Trump Showcases Jobs Preserved by Paycheck Protection Program Amid COVID-19 Shutdown

Michael Heup not only got his job back at Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, which was temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 crisis, but he also had the chance to talk about it at the White House on Tuesday.

“I love my job, and I am excited about going back to work,” Heup, a disabled employee, said at the East Room event. “At Bitty & Beau’s, we like to use the phrase called ‘not broken.’ That means me and all my amazing co-workers are not broken, and we have lots to offer. I know the great country of the United States isn’t broken either.”

The Wilmington, North Carolina-based Bitty & Beau’s Coffee had to temporarily close and lay off 120 employees at the company, most with intellectual and developmental disabilities. But it was able to rehire all the employees after getting a federal loan through the Paycheck Protection Program.

The White House had representatives from eight companies at the event sharing their stories of staying afloat after governments’ COVID-19 mitigation efforts forced much of the economy to close.


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Under the program, if businesses with fewer than 500 employees do not lay off employees, the principal on the loan is forgivable. Employers still have to pay the interest.

Bitty & Beau’s Coffee has locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Maryland. For most of the employees, it’s their first paying job. The employees are now “working from home, writing handwritten notes that we include with each online order we ship,” said Amy Wright, CEO of Bitty & Beau’s, also speaking at the event.

“I know everyone is ready to return to normal,” Wright said. “I believe it’s time for a new normal, one where people with disabilities are valued, especially in the workplace. As a recipient of the [Paycheck Protection Program] loan, we will continue to take up the charge and help everyone, especially people with disabilities, pursue the American dream.”

The Paycheck Protection Program has disbursed $350 billion to small businesses across the United States, and more than 1.6 million forgivable loans have been approved by the Small Business Administration. Trump said the SBA has issued more loans in the past 14 days than it has in the past 14 years.

However, the program has come under scrutiny for doling out loans to large employers, such as Harvard University and Shake Shack. Several of the big businesses returned the loans after the rash of bad publicity.

“The press has commented on a lot of big companies that inappropriately took the money,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the event. “We’ve been very clear. We’ve announced today that any loan over $2 million will have a full review for forgiveness before they are repaid because this is the story of small business here.”

When taking questions from reporters, Trump was asked about Democrats in Congress calling for guaranteed incomes that could go on for months.

“I like payroll tax cuts. I’ve liked that from the beginning. That was a thing that I would really love to see happen. Most economists agree with me,” Trump said.

The president expressed skepticism of bailing out states, but he said aid could come with the precondition of changing sanctuary policies, in which local jurisdictions refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

“We are not looking to recover 25 years of bad management and to give them the money they lost. That’s unfair to other states. Now, if it’s COVID-related, I guess we could talk about it,” Trump said, adding:

But we’d want certain things also, including sanctuary city adjustments, because we have so many people in sanctuary cities, which I don’t even think are popular by radical left folks.

What’s happening is, people are being protected that shouldn’t be protected, and a lot of bad things are happening with sanctuary cities.

COLUMN BY

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.” Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH.

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Today’s Americans and Yesteryear’s Americans


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.

$66 Mil, Federal Agents, National Guard Wasted on 2,500-Bed Camp That Averaged 30 Immigrants

Against the advice of frontline agents, the federal government opened a temporary immigration detention facility that was barely used and cost a ghastly $66 million to operate for just five months. During that time the tent encampment situated in a rural west Texas community near the Mexican border housed an average of just 30 detainees, according to a scathing federal audit that blasts the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the waste. Though it has a 2,500-person capacity, the facility never held more than 66 illegal aliens on any given day, investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found.

Not only did Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pay a private contractor tens of millions of dollars in facility costs, it spent “about $5.3 million for food services—the preparation and delivery of meals and snacks—it did not need,” the congressional probe reveals. In an enraging example, investigators write that, during the first three months, the government paid for about 675,000 meals despite ordering only 13,428 because there were not enough detainees. The U.S. also “leveraged significant federal personnel resources” that added up to an additional $6.7 million. This includes 75 unarmed guards to monitor the camp around the clock and officers from DHS agencies such as CBP, the Border Patrol (BP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as well as soldiers from the National Guard. Investigators did the math and figured that each illegal immigrant detainee that stayed at the camp was guarded by four soldiers, three security guards and at least one CBP agent. The resources “could have been allocated to other missions,” the GAO writes in its report.

