What the New Self-Reliance Rule Means for Immigrants

Politicians across the political spectrum have a penchant for bragging about how their parents or ancestors came to the U.S. with next to nothing, but worked hard to provide a better life for their children.

Yet when the Department of Homeland Security proposed taking self-reliance into account in weighing applications for green cards or immigration visas, liberals condemned the proposal as harsh and sued to block the proposed rule from taking effect.

Initially, they won court injunctions in several jurisdictions. Now, however, all have been dismissed. And so, the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds rule took effect nationwide Monday.

If you think that means poor immigrants must now abandon all hope of entering the U.S. or becoming permanent residents, think again. The left has tremendously overblown the scope of this rule.


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The rule defines a “public charge” as one who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period (such that, for example, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months).

The rule defines “public benefit” to include any federal, state, local, or tribal cash benefits for income maintenance (including Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, General Assistance), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, most forms of Medicaid, Section 8 Housing/Rental Assistance, and public housing.

Benefits not considered include emergency medical assistance, disaster relief, national school lunch programs, the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, foster care and adoption subsidies, government-subsidized student and mortgage loans, energy assistance, food pantries, homeless shelters, and Head Start.

The rule will not be applied retroactively. It does, however, apply to future applicants for visas and green cards. According to Homeland Security,  each year about 382,000 immigrants seek a change in status that would make them subject to a public charge review.

The rule also sets forth the factors U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must consider in whether an applicant is likely to become a public charge. Those factors include age, health, income, education, and skills.

The agency also can, in certain circumstances, offer an applicant the opportunity to post a public charge bond. The final rule sets the minimum bond amount at $8,100, but the actual amount will depend on an individual’s circumstances.

The rule has many exceptions. It does not apply to humanitarian-based immigration programs for refugees, asylees, special immigrant juveniles, certain trafficking victims, victims of qualifying criminal activity, or victims of domestic violence. Members of the military and their families are also exempt.

The public charge rule is really nothing new. Long before there was any federal agency charged with implementing immigration policy, seaboard states enacted laws to restrict immigration by those deemed likely to become dependent on public welfare.

The first federal immigration law, the Immigration Act of 1882, reflected this concern, excluding from entry “any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.” The act also created a federal immigration head-tax, the proceeds from which were used to care for immigrants arriving in the U.S., including those who fell into economic distress.

In 1996, Congress passed, and President Bill Clinton signed into law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. It includes statements of national policy on welfare and immigration, including:

—Self-sufficiency has been a basic principle of U.S. immigration law since this country’s earliest immigration statutes.

—Immigrants will not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, their sponsors, and private organizations.

—The availability of public benefits will not constitute an incentive for immigration to the U.S.

Although the Immigration and Naturalization Service published a proposed rule to define “public charge” in 1999, it wasn’t finalized. As of Monday, however, that job was completed.

No, this limited rule will not cause the immigration sky to fall. It will, however, reaffirm the essential American value of self-reliance through hard work—a value that politicians from both parties claim to esteem.

COLUMN BY

Lora Ries

Lora Ries is a senior research fellow specializing in homeland security at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: @lora_ries.

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VIDEO: Why the Movie Industry Is Fleeing California

Why is the film industry abandoning its Mount Olympus?


Ah, Hollywood. The Mecca of filmmaking. Thousands of would-be actors, screenwriters, and directors flock to Los Angeles, California to fulfill their dreams of becoming a star because, after all, that’s where movie-making happens. Everyone knows this.

And for close to a century, it was true. But today, Hollywood—the way we generally think of it—is fading away and going elsewhere. In fact, in 2017, only ten of the top 100 movies produced that year were made mostly in California.

It’s no secret that the entire state of California is experiencing a large and sustained out-flow of residents, but Los Angeles County, in particular, is showing the biggest losses. The question is why.

Why is the film industry abandoning its Mount Olympus?

A Hollywood Origin Story

Let’s back up for a minute and look at how Hollywood (the term used to describe the mainstream film industry because, yes, you’re correct, Hollywood, originally Hollywoodland, came from the name of a specific neighborhood in Los Angeles) came to be in Los Angeles to begin with.

Back at the end of the 19th century, motion pictures were a very new technology, and a handful of people held almost all of the patents related to the filming and screening of said films. Chief among them was Thomas Edison.

History remembers Edison as an important inventor but not so much as a nice guy. That’s probably a fair assessment, especially when it comes to early film-making technology.

Films at the tail-end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century in America were made almost exclusively on the East Coast—New Jersey, mostly. Films were short, silent, and lacked much of the subtlety and nuance that modern moviegoers have come to expect from cinema. At the time, though, they were cutting-edge and incredibly popular.

One could make a very good living running a show house or nickelodeon in any big city.

Right up until December 1908, that is.

That’s when Edison spearheaded the creation of the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC), generally referred to as the Edison Trust. It was comprised of the holders of all the significant patents related to the production and screening of motion pictures, including Biograph, Vitagraph, American Mutoscope, Kodak, and others.

Edison was widely known for having strong opinions about what kinds of movies should be made, how long they should be, who should be credited in them, and what it should cost to show them. With the control of the patents he himself owned combined with the collective clout of the other members, the MPPC ruled the movie-making industry with an iron fist. They sued those who didn’t comply with their dictates for patent infringement, refused to sell them equipment and film, and, occasionally, sent hired hooligans to wreck up movie sets or show houses.

As Dan Lewis at Mental Floss writes,

In short, if you wanted to be in the movie business, you did so at the pleasure of Thomas Edison. And Edison (via the MPPC) was not one to back down. The Company took to the courts to prevent the unauthorized use of everything from cameras to projectors — and in many cases, the films themselves. According to Steven Bach in his book, Final Cut, the MPPC even went to the extreme “solution” of hiring mob-affiliated thugs to enforce the patents extra-judiciously. Pay up — or else.

As you might imagine, some filmmakers chafed under such rigid constraints and looked for ways to escape Edison and his MPPC. Their solution? Head west.

After Arizona failed its audition, Los Angeles became the destination for aspiring filmmakers. In addition to being as far away as possible from New Jersey and the MPPC, the tiny town boasted a copious amount of sunny weather—critical to filmmakers in the days of extremely limited artificial lighting—as well as an abundance of cheap real estate and high-skill, low-cost labor.

The local government was pro-business. Should the MPPC actually manage to send a lawsuit that far away, the Mexican border was close enough to duck across until the process server gave up and went home. The geography was varied and beautiful.

After WWI broke out, Los Angeles became the movie-making hot-spot as American film production was sought out to replace the movies that were no longer being made in war-torn Europe. Hollywood’s star was on the rise, and millions of people over the decades decided to hitch their wagons to it.

Hollywood’s Act II Problems

For most of the 20th century, it was good to be Hollywood. There was no shortage of money and talent coming in the door. But over time, things began to change. As film technology made big advancements like broadcast TV in the 1950s and home video in the 1980s, the various roles in the film industry in California also saw surges in unionization.

This led to the various roles on film sets to be increasingly tightly-defined and contractually protected. No one may step even an inch into someone else’s lane.

Nick Bilton in Vanity Fair relates the “Raindrop Story” he heard from a Hollywood screenwriter:

The production was shooting a scene in the foyer of a law firm, which the lead rushed into from the rain to utter some line that this screenwriter had composed. After an early take, the director yelled “Cut,” and this screenwriter, as is customary, ambled off to the side with the actor to offer a comment on his delivery. As they stood there chatting, the screenwriter noticed that a tiny droplet of rain remained on the actor’s shoulder. Politely, as they spoke, he brushed it off. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an employee from the production’s wardrobe department rushed over to berate him. “That is not your job,” she scolded. “That is my job.”

The screenwriter was stunned. But he had also worked in Hollywood long enough to understand what she was really saying: quite literally, wiping rain off an actor’s wardrobe was her job—a job that was well paid and protected by a union. And as with the other couple of hundred people on set, only she could perform it.

And it’s not just unionized labor that’s expensive in California. Sticking with labor costs, California has the second-highest minimum wage in the country at $13 an hour, though that’s set to increase to $15 an hour by 2022. And though there’s still some back-and-forthing going on regarding the notorious AB5 law, many businesses in the state are being told they need to hire their freelancers as (far more expensive) permanent employees.

Not only that, but California’s real estate and housing markets are among the most expensive in the country, a trend that shows no real sign of improving. The state’s zoning and building regulations make innovation difficult. Special preferential political treatment of the California agriculture industry has led to water rationing for individuals during drought conditions.

In fact, drinking water isn’t the only beverage subject to regulation in California. Furthermore, the state’s 2019 kerfuffle with electricity provider PG&E’s rolling blackouts for customers during high winds is also largely a problem created by the meddlesome state government.

Once all of these factors—and the above list is by no means comprehensive—are taken into account, California has the highest poverty rate in the US.

It isn’t that filmmakers don’t want to film in Los Angeles—they do. But all of these combined constraints significantly increase the total costs of filming and producing in California. Heck, not even films set in Los Angeles are being shot in Los Angeles these days.

So, take the barriers and high costs in California, combine it with fewer and fewer people going to the movies anymore, and the result is a shrinking profit margin for production studios. Something was bound to give.

Around the mid-1990s, other states and countries saw a chance to entice production companies away from California and to bring their cool—and taxable—jobs with them. States like Louisiana and Georgia along with Canada began offering some pretty sweet incentives packages for filmmakers and production companies.

Some places offered subsidies (direct payments), but the lion’s share of pretty much all of the financial incentive packages was tax breaks (a lower tax bill). Though those two kinds of incentives are often conflated, they are not, in fact, the same thing.

And it worked. The state of Georgia, the UK, and Canada all top California when it comes to the number of films shot and produced there.


via Gfycat

Why would production companies leave what has become their ancestral homeland for Georgia or Louisiana? The same reasons they went to California in the first place: to make more money.

Outside constraints—whether from tyrannical patent trolls like the Edison Trust, micromanaging union guidelines, or well-meaning but poorly-considered legislation—made making movies expensive enough that a reduction in production costs was enough to outweigh the hassle of relocating. It was true in 1909, and it was true in 1997. It remains true today.

Though the film industry is one of the most visible ones to ease its way out of California, it’s by no means alone. The entire state is seeing residents of all kinds leaving. In 2018 alone, the state saw a net loss of about 190,000 residents. That’s slightly more than the entire population of Shreveport, Louisiana. According to a recent UC Berkeley poll, about half of the people still living in California have considered leaving.

When asked why, 71 percent cited the high cost of housing and 51 percent said it was because of the high tax burden.At the end of the day, filmmakers are just trying to make a living creating art. That’s already a difficult path to navigate. It should surprise no one that when a smoother route opens up, a lot of people would choose it over the more difficult one.

And the same is true for every industry everywhere. Instead of making life more difficult and expensive by putting up barriers like high taxes, occupational licensing requirements, compulsory union membership, expensive building requirements, and so on that satisfy special interest requests without doing much to improve life for everyday people, California could just let individuals, businesses, and industries succeed or fail based on their own merits in the market. With fewer obstacles to overcome just to get started, individuals and their businesses would stand a much better chance of improving their lives.

For Hollywood, history is repeating itself. California used to be a safe haven for those looking to escape the control freaks of the Edison Trust. Now California itself is the control freak that entertainment entrepreneurs are fleeing as they seek refuge elsewhere. The exodus of talent (and tax dollars) from California won’t stop until it restores the relative economic freedom that allowed Hollywood to become the entertainment capital of the world in the first place.

Jen Maffessanti

Jen Maffessanti is a Senior Associate Editor at FEE and mother of two. When she’s not advocating for liberty or chasing kids, she can usually be found cooking or maybe racing cars. Check out her website.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Trump Budget Cuts Size of Federal Government, but Bolder Reforms Needed

>> Note: This live blog no longer is being updated by Heritage Foundation policy experts.


President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 would reduce the size and reach of the federal bureaucracy significantly by shifting government responsibilities back to constitutional priorities and empowering state and local governments.

These reforms, contained in the request Trump sent Monday morning to Congress, would put the budget on track to balance and represent a significant first step toward reducing spending and stabilizing the nation’s unsustainable debt.

However, the president’s proposal represents a missed opportunity in other areas. Namely, it fails to propose significant reforms to Social Security and health care entitlement programs, the main drivers of spending and debt growth.


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The president’s annual budget proposal should serve as a road map to Congress for how the executive and legislative branches can work together to increase individual freedom and economic prosperity for all Americans.

Out-of-control federal spending is a threat to that freedom and prosperity. The president must continue to lead the way and propose bolder reforms that not only will balance the budget in the short term but also put the government on a long-term path to sustainability.

Trump’s budget request would:

1. Cut spending by $4.4 trillion and put the federal budget on a path to balance. The president’s budget includes $4.4 trillion in proposed spending cuts. According to the administration, this is the highest number of spending cuts a president ever has proposed.

In a sign of how unsustainable federal spending has become, even with over $4 trillion in cuts the budget does not balance in 10 years.

The proposal does provide a path to balance though, reducing deficits from nearly 5% of gross domestic product to less than 1% of GDP by 2030. The administration projects a surplus by 2035.

With the gross national debt already surpassing the size of the economy, there is no time to waste. The Trump administration should strive to balance the budget within 10 years.

2. Significantly reduce the federal bureaucracy. Over the past century, the size and scope of the federal government has expanded well beyond the constitutional priorities envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The president’s 2021 budget makes significant progress in reducing the government’s reach and returning power to the people.

The budget proposal includes $1.9 trillion in cuts to nondefense discretionary programs. Much of the nondefense discretionary budget includes waste, duplication, or overlap, or funds programs that have no proper federal role.

To address these problems, the president’s budget proposes a 5% cut to nondefense programs, rejecting the irresponsible Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019. The budget proposes a 2% annual cut from 2022 to 2030.

Nondefense discretionary reforms alone won’t balance the budget, but they will help to ensure that the federal government focuses on truly national needs.

3. Prioritize national defense. The president’s budget proposes $740.5 billion in national defense spending, consistent with the level provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019. This is a $2.5 billion (0.3%) increase compared to 2020.

The budget realizes over $5 billion in savings within the operations of the Department of Defense, which the administration reinvests in higher priorities, such as nuclear modernization, missile defense, and increased readiness.

The security of Americans at home and abroad is perhaps the greatest responsibility of the federal government. Providing appropriated national defense funding should remain a top priority.

What’s Needed in the Budget

To stabilize spending and debt growth, lawmakers must pursue bolder reforms. One area where the president’s budget falls short is in addressing the growth of entitlement spending.

Last month, the Congressional Budget Office projected that annual Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security spending will nearly double in the next decade, consuming 59% of federal revenues by 2030.

Medicare and Social Security are unsustainable and both are on a path to insolvency. The budget should propose fundamental reforms to these programs that will lower costs and return control over health care and retirement needs to the American people.

This proposal does not achieve that goal, providing only modest reforms to health care programs and Social Security’s disability insurance program. It will be impossible to reduce spending and stabilize debt over the long term without reforming entitlement programs.

President Must Lead Way

Trump’s budget would reshape the federal government and refocus it toward constitutional priorities, significantly reducing spending and balancing the budget in 15 years.

Nevertheless, there is much more work to be done. The nation’s long-term debt trajectory is unsustainable and will negatively impact current and future generations.

The president’s budget provides the groundwork to avert that future; however, he must continue to lead Congress toward bigger and bolder reforms.

