes with a lot of debt while a high school degree does not. So the result is that the American people generationally are saddled with trillions more in debt without a discernible increase in the actual value of what the new wave of college graduates have.

And finally, this is becoming even more of a big deal for Democrats at the very time that the labor market is historically tight. Right now, the unemployment rate is about 3.8 percent — below what economists consider full employment.

Further, there are about six million unemployed Americans, while there are seven million job openings — the majority of which do not require a college degree. In truth, the nation and the economy actually do not need more college graduates, particularly in all the wrong fields, i.e. the soft sciences, the arts, literature, ethnic and cultural studies, communications and media.

Evidence? There are 13 million Americans with at least a four-year college degree working in jobs that do not require any college degree.

The push for free college for everyone is much worse than just being a $7 trillion budget buster. It also destroys the value of a college degree, high school degree and years in a young person’s life, all while not accomplishing its primary goals.

EDITORS NOTE: This Revolutionary Act column is republished with permission.

Thought Police (Oops, Medicare) For All

Preview:  

  • The new Medicare for All bill (H.R. 1384) has come and hopefully will go the way of the pet rock.
  • But as usual, bills contain hidden gems
  • The focus on palliative care and lowering costs by reducing “aggressive” end-of-life treatment is one more incremental under-the-radar step along the road to government control over life and death. A culture of hastening death has gradually evolved, disguised as “death with dignity.”
  • Subtly devaluing life primes the pump for rationing of medical care at all stages by a government-run program that is the exclusive purveyor of medical “benefits.”
  • This year, legislators were not so subtle. It is bad enough that our elderly are pushed into hospice, but now the compassionate legislators have set their sights on newborns. New York passed, and Virginia floated laws that permit the killing of babies after birth.
  • Starting in the 1970s, the federal government clearly saw a need to protect medical personnel from the tyranny of the government mandates that could violate religious or moral convictions.
  • We must not let the government bury our conscience and beliefs under layers of bureaucracy. Medicare for All may mean independent thought for none.

The new Medicare for All bill (H.R. 1384) has come and hopefully will go the way of the pet rock. Everybody now knows the basics: the government will take care of all medical, dental, vision, pharmacy, and long-term care services with no out-of-pocket expenses. The bill prohibits parallel private insurance, and has the glaring absence of a financing mechanism.

But as usual, bills contain hidden gems. Section 104 of the bill tracks the Affordable Care Act’s “anti-discrimination” rule, making it clear that no person can be denied benefits, specifically including abortion and treatment of gender identity issues “by any participating provider.” The bill does not correspondingly reaffirm the federal laws protecting conscience and First Amendment religious freedom rights of medical personnel. Such protections relate to participation in abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide, and other ethical dilemmas.

Most sane individuals agree that we do not want our government to control any aspect of our individual lives—particularly not our religious beliefs and moral codes. When the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sought to clarify such conscience protections, thousands of commenters offered evidence of discrimination and coercion to violate the tenets of the Oath of Hippocrates and their own ethics. Some left their jobs or left the medical profession entirely when their conscientious objections were not honored.

Conscience protections are vital in this time of unabashed devaluing of life. Last year, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (PCHETA), passed the House but died in the Senate. This bill would have dedicated $100 million in additional taxpayer dollars to persuade patients to forgo treatment that might prolong life in exchange for a steady stream of increasing doses of narcotics. Already some families feel they are not merely offered hospice as a choice but are steered toward it when their older relatives fall ill, even when the medical prognosis is uncertain.

The focus on palliative care and lowering costs by reducing “aggressive” end-of-life treatment is one more incremental under-the-radar step along the road to government control over life and death. A culture of hastening death has gradually evolved, disguised as “death with dignity.” California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont have legalized physician-assisted suicide with 20 other states considering implementing such laws.

Subtly devaluing life primes the pump for rationing of medical care at all stages by a government-run program that is the exclusive purveyor of medical “benefits.” Our western counterparts with single payer have discovered that offering fewer benefits is the simplest way to control costs. The “Complete Lives System”—the brainchild of ObamaCare physician architect Ezekiel Emanuel—includes worrisome determinants of who should receive care. The system prioritizes adolescents and persons with “instrumental value,” i.e., individuals with “future usefulness.”

This year, legislators were not so subtle. It is bad enough that our elderly are pushed into hospice, but now the compassionate legislators have set their sights on newborns. New York passed, and Virginia floated laws that permit the killing of babies after birth. The U.S. Senate garnered only 53 of the 60 votes needed to pass the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act which would mandate medical care and legal protections to infants born alive after an attempted abortion.

Starting in the 1970s, the federal government clearly saw a need to protect medical personnel from the tyranny of the government mandates that could violate religious or moral convictions. Personal liberty is an integral part of our democratic republic. While a physician’s calling is to render treatment to all patients, this is balanced with an individual physician’s moral beliefs. This is no more apparent than in legislation permitting physician assisted suicide and post-delivery “abortions.” Sadly, under threat of discrimination lawsuits, some physicians have acquiesced to patients’ requests for medications and surgical procedures that conflict with their moral code.

As anthropologist, Margaret Mead so brilliantly wrote, “One profession, the followers of [Hippocrates], were to be dedicated completely to life under all circumstances…This is a priceless possession which we cannot afford to tarnish, but society always is attempting to make the physician into a killer—to kill the defective child at birth, to leave the sleeping pills beside the bed of the cancer patient. … It is the duty of society to protect the physician from such requests.”

We must not let the government bury our conscience and beliefs under layers of bureaucracy. Medicare for All may mean independent thought for none.

Lawsuit Filed Challenging the Constitutionality of the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced today that nationally prominent appellate lawyer John Bursch will represent the state of Tennessee and its General Assembly on March 19 before a 3-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  ​

The Thomas More Law Center was retained by the Tennessee General Assembly in March 2017 to file a first-of-its-kind Tenth Amendment lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal refugee resettlement program. The federal government has violated state sovereignty by forcing Tennessee to continue paying for the program after Tennessee opted out and exercised its right not to participate.  TMLC is appealing after a federal district court judge dismissed the case. The Law Center is representing Tennessee without charge.

Mr. Bursch, a former Michigan state solicitor general and past chair of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers, has an impressive client list ranging from Fortune 500 companies and foreign and domestic governments, to top public officials and industry associations in high-profile cases. His cases frequently involve pressing political and social issues, and five had at least $1 billion at stake.

He has argued 11 U.S. Supreme Court cases and obtained summary reversal on three more, compiling a Supreme Court merits record of 10-2-2. He has also argued 30 cases in state supreme courts, and dozens more in federal and state appellate courts across the country. A recent study included John on its “veritable who’s who of Supreme Court litigators” list.

Although Tennessee officially withdrew from participation in the federal refugee resettlement program in 2007, the federal government continues to commandeer state tax dollars to fund the federal program.

Tennessee has a history of supporting the Tenth Amendment and state sovereignty.  In 2009, House Joint Resolution 108, which passed in the Senate 31-0 and in the House by 85-2, demanded that the federal government halt its practice of imposing mandates on the states for purposes not enumerated by the U.S. Constitution.

Richard Thompson, TMLC President and Chief Counsel, commented: “John’s integrity, outstanding litigation skills, and impressive record on appeals prompted me to ask him to join our fight.  I can’t think of anyone more qualified to represent Tennessee and the constitutional principles involved in this case.”