Here is a breakdown of the federal officers wasted on this seldom-used immigrant detention camp in addition to the separately paid contract security guards. Twenty-one CBP agents responsible for facility operations, such as detainee intake, welfare checks and transportation, among other things. Eleven BP agents from the El Paso sector, one of the nation’s busiest, 10 CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations and five ICE agents to help coordinate on decisions made about individuals at the facility. On top of all that, 116 Texas National Guard soldiers were deployed to the encampment for logistical support such as meal distribution and monitoring security cameras, among other duties.

The facility in the El Paso County town of Tornillo was once used to detain illegal immigrant minors and was briefly reopened for single adults around the beginning of August 2019. It finally closed at the start of 2020, but not without fleecing American taxpayers. It’s not like the government didn’t have opportunities to shut it down earlier. In fact, initially the camp was only supposed to open for three months at a cost of $47 million and could have been closed based on the numbers—less than 1% of capacity. Instead, the feds extended the deal for two months at a cost of $19 million. “Border Patrol officials in the El Paso sector told us that the sector recommended to Border Patrol headquarters that the facility be closed and resources reallocated elsewhere for other CBP missions, due to the consistently low numbers of individuals held at the facility and the personnel resource requirements to operate the facility,” the GAO report states.

But, as we regularly see in government, there is often little consensus—or cooperation—among agencies, even when they exist under the same umbrella. In this case the DHS, the gargantuan agency created after 9/11 to prevent another terrorist attack. Congressional investigators write that CBP pushed to keep the Tornillo camp open though it was hardly used. The 60,000-employee agency is charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade and apparently it pulled more weight than the frontline BP agents. “In contrast, CBP headquarters officials told us, despite the consistently low numbers of detainees held in the Tornillo facility, they decided to continue operations for the 2,500-person facility because they were operating in an environment with considerable uncertainty related to migrant flow and wanted to prepare for the possibility of increased apprehensions,” the report says.

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

Coronavirus Crisis Exposes a Devastating Consequence of Fed Policy: Americans Have No Savings

Over 100 years, the Federal Reserve has destroyed more than 97 percent of our currency’s purchasing power.


During a March 17 address to the nation in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, President Donald Trump asked that Americans work from home, postpone unnecessary travel, and limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people.

Ten days later, Trump signed a stimulus package of more than $2 trillion to provide relief to an economy on the precipice of collapse.

The aid package includes handouts and loans to individuals, small businesses, and other distressed industries.

Despite Trump “having created the greatest Economy in the history of our Country,” when the markets tanked, massive and immediate government intervention was the only thing left to forestall a total collapse.

So why can’t the greatest economy in the world handle a temporary shock without needing trillions of dollars injected to stay afloat?

The Federal Reserve and its vicious and ongoing war on savers are to blame.

Using the Federal Reserve Note—commonly (but incorrectly) referred to as the dollar—introduces a dilemma. Because of inflationary monetary policy, Americans have long been forced to select among three undesirable options:

A) Save. Hold Federal Reserve Notes and be guaranteed to lose at least 2 percent in purchasing power every single year.

B) Consume. Spend Federal Reserve Notes on immediate goods and services to get the most out of current purchasing power.

C) Speculate. Try to beat the Fed’s deliberate inflation, seeking a higher return by investing in complicated and unstable asset markets.

With businesses and Americans defaulting on their rent and other obligations only days into the collapse, the problem is clear: Few have any savings. And why should they when saving their money at negative real rates of return has been a sucker’s game?

Lack of sound money, or money that doesn’t maintain its purchasing power over time, has discouraged savings while encouraging debt-financed consumption.

American businesses and individuals are so overleveraged that once their income goes away, even briefly, they are too often left with nothing.