In the space below, Heritage Foundation analysts dig into some of the specific aspects of the president’s budget request.

Individual Tax Cuts Extended, Other Pro-Growth Reforms Left Out

Trump’s budget proposal would keep taxes from automatically increasing on working Americans, as is currently scheduled for 2026.

By extending the individual tax cuts from 2017, the budget would cut taxes by $1.4 trillion. Keeping taxes low for individuals is rightly a key priority for a taxpayer-focused budget.

But the budget does not include similar protections for new business investments in American workers, which begin to phase out at the end of 2022.

First, let’s look at the individual protections that the budget would extend. These are the same changes that cut taxes for 9 out of 10 taxpayers in 2018 and had significant benefits for Americans in every income group. The average American got a $1,400 tax cut in 2018, or $2,900 for a family of four.

To keep these benefits from reversing, the budget would retain the federal income tax rates at the lower levels, the larger standard deduction, the doubled child tax credit, and the capped deductions for state and local taxes, among many other important reforms.

For businesses and their employees, the budget would maintain the permanently lower corporate tax rate at 21%, down from the 2017 global high of 35%. This stands in contrast to leading Democrats who want to increase the federal business tax rate as high as 42%—about 10 percentage points higher than any other major country.

Paired with lower rates, the most pro-growth reform of the 2017 tax cuts allowed businesses to write off many new investments immediately. These rules for immediate expensing are left out of the budget proposal.

Without the protections of expensing, it will be more expensive for new businesses to open and for mature businesses to upgrade and expand operations—resulting in fewer jobs and slower wage gains. Making expensing permanent is a crucial component of meeting the Trump administration’s target of 3% growth.

As the administration develops a formal proposal for tax cuts 2.0, reforms such as expensing and universal savings accounts are crucial components.—Adam N. Michel, senior policy analyst, Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget

A Flat Future for Defense

The Trump defense budget request follows the cap set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, at $740.5 billion. It would be a 0.3% increase over last year’s appropriated defense budget.

This is not enough to cover inflationary cost growth for the coming year, let alone reach the 3% to 5% annual real growth that Defense Secretary Mark Esper stated was necessary to meet the challenges of the National Defense Strategy just last Thursday.

The budget describes some cuts that were made by the Defense Department as it sought to find savings in accounts such as health care or defense logistics. This effort freed $5 billion that had been reinvested in higher priority items such as our nuclear deterrent and cutting-edge technology research.

Hopefully, Congress will support those changes.

The budget also describes essentially a flat trajectory for defense spending in future years, in marked contrast to what was deemed as necessary by multiple secretaries of defense and by the bipartisan Commission on the National Defense Strategy.

In the budget document, defense raises at inflationary levels from fiscal 2021 to fiscal 2025 and then is literally flat until fiscal 2030. A clear disconnect exists between what senior Pentagon leaders have expressed as necessary and what the White House has outlined.

A flat budget for the Defense Department would mean that every year, the department will have to find around $14 billion of savings in order to maintain its purchasing power. Even in the context of a $740 billion budget, it is going to be a tall task.—Frederico Bartels, policy analyst for defense budgeting, Center for National Defense

Optimistic, but Not Impossible, Economic Projections

Fast economic growth and low interest rates are key assumptions that would help the president’s budget proposal balance in 15 years. These projections are certainly optimistic, but not inconceivable in an aggressively pro-growth policy environment.

The assumed average growth rate of 3% is not comparable to other projections, such as the recently released Congressional Budget Office economic forecast of a 1.7% annual growth rate.

CBO assumes that things stay on their current trajectory, taxes increase in 2025, deregulation efforts stop, and federal programs keep growing out of control. The president’s budget assumes many of the opposite policies, and thus can count on better economic conditions.

The assumed growth rates are certainly close to the upper bound of pro-growth optimism, but also represent a simple return to historical trends. Sustained high growth does not follow automatically from enacting the president’s agenda. Many other things outside the control of Washington also must go right.

Economic growth of 3% would be easier to achieve if the budget also included a concrete path to reduce tariffs, quiet trade uncertainty, and extend the business expensing tax reforms set to expire at the end of fiscal 2022.—Adam N. Michel, senior policy analyst, Hermann Center for the Federal Budget

Government Shouldn’t Run Paid Family Leave

The president’s budget calls for more government intervention in paid family leave, extending paid parental leave benefits to all new parents.

The mechanism appears to be small grants to states to help them set up programs that work best for their workforce and economy, but state-level politicians and bureaucrats still are not better equipped than business owners and workers to know what works best for them.

It turns out that employees value flexible work schedules by a margin of 6-to-1 over more paid parental leave. Including other means of granting more flexibility to workers, such as through telecommuting, increases the ratio to 11-to-1.

Although paid parental and paid family leave are valuable, they are not without cost and consequence. Some of those costs and consequences are playing out with existing state-based programs of paid family leave.

Both California’s and New Jersey’s programs increased the unemployment rate and the duration of unemployment for young women. And in California, the program resulted in 7% lower employment and 8% lower annual earnings for mothers, as well as reduced fertility rates.

These programs also are regressive, taxing everyone but primarily benefiting middle- and upper-income earners. In California, workers in the highest income bracket file more than five times as many paid family leave claims as those in the lowest-income bracket.

And although the taxes may start out low, they already have grown and will continue to grow over time. Economists estimate that a national paid family leave program would cost the average worker an extra $1,500 to $2,900 per year in additional taxes.

With tremendous growth in the number of new and expanded employer-provided policies, now is not the time to sideswipe more flexible and accommodating policies with one-size-fits-all, rigid, and bureaucratic government programs.

Most workers and families would prefer to be able to choose how to spend their money in ways that meet their particular needs than to have it taken from them and be told what types of government programs they are eligible to receive. It turns out that although paid parental leave is important to employees, there are better ways to help them balance work, family, and health needs.

The Working Families Flexibility Act would give lower-wage workers the option to accumulate paid time off; universal savings accounts would help families save for all kinds of life events; and fewer regulations would free up business resources to help employers provide paid family leave.

None of these would subject workers and their families to the mercy of government programs and bureaucrats to meet their needs.—Rachel Greszler, research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements, Hermann Center for the Federal Budget

Education Spending Smartly Trimmed; Tax Credit Scholarship Remains Pitfall

The Trump administration has requested $66.6 billion for the Department of Education, which would be a 7.8% (or $5.6 billion) reduction from the $72.2 billion enacted for fiscal 2020.

Although the proposed reductions are slightly lower than those proposed last year, the top line for the agency goes in the right direction. And overall, the budget would save $124 billion over 10 years through reductions in mandatory program spending at the department.

Moving in the right direction. In the K-12 space, the budget would establish the Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant, consolidating 29 existing programs into a single $19.4 billion formula-funded block grant.

The budget includes few details about the proposed block grant, but the funds would be distributed through the existing Title I formula; states and school districts then could “decide how best to use” funds.. This approach appears to mirror that of the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (APLUS) Act, a longstanding goal of conservatives.

The APLUS proposal, introduced by Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., and Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., would allow states to opt out of the existing, labyrinthine structure of Elementary and Secondary Education Act programs, and put their federal K-12 dollars toward any lawful education purpose under state law.

The budget wisely calls for elimination of subsidized student loans (saving $18 billion from 2021 to 2030), along with the elimination of Obama-era public service loan forgiveness (saving $52 billion from 2021 to 2030). It also would cap the Graduate PLUS loan program, saving $27.5 billion over 10 years, as well as the Parent PLUS loan program.

The administration wisely would eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness—which passes the tab for public employees’ student loans onto taxpayers after 10 years. But is also would reduce from 20 years to 15 years the length of repayment for undergraduate students under the proposed Income Driven Repayment plan—a step in the wrong direction.

Profligate federal spending through subsidized student loans has fueled tuition inflation, driving up college costs and burdening families. Student loan forgiveness policies have exposed taxpayers to $1.6 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.

This budget recognizes those realities and makes some important course corrections in the right direction. But it should go further in ensuring that no taxpayer should have to pay for someone else’s loan that they didn’t agree to take out.

Policy shortfalls. Although there is much to celebrate in the president’s budget request, one major misstep is the proposed $5 billion Education Freedom Scholarships program, which would cost $45 billion from 2021 through 2030.

This new program would leverage the federal tax code to create a scholarship program for eligible students to attend a private school of choice. As my colleague Adam Michel and I recently wrote:

The administration’s support of school choice is praiseworthy, but a federal tax credit scholarship program poses a threat to education choice in the states, and undermines the goal of a streamlined federal tax code.

Moreover, the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to create such a program, which would establish massive new federal spending and would likely subject private schools to future regulations from an administration and Congress less friendly to education choice.

The budget also includes significant new spending in another area reserved to the states: vocational education. Although career and technical education is an important tool for climbing the ladder of upward economic mobility and pursuing careers in the trades, it is the job of local high schools to provide for vocational classes, not the federal government.

Yet the proposed budget would increase spending by nearly $1 billion on career and technical education “to help ensure that every high school has a high-quality vocational program.” This is despite the fact that 98% of public school districts already offer career and technical education to high schools students.

Finally, over at the Department of Health and Human Services, funding for the failed Head Start program is maintained, and the budget proposes a new $1 billion “investment for states to build the supply of care and stimulate employer investment is child care.” It is long past time for Congress and the administration to restore revenue responsibility for Head Start to the states.—Lindsey M. Burke, director, Center for Education Policy and Will Skillman fellow in education policy

A Critical Reform to School Meals

The budget proposal would fix an egregious and likely unauthorized expansion of school meals to middle-class and wealthy families.

Nearly a century ago, federal lawmakers created the National School Lunch Program to help children in need who couldn’t afford to buy food at school. Yet in 2010, Congress expanded eligibility for school meals through the Community Eligibility Provision, allowing some schools and districts to provide free meals to students from middle-class and wealthy families.

As if this weren’t bad enough, the Department of Agriculture then improperly interpreted the provision to allow even more schools to provide free meals to children who are not in need.

The Community Eligibility Provision allows schools or districts to offer “free” meals to all students if 40% or more of the students in the school or district are eligible for means-tested welfare programs such as food stamps.

The Agriculture Department has gone beyond the scope of the law and is allowing districts to group schools together in order to meet this 40% threshold.  As a result, a district could group a school that doesn’t enroll a single student from a low-income family with another school that does have a high percentage of children living in poverty. If together these two schools meet the 40% threshold, the school without a single low-income student can provide free meals to all of its students.

The budget proposal clarifies that districts cannot group schools together in this way. Each school would have to meet the 40% figure to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision.

If this change is made, children in need would still be able to access free and reduced-priced meals, but the federal government will begin the process of returning these school meals to the original purpose: helping children from low-income families.Jonathan Butcher, senior policy analyst, Center for Education Policyand Daren Bakst, senior research fellow in agricultural policy, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

Protecting Private Union Pensions Without Taxpayer Dollars

The president’s budget once again calls for protecting workers with multiemployer—or union—pensions by keeping the government entity that provides pension insurance, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, solvent for at least the next 20 years.

The PBGC’s multiemployer program it expected to run out of funds to pay insured benefits in just five years, at which point workers could receive mere pennies on the dollar in promised benefits.

At stake is a massive $638 billion shortfall between what private sector employers and unions promised to their workers and what they actually set aside to pay them. Of the roughly 11 million workers with multiemployer pensions, more than 75% are in plans that are less than 50% funded.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation provides a backstop to pension losses, but its revenues are nowhere near sufficient to provided needed benefits.

The president’s fiscal 2021 budget calls for an additional $26 billion in the PBGC’s multiemployer program premiums, including adding a risk-based component to discourage plans from overpromising and underfunding.

Notably, this is an $8 billion increase from last year’s proposed $18 billion increase to accomplish the same goal of keeping the PBGC solvent for another 20 years. That increase came despite Congress’s unprecedented bailout for the United Mine Workers of America’s $6 billion in broken pension promises, a large portion of which otherwise would have been the PBGC’s liability.

This dramatic one-year increase emphasizes the high price of failing to enact commonsense multiemployer pension reforms. The longer congress waits, the higher the risks of another taxpayer bailout become.—Rachel Greszler, research fellow in economics, budget and entitlements, Hermann Center for the Federal Budget

Reforming Agricultural Subsidies

Once again, the Trump administration should be commended for trying to bring commonsense reform to agricultural subsidies.

The budget request explains: “The budget proposes to maintain a strong safety net for farmers while achieving savings by: eliminating subsidies to higher-income farmers; reducing overly generous crop insurance subsidies to producers and companies; and eliminating some programs that have no federal purpose or are duplicative.”

Proposed reforms include:

—Limiting the crop insurance premium subsidy for farmers to a reasonable and more defensible number. Currently, taxpayers pay on average 62% of the federal crop insurance premiums for farmers.  The budget would maintain a very generous subsidy, but reduce it so that taxpayers would on average pay 48% of premiums. Congress should embrace this widely supported bipartisan reform.

The Government Accountability Office has recommended this reform and the Congressional Budget Office listed reducing premium subsidies as one of its options to reduce the deficit. (The CBO option would be more ambitious, lowering the subsidy to 40%). This change would save about $21 billion over 10 years.

—Limiting specific subsidies to agricultural producers with an adjusted gross income of less than $500,000. This change still would allow subsidies to go to producers who are doing very well financially (as measured by adjusted gross income), but would bring some limits to the federal government’s generosity with taxpayers’ money.

As explained in the budget:

The budget proposes to eliminate premium subsidies, commodity payments, and conservation program eligibility for farmers with AGIs [adjusted gross incomes] over $500,000. It is hard to justify to taxpayers why the government should provide assistance to farmers with incomes over half a million dollars. Doing so undermines the credibility and purpose of farm programs. In 2013 (a year of record-high farm income), only 2.1% of farmers had AGIs in excess of this amount.

Additional reforms in the budget proposal include tightening payments limits, eliminating loopholes, and ending excessive assistance to crop insurance companies.—Daren Bakst, senior research fellow in agricultural policy, Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

Preserving the Health Care Safety Net

The president’s budget highlights the need to preserve and protect the health are safety net for those who need it. The Medicaid program, which serves the most vulnerable in our society, is overstretched and overburdened.

Right now, 1 in 5 Americans use Medicaid, and federal and state spending on the program is nearing a trillion dollars. This creates significant pressure on federal and state budgets, squeezes other important priorities, and leaves those on the program at risk.

The budget builds upon current administrative actions and lays out additional reforms for the Medicaid program. Specifically, it highlights new efforts to provide states with additional flexibility to care for those with mental illness, recommends new measures to ensure only those eligible for the program are enrolled, and extends welfare work requirements to the Medicaid program to continue to help Americans move up and out of poverty.

These policies are headed in the right direction. The budget recognizes the importance of instituting changes that will improve the management and oversight of the program. It also recognizes, through its broader health reform vision, that more should be done to meet the needs of those who need it most.—Nina Owcharenko Schaefer, senior research fellow, Health Policy Center

Reducing the Cost of Prescription Drugs

The president’s budget rightly calls on Congress to address high prescription drug costs. Government policy contributed to this problem through flawed regulations and subsidies that drive up costs.

The budget would address these flawed policies by supporting bipartisan congressional reforms to the successful Medicare prescription drug benefit. The Heritage Foundation has outlined a road map with details of such reforms, which would provide relief for patients and taxpayers.

At the same time, policymakers must reject heavy-handed solutions, such as those proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, because they would limit access to lifesaving medicines and impede access to new cures.

Lawmakers should focus on addressing the underlying problems in public programs rather than layering on additional administrative and regulatory schemes such as international reference pricing.—Edmund F. Haislmaier, Preston A. Wells Jr. senior research fellow in domestic policy studies

Strengthening the Medicare Program

The president’s budget will strengthen Medicare by providing for a more rational payment system, improving choices and care options for America’s seniors, and combating the waste, fraud, and abuse that has historically plagued the program.

Trump is proposing to change the way Medicare pays for medical benefits services and procedures. Currently, Medicare reimburses medical services performed at hospitals at a higher rate than the rate paid to physicians or clinics providing medical services outside of the hospital setting. Under the president’s proposal, the Medicare payment for several procedures or services would be the same regardless of the setting of the care delivery.

Long championed by The Heritage Foundation, this change to the “site neutrality” payment system not only would reduce excessive costs but also create a level playing field between hospitals and other care delivery systems. This would strengthen competition and increase physician independence while expanding choices and lowering costs for Medicare patients.

From 2021 to 2030, these site neutrality proposals—for post-acute care, hospice care and care in physician offices—are projected to save an estimated total of $270.3 billion.

With these and other Medicare payment adjustments, the administration estimates that the total set of Medicare changes would extend the life of the Medicare hospitalization trust fund for the next 25 years. Under current law, the Medicare hospitalization trust fund faces insolvency in 2026.

The president’s budget also includes several proposals to expand the choices of Medicare patients. The proposed budget would allow Medicare beneficiaries with high-deductible health plans the right to make tax-free contributions to health savings accounts and medical savings accounts.

In accord with another longstanding Heritage Foundation policy recommendation, the president’s budget also would allow Medicare beneficiaries the right to choose a comprehensive private health plan, if they wish to do so instead of enrolling in the Medicare hospitalization program (Part A), without losing their Social Security benefits.

Moreover, in an effort to strengthen cancer screening, Trump’s budget would end coinsurance requirements for Medicare patients who undergo colonoscopies with polyp removal.

The president’s budget also includes initiatives that he offered last year, including significant reforms of graduate medical education and uncompensated hospital care payments. To beef up the administration’s continuing campaign to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare program, the budget would provide an additional $13.7 billion to that effort over 10 years.—Robert E. Moffit, senior fellow, Health Policy Center

Shrinking Energy Cronyism, Unleashing Energy Abundance

Similar to the Trump administration’s previous budgets, the proposal for fiscal 2021 would shrink the federal government’s unnecessary meddling in energy markets.

The president’s budget also proposes to repeal special tax credits for renewable energy technologies, which eliminate a major source of government favoritism in energy markets and relieve taxpayers of a $16 billion burden over 10 years.

The budget also would eliminate energy loan programs—in particular the Title XVII loan guarantees for “advanced technologies” and the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loans. These programs put taxpayers’ money at risk, leading to notorious bankruptcies such as Solyndra, and the current underwriting of the multibillion-dollar Vogtle nuclear reactors in Georgia. These programs distort risk and private-sector investments, not to mention that the government shouldn’t be an investor in energy projects anyway.

The budget also would reduce spending in applied research and development energy programs.  Whether it’s basic or applied, taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for activities best left to innovators and private investors.

In contrast to some calls to nationalize more of the energy sector, the president’s proposal would sell off transmission assets of the Power Marketing Administrations—four quasi-federal electric utilities serving the South and West. It also would reduce their access to taxpayer-subsidized borrowing authority and require them to sell power at market rates.

These are good stepping stones to privatizing these assets—something the Reagan and Clinton administrations both recommended and was done successfully under Bill Clinton with the Alaska Power Administration.

Importantly, the Trump administration would continue to right- size burdensome regulations that have tied up energy development in years of red tape.  As the president’s budget emphasizes:

Energy companies across the world are ready to build in our nation, and permitting reform that cuts red tape shows that we welcome their investments. My administration continues to support growth in the energy sector by removing unnecessary regulations and unleashing America’s vast natural and human resources.

The administration’s commitment to open access to America’s wealth of energy on federal lands is a welcome reversal from the previous administration’s “keep it in the ground” mentality.— Katie Tubb, senior policy analyst for energy and environmental issues, Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studiesand Nicolas Loris, deputy director, Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies and Herbert and Joyce Morgan research fellow

Yucca Mountain: Complicated Invitation to Reopen Debate

Up to now, Trump’s budgets have requested just enough funds to finish the licensing review of a repository for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Tonopah, Nevada.

But for 10 years, Congress has failed to either to pass legislation or appropriate funds so the administration could follow the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which designates Yucca Mountain as a national repository.

This negligence has cost constituents $8 billion in lawsuits already—exactly what the law was designed to prevent—and is on track to cost tens of billions more in the years to come.

So, the president’s frustration is deeply merited.

Unfortunately, the administration’s budget request does not include funds to finish the license review of a potential repository at Yucca Mountain. Instead, it proposes $27.5 million to begin an “Interim Storage and Nuclear Waste Fund Oversight” program.

Importantly, the administration cannot strike out on its own to develop new policy; the Nuclear Waste Policy Act is quite clear that the administration cannot pursue an interim storage program without progressing on a permanent waste repository. The courts swatted down the previous administration’s attempt to disregard the law unless and until Congress changed it.

Finishing the Yucca Mountain review is a relatively small step that would inform decisions, no matter what long-term nuclear waste disposal options ultimately are pursued. It does not inescapably commit Congress to building the repository without further appropriations—something Congress has been quite adept at withholding.

It also would let the voices of all Nevadans be heard. Most of the state’s congressional delegation opposes a Yucca Mountain repository. But funding completion of the review, and review only, is consistent with their demands for a thorough process with state input, and for further adjudicating concerns in a formal setting that the Department of Energy must address.

Despite this noticeable absence, the budget proposal also assumes the nuclear waste fee—an arbitrary fee on nuclear power plants set by the Department of Energy—will be reinstated in fiscal 2023. But this fee is one of the deep, fundamental flaws plaguing nuclear waste management policy that need to be reformed.

Trump is right to want to look for solutions, and his budget provides an opportunity to reopen the conversation. Nuclear waste management policy and the roles of industry, states, and the federal government need to be reimagined. The first step is finishing the review of Yucca Mountain.

Ultimately, a real solution comes from giving the nuclear industry responsibility and introducing market forces into waste management solutions.—Katie Tubb, senior policy analyst for energy and environmental issues, Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

Wrong Way on Transportation

The president’s budget envisions a significant increase in federal spending on infrastructure, proposing $1 trillion in funding over 10 years. This is the wrong way to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, and other valuable physical assets.

Federal involvement makes infrastructure projects more expensive, more time consuming, and more vulnerable to political manipulation.

For example, federal spending on mass transit far exceeds its actual use by Americans when compared to highways. However, congressional Democrats historically have demanded that transit receive a too-generous amount of funding as a percent of overall transportation spending. Trump’s budget does nothing to meaningfully change this politically driven calculation.

Although the administration has made progress on regulatory reform such as the “One Federal Decision” rule and streamlining the National Environmental Policy Act, this does not change the fact that the federal government is a cumbersome and inefficient partner for infrastructure projects.

Red tape such as the Davis-Bacon Act and project labor agreements drive up costs by forcing state government contractors to pay union wage rates and use union-style work rules. The process of submitting proposals for federal subsidies delays the start of projects that normally should be the sole responsibility of state and local governments.

Just as important, more federal activity would crowd out private infrastructure activity. Private financing avoids many wasteful federal regulations and reduces the burden on taxpayers.

It is vital to understand that there are only two ways to pay for spending increases: more taxes or more debt. The president’s budget does not call for a gas tax increase or a new transportation revenue source, which means that the infrastructure proposal reduces the amount of deficit reduction in the budget.

Rather than increasing the federal infrastructure role, Congress and the administration should go the opposite direction. A policy of reducing the federal gas tax, lowering infrastructure spending, and further eliminating red tape would enable more activity and value from state and local governments and the private sector, enhancing America’s prosperity.—David Ditch, research associate, Hermann Center for the Federal Budget

Waste Cut in Higher Education, but New Repayment Options Leave Taxpayers on Hook

The president’s budget takes meaningful steps in reducing or eliminating wasteful spending on higher education. Most notably, changes to the federal student loan program such as eliminating Public Service Loan Forgiveness, ending subsidized loans, and placing caps on both the Parent and Graduate PLUS loan programs meaningfully insulate taxpayers from risky loans made by the Department of Education.

The president’s budget also calls for consolidation of loan repayment plans into one income-driven repayment plan. Although the overly complicated federal student loan repayment options are badly in need of simplification, the budget proposes reducing the number of years a student must pay off their loans from 20 years to 15 years for undergraduate students. The remaining balance after that time would be “forgiven” and absorbed by taxpayers.

This moves federal policy in the wrong direction. Instead, the budget should prioritize insulating taxpayers from the financial risk for students who are unable to pay off loans.

However, the budget’s constraints on duplicative or ineffective higher education programs is praiseworthy. The budget puts guardrails in place to reduce improper payments in the Pell Grant program. Additionally, it calls for eliminating the redundant Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, as well as reducing funding for the federal TRIO and work-study programs.

Such programs have little evidence of success, at significant cost to American taxpayers.—Mary Clare Amselem, policy analyst, Center for Education Policy

Defending Free Speech on Campus

The administration’s budget proposal draws national attention to the repeated shout-downs, disinvitations, and other forms of censorship on college campuses.

The proposal says that colleges that receive federal research grants “must adhere to the requirements of the First Amendment to the Constitution,” a reminder for schools that allow students to shout down invited lecturers or chase the college president off a stage that such actions interfere with and may even violate individuals’ freedom to listen and be heard.

Last year, the president raised the profile of this issue with a broadly worded executive order. Similar to the language in the budget proposal, the order said colleges that receive federal grants should “promote free inquiry” and enforce the First Amendment.

Although both the budget and the executive order appropriately emphasize that disruptive protests threaten expressive rights on campuses around the country, Washington should be careful with any additional actions. The Department of Education should not enlarge the federal footprint in higher education by assuming new investigative responsibilities.

Generally, state policymakers and university governing boards are responsible for public university systems. Policymakers around the country are taking action to protect speech when college administrators fail to do so.

State officials in AlabamaArizonaGeorgiaNorth Carolina, and Wisconsin have adopted provisions that reinforce the rights of anyone lawfully present on a public college campus. The provisions are based on the idea that individuals and groups should be allowed to protest or demonstrate in publicly accessible areas (such as on sidewalks or lawns).

Furthermore, public university leaders should be prepared to impose consequences on individuals—including students—who violate someone else’s right to speak while closely adhering to due process protections for the accused. Such policies already are having their intended effect: In Wisconsin, one group of protesters said the university’s new policies prevented them from shouting down a speaker in 2017.

The Justice Department should continue to defend free speech on campus through statements of interest in appropriate cases. In 2018, after the group Speech First filed a suit against the University of Michigan over the school’s so-called Bias Response Team, the department issued a statement saying the university’s policy “chills protected speech.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a ruling with a similar statement, and the school settled with Speech First and revised its policies.

The White House should emphasize that public colleges must protect the First Amendment, but officials should beware of the potential for unintended consequences from federal administrative actions. State policymakers should guard expressive rights on campus and direct public college governing boards to adopt proposals that do the same.—Jonathan Butcher, senior policy analyst, Center for Education Policy

COMMENTARY BY

Justin Bogie is a senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: Trump’s Budget Totals $4.8 Trillion, Projects Deficits Until 2035


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The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

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President Donald J. Trump’s Historic State of the Union Address — February 4th, 2020

President Donald J. Trump gave his third and most uplifting and visionary State of the Union address to the American people on February 4th, 2020. He had many special guests in the gallery and made note of each of their hopes, dreams, lives and sacrifices for America.

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TRANSCRIPT

Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow citizens:

Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback. Tonight, I stand before you to share the incredible results. Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, crime is falling, confidence is surging, and our country is thriving and highly respected again! America’s enemies are on the run, America’s fortunes are on the rise, and America’s future is blazing bright.

The years of economic decay are over. The days of our country being used, taken advantage of, and even scorned by other nations are long behind us. Gone too are the broken promises, jobless recoveries, tired platitudes, and constant excuses for the depletion of American wealth, power, and prestige.

In just 3 short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline, and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!

I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been. Our military is completely rebuilt, with its power being unmatched anywhere in the world — and it is not even close. Our borders are secure. Our families are flourishing. Our values are renewed. Our pride is restored. And for all these reasons, I say to the people of our great country, and to the Members of Congress before me: The State of our Union is stronger than ever before!

The vision I will lay out this evening demonstrates how we are building the world’s most prosperous and inclusive society — one where every citizen can join in America’s unparalleled success, and where every community can take part in America’s extraordinary rise.

From the instant I took office, I moved rapidly to revive the United States economy — slashing a record number of job-killing regulations, enacting historic and record-setting tax cuts, and fighting for fair and reciprocal trade agreements. Our agenda is relentlessly pro-worker, pro-family, pro-growth, and, most of all, pro-American. We are advancing with unbridled optimism and lifting high our citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed.

Since my election, we have created 7 million new jobs — 5 million more than Government experts projected during the previous administration.

The unemployment rate is the lowest in over half a century.

Incredibly, the average unemployment rate under my Administration is lower than any administration in the history of our country. If we had not reversed the failed economic policies of the previous administration, the world would not now be witness to America’s great economic success.

The unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans have reached the lowest levels in history. African-American youth unemployment has reached an all-time low.

African-American poverty has declined to the lowest rate ever recorded.

The unemployment rate for women reached the lowest level in almost 70 years — and last year, women filled 72 percent of all new jobs added.

The veterans’ unemployment rate dropped to a record low.

The unemployment rate for disabled Americans has reached an all-time low.

Workers without a high school diploma have achieved the lowest unemployment rate recorded in United States history.

A record number of young Americans are now employed.

Under the last administration, more than 10 million people were added to the food stamp rolls. Under my Administration, 7 million Americans have come off of food stamps, and 10 million people have been lifted off of welfare.

In 8 years under the last administration, over 300,000 working-age people dropped out of the workforce. In just 3 years of my Administration, 3.5 million working-age people have joined the workforce.

Since my election, the net worth of the bottom half of wage-earners has increased by 47 percent — 3 times faster than the increase for the top 1 percent. After decades of flat and falling incomes, wages are rising fast — and, wonderfully, they are rising fastest for low-income workers, who have seen a 16 percent pay-increase since my election. This is a blue collar boom.

Real median household income is now at the highest level ever recorded!

Since my election, United States stock markets have soared 70 percent, adding more than $12 trillion to our Nation’s wealth, transcending anything anyone believed was possible — this, as other countries are not doing well. Consumer confidence has reached amazing new heights.

All of those millions of people with 401(k)s and pensions are doing far better than they have ever done before with increases of 60, 70, 80, 90, and even 100 percent.

Jobs and investment are pouring into 9,000 previously-neglected neighborhoods thanks to Opportunity Zones, a plan spearheaded by Senator Tim Scott as part of our great Republican tax cuts. In other words, wealthy people and companies are pouring money into poor neighborhoods or areas that have not seen investment in many decades, creating jobs, energy, and excitement. This is the first time that these deserving communities have seen anything like this. It is all working!