Fiat money is especially pernicious in the way it harms its users. To some, two percent losses can go easily unnoticed, year to year. Over 100 years, the loss has been well over 97 percent.

And who can save for emergencies when you’re being forced to work and spend more—simply to maintain the same quality of life?

Over 100 years, the Federal Reserve has destroyed more than 97 percent of our currency’s purchasing power.

With the Fed slashing short-term rates to zero, the US Federal Reserve Note has been further destroyed as a method of preserving savings. (And negative nominal interest rates could be coming next.)

Inflationary economic policy, absent the guardrails of sound money, has created a situation with an obvious and deadly conclusion: that many Americans lack savings to protect themselves against downturns.

This situation isn’t necessarily the fault of the people, but rather the fault of a system in which discouraging and punishing savers is a crucial tenet of the entire framework.

The Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, and the White House are trying to reassure the public that everything is “under control,” that “the US economy’s fundamentals are still strong,” and that the economy will skyrocket once COVID-19 is taken care of. What if they’re wrong?

Maybe the greatest monetary experiment in history is coming to an end. Maybe sound money can still save the day, but we must not waste any more time in restoring it.

Jp Cortez

Jp Cortez is Policy Director for the Sound Money Defense League, a non-partisan, national public policy organization working to restore sound money at the state and federal level and which maintains America’s Sound Money Index.

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

Trump Pulls WHO Funding, Says Organization ‘Must Be Held Accountable’ [Video]

President Donald Trump made it official Tuesday that the administration was halting money to the World Health Organization, the international body that said in January that COVID-19 could not be spread by human-to-human contact, and praised China’s response to the virus.

“Our countries are now experiencing—look all over the world—tremendous death and economic devastation because those tasked with protecting us by being truthful and transparent failed to do so,” Trump said. “It would have been so easy to be truthful. And so much death has been caused by their mistakes. We will continue to engage with the WHO to see if it can make meaningful reforms.”

Trump said funding will be stopped during a review of the organization.

“American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million per year, and even less,” Trump said. “As the organization’s leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability.”


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 >>


“One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations,” Trump continued, adding, “The WHO’s attack on travel restrictions put political correctness above lifesaving measures.”

The United States contributes 14.7% of the World Health Organization’s $38 billion budget, while China contributes only 0.21%, according to WHO’s numbers.

According to WHO, contributions from the U.S. government, American citizens, and U.S.-based charities make up 76% of all voluntary contributions to the organization. That amounted to $945.6 million from 2016 to 2017.

Congress authorized about $123 million in taxpayer funding for WHO in the last fiscal year, and Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget request proposed to reduce funding to about $58 million.

The announced review by the administration also comes as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has begun an investigation into the WHO.

“The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet, and share information in a timely and transparent fashion,” Trump said from the Rose Garden during the daily press briefing. “The world depends on the WHO to work with countries to ensure that accurate information about international health threats is shared in a timely manner. If it’s not, to independently tell the world the truth about what is happening.”

Trump also faulted the WHO for delays in declaring a public health emergency that he said “cost valuable time, tremendous amounts of time.”

On Jan. 14, WHO unquestioningly circulated China’s official talking points in a tweet, saying, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China.”

“The WHO failed to investigate credible reports in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts,” Trump said. “There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate immediately. Through the middle of January, it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human contact despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary.”

Brett D. Schaefer, a fellow in international regulatory affairs at The Heritage Foundation, contends this may not be the best time to cut funding for the WHO, and worse yet, could make it more difficult to hold the organization accountable.

“Instead of ending funding during the current crisis, the U.S. should condition future funding to specific actions by the World Health Organization,” Schaefer wrote in an op-ed for The Daily Signal.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Jan. 30 that “China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response.”

China backed Tedros in May 2017 when he ran for the top job at the World Health Organization.

During the press conference, Trump also announced the formation of Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, which would involve bringing together leaders from different sectors of the economy and American life.

“We have a list of people that I’ll be speaking to over the next very short period of time, in many cases, tomorrow,” Trump said.