Opportunity Zones are helping Americans like Army Veteran Tony Rankins from Cincinnati, Ohio. After struggling with drug addiction, Tony lost his job, his house, and his family — he was homeless. But then Tony found a construction company that invests in Opportunity Zones. He is now a top tradesman, drug-free, reunited with his family, and he is here tonight. Tony: Keep up the great work.

Our roaring economy has, for the first time ever, given many former prisoners the ability to get a great job and a fresh start. This second chance at life is made possible because we passed landmark Criminal Justice Reform into law. Everybody said that Criminal Justice Reform could not be done, but I got it done, and the people in this room got it done.

Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, by far. With the tremendous progress we have made over the past 3 years, America is now energy independent, and energy jobs, like so many elements of our country, are at a record high. We are doing numbers that no one would have thought possible just 3 years ago.

Likewise, we are restoring our Nation’s manufacturing might, even though predictions were that this could never be done. After losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, America has now gained 12,000 new factories under my Administration with thousands upon thousands of plants and factories being planned or built. We have created over half a million new manufacturing jobs. Companies are not leaving; they are coming back. Everybody wants to be where the action is, and the United States of America is, indeed, where the action is.

One of the single biggest promises I made to the American people was to replace the disastrous NAFTA trade deal. In fact, unfair trade is perhaps the single biggest reason that I decided to run for President. Following NAFTA’s adoption, our Nation lost one in four manufacturing jobs. Many politicians came and went, pledging to change or replace NAFTA — only to do absolutely nothing. But unlike so many who came before me, I keep my promises. Six days ago, I replaced NAFTA and signed the brand new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) into law.

The USMCA will create nearly 100,000 new high-paying American auto jobs, and massively boost exports for our farmers, ranchers, and factory workers. It will also bring trade with Mexico and Canada to a much higher degree, but also to a much greater level of fairness and reciprocity. This is the first major trade deal in many years to earn the strong backing of America’s labor unions.

I also promised our citizens that I would impose tariffs to confront China’s massive theft of American jobs. Our strategy worked. Days ago, we signed the groundbreaking new agreement with China that will defend our workers, protect our intellectual property, bring billions of dollars into our treasury, and open vast new markets for products made and grown right here in the United States of America. For decades, China has taken advantage of the United States, now we have changed that but, at the same time, we have perhaps the best relationship we have ever had with China, including with President Xi. They respect what we have done because, quite frankly, they could never believe what they were able to get away with year after year, decade after decade, without someone in our country stepping up and saying: Enough. Now, we want to rebuild our country, and that is what we are doing.

As we restore American leadership throughout the world, we are once again standing up for freedom in our hemisphere. That is why my Administration reversed the failing policies of the previous administration on Cuba. We are supporting the hopes of Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans to restore democracy. The United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. Maduro is an illegitimate ruler, a tyrant who brutalizes his people. But Maduro’s grip of tyranny will be smashed and broken. Here this evening is a man who carries with him the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of all Venezuelans. Joining us in the gallery is the true and legitimate President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó. Mr. President, please take this message back to your homeland. All Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom! Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul.

To safeguard American Liberty, we have invested a record-breaking $2.2 trillion in the United States Military. We have purchased the finest planes, missiles, rockets, ships, and every other form of military equipment — all made in the United States of America. We are also finally getting our allies to help pay their fair share. I have raised contributions from the other NATO members by more than $400 billion, and the number of allies meeting their minimum obligations has more than doubled.

And just weeks ago, for the first time since President Truman established the Air Force more than 70 years earlier, we created a new branch of the United States Armed Forces, the Space Force.

In the gallery tonight, we have one of the Space Force’s youngest potential recruits: 13-year-old Iain Lanphier, an eighth grader from Arizona. Iain has always dreamed of going to space. He was first in his class and among the youngest at an aviation academy. He aspires to go to the Air Force Academy, and then, he has his eye on the Space Force. As Iain says, “most people look up at space, I want to look down on the world.”

Sitting beside Iain tonight is his great hero. Charles McGee was born in Cleveland, Ohio, one century ago. Charles is one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen — the first black fighter pilots — and he also happens to be Iain’s great-grandfather. After more than 130 combat missions in World War II, he came back to a country still struggling for Civil Rights and went on to serve America in Korea and Vietnam. On December 7th, Charles celebrated his 100th birthday. A few weeks ago, I signed a bill promoting Charles McGee to Brigadier General. And earlier today, I pinned the stars on his shoulders in the Oval Office. General McGee: Our Nation salutes you.

From the pilgrims to our Founders, from the soldiers at Valley Forge to the marchers at Selma, and from President Lincoln to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Americans have always rejected limits on our children’s future.

Members of Congress, we must never forget that the only victories that matter in Washington are victories that deliver for the American people. The people are the heart of our country, their dreams are the soul of our country, and their love is what powers and sustains our country. We must always remember that our job is to put America first!

The next step forward in building an inclusive society is making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Yet, for too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools. To rescue these students, 18 States have created school choice in the form of Opportunity Scholarships. The programs are so popular, that tens of thousands of students remain on waiting lists. One of those students is Janiyah Davis, a fourth grader from Philadelphia. Janiyah’s mom Stephanie is a single parent. She would do anything to give her daughter a better future. But last year, that future was put further out of reach when Pennsylvania’s Governor vetoed legislation to expand school choice for 50,000 children.

Janiyah and Stephanie are in the gallery this evening. But there is more to their story. Janiyah, I am pleased to inform you that your long wait is over. I can proudly announce tonight that an Opportunity Scholarship has become available, it is going to you, and you will soon be heading to the school of your choice!

Now, I call on the Congress to give 1 million American children the same opportunity Janiyah has just received. Pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act — because no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing government school.

Every young person should have a safe and secure environment in which to learn and grow. For this reason, our magnificent First Lady has launched the “Be Best” initiative — to advance a safe, healthy, supportive, and drug-free life for the next generation, online, in school, and in our communities. Thank you, Melania, for your extraordinary love and profound care for America’s children.

My Administration is determined to give our citizens the opportunities they need regardless of age or background. Through our Pledge to American Workers, over 400 companies will also provide new jobs and education opportunities to almost 15 million Americans.

My Budget also contains an exciting vision for our Nation’s high schools. Tonight, I ask the Congress to support our students and back my plan to offer vocational and technical education in every single high school in America.

To expand equal opportunity, I am also proud that we achieved record and permanent funding for our Nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

A good life for American families also requires the most affordable, innovative, and high-quality healthcare system on Earth. Before I took office, health insurance premiums had more than doubled in just 5 years. I moved quickly to provide affordable alternatives. Our new plans are up to 60 percent less expensive. I have also made an ironclad pledge to American families: We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions — that is a guarantee. And we will always protect your Medicare and your Social Security.

The American patient should never be blindsided by medical bills. That is why I signed an Executive Order requiring price transparency. Many experts believe that transparency, which will go into full effect at the beginning of next year, will be even bigger than healthcare reform. It will save families massive amounts of money for substantially better care.

But as we work to improve Americans’ healthcare, there are those who want to take away your healthcare, take away your doctor, and abolish private insurance entirely. One hundred thirty-two lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our healthcare system, wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million Americans. To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know: We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare!

Over 130 legislators in this chamber have endorsed legislation that would bankrupt our Nation by providing free taxpayer-funded healthcare to millions of illegal aliens, forcing taxpayers to subsidize free care for anyone in the world who unlawfully crosses our borders. These proposals would raid the Medicare benefits our seniors depend on, while acting as a powerful lure for illegal immigration. This is what is happening in California and other States — their systems are totally out of control, costing taxpayers vast and unaffordable amounts of money. If forcing American taxpayers to provide unlimited free healthcare to illegal aliens sounds fair to you, then stand with the radical left. But if you believe that we should defend American patients and American seniors, then stand with me and pass legislation to prohibit free Government healthcare for illegal aliens!

This will be a tremendous boon to our already very-strongly guarded southern border where, as we speak, a long, tall, and very powerful wall is being built. We have now completed over 100 miles and will have over 500 miles fully completed by early next year.

My Administration is also taking on the big pharmaceutical companies. We have approved a record number of affordable generic drugs, and medicines are being approved by the FDA at a faster clip than ever before. I was pleased to announce last year that, for the first time in 51 years, the cost of prescription drugs actually went down.

And working together, the Congress can reduce drug prices substantially from current levels. I have been speaking to Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and others in the Congress in order to get something on drug pricing done, and done properly. I am calling for bipartisan legislation that achieves the goal of dramatically lowering prescription drug prices. Get a bill to my desk, and I will sign it into law without delay.

With unyielding commitment, we are curbing the opioid epidemic — drug overdose deaths declined for the first time in nearly 30 years. Among the States hardest hit, Ohio is down 22 percent, Pennsylvania is down 18 percent, Wisconsin is down 10 percent — and we will not quit until we have beaten the opioid epidemic once and for all.

Protecting Americans’ health also means fighting infectious diseases. We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the Coronavirus outbreak in China. My Administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.

We have launched ambitious new initiatives to substantially improve care for Americans with kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and those struggling with mental health challenges. And because the Congress funded my request, we are pursuing new cures for childhood cancer, and we will eradicate the AIDS epidemic in America by the end of the decade.

Almost every American family knows the pain when a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness. Here tonight is a special man, someone beloved by millions of Americans who just received a Stage 4 advanced cancer diagnosis. This is not good news, but what is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet. Rush Limbaugh: Thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country. Rush, in recognition of all that you have done for our Nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity, I am proud to announce tonight that you will be receiving our country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I will now ask the First Lady of the United States to please stand and present you with the honor. Rush, Kathryn, congratulations!

As we pray for all who are sick, we know that America is constantly achieving new medical breakthroughs. In 2017, doctors at St. Luke’s hospital in Kansas City delivered one of the earliest premature babies ever to survive. Born at just 21 weeks and 6 days, and weighing less than a pound, Ellie Schneider was born a fighter. Through the skill of her doctors — and the prayers of her parents — little Ellie kept on winning the battle for life. Today, Ellie is a strong, healthy 2-year-old girl sitting with her amazing mother Robin in the gallery. Ellie and Robin: We are so glad you are here.

Ellie reminds us that every child is a miracle of life. Thanks to modern medical wonders, 50 percent of very premature babies delivered at the hospital where Ellie was born now survive. Our goal should be to ensure that every baby has the best chance to thrive and grow just like Ellie. That is why I am asking the Congress to provide an additional $50 million to fund neo-natal research for America’s youngest patients. That is also why I am calling upon the Members of Congress here tonight to pass legislation finally banning the late-term abortion of babies.

Whether we are Republican, Democrat, or Independent, surely we must all agree that every human life is a sacred gift from God!

As we support America’s moms and dads, I was recently proud to sign the law providing new parents in the Federal workforce paid family leave, serving as a model for the rest of the country. Now, I call on the Congress to pass the bipartisan Advancing Support for Working Families Act, extending family leave to mothers and fathers all across the Nation.

Forty million American families have an average $2,200 extra thanks to our child tax credit. I have also overseen historic funding increases for high-quality child care, enabling 17 States to serve more children, many of which have reduced or eliminated their waitlists altogether. And I sent the Congress a plan with a vision to further expand access to high-quality childcare and urge you to act immediately.

To protect the environment, days ago, I announced that the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative, an ambitious effort to bring together Government and the private sector to plant new trees in America and around the world.

We must also rebuild America’s infrastructure. I ask you to pass Senator Barrasso’s highway bill — to invest in new roads, bridges, and tunnels across our land.

I am also committed to ensuring that every citizen can have access to high-speed internet, including rural America.

A better tomorrow for all Americans also requires us to keep America safe. That means supporting the men and women of law enforcement at every level, including our Nation’s heroic ICE officers.

Last year, our brave ICE officers arrested more than 120,000 criminal aliens charged with nearly 10,000 burglaries, 5,000 sexual assaults, 45,000 violent assaults, and 2,000 murders.

Tragically, there are many cities in America where radical politicians have chosen to provide sanctuary for these criminal illegal aliens. In Sanctuary Cities, local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public, instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed.

Just 29 days ago, a criminal alien freed by the Sanctuary City of New York was charged with the brutal rape and murder of a 92-year-old woman. The killer had been previously arrested for assault, but under New York’s sanctuary policies, he was set free. If the city had honored ICE’s detainer request, his victim would be alive today.

The State of California passed an outrageous law declaring their whole State to be a sanctuary for criminal illegal immigrants — with catastrophic results.

Here is just one tragic example. In December 2018, California police detained an illegal alien with five prior arrests, including convictions for robbery and assault. But as required by California’s Sanctuary Law, local authorities released him.

Days later, the criminal alien went on a gruesome spree of deadly violence. He viciously shot one man going about his daily work; he approached a woman sitting in her car and shot her in the arm and the chest. He walked into a convenience store and wildly fired his weapon. He hijacked a truck and smashed into vehicles, critically injuring innocent victims. One of the victims of his bloody rampage was a 51-year-old American named Rocky Jones. Rocky was at a gas station when this vile criminal fired eight bullets at him from close range, murdering him in cold blood. Rocky left behind a devoted family, including his brothers who loved him more than anything. One of his grieving brothers is here with us tonight. Jody, would you please stand? Jody, our hearts weep for your loss — and we will not rest until you have justice.

Senator Thom Tillis has introduced legislation to allow Americans like Jody to sue Sanctuary Cities and States when a loved one is hurt or killed as a result of these deadly policies. I ask the Congress to pass the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act immediately. The United States of America should be a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans — not criminal aliens!

In the last 3 years, ICE has arrested over 5,000 wicked human traffickers — and I have signed 9 pieces of legislation to stamp out the menace of human trafficking, domestically and around the globe.

My Administration has undertaken an unprecedented effort to secure the southern border of the United States.

Before I came into office, if you showed up illegally on our southern border and were arrested, you were simply released and allowed into our country, never to be seen again. My Administration has ended Catch-and-Release. If you come illegally, you will now be promptly removed. We entered into historic cooperation agreements with the Governments of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. As a result of our unprecedented efforts, illegal crossings are down 75 percent since May — dropping 8 straight months in a row. And as the wall goes up, drug seizures rise, and border crossings go down.

Last year, I traveled to the border in Texas and met Chief Patrol Agent Raul Ortiz. Over the last 24 months, Agent Ortiz and his team have seized more than 200,000 pounds of poisonous narcotics, arrested more than 3,000 human smugglers, and rescued more than 2,000 migrants. Days ago, Agent Ortiz was promoted to Deputy Chief of Border Patrol — and he joins us tonight. Chief Ortiz: Please stand — a grateful Nation thanks you and all the heroes of Border Patrol.

To build on these historic gains, we are working on legislation to replace our outdated and randomized immigration system with one based on merit, welcoming those who follow the rules, contribute to our economy, support themselves financially, and uphold our values.

With every action, my Administration is restoring the rule of law and re-asserting the culture of American freedom. Working with Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his colleagues in the Senate, we have confirmed a record number of 187 new Federal judges to uphold our Constitution as written. This includes two brilliant new Supreme Court Justices, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh.

My Administration is also defending religious liberty, and that includes the Constitutional right to pray in public schools. In America, we do not punish prayer. We do not tear down crosses. We do not ban symbols of faith. We do not muzzle preachers and pastors. In America, we celebrate faith. We cherish religion. We lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the Glory of God!

Just as we believe in the First Amendment, we also believe in another Constitutional right that is under siege all across our country. So long as I am President I will always protect your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

In reaffirming our heritage as a free Nation, we must remember that America has always been a frontier nation. Now we must embrace the next frontier, America’s manifest destiny in the stars. I am asking the Congress to fully fund the Artemis program to ensure that the next man and the first woman on the moon will be American astronauts — using this as a launching pad to ensure that America is the first nation to plant its flag on Mars.

My Administration is also strongly defending our national security and combating radical Islamic terrorism. Last week, I announced a groundbreaking plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Recognizing that all past attempts have failed, we must be determined and creative in order to stabilize the region and give millions of young people the change to realize a better future.

Three years ago, the barbarians of ISIS held over 20,000 square miles of territory in Iraq and Syria. Today, the ISIS territorial caliphate has been 100 percent destroyed, and the founder and leader of ISIS — the bloodthirsty killer Al‑Baghdadi — is dead!

We are joined this evening by Carl and Marsha Mueller. After graduating from college, their beautiful daughter Kayla became a humanitarian aid worker. Kayla once wrote, “Some people find God in church. Some people find God in nature. Some people find God in love; I find God in suffering. I’ve known for some time what my life’s work is, using my hands as tools to relieve suffering.” In 2013, while caring for suffering civilians in Syria, Kayla was kidnapped, tortured, and enslaved by ISIS, and kept as a prisoner of Al-Baghdadi himself. After more than 500 horrifying days of captivity, Al-Baghdadi murdered young Kayla. She was just 26 years old.

On the night that United States Special Forces Operators ended Al‑Baghdadi’s miserable life, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, received a call in the Situation Room. He was told that the brave men of the elite Special Forces team, that so perfectly carried out the operation, had given their mission a name — “Task Force 8-14.” It was a reference to a special day: August 14th — Kayla’s birthday. Carl and Marsha, America’s warriors never forgot Kayla — and neither will we.

Every day, America’s men and women in uniform demonstrate the infinite depths of love that dwells in the human heart.

One of these American heroes was Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake. On his second deployment to Iraq in 2008, Sergeant Hake wrote a letter to his 1-year-old son, Gage: “I will be with you again,” he wrote to Gage. “I will teach you to ride your first bike, build your first sand box, watch you play sports and see you have kids also. I love you son, take care of your mother. I am always with you. Dad.” On Easter Sunday of 2008, Chris was out on patrol in Baghdad when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. That night, he made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Sergeant Hake now rests in eternal glory in Arlington, and his wife Kelli is in the gallery tonight, joined by their son, who is now 13 years old. To Kelli and Gage: Chris will live in our hearts forever.

The terrorist responsible for killing Sergeant Hake was Qasem Soleimani, who provided the deadly roadside bomb that took Chris’s life. Soleimani was the Iranian Regime’s most ruthless butcher, a monster who murdered or wounded thousands of American service members in Iraq. As the world’s top terrorist, Soleimani orchestrated the deaths of countless men, women, and children. He directed the December assault on United States Forces in Iraq, and was actively planning new attacks. That is why, last month, at my direction, the United States Military executed a flawless precision strike that killed Soleimani and terminated his evil reign of terror forever.

Our message to the terrorists is clear: You will never escape American justice. If you attack our citizens, you forfeit your life!

In recent months, we have seen proud Iranians raise their voices against their oppressive rulers. The Iranian regime must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, stop spreading terror, death, and destruction, and start working for the good of its own people. Because of our powerful sanctions, the Iranian economy is doing very poorly. We can help them make it very good in a short period of time, but perhaps they are too proud or too foolish to ask for that help. We are here. Let’s see which road they choose. It is totally up to them.

As we defend American lives, we are working to end America’s wars in the Middle East.

In Afghanistan, the determination and valor of our warfighters has allowed us to make tremendous progress, and peace talks are underway. I am not looking to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, many of them innocent. It is also not our function to serve other nations as a law enforcement agency. These are warfighters, the best in the world, and they either want to fight to win or not fight at all. We are working to finally end America’s longest war and bring our troops back home!

War places a heavy burden on our Nation’s extraordinary military families, especially spouses like Amy Williams from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and her 2 children — 6-year-old Elliana and 3-year-old Rowan. Amy works full time, and volunteers countless hours helping other military families. For the past 7 months, she has done it all while her husband, Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams, is in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment to the Middle East. Amy’s kids have not seen their father’s face in many months. Amy, your family’s sacrifice makes it possible for all of our families to live in safety and peace — we thank you.

As the world bears witness tonight, America is a land of heroes. This is the place where greatness is born, where destinies are forged, and where legends come to life. This is the home of Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt, of many great Generals, including Washington, Pershing, Patton, and MacArthur. This is the home of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, the Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, and so many more. This is the country where children learn names like Wyatt Earp, Davy Crockett, and Annie Oakley. This is the place where the pilgrims landed at Plymouth and where Texas patriots made their last stand at the Alamo.

The American Nation was carved out of the vast frontier by the toughest, strongest, fiercest, and most determined men and women ever to walk the face of the Earth. Our ancestors braved the unknown; tamed the wilderness; settled the Wild West; lifted millions from poverty, disease, and hunger; vanquished tyranny and fascism; ushered the world to new heights of science and medicine; laid down the railroads, dug out canals, raised up the skyscrapers — and, ladies and gentlemen, our ancestors built the most exceptional Republic ever to exist in all of human history. And we are making it greater than ever before!

This is our glorious and magnificent inheritance.

We are Americans. We are the pioneers. We are the pathfinders. We settled the new world, we built the modern world, and we changed history forever by embracing the eternal truth that everyone is made equal by the hand of Almighty God.

America is the place where anything can happen! America is the place where anyone can rise. And here, on this land, on this soil, on this continent, the most incredible dreams come true!

This Nation is our canvas, and this country is our masterpiece. We look at tomorrow and see unlimited frontiers just waiting to be explored. Our brightest discoveries are not yet known. Our most thrilling stories are not yet told. Our grandest journeys are not yet made. The American Age, the American Epic, the American Adventure, has only just begun!

Our spirit is still young; the sun is still rising; God’s grace is still shining; and my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come!

Thank you. God Bless You. God Bless America.

© All rights reserved.

US government hands out tens of millions to Muslim orgs linked to Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood

This is no doubt the work of swamp creatures, i.e., entrenched federal bureaucrats who are happy to defy the Trump’s administration’s agenda. The swamp needs draining, but is fighting back furiously.

“US Gov’t Hands Out Tens of Millions to Islamist Organizations,” Clarion Project, January 23, 2020:

The U.S. government under the Trump administration has handed out tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to Islamist organizations, according to research by Sam Westrop at Middle East Forum (MEF).

As MEF noted, “between 2017 and 2018, the amount of taxpayers’ money given to organizations either influenced or controlled by Islamist activists more than tripled from $4 million to $13.5 million. Under the Obama administration, the amount given to Islamist-linked organizations averaged a mere $1.7 million each year.”

Most recently, in October 2019, the government awarded the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) with $100,000 in federal grant government money.

CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest-ever terror funding case in American history. The government officially ended all partnerships with the organization in 2009 because of CAIR’s connection to funding the Hamas terror group.

Yet, CAIR was recently the recipient of the $100,000 Department of Homeland Security grant as part of its DHS’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

In addition to monies given to CAIR, MEF found that the government  gave:

  • $57,000 to the Muslim American Society (MAS). In 2008, federal prosecutors said that “MAS was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. Last year, children from an MAS school recited poetry about the killing of Jews
  • $100,000 to Dar al-Hijrah, an extremist mosque in Virginia. A 2002 Customs and Border Protection document stated that DAH is “operating as a front for Hamas operatives in U.S.” A December 2007 document said DAH “has been linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing.”  Al Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki was DAH’s imam from 2001 to 2002. Al-Awlaki’s sermons were attended by two of the 9/11 hijackers and Nidal Hassan, who later shot 13 soldiers to death in a jihadi attack at Fort Hood in 2009.
  • $41 million in federal grants to Islamist radicals since 2007 (not including grants given in the  last few months)….

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The growing jihadist threat in Germany

EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

The Growth of Government in America

American government has far outgrown the limits set by our founders in the Constitution.


This article is adapted from a study prepared by the Institute for Policy Innovation.

Let us begin with a simple but vitally important proposition: Government in America was never supposed to engage in the multitude of activities that it does today.

When the United States gained its independence more than 200 years ago, the founding fathers envisioned a national government with explicit and restricted responsibilities. These responsibilities pertained mainly to protecting the security of the nation and ensuring “domestic tranquility,” which meant preserving public safety. Especially in the realm of domestic affairs the founders foresaw very limited government interference in the daily lives of its citizens. The founders did not create a Department of Commerce, a Department of Education, or a Department of Housing and Urban Development. This was not an oversight: They simply never imagined that the national government would take an active role in such activities.

The minimal government involvement in the domestic economy would be funded and delivered at the state and local levels. Even that involvement was to be restricted by Congress’ authority over interstate cornmerce, an authority granted to Congress by the founders for the purpose of preventing the state governments from interfering with commerce.

Recognizing the propensity of governments to grow, the people added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution as an additional layer of protection for the rights of individuals against the state. The Bill of Rights was to ensure that government would never grow so large that it could trample on the individual and economic liberties of American citizens. These liberties are eroding. The United States has been gradually transformed from a nation with almost no government presence in the marketplace to one in which the government is now the predominant actor in the domestic economy. Consider the following:

  • There are now more Americans employed by government than by the entire manufacturing sector in America.
  • In the past 25 years the federal government has spent $2.5 trillion on welfare and aid to cities. This is enough money to purchase all of the assets of the Fortune 500 companies plus all of the farmland in the United States.
  • In 1987 U.S. farmers received more money in government subsidies than they did in selling their crops in the marketplace. In short, farmers now produce for the government, not for U.S. consumers.
  • In three states today—California, Maine, and New York—almost half of all middle-income family wages are captured by government through income, payroll, property, and sales taxes, and other levies.

Why is the American public not rising up in protest? The answer seems to be that the growth of government has been sufficiently gradual over the past 50 to 100 years that most Americans today probably believe that this is the way government in America ought to act and has always acted.

Both of these contentions are wrong. Government has not always, and ought not, act as it does now. The following sections demonstrate with the aid of graphs and figures how government has grown over our nation’s history. We examine federal, state, and local government growth in five areas: expenditures, taxes, debt, welfare and transfer payments, and employment.

We standardize the measurement of each of these government growth indices in three ways: in real 1990 dollars, in real per capita 1990 dollars, and as a share of total output or income. Unless otherwise indicated, all figures are presented in 1990 dollars. Except in a few specified instances, all of the data are from standard government sources.

Federal Outlays

Perhaps the best measure of the impact of government activity is how much it spends each year. Figure 1 shows the expansion of the federal budget from 1800 to 1992. As the steep ascent shows, federal spending has exploded more than ten thousandfold since 1800 with almost all of the increase in the past 40 years. Real federal outlays have climbed from $0.1 billion in 1800 to $0.6 billion in 1850, to $8.3 billion in 1900, to $235.1 billion in 1950, to $1,450.0 billion in 1992.


Figure 1

Real Federal Outlays, 1800-1992


Of course, the nation is much larger today than in earlier periods, so one would expect government also to be bigger. Figure 2 shows the per capita level of federal spending over time. Even when adjusting for the growth in population size (and inflation), federal expenditures have mushroomed:


Figure 2

Real Per Capita Federal Outlays, 1800-1990


  • The federal government spent $16 per person in 1800, $27 per person in 1850, $109 per person in 1900, $1,544 per person in 1950, and $4,760 per person in 1990.

Bear in mind, this does not include the cost of back door spending, such as mandates and regulations. If they were included here, the cost of the federal government per person today would easily exceed $10,000.

One of the most meaningful ways of measuring the burden of government is how much it spends relative to total economic output. One might argue that government spends more money today because the American economy has grown so much larger than in earlier periods. If government is consuming the same proportion of total output in two periods, then the economic burden of paying for its activities is roughly the same, even if expenditures are much larger in the later period. Unfortunately, federal spending is not keeping pace with economic growth—it is far outpacing economic growth:

  • In 1900 the federal government consumed less than 5 percent of total output.
  • In 1950 the federal government consumed roughly 15 percent of total output.
  • In 1992 the federal government consumed almost 25 percent of total output.

The Composition of Federal Outlays

The single most important activity of the federal government is to provide for the national defense. A free nation spends as much as necessary to protect its borders and its citizens. Is the modern-day growth of government on the federal level a result of the national defense build-up in the Cold War era? The answer is clearly no. National defense spending as a share of the total federal budget has been continually shrinking, with the exception of brief periods of war:

  • Defense spending constituted more than half of total federal outlays in 1800.
  • Defense spending constituted more than one-third of federal outlays in 1900.
  • Defense spending now constitutes little more than one-fifth of federal outlays.

The flip-side of this steady reduction of defense expenditures as a share of the budget is an expansion in spending on civilian programs, such as agriculture, health care, housing, and aid to state governments. Until the 1930s, the federal government spent almost nothing in each of these areas. This rise has been most prominent since 1950.

Figure 3 shows the tremendous growth in federal health care spending, from $100 million in 1900 to $156 billion in 1990.


Figure 3

Real Federal Health Care Expenditures, 1900-1990


These data on federal domestic spending powerfully refute the common complaint by special interest groups that favored domestic programs have been substantially cut back in recent years. Although there were modest spending reductions on selected domestic programs in the Reagan years, in 1992 the outlays for every major domestic area of the budget were at an all-time high—with the exception of agriculture.

State and Local Spending

Some budget analysts claim that federal spending has increased to compensate for budget reductions on the state and local levels. The data show otherwise:

  •  In 1900 states spent $32 per person.
  • In 1950 states spent $470 per person.
  • In 1990 states spent $1,934 per person.

On the local level, per capita expenditures have been rising rapidly as well, though not as rapidly as federal and state expenditures. For every dollar that local governments spent per person in 1900, they spent $2.50 in 1950 and $8.50 in 1990.

Although the 1980s are commonly reported to have been a decade of government neglect, this assertion is contrary to fact. State expenditures, for example, rose at twice the inflation rate in the 1980s. Local expenditures grew nearly as fast as state expenditures. Moreover, celebrated cutbacks in federal aid to localities were almost entirely replaced by increases in state aid to local governments. In sum, the past decade was one of the most expansive for state and city budgets in U.S. history.

Total Federal, State, and Local Expenditures

In 1900 government in America was still, by today’s standards, comparatively lean and efficient. At that time, total federal, state, and local expenditures were $26 billion. Americans now support a nearly $2.5 trillion government, almost a 100-fold increase in real outlays. (See Figure 4.)


Figure 4

Real Federal, State, and Local Government Expenditures, 1900-1990


Both as a share of total output and on a per-person basis, this is a substantial amount of government to have to pay for.

  • Government consumed almost 10 percent of GNP in 1900 and now consumes more than 35 percent.
  • Government spent $1,650 for every household in 1900 and today spends $23,140. (See Figure 5.)

Figure 5

Real Total Government Expenditures per Household, 1900-1990


In sum, whatever social and economic problems confront America today, they are clearly not a result of a neglectful or under-funded public sector.