Kay C. James, president of The Heritage Foundation, is among those in the thought leaders group, which also includes former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and John Allison, former president and CEO of the Cato Institute. Others involved include top executives from health care, retail, sports, tech, and agriculture, among other sectors.

COLUMN BY

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.” Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH.

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RELATED VIDEO: War Against Corona – The Opposite of War.


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.

GOVERNMENT CHARITY: More Loss, Debt and Inflation

“What I’m not saying is that all government spending is bad. It’s not – far, far from it, but there is no free lunch, as a former colleague of mine used to say. There is no public tooth fairy. Father Christmas does not work on the Treasury staff this year. You can never bail someone out of trouble without putting someone else into trouble.” – Arthur Laffer

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” –  Thomas Jefferson

“I have never believed in the fallacy that the federal government can buy its way out of economic troubles through needless spending. For that reason, I am proud to oppose ‘stimulus’ packages and endless corporate bailouts, which will do little but weaken the long-term integrity of the American economy.” – John Fleming

“The appropriation of public money always is perfectly lovely until someone is asked to pay the bill…the people will have to furnish more revenue by paying more taxes.” – President Calvin Coolidge

“There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.” –  James Madison


No society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of economic health.  Whenever massive government interventions have been tried, they have always ended in poverty, scarcity, and too often, mass death and genocide.  The further government takes its power, the harder it will be to wrest it back.  And it has already gone way too far.

We need to pull out of this global shutdown as soon as possible, in fact America never should have been shut down, but the socialist politicians will not easily give up all the police powers they have accumulated over these many Covid-19 weeks.  They have habituated the sheep of America into a “new normal,” a normal that is causing suicides, drug and alcohol addition, and domestic abuse. The shutdown is killing the economy and is no good for our health.

This virus and the stimulus will only result in more loss, debt and inflation.

Congressmen Thomas Massie and Andy Biggs

There are two Republican members of Congress who uphold the Constitution on a regular basis.  They are not always in good graces with the rest of their party in doing so, but they abide by the U.S. Constitution.  I hope they know there are Americans who appreciate their stance and love for country.

Thomas Massie (R-KY) demanded a recorded tally as opposed to a voice vote on the $2.2 trillion ‘‘Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’’ or the ‘‘CARES Act.”  Rep. Massie tweeted, “I swore an oath to uphold the constitution, and I take that oath seriously. In a few moments I will request a vote on the CARES Act which means members of Congress will vote on it by pushing ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘present.’”  Thomas Massie has repeatedly spoken out against stay-at-home measures and business closures amid the pandemic.

Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) was right there with Massie.  Both of them knew it was important for Americans to know how their representatives voted on this bill.

President Trump excoriated Rep. Massie. “He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous … and costly,” Trump tweeted of Massie. “Workers and small businesses need money now in order to survive. Virus wasn’t their fault. It is ‘HELL’ dealing with the Dems, had to give up some stupid things in order to get the ‘big picture’ done. 90 percent GREAT! WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!”

Throw Massie out?  He and Andy Biggs are two of the finest old right constitutional conservatives in Congress!  I’m sorry President Trump, but your words were malicious and defamatory.

This was the first time I was ashamed of what my President said to a representative who has a 98% conservative voting record and consistently relies on and votes for the Constitution of the United States.

Massie ultimately failed when the House approved the package, but his effort was noted by Americans who love their constitution.  President Trump responded in a negative way to Congressman Massie. Trump loves America and her citizens and he is under great stress trying to help us through this horrid communist China inflicted debacle, but a day or two more wouldn’t have made a difference.  Both of these Congressmen support the president and Tom Massie is owed a public apology and a private phone call.

A yea or nay vote was taken, and we do not know who voted against it other than these two Congressmen.  We know that when Speaker Pelosi returned from vacation, she added enough pork into the bill that had nothing to do with rescuing those who lost jobs and businesses thanks to the politicians shutting down the country and destroying the booming economy and stock market.

Former Congressman Ron Paul called the recent measures to control the spread of COVID-19 a “grab bag” for some in government.  He said what he is worried about is that some in government have inflated the risk and response for their own political gain.  “I think it’s blown way out of proportion to the danger. People who want more government power and more control over people and want to get big appropriations and get their special deals passed, that’s what’s happening now,” Paul said of federal and state government responses to the virus.

Pelosi Pork

The Covid-19 relief aid gave $25 million to the Kennedy Center, $350 million to refugee resettlement, $75 million to PBS, $25 million went to congressional salaries and expenses, a $10 billion loan to the post office, and $150 million in funding to the National Endowment of the Arts and National Endowment of the Humanities.  Her additions are amoral.

Critically, that $150 million comes in the form of grants with no expectation of being paid back. Meanwhile, much of the funding afforded to small businesses in the bill comes in the form of loans, which the companies will have to reimburse.

The word “sunscreen” appears dozens of times, 49 to be exact, in the CARES Act, and it’s thanks to the Treatment of Sunscreen Innovation Act (SIA) being placed into the bill. The Act requires FDA to provide a streamlined approach to approving new over-the-counter sunscreen ingredients, including evaluating applications that an ingredient is safe and effective on an expedited timeline.

What in heaven’s name does this Act have to do with rescuing workers and families in this ungodly crisis — except to say that powerful members of Congress are skilled in never letting a crisis go to waste.  Even the New York Times editorial board wailed that “the urgency of the moment does not justify the egregious misuse of public resources.” Someone should tell Nancy Pelosi the news.

Art Laffer on Stimulus

Several weeks ago, Art Laffer was on Stuart Varney’s program.  Varney was discussing how the “rescue plan” was stalled and that it needed to be passed to save the people. Varney has obviously banned Art from his program even though Art was telling the truth. Laffer was dead set against the stimulus and called the bill “a helicopter money proposal” of handouts that has a bad track record historically.  “It never works, it just causes the problem to get worse and worse,” said Laffer, known for his “Laffer curve.”  “You don’t tax people who work and pay people who don’t work and expect more work,” he said.  Laffer believes the stimulus is extending the self-induced recession.

Laffer noted he’s “been on all of these crises on the inside, from Nixon in 71-72 … through Jerry Ford, up to the present.”

He proposes, instead, cutting the payroll tax for the next seven to eight months “to make sure that it’s more attractive for people to work and more attractive for companies to hire.”  I agree with him.

And he suggests guaranteeing or granting liquidity loans to businesses to help them stay afloat.  “Just the payroll tax cut and liquidity lending,” he said.

Laffer took a shot at Congress. “Whenever politicians make decisions, whether they are panicked or drunk, the consequences are rarely attractive,” he said.  Link

And now, we are printing trillions of dollars that we don’t have…hello to massive inflation.

The Davy Crockett Charity Story

There are a number of stories about Davy Crockett voting against charitable donations that should not come out of the largesse of the U.S. treasury.  However, none of them are historically authentic.  Here are the true facts.  Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it avail monies from the treasury to be given to anyone, including American citizens.  It is to be used to run the federal government.

Article 1, Section 8, gives the enumerated powers of the federal government delegated to Congress. The first is the power to tax and to spend the money raised by taxes, to provide for the nation’s defense and general welfare. These were terms transferred from the Articles of Confederation and understood by the men at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, but obviously not by today’s congressional creatures.

This section was supplemented by the 16th amendment, which permitted Congress to levy an income tax, which would not have been approved of by our founders.

Although the Spending Clause is the source of congressional authority to levy taxes, it permits the levying of taxes for two purposes only: to pay the debts of the United States, and to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States. Taken together, these purposes have traditionally been held to imply and constitute the “Spending Power.”

Unfortunately, Alexander Hamilton’s broad reading of Art. 1, Sec. 8, met with opposition from many of the other Founders. James Madison repeatedly argued that the power to tax and spend did not confer upon Congress the right to do whatever it thought to be in the best interest of the nation, but only to further the ends specifically enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution, a position supported by Thomas Jefferson.