Total Taxes

The American Revolution has been called the greatest tax revolt in world history. Yet as a result of the growth of government expenditures described above, taxes are now at levels that would have been inconceivable 200, 100, or even 50 years ago. Today, when combining federal, state, and local taxes, many middle-income Americans work a larger share of the day to pay the government’s bills than their own. Even the tax revolt of the late 1970s and early 1980s proved to be merely a temporary restraint on the demands of the government tax collector. Consider the percentage of income that is seized by government in taxes:

  • In 1930 workers paid one of every eight dollars of them income in taxes.
  • In 1950 workers paid one of every four dollars of their income in taxes.
  • In 1992 workers paid one of every three dollars of their income in taxes.

The tax burden is even more clearly expressed by examining taxes paid per household as shown in Figure 6.


Figure 6

Real Total Government Taxes per Household, 1900-1990


  • In 1900 the average family paid nearly $1,400 in taxes.
  • In 1950 the average family paid nearly $7,000 in taxes.
  • In 1992 the average family paid over $16,000 in taxes.

This rising tax burden has meant that workers have less take-home pay for consumption and savings. It also means that workers’ incentive to work and employers’ incentive to hire are impeded by excessive taxes. These figures do not even include the cost to American individuals and firms of complying with complicated and time-consuming tax laws. By one estimate, Americans spend 5.4 billion hours at an annual cost of $600 billion to the economy just completing the paperwork requirements of federal taxes.

The Federal Tax Burden

Reliable federal tax data are available back to 1800. For the first 100 years of the nation, taxes were very low. In colonial times opposition to high taxes was deeply ingrained in the American spirit, and this hostility lasted throughout the nineteenth century. Government revenues predominantly came from two sources: revenue tariffs and land sales. The limited sources of revenues for the federal government were a natural restraint on its expenditures. Three events changed that. The first was the imposition of the income tax in 1913. The second was the two World Wars, which made the American people accustomed to very high tax rates. And the third was the creation of the Social Security program with gradually rising payroll taxes.

Taxes were relatively stable until 1900. It was not until World War II that the federal tax burden rose about threefold.

  • In 1800 per capita federal taxes were $20.
  • In 1900 per capita federal taxes were $110.
  • In 1950 per capita federal taxes were $1,460.
  • In 1990 per capita federal taxes were $4,000.

Income Taxes

The most dreaded tax for the vast majority of Americans is the income tax. Until the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, there was no federal income tax—the Supreme Court had consistently ruled the income tax unconstitutional. No law has contributed to the growth of government and the surrender of personal liberties and privacy rights more fully than the creation of the federal income tax. Today, more so than any other federal agency, the Internal Revenue Service has broad and sweeping powers to investigate the personal activities and finances of Americans. Without a search warrant, the IRS has rights to search the property and financial documents of American citizens. Without a trial, the IRS has the right to seize property from Americans.

The income tax burden on the federal level has been continually climbing. During periods of war, income taxes have been substantially raised, and they never are reduced to their pre-war levels. Today, the average American household pays almost $6,000 in federal income taxes, double the 1950 burden.

States have also become much more reliant upon income taxes as a source of revenues in the past 50 years. Prior to World War II only a handful of states even imposed any income tax. Today, only nine states do not have an income tax, and four of those are considering introducing one. Today state and city governments raise about $110 billion per year through income taxes. Statistics show the rising share of income taxes as a share of total state and local taxes:

  • In 1900 state and local governments raised none of their revenues through income taxes.
  • In 1960 state and local governments raised 10 percent of their revenues through income taxes.
  • In 1992 state and local governments raised 26 percent of their revenues through income taxes.

The increased reliance of government at all levels on the income tax is a disturbing trend. Almost all studies show that income taxes have the most damaging effect on economic growth, entrepreneurship, and employment, because they are a direct tax on work and business success. They have a punitive effect on the most vital activities in a growing economy.

Tax Rates and Payroll Taxes

As with tax revenues, tax rates have climbed during the twentieth century. When the first individual income tax was passed in 1913 the rates ranged from 1 to 7 percent. At the time, opponents charged that it would not be long before the rates were raised to the unthinkable level of 10 percent! Supporters countered that this would never happen. History has proven them wrong:

  • By 1916 the top rate was more than doubled to 15 percent.
  • By 1917, the start of World War I, the top rate was raised to 67 percent.
  • In 1944, during World War II, the top rate was raised to 94 percent.
  • In the 1950s the top tax rate remained at 91 percent.
  • During the Reagan years the top marginal rate was chopped to 28 percent.
  • Today the top marginal rate is 32 percent with proposals in Congress to raise the rate to 40 percent or more.

Although the Kennedy and Reagan administrations cut the tax rates, at lower rates the government is collecting more revenue than ever before. For instance, from 1980 to 1992 federal income tax collections rose by roughly $150 billion. Moreover, the share of the income tax burden borne by the richest 10 percent of Americans rose from 48 to 56 percent from 1981 to 1989. Virtually every country in the world today recognizes the economic benefits of lower marginal tax rates in stimulating work and in attracting investment. Every industrialized nation in the world has lower marginal income tax rates today than in 1980.

Although income tax rates have been shaved in the past decade, for middle income American families with children the income tax burden is higher than ever before. One reason is that the value of the dependent child exemption has steadily eroded over the inflationary post-World War II period. Figure 7 shows:

• In 1950 the exemption was $600 per child. In 1990 dollars, for a family with four children it would have been worth $13,260.

• In 1989 the value of the personal exemption was $2,000 per child, or $8,000 for a family with four children.

• The failure of the dependent exemption to keep pace with inflation means that the average family with four children pays taxes on $5,000 more income than it otherwise would.


Figure 7

Value of Federal Income Tax Dependent Exemption

Family with Four Children, 1950-1989


Another reason that the middle class is feeling the crushing burden of taxes in recent years is that Social Security payroll taxes have continually risen since their inception in 1937. Figure 8 shows:

  • The first Social Security payroll tax rate, which was in place from 1937 to 1950, was 2 percent.
  • By 1970, after the introduction of Medicare and the hospital insurance tax, the payroll tax rate was 9.6 percent.
  • By 1980 the rate was 12.3 percent.
  • By 1990 the rate was 15.3 percent.

Figure 8

Social Security Tax Rate, 1940-90


Today, the average middle-income family pays a greater share of its income in payroll taxes (when including the employer’s share of that tax) than in income taxes. That is why reducing payroll taxes may be the most effective means of reducing the tax burden on middle-income and low-income working families.

Borrow and Spend

In the past several decades the government’s modus operandi, tax and spend, has been expanded to include a new government financing scheme: Borrow and spend. For the first 150 or so years of this nation, government borrowing was confined to times of war. There was a moral, though not a Constitutional, imperative that government not pass on the costs of its spending to future generations. This moral restraint lasted until the 1930s.

During the Great Depression the most prominent economist of the first half of the twentieth century, John Maynard Keynes, introduced his economic theory, which in effect legitimized deficit finance as an appropriate tool of government. The Keynesian theory was that government should borrow when times are tough and then pay back the debt during times of economic expansion. President Franklin Roosevelt was the first president to embrace this theory, which fit well with his New Deal domestic spending plans. By stripping away the prevailing moral restraint against government borrowing, Keynes opened the floodgate for massive deficit spending. By 1970, Richard Nixon declared, “We are all Keynesians now,” a prophetic statement. Government red ink would soon flood to once unthinkable heights as each subsequent Congress used more and more debt as a way of avoiding having to say no to the army of Washington special interests with insatiable demands for taxpayer money.

  • The federal government has only balanced the budget once in the past 25 years.
  • In 1992 the federal deficit reached an all-time high of $290 billion, a peacetime record and 6.5 percent of GDP. The 1993 deficit is expected to break that record.
  • The federal government now borrows $700,000 million every minute of every day, 365 days a year—more than $11,000 every second.

One consequence of this borrowing binge has been a mushrooming of the national debt. Figure 9 shows:

  • In 1900 each family of four carried a $2,600 share of the national debt.
  • In 1950, each family of four carried a $41,000 share of the national debt.
  • Today each family of four carries a $62,000 share of the national debt.

Figure 9

Real Federal Debt per Family of Four, 1900-1992


Interest on the Debt

Another consequence of this borrowing binge to finance a massive expansion of government programs has been that Americans are paying more and more taxes just to pay interest on the debt. Figure 10 shows that interest is one of the fastest growing areas of the federal budget:

  • In 1900 interest expenditures were $1 billion.
  • In 1960 interest expenditures were $31 billion.
  • In 1992 interest expenditures reached $200 billion.

Figure 10

Real Federal Interest Expenditures, 1870-1992


The American public understands full well that no institution can continue to spend beyond its means year after year without risking financial ruin. Perhaps the only way to end this fiscally reckless pattern of deficit spending is to amend the Constitution with a balanced budget/tax limitation requirement. Such a measure commands the support of three-fourths of the public—and has so for almost two decades. Yet, for obvious reasons, Congress has been reluctant to slay its cash cow. Even when the deficit set new records in 1992, the House of Representatives defeated the balanced budget amendment.

A Nation “Entitled”

A great challenge in modern-day America is to find some member of the public who does not receive a check from the government for one purpose or another. Every week the federal government sends out billions of dollars to farmers for growing (and in some cases, not growing) crops; to veterans for health care or retirement; to the unemployed for not working; to those with low incomes to pay for food and shelter; to college students to pay for school; to the elderly for being retired; to the elderly and poor to pay for health care; to unwed mothers to pay for the care of their children; and on and on. Fifty or 100 years ago most of these transfer programs did not exist. Today even the slightest whisper of budget cutbacks in these programs is met with howls of protest. In short, we have become a nation of citizens who regard themselves as entitled to the largesse of government.

What is the impact of such spending on economic growth? None of these programs is oriented toward the legitimate function of government in ensuring the public safety, nor are they even building bridges or roads or cleaning the environment. These programs are not designed to create wealth in our society; they are designed solely to redistribute it. Thereby, they interfere with and destroy the wealth creation process.

The alarming trend in federal, state, and local social welfare spending can be tracked from 1900, because prior to that time there were virtually no federal transfers, except for veterans’ benefits, and the only signifi cant state and local transfers were small public aid programs.

  • In 1900 the government spent $10 billion on social welfare.
  • In 1950 the government spent $130 billion on social welfare.
  • In 1988 the government spent $980 billion on social welfare.

It is noteworthy that in 1950 these transfer programs constituted roughly 12 percent of the federal budget. Today they consume almost 40 percent. In the 1989 to 1992 period alone, real federal expenditures on entitle ments grew by $140 billion.

Welfare

A huge portion of our social welfare spending today is for Social Security. Social Security is the largest and most popular program in the federal budget. Some have suggested that it is only Social Security that is growing rapidly, not other income transfer programs, such as welfare. This is not so. The anti-poverty programs are growing too. Total Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) spending at all levels of government has increased dramatically over the past 50 years:

  • In 1940 public assistance spending was $1.3 billion.
  • In 1970 public assistance spending was $16.6 billion.
  • In 1992 public assistance spending was $18 billion.

The primary reason that total welfare spending is growing is not that the benefit levels are substantially more generous, but rather that welfare caseloads continue to explode. The number of AFDC recipients continues to grow:

  • In 1936 in the middle of the Depression there were just over one-half million recipients.
  • In 1950 there were 2.2 million recipients.
  • In 1970 there were 9.7 million recipients.
  • In 1992 there were 13 million recipients.

Other public welfare programs show the same pattern of increase. For example, the food stamp program, started with a budget of less than $2 billion in 1970, now has a budget of $23 billion. Today there are roughly 25 million people collecting food stamps—or nearly one of every ten Americans. Millions of able-bodied Americans are now collecting government checks, making welfare one of the fastest growth industries in America today.

Despite the huge outlays on anti-poverty programs, this spending has done amazingly little to reduce poverty. One reason for this lack of success is that welfare spending is badly misallocated. Another is that welfare spending actually creates poverty.

  •  In 1990 government anti-poverty spending equaled $184 billion.
  • In 1990 it would have cost only $75 billion to bring every family with an income below the poverty level up above that benchmark. Hence, government was spending two-and-a-half times what would be needed to end poverty in America.
  • However, after that $184 billion was spent, some 30 million Americans remained below the poverty level.
  • More than half of all welfare recipients had pre-welfare incomes above the poverty level.
  • The welfare industry intercepts a huge portion of anti-poverty funds. In cities such as Milwaukee, there are now 62 separate welfare programs, each with its own bureaucratic costs.

All told, since the early 1960s, government at all levels has spent $3.5 trillion on programs for the poor. Yet there are more poor in 1993 than there were in 1963. Sadly, there is much truth to the adage that America has fought a war on poverty, and poverty won.

Civilian Employees

Government bureaucracy has grown at a steady pace at the federal, state, and local levels. In the past 20 years private sector union membership has shrunk, while public sector unions have record membership. Most of this growth in public employment has been at the state and local levels.

Today there are 18 million civilian government employees, up from 8.5 million ill 1960 and 4.5 million in 1940. For the first time ever, in 1992 there were more civilian public sector employees than manufacturing employees in the U.S., as shown in Figure 11.


Figure 11

Government Employment Outpacing Manufacturing Employment


With the growth in the number of government workers, America has witnessed a growth in government payrolls:

  • In 1940 government spent $5 billion on monthly payroll.
  • In 1960 government spent $14 billion on monthly payroll.
  • In 1990 government spent $36 billion on monthly payroll.

Although the 1980s are conventionally believed to have been a decade of hardship for public employees, the truth is that on the state and local levels government pay went up much faster than private sector pay. A 1992 report by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) shows:

Average state and local government employee compensation (including wages, salaries, and employee benefits) has been rising more quickly than average private employee compensation for 40 years . . . . Average state and local government employee compensation increased by an inflation- adjusted 14.6 percent, or $4,031, in 1989 compared to 1980. For every new dollar of average compensation increase for private sector employees, state and local government employees received more than $4.20.

Hence, today the compensation for public employees in many areas and many occupations is significantly above that of private sector workers. The government is a very generous employer, as illustrated by the following examples:

  • The average public sector bus driver earns 70 percent more than the average private sector bus driver.
  • Reliable studies show that postal workers make fully one-third higher salaries and benefits than comparably skilled private sector workers.
  • The voluntary quit rate from the federal government was lower in 1987 than the private sector quit rate during the peak of the Great Depression when unemployment rates exceeded 20 percent.
  • The average pay for a New York City school janitor is $57,000, with some earning as much as $80,000.
  • After 15 years on the job, the average New York City employee receives 51 days off, including holidays, vacation time, sick leave, and so on. That is, some New York city employees work the equivalent of 4 days a week.

As the ALEC study concludes, America’s government workers have become “a protected class.” Unfortunately, for the taxpayers who pay their inflated salaries, these workers are a rapidly growing protected class.

Military Employees

These numbers do not include the largest government employer of all: the military. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Defense is the largest employer in the United States—public or private. The number of Americans employed in the armed services has continually risen:

  • In 1800 there were 7,000 military personnel.
  • In 1850 there were 20,000 military personnel.
  • In 1900 there were 125,000 military personnel.
  • In 1950 there were 1,500,000 military personnel.
  • In 1990 there were 2,200,000 military personnel.