Nevertheless, today, the term “general welfare” is gravely overused to the nation’s demise.  Thus, we see this unconstitutional welfare giveaway that should never have happened, and neither should the shutdown of this nation ever have happened.

Conclusion

Oh, how I wish to write about something other than the virus and America’s police state, but every day more comes to the fore to counter the lies of “experts” and the mainstream media.

The real threat is not the virus, but the spirit of fear spread by federal, state and local governments with the help of the democratic socialists in mainstream media.

Fear is not from the Almighty, it is from the enemy.  God actually commands us not to fear, or worry. The phrase “fear not” is used at least 80 times in the Bible, most likely because He knows the enemy uses fear to decrease our hope and limit our victories.

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.  Deuteronomy 31:6

But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.  Proverbs1:33

For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Isaiah 41:13

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  II Timothy 1:7

This is Holy Week for both Jews and Christians as we celebrate Passover and Easter.  May the Lord give us all a spirit of peace, love, and joy in Him.

© All rights reserved.

Sanders, Warren, other Democrat Senators call on US to give Palestinian Authority and Hamas $75 million

As the economic crisis created by the coronavirus deepens, it is astounding that these Senators think this is a good use of the taxpayers’ money. Once this money arrived in the PA and Gaza, it would be used almost exclusively to line the pockets of various officials and to pay expenses related to the ongoing jihad against Israel.

“As Americans go Broke, Sanders Demands Taxpayers Give Hamas $75 Million,” by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, Breaking Israel News, March 29, 2020 (thanks to the Geller Report):

A group of Democratic senators called for the U.S. State Department to reverse its policy and give funding to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Democratic Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting that the government reverse its policy and resume giving monetary aid to the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria and the Hamas-led government in Gaza.

“Given the spread of the coronavirus in the West Bank and Gaza, the extreme vulnerability of the health system in Gaza, and the continued withholding of U.S. aid to the Palestinian people, we are concerned that the Administration is failing to take every reasonable step to help combat this public health emergency in the Palestinian Territories,” the letter read.

The Democratic politicians seek to squeeze $75 million in aid to the Hamas-led government in Gaza and the PA in Judea and Samaria under the guise of the FY 2020 Appropriations Act.

It should be noted that President Trump slashed funding to the PA in 2018 as per the Taylor Force Act, also known as the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), that cuts some aid to the Palestinians until they end stipends to terrorists and the families of slain attackers.

In 2016, the PA paid out about $303 million in stipends and other benefits to the families of so-called “martyrs”. The funds are disbursed by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO/Fatah). The families of convicted Palestinians serving time in Israeli prisons receive $3,000 or higher per month, higher than the average Palestinian wage.

Any monies that go to Gaza must necessarily go through the government which is run by Hamas. Hamas, recognized by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, was elected as the ruling party in Gaza in 2006. Gaza receives billions of dollars of humanitarian aid, much of which is usurped by the Hamas government for use in terrorist infrastructures….

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

Little of Pelosi’s Wish List Made It Into COVID-19 Relief Bill. That’s a Relief in Itself.

On Friday, the House passed the massive $2 trillion-plus coronavirus relief package that the Senate had passed on Wednesday.

There’s a lot in those 880 pages, and much of it is problematic: The bill is neither targeted and temporary, nor directed exclusively at the coronavirus—as scholars at The Heritage Foundation and its president, Kay C. James, have explained.

Before the bill made it through the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., temporarily derailed it by insisting that any relief bill include a left-wing wish list unrelated to the ongoing pandemic and the economic slowdown that it’s causing.

Among other things, Pelosi would have:


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  • Mandated “diversity” on corporate boards and in banks.
  • Required airlines to disclose and reduce emissions.
  • Mandated that states allow voting by mail.
  • Increased union bargaining power.
  • Expanded tax credits for wind and solar power.
  • Prohibited universities from disclosing the citizenship status of their students.
  • Provided a bailout for some private pensions.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Pelosi was not going to be accused of letting a crisis go to waste.