These numbers do not include any of the civilians who work for defense contractors producing weapons, providing equipment, and performing research and development. If these indirect government workers, part of the military-industrial complex, were included, the employment numbers could easily double.

Conclusion

American government has far outgrown the limits set by our founders in the Constitution. If the twenty-first century is to be the American century, government must be redirected to its proper and legitimate role. The growth of government is the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century.

For a copy of the complete report from which this essay is taken, please contact The Institute for Policy Innovation.

COLUMN BY

Stephen Moore

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

I Lost My Child Due to a Driver High on Marijuana. Now, This Bill Would Reward Big Pot.

Seven years ago, I got a call every parent fears: I lost my daughter to a driver who was high on “legal” marijuana. With this new pot vaping crisis, I’m worried more parents will lose their children if we don’t stop the growth of the marijuana industry.

Across the nation, a growing number of vaping-related illnesses and deaths have left government officials scrambling to fix a problem they should have seen coming.

After years of dubious claims by both the vaping and pot industries, we are now feeling acute consequences. America is beginning to wake up to some of these concerns. That is, everyone except the banking industry, which senses a massive investment opportunity: legalized pot.

While parents like me are losing their loved ones, the marijuana industry and its promoters are pushing a bill granting increased investment into the industry, dispensaries in Oregon and Colorado are furiously pulling contaminated vapes from their shelves, and pot growers are shipping their over-production of high-potency marijuana to and through non-legalized states.


In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>


The banking industry is now ramping up lobbying on Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. Indeed, Crapo recently announced his committee, the Senate Banking Committee, will take up legislation supported by the pot industry, disingenuously named the “SAFE Banking Act.”

The legislation, which would create an exception to U.S. banking law to allow lenders to make loans to marijuana firms even though it remains against federal law, is part of an aggressive effort to commercialize today’s new super-potent pot.

This would give pot shops and their corporate parent companies access to more investment capital even though marijuana has been proven to be addictive and harmful by medical science and is being used increasingly by young people in the form of flavored pot vapes. Today’s marijuana isn’t your Woodstock weed.

As a mom, it is difficult to understand why lawmakers have decided that now, with an epidemic in drug use going on, is a good time to push for legislation that amounts to backdoor legalization and a reward for this industry.

The vaping crisis is broader than flavored tobacco products. Marijuana vape oils account for more than 80% of the cases of the mysterious lung illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned against vaping any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oils. Even the American Vaping Association’s national spokesperson warned the public, “If you don’t want to die or end up in a hospital, stop vaping illegal THC oils immediately.”

Some are quick to blame the black market, but at least three deaths and numerous cases of illness are linked to “legal” pot products.

Crapo is considering advancing legislation that will ensure the explosion of the commercial pot market without addressing the long-lasting consequences that have been the hallmark of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma.

The SAFE Banking Act fails to acknowledge the industry’s practice of working around state regulations to continue marketing flavored, potentially deadly pot vaping oils, and pot candies that appeal to children. We should not reward them with this legislation.

If Crapo and others in the Senate empower Big Marijuana, they could be setting up Americans for a lifetime of negative consequences.

Let’s prevent drug use—not promote it.

COMMENTARY BY

Corinne Gasper lost her daughter to a marijuana-impaired driver and is now an advocate with Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.

FOR MARIJUANA RELATED ARTICLES CLICK HERE


A Note for our Readers:

This is a critical year in the history of our country. With the country polarized and divided on a number of issues and with roughly half of the country clamoring for increased government control—over health care, socialism, increased regulations, and open borders—we must turn to America’s founding for the answers on how best to proceed into the future.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled input from more than 100 constitutional scholars and legal experts into the country’s most thorough and compelling review of the freedoms promised to us within the United States Constitution into a free digital guide called Heritage’s Guide to the Constitution.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET ACCESS NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Why is the Dems’ Progressive Caucus obsessed with protecting the Post Office?

“The USPS is bleeding red ink and the company’s finances will likely get worse. The Trump administration is correct that ‘USPS’s current model is unsustainable’.” – Chris Edwards, DownSizingGovernment.org


I receive, on a weekly basis, at least one fundraising email from the Progressive Caucus outraged that there are efforts to reign in the spending by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Progressive Caucus is obsessed about the destruction of “yet another vital public service.” But there are other companies that provide mail delivery services that make the USPS look archaic. Yes, there are. Among them are: Amazon, E Bay, FedEx and UPS.

QUESTION: Would not competition improve this vital service?

Is USPS a Disaster?

In a July 9, 2029 DownSizingGovernment.org column title Privatizing the U.S. Postal Service Chris Edwards wrote:

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is a large business enterprise operated by the federal government. It has more than 600,000 employees and more than $70 billion in annual revenues. Revenues are supposed to cover the postal service’s costs, but mail volume is plunging, and the USPS has been losing billions of dollars a year for more than a decade.

The USPS has a legal monopoly over letters and mailboxes. That policy is an anomaly because the federal government’s general economic stance is to encourage open competition in markets. The USPS monopoly means that entrepreneurs are prevented from entering postal markets to try and improve quality and reduce costs for consumers. [Emphasis added]

USPS’s Predicament

Edwards points out the following about USPS:

Congress confers on the USPS monopolies over the delivery of first-class mail and access to mailboxes, the latter of which is a unique protection among the world’s postal systems.

The USPS also enjoys a range of other benefits:1

  • It can borrow up to $15 billion from the U.S. Treasury at low interest rates.
  • It is exempt from state and local sales, income, and property taxes, and from parking tickets, vehicle fees, and other charges.
  • It pays federal corporate income taxes on its earnings from competitive products, but those taxes are circulated back to the USPS.2
  • It is not bound by local zoning laws, is immune from a range of civil actions, and has the power of eminent domain.
  • It has government regulatory power, which it can use to impede competitors.

On the other hand, Congress ties the hands of the USPS in many ways that prevent it from operating like a private enterprise. Congress restricts the USPS’s pricing flexibility, requires it to provide expansive employee benefits, imposes collective bargaining, and prevents it from cutting costs in various ways, such as by reducing delivery frequency and closing low-volume post offices.

Read more.

Incremental Reforms

Edwards in his column recommends the following reforms of the USPS:

  1. Close Post Office Locations.
  2. Cut Labor Costs.
  3. End Collective Bargaining.
  4. Narrow the Universal Service Obligation (USO).
  5. End Cross Subsidies.

Conclusions

Edwards concludes with:

The [Trump] administration’s Task Force found that the USPS’s current business model “is unsustainable and must be fundamentally changed if the USPS is to avoid a financial collapse and a taxpayer-funded bailout.”61 The GAO said that a “comprehensive package of actions is needed to improve USPS’s financial viability.”62 That comprehensive package should be privatizing the USPS and opening U.S. postal markets to competition.

As Barry Goldwater wrote in his book “The Conscience of a Conservative“:

“I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.”

Perhaps it it time to reduce the size of government starting with the USPS?

Epidemic of Government Employees Watching Porn on Taxpayer Time

An epidemic of federal employees watching porn on taxpayer time has reached a new low at one agency where a veteran staffer “viewed child pornography on a government computer on multiple occasions,” according to an audit. The unidentified employee worked at the Bureau of Land Management, which operates under the Department of the Interior (DOI) and admitted to investigators from the agency’s Inspector General’s office that he viewed adult pornography on multiple occasions though he knew DOI policy prohibits it. A year ago, a separate DOI employee infected agency networks with Russian malware after visiting thousands of porn sites on his government computer. A forensic examination determined the employee, who was never identified, had an extensive history of visiting porn websites and saving material on an unauthorized drive. In both cases the employees retired and faced no consequences.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Documents Show Senior Kerry Aide Used Private Email to Send Steele Reports to State Department Colleagues

Watchdog Group Tells 5 States of Millions of Extra Voter Registrations

2020 Forecast: Urban Disorder Deepens

EDITORS NOTE: This Judaical Watch column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

I Went to a Socialism Conference. Here Are My 6 Observations.

While you were enjoying your Fourth of July weekend, I was attending a national conference on socialism.

Why? Because socialism is having its moment on the left.

Since there’s often confusion as to what socialism really is, I decided to attend the Socialism 2019 conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend.

The conference, which had the tag line “No Borders, No Bosses, No Binaries,” contained a cross-section of the most pertinent hard-left thought in America. Among the sponsors were the Democratic Socialists of America and Jacobin, a quarterly socialist magazine.


Next year, absolutely everything is on the line. Defend your principles before it is too late. Find out more now >>


The walls of the various conference rooms were adorned with posters of Karl Marx and various depictions of socialist thinkers and causes.

Most of the conference attendees appeared to be white, but identity politics were a major theme throughout—especially in regard to gender.

At the registration desk, attendees were given the option of attaching a “preferred pronoun” sticker on their name tags.

In addition, the multiple-occupancy men’s and women’s restrooms were relabeled as “gender neutral,” and men and women were using both. Interestingly enough, the signs above the doors were still labeled with the traditional “men’s” and “women’s” signs until they were covered over with home-made labels.

One of the paper labels read: “This bathroom has been liberated from the gender binary!”

While the panelists and attendees were certainly radical, and often expressed contempt for the Democratic Party establishment, it was nevertheless clear how seamlessly they blended traditional Marxist thought with the agenda of what’s becoming the mainstream left.

They did so by weaving their views with the identity politics that now dominate on college campuses and in the media and popular entertainment. The culture war is being used as a launching point for genuinely socialist ideas, many of which are re-emerging in the 21st century.

Here are six takeaways from the conference:

1. Serious About Socialism

A common line from those on the modern left is that they embrace “democratic socialism,” rather than the brutal, totalitarian socialism of the former Soviet Union or modern North Korea and Venezuela. Sweden is usually cited as their guide for what it means in practice, though the reality is that these best-case situations show the limits of socialism, not its success.

It’s odd, too, for those who insist that “diversity is our strength” to point to the culturally homogeneous Nordic countries as ideal models anyway.

It’s clear, however, that while many socialists insist that their ideas don’t align with or condone authoritarian societies, their actual ideology—certainly that of those speaking at the conference—is in no sense distinct.

Of the panels I attended, all featured speakers who made paeans to traditional communist theories quoted Marx, and bought into the ideology that formed the basis of those regimes.

Mainstream politicians may dance around the meaning of the word “socialist,” but the intellectuals and activists who attended Socialism 2019 could have few doubts about the fact that Marxism formed the core of their beliefs.

Some sought to dodge the issue. One was David Duhalde, the former political director of Our Revolution, an activist group that supports Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and that was an offshoot of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

Duhalde said that Sanders is a creation of the socialist movement—having had direct ties to the Socialist Party of America in his youth—but hasn’t maintained an official connection to socialist political organizations throughout his political career.

Sanders’ position, according to Duhalde, is “anti-totalitarian” and that he favors a model based on “neither Moscow, nor the United States, at least in this formation.”

It’s a convenient way of condemning capitalist-oriented societies while avoiding connections to obviously tyrannical ones.

It was also difficult to mistake the sea of red shirts and posters of Marx that adorned the walls at the conference—or the occasional use of the word “comrades”—as anything other than an embrace of genuine socialism, but with a uniquely modern twist.

2. Gender and Identity Politics Are Ascendant

Transgenderism, gender nonconformity, and abolishing traditional family structures were huge issues at Socialism 2019.

One panel, “Social Reproduction Theory and Gender Liberation,” addressed how the traditional family structure reinforced capitalism and contended that the answer was to simply abolish families.

Corrie Westing, a self-described “queer socialist feminist activist based in Chicago working as a home-birth midwife,” argued that traditional family structures propped up oppression and that the modern transgender movement plays a critical part in achieving true “reproductive justice.”

Society is in a moment of “tremendous political crisis,” one that “really demands a Marxism that’s up to the par of explaining why our socialist project is leading to ending oppression,” she said, “and we need a Marxism that can win generations of folks that can be radicalized by this moment.”

That has broad implications for feminism, according to Westing, who said that it’s important to fight for transgender rights as essential to the whole feminist project—seemingly in a direct shot at transgender-exclusionary radical feminists, who at a Heritage Foundation event in January argued that sex is biological, not a societal construct, and that transgenderism is at odds with a genuine feminism.

She contended that economics is the basis of what she called “heteronormativity.”

Pregnancy becomes a tool of oppression, she said, as women who get pregnant and then engage in child rearing are taken out of the workforce at prime productive ages and then are taken care of by an economic provider.

Thus, the gender binary is reinforced, Westing said.

She insisted that the answer to such problems is to “abolish the family.” The way to get to that point, she said, is by “getting rid of capitalism” and reorganizing society around what she called “queer social reproduction.”

“When we’re talking about revolution, we’re really connecting the issues of gender justice as integral to economic and social justice,” Westing said.

She then quoted a writer, Sophie Lewis, who in a new book, “Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family,” embraced “open-sourced, fully collaborative gestation.”

3. Open Borders Is Becoming a Litmus Test

It’s perhaps not surprising that socialists embrace open borders. After all, that’s becoming a much more mainstream position on the left in general.

The AFL-CIO used to support immigration restrictions until it flipped in 2000 and called for illegal immigrants to be granted citizenship.

As recently as 2015, Sanders rejected the idea of open borders as a ploy to impoverish Americans.

But Justin Akers-Chacon, a socialist activist, argued on a panel, “A Socialist Case for Open Borders,” that open borders are not only a socialist idea, but vital to the movement.

Akers-Chacon said that while capital has moved freely between the United States and Central and South America, labor has been contained and restricted.

He said that while working-class people have difficulty moving across borders, high-skilled labor and “the 1%” are able to move freely to other countries.

South of the border, especially in Mexico and Honduras, Akers-Chacon said, there’s a stronger “class-consciousness, as part of cultural and historical memory exists in the working class.”

“My experiences in Mexico and my experiences working with immigrant workers, and my experiences with people from different parts of this region, socialist politics are much more deeply rooted,” he said.

That has implications for the labor movement.

Despite past attempts to exclude immigrants, Akers-Chacon said, it’s important for organized labor to embrace them. He didn’t distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants.

For instance, he said one of the biggest benefits of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was that there was a brief boost in union membership amid a more general decline in unionism.

Besides simply boosting unions, the influx “changed the whole AFL-CIO position on immigrants, [which was] still backwards, restrictive, anti-immigrant,” Akers-Chacon said.

“So, there’s a correlation between expanding rights for immigrants and the growth, and confidence, and militancy of the labor movement as a whole,” he said.

4. ‘Clickbait’ Communism Is Being Used to Propagandize Young Americans

The magazine Teen Vogue has come under fire recently for flattering profiles of Karl Marx and promoting prostitution as a career choice, among other controversial pieces.

It would be easy to write these articles off as mere “clickbait,” but it’s clear that the far-left nature of its editorials—and its attempt to reach young people with these views—is genuine.

Teen Vogue hosted a panel at Socialism 2019, “System Change, Not Climate Change: Youth Climate Activists in Conversation with Teen Vogue.”

The panel moderator was Lucy Diavolo, news and politics editor at the publication, who is transgender.

“I know there’s maybe a contradiction in inviting Teen Vogue to a socialism conference … especially because the youth spinoff brand is a magazine so associated with capitalist excess,” Diavolo said. “If you’re not familiar with our work, I encourage you to read Teen Vogue’s coverage of social justice issues, capitalism, revolutionary theory, and Karl Marx, or you can check out the right-wing op-eds that accuse me of ‘clickbait communism’ and teaching your daughters Marxism and revolution.”

The panel attendees responded enthusiastically.

“Suffice to say, the barbarians are beyond the gates. We are in the tower,” Diavolo boasted.

5. The Green Movement Is Red

It’s perhaps no surprise that an openly socialist member of Congress is pushing for the Green New Deal—which would essentially turn the U.S. into a command-and-control economy reminiscent of the Soviet Union.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti recently said, according to The Washington Post: “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.”

“Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” Chakrabarti asked Sam Ricketts, climate director for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is running for president in the Democratic primary. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

Economic transformation barely disguised as a way to address environmental concerns appears to be the main point.

One of the speakers on the Teen Vogue climate panel, Sally Taylor, is a member of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-oriented environmental activist group that made headlines in February when several elementary school-age members of the group confronted Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., about her lack of support for the Green New Deal.

The other speaker on the Teen Vogue climate panel was Haven Coleman, a 13-year-old environmental activist who has received favorable coverage for leading the U.S. Youth Climate Strike in March. She was open about the system change she was aiming for to address climate change.

She noted during her remarks that she was receiving cues from her mother, who she said was in attendance.

Haven said the answer to the climate change problem was moving on from our “capitalistic society” to something “other than capitalism.”

Interestingly, none of the glowing media profiles of Haven or the Climate Strike mentioned a link to socialism or abolishing capitalism.

6. Socialism Can’t Be Ignored as a Rising Ethos on the Left

According to a recent Gallup survey, 4 in 10 Americans have a positive view of socialism. Support among Democrats is even higher than among the general population, with a majority of Democrats saying they prefer socialism to capitalism.

But many who say they want socialism rather than capitalism struggle to define what those terms mean and change their views once asked about specific policies.

As another Gallup poll from 2018 indicated, many associate socialism with vague notions of “equality,” rather than as government control over the means of production in the economy.

What’s clear from my observations at Socialism 2019 is that traditional Marxists have successfully melded their ideology with the identity politics and culture war issues that animate modern liberalism—despite still being quite far from the beliefs of the average citizen.

Socialists at the conference focused more on social change, rather than electoral politics, but there were still many core public policy issues that animated them; notably, “Medicare for All” and government run-health care, some kind of Green New Deal to stop global warming (and more importantly, abolish capitalism), open borders to increase class consciousness and promote transnational solidarity, removing all restrictions on—and publicly funding—abortion, and breaking down social and legal distinctions between the sexes.

They were particularly able to weave their issues together through the thread of “oppressor versus oppressed” class conflict—for instance, supporting government-run health care meant also unquestioningly supporting unfettered abortion and transgender rights.

Though their analyses typically leaned more heavily on economic class struggle and determinism than what one would expect from more mainstream progressives, there wasn’t a wide gap between what was being discussed at Socialism 2019 and the ideas emerging from a growing segment of the American left.

COMMENTARY BY

Jarrett Stepman is a contributor to The Daily Signal and co-host of The Right Side of History podcast. Send an email to Jarrett. He is also the author of the new book, “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.” Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLES:

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A Note for our Readers:

As progressives on the far Left continue to push for greater government control under the disguise of “free stuff,” our lawmakers need conservative research and solutions to guide them towards promoting your principles instead.

That is why we’re asking conservatives to unite around the key values of limited government, individual liberty, traditional American values, and a strong national defense by making a special year-end gift to The Heritage Foundation before December 31.

Next year, absolutely everything is on the line. The Left won’t pull any punches. They stand ready to trade the principles of the American founding for the toxic European socialism that has failed so many times before.

That is why finishing this year strong is so critical. The Heritage Foundation is challenging you to rise up and claim more victories for conservative values as we battle socialism in 2020.

LEARN MORE NOW >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Call For More Than $200 Trillion in Spending

GUESTS AND TOPICS:

W. James Antle III, editor of The American Conservative. A former Senior Writer at TAC, Antle also previously served as managing editor of the Daily Caller, editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation, and associate editor of the American Spectator. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Antle has appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, among other outlets, and has written for a wide variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Politico, the Week, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the Daily Beast, the Guardian, Reason, the Spectator of London, The National Interest, and National Review Online. He is also senior advisor to Defense Priorities.

TOPIC: Tulsi’s Last Stand?

Charles Lehman is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He writes about policy, covering crime, law, drugs, immigration, and social issues.

TOPIC: Dem Candidates Call For More Than $200 Trillion in Spending

© All rights reserved.

VIDEO: How Washington Wastes Your Tax Dollars on Art

Should your tax dollars be spent on art of Che Guevara? Watch this video to learn more about how Washington is funding “art” with your money.

COMMENTARY BY

Rick Scott is a U.S. senator from Florida. Twitter: .


The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal video is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Here’s What the Tax Cuts Have Done for America in 2 Years

It’s been two years this month since Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, providing the first major tax reform since 1986.

It was a historic overhaul that has delivered tangible benefits for our national economy.

The tax cuts lowered our federal corporate income tax rate, which was hurting American job creators’ ability to compete on a global stage. Previously at 35%, the U.S. rate was one of the highest in the developed world.

Now at 21%, it is closer to the average corporate income tax rate among developed countries, which allows U.S. companies to compete on a more level playing field.


The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also created innovative Opportunity Zones to provide tax incentives to boost long-term investment in historically distressed, underserved communities across our country.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but this is an important part of a long-term effort to strengthen America’s economy and afford greater economic opportunities to all of our citizens in the decades to come.

In addition to bolstering our national economy as a whole, tax reform provided real relief for American families on a personal level. This came in the form of an increased standard deduction, as well as doubling the Child Tax Credit and expanding eligibility so more families can participate.

It also included strengthening 529 savings plans, which are one of the most commonly utilized tools for planning and saving for education expenses.

Under the old rules, families could only apply their 529 savings plans toward eligible colleges or universities. Now, thanks to tax reform, the money invested in your 529 savings plan can be used to cover qualifying expenses for private, public, or religious schools from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade.

Each of these reforms is playing a part in reenergizing our economy, one family at a time.

Consumers are highly optimistic. Richard Curtin, the chief economist at the Surveys of Consumers Attitudes, recently said consumer sentiment has been at 95 or higher in 30 of the past 35 months, according to CNBC. That’s a 20-year high.

Curtin also noted that, despite political uncertainties, “Personal spending will be energized by record favorable evaluations by consumers of their personal financial situation, with gains expected across the entire income distribution … .”

Our tax code will always be a work in progress, but this overhaul was an important step forward in updating our antiquated and overly complicated system. It also serves as a powerful reminder of what can be accomplished when we are directing our energy toward fixing real problems for the American people.

Moving forward, we must ensure these tax relief provisions are made permanent and continue our efforts to simplify and streamline the tax code.

Congressional leaders should be focusing on innovative solutions to make the system work better for American small business owners who are trying to create jobs, middle-class families trying to provide a better future for their children, and underserved communities trying to break out of generational poverty. After all, that’s what our constituents elected us to come here and do.

Unfortunately, however, under Democratic leadership, this Congress has only turned about 70 bills and resolutions into law, according to Congress.gov. In comparison, the last divided Congress, when Harry Reid controlled the Senate, was able to pass nearly 300 bills and resolutions into law between 2013 and 2014.

This is the opportunity cost of Democrats’ endless investigations and impeachment trials. It is not just about the cost of valuable time and taxpayer dollars being expended, but also about the loss of what we could otherwise be accomplishing to address real problems facing our country.

The two-year anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doesn’t just commemorate an important piece of legislation; it is also a call to Congress to get to work.

The American people hired us to be problems solvers, not circus performers. Let’s put an end to endless investigations to justify a predetermined push to impeach and focus on working to improve the lives of the people who put us here in the first place.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 proved that we can tackle an enormous challenge that had been festering for decades—and deliver real results. Now, we need to harness that energy toward the opportunities that remain to continue improving our tax code, modernizing our trade deals with agreements like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and addressing the challenges that impact underserved communities, families, and individuals across our country on a daily basis.

Let’s not let those opportunities go to waste.

COMMENTARY BY

Brad Wenstrup is the U.S. representative for Ohio’s 2nd congressional district. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: Here’s How Trump’s Tax Cuts Have Benefited All Americans


A Note for our Readers:

With the demand for socialism at an all-time high among our young people—our future leaders and decisionmakers—the experts at Heritage stopped and asked a question that not many have asked:

Is socialism really morally sound?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you and our fellow Americans better understand the 9 Ways That Socialism Will Morally Bankrupt America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW! >>


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President Trump keeps his promise to fix NAFTA!

President Donald J. Trump has fought for better trade deals for American workers since his first day in office. In addition to new agreements with Japan, South Korea, and the European Union, the President has long argued that NAFTA must be reformed.

More than a year ago, he kept that signature campaign promise when he signed a modern, rebalanced trade deal with Canada and Mexico. And today, after a year’s worth of stall tactics, House Democrats have finally acquiesced to the will of the American people and agreed to vote on the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA).

That’s big news. It’s time for Washington to put American workers first and get USMCA over the finish line!

When President Trump took office, he inherited all sorts of poorly negotiated trade deals that heavily favored global competitors over American citizens. Of all the agreements that put U.S. workers and businesses at a disadvantage, undoubtedly the biggest culprit was the outdated, deficient NAFTA.

For years, NAFTA rules have helped incentivize offshoring, which led to manufacturing jobs leaving the United States in bulk. As a result, politicians from both parties have called to reform our trade terms with Mexico and Canada ever since the deal first passed in the mid-1990s. As usual, Washington promised voters one thing and then did another.

It took President Trump to get Mexico and Canada to sign a new deal. Here are just a few ways it updates and improves NAFTA:

  • Auto and manufacturing: With new rules of origin, 75 percent of auto content must be produced in North America, stimulating U.S. vehicle and parts production.
  • Labor protections: Unlike NAFTA, labor rules are enforceable, not voluntary. Workers will benefit from provisions that incentivize the use of high-wage manufacturing labor—supporting better jobs for American workers.
  • Digital trade: USMCA includes the strongest terms on digital trade—a booming and growing sector of the U.S. economy—of any trade deal. NAFTA had none.
  • Farmers and ranchers: In just one example, USMCA protects our farmers by eliminating a loophole that allowed Canada to undersell American dairy products.

In short, Main Street won. Democrat leaders tried to stall, desperate to avoid giving President Trump a signature win on one of his core issues. But USMCA highlighted the divide between far-left Washington partisans and practical, results-minded local officials who supported the deal. In the end, a growing chorus of diverse voices—everyone from labor leaders to small business owners—finally forced Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hand.

USMCA is a promise kept to America’s working class. For that, we should all celebrate.

Something to share: President Trump has fought for better deals since day one!


House Democrats make their 3-year impeachment scheme official

The Swamp outdid themselves today, surprising no one that Washington can always find a way to stoop lower than ever before. At a time when Congress’ approval rating is mired in the low 20s, House Democrats announced they will proceed with a partisan impeachment of President Trump—despite finding no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham issued the following statement in part to reporters today:

House Democrats have long wanted to overturn the votes of 63 million Americans. They have determined that they must impeach President Trump because they cannot legitimately defeat him at the ballot box. The Democrats’ use of a phone call with the president of Ukraine – with a transcript the President himself released – served as their excuse for this partisan, gratuitous, and pathetic attempt to overthrow the Trump Administration and the results of the 2016 election.

The announcement of two baseless articles of impeachment does not hurt the President, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our Nation. The President will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong.

Ultimately, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats will have to answer to their constituents for manufacturing an impeachment inquiry and forcing unfounded accusations down the throats of the American people.

“IG Report Confirms Schiff FISA Memo Media Praised Was Riddled With Lies”

More: Top Ukraine official casts doubt on key impeachment testimony

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Trump’s Openness Is Forcing A Stronger NATO And Europe

The American people and the world are witnessing a revolution of openness brought on by none other than the frank, brusk, always to the point methods of President Trump.

This was on full display this week as Trump held public press conferences with world leaders during the NATO meeting in London, and repeatedly had shockingly open and honest discussions — the things that have always been kept behind closed doors in the past, and then reported via leaks through a partisan media.

Trump’s method forces difficult issues out into the light without the bias filter.

With French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump pushed again on the issue of NATO and the Europeans’ unwillingness to keep their promises on spending. The NATO agreement called for all member countries to spend 2 percent of the GDP on military spending. This was done to ensure that there would be no free-loader countries.

Turns out, they have almost all been freeloaders — a freeloader continent — because of the major countries, only the United States has kept its promise, and actually spends more than twice that. This is part of the reason Europeans can afford broader welfare programs, because they aren’t spending the money on their own defense. American taxpayers are, and now that Trump alone has made this an issue, a whole lot more Americans are aware of this truth.

Trump’s relentless efforts are having an impact. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Congress a few months ago that Trump’s push had a “real impact” as European allies are adding military investments totaling an additional $100 billion by the end of next year.

Further, Turkey’s increasingly rogue and anti-West actions are making it a problematic member of NATO. It was considered a good addition during the height of the Soviet Union’s threat as it created a southern buttress to Soviet expansion. But the Muslim nation has lurched toward a more Islamist and less free society, has been persecuting minorities, has been making overtures to Russia for an alliance and recently invaded Northern Syria when the U.S. pulled out its troops.

Trump’s methods and personality has exposed this and now there is serious talk about what to do with Turkey.

In another press conference, Trump cornered Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau into admitting Canadian military expenditures amount to a paltry 1.4 percent of GDP. Canada too promised 2 percent as a member of NATO. This willingness of Trump to put foreign leaders on the public hotspot is refreshing, revealing and productive.

His push on Europeans doing more for NATO has caused some to talk openly of a European Union Army to replace NATO. But this is delusional. First, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and so on forming a cohesive fighting army is historically absurd, particularly without the U.S. leadership. Someone has to lead and Germany is obviously the leader of the EU. The French Army is going to take orders from the Germany Army? Non, je ne pense pas.

Second, there is no way the Europeans realistically could, or would be willing to spend the amount of money necessary to create an army of deterrent power without the United States. They’d have to strip back their welfare systems. No politician wants to do that.

This on-the-ground reality is understood by sober people. But Trump’s willingness to speak his mind on camera, with other leaders, and even push them on live, global television, means that the world — and most importantly, the American people — can see it all happening. If we had to rely on the media to accurately transmit this information, it would merely be a story about how dangerous Trump is in destroying relationships and systems.

But what we now know is that it’s not the true rendering. In reality, these have been fraying relationships without a Soviet Union all along. It’s an added problem that Europeans don’t pay their fair share and that Turkey is going rogue. But the media would largely ignore all of this and just focus on the blunderbuss that is an “existential threat.”

Looking at a post-modern security structure, where the U.S. can adequately and fairly assess our own security needs, is overdue. These needs range from fair trade agreements with China, Europe and our North American neighbors, to full-scale security on our southern border, to military security as we see fit.

We should always be allied in some fashion with the free democracies of the world, and that means most of Europe and certainly the big countries. NATO may or may not be the proper method for that anymore. If it is, it will almost undoubtedly become a more meaningful mutual security organization without Turkey and with more committed spending and focus.

That would be an ironic legacy for Trump on NATO, but not an unrealistic one.

EDITORS NOTE: This Revolutionary Act column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.