In what is becoming a familiar theme (think of her failed attempt to control how the Senate conducted its impeachment trial), Pelosi backed down shortly after making her demands.

With the legislation now through Congress, how much of Pelosi’s wish list made it into the bill?

None of the wish-list items listed above made the cut, but there remains a lot of unnecessary and unwise spending in it.

Diversity requirements for banks and corporate boards are out, as is Pelosi’s demand for a Securities and Exchange Commission advisory group to promote corporate “diversity.”

Also out is her demand that companies taking relief funds establish and staff a minimum five-year “diversity and inclusion” program. Indeed, the words “diversity” and “inclusion” don’t appear in the legislation passed by the Senate.

The package also does not include any new carbon emissions restrictions or disclosure requirements for airlines or other industries.

Similarly missing are any of her proposals for a federal takeover of state elections.

Her attempt to give unions a handout failed, too, as did her attempt to give a handout to wind and solar power providers.

The bill does not prevent colleges and universities from disclosing their students who are illegal aliens, or provide any other shroud for illegal status.

Likewise, the private pension bailouts she demanded are nowhere to be found in the Senate bill.

Pelosi succeeded in delaying the relief package by several days, but she failed to capitalize on what her No. 2 lieutenant, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., called a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

Still, Pelosi took to Twitter to celebrate her success in turning the Senate Republicans’ bill “upside down.”

In the end, Pelosi supported the bill wholeheartedly.

But despite her self-proclaimed success in turning the Senate bill upside down, progressives in her party are not happy with it.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., thinks that the relief package favors the businesses that employ the vast majority of Americans. She had threatened to delay the bill’s passage.

Even before this relief package becomes law, politicians on both sides of the aisle were already calling for another one to follow, so expect Pelosi and the progressives to try again to make the wishes on their wish list come true.

COMMENTARY BY

GianCarlo Canaparo is a legal fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

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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.

America Needs a Formula for Reopening

This week, President Donald Trump began openly considering at what point the American government ought to take steps to reopen the American economy.

He explained: “Our country wasn’t built to be shut down. America will again and soon be open for business,” suggesting that the timeline will be weeks instead of months.

“If it were up to the doctors,” Trump said, “they’d say, ‘Let’s shut down the entire world.’ This could create a much bigger problem than the problem that you started with.”

Later, Trump optimistically proclaimed that he “would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”


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 >>


Trump’s projections drew fire—as do all of his statements. These statements, however, caused inordinate faux heartburn among commentators, who shouted that Trump was weighing dollars against lives and deciding in favor of dollars.

The hashtag #NotDyingForWallStreet began trending on Twitter, followed by the hashtag #DieForTheDow.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted: “My mother is not expendable. Your mother is not expendable. We will not put a dollar figure on human life. … No one should be talking about social darwinism for the sake of the stock market.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden said, “I don’t agree with the notion that somehow it’s OK … to let people die.”

That, of course, was not Trump’s suggestion. Trump was merely pointing out—quite correctly—that since the federal government has now taken the unprecedented and justifiable action of completely shutting down the American economy, to the tune of millions of lost jobs and the greatest quarterly economic decline in recorded history, we must also have a plan to end this situation.

The economy cannot remain shuttered indefinitely; the federal government cannot engage in endless cash expenditures on the basis of treasuries nobody is buying. Nor is the economy merely Wall Street. The vast majority of those who will lose their jobs are not day traders but workers. Small companies are more likely to go under than large ones.

The economy isn’t an abstraction. It’s the real lives of hundreds of millions of American citizens, and costs to those Americans must be weighed in the balance.

That’s not controversial. That’s a simple fact. Public policy is the craft of weighing risks and rewards, and policymakers do it every day. It’s just that this time, the stakes are the highest they have ever been.

So, when do we reopen, and how?

The biggest problem is that we lack the data to answer the question.

How many lives will be lost if we take heavy social measures after how many weeks? Moderate social measures? What will be the concomitant economic gain or loss? How many additional ICU beds and ventilators will we need to make available in order to clear the flattened curve such that we do not experience excess deaths due to lack of equipment, a la Italy?

Our goal should be to move from the Chinese model—total lockdown—to the South Korean model—heavy testing, contact investigations, and social distancing. In order to accomplish that, we need to flatten the curve and stop the spread, allowing us to reset. How long will that take?

We’re not going to have answers until some time passes—until we test more, until the outcomes of cases are made certain. But we can certainly construct the formulas that should allow us to calculate possible outcomes as new data comes in, and that should allow us to collectively commit to actions directed at certain outcomes.

We require a formula from the government. That’s the transparency the markets need, that the American people need. And that, at least, should be attainable over the next two weeks.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

COMMENTARY BY

Ben Shapiro is host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is The New York Times best-selling author of “Bullies.” He is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, and lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles. Twitter: .

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Problematic Women: Love, Sex, and COVID-19


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.

Senate Democrats Again Block Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Over Desired Additions

RELATED VIDEO: Senator Ted Cruz breaks down coronavirus numbers.


The final shape of the Senate’s bill to limit the economic fallout of the coronavirus remains in doubt as Democrats, for the second straight day, blocked passage of the aid package because they want to spend more.

While President Donald Trump waited to sign some sort of “stimulus” bill into law, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed to include provisions of  Democrats’ Green New Deal proposal as well as other wish-list items.

Shortly after noon Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had harsh words for Democrats’ insistence on tax credits for solar and wind energy initiatives and on tougher fuel emission standards.

“Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals and save small businesses unless they get the dust off the Green New Deal,” McConnell said, adding in an apparent dig at Schumer, D-N.Y.:


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I’d like to see Senate Democrats tell NYC doctors and nurses, who are literally overrun as we speak, that they’re filibustering hospital funding and more masks because they want to argue with the airlines over their carbon footprint.

The “stimulus” legislation, which requires the votes of 60 senators to advance, mustered only votes of 49-46 Monday.

Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate, but at least three GOP senators apparently won’t be able to vote: Rand Paul of Kentucky tested positive for coronavirus and Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, both of Utah, have self-quarantined because of close contact with Paul.

Two other Senate Republicans, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Rick Scott of Florida, also reportedly self-quarantined  because of potential exposure to the coronavirus.

Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sunday that House Democrats would come up with their own bill.

“It’s on the Senate side because that’s their deadline for a vote,” Pelosi said of Monday’s action. “We’ll be introducing our own bill, and hopefully it will be compatible.”

Pelosi unveiled a coronavirus stimulus package Monday that she said includes calling on Trump “to abandon his lawsuit seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act.”

The House speaker’s attempt to use the stimulus package to secure liberals’ own priorities frustrated Republicans, many of whom took to Twitter to voice their perspectives.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., chairman of the Republican Study Committee, tweeted before the Senate vote that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., had said the coronavirus package is “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., tweeted: “Republicans & Democrats in the Senate negotiated a bipartisan deal which includes $75 billion for hospitals & $186 billion for state & local governments. @SpeakerPelosi & @SenSchumer need to stop blocking critically needed funding that will provide relief & keep Americans WORKING.”

“Let’s be clear about what’s happening right now,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., tweeted late Sunday night. “We had a bipartisan deal to deliver critical relief to hardworking families until Nancy Pelosi blew it up so she could play politics.”

“Enough already!” Scalise said in the tweet. “We’re in the middle of a national emergency. Drop the partisan demands.”

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., tweeted Monday: “There was no need for this to be delayed–sadly @SpeakerPelosi and @SenSchumer hijacked the bipartisan negotiations. We’re covering small business & workers with liquidity & larger businesses with loans – not bailouts or grants – so they can pay their employees. This is urgent.”

The Senate’s aid package, released Thursday by Republicans, would cost about $2 trillion and give monetary relief to airlines and other industries slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as send checks to many Americans.

Among other provisions, couples who make up to $150,000 a year would get checks for $2,400 in the mail and individuals earning up to $75,000 would get checks for $1,200.

Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James said in a formal statement Sunday that the Senate legislation in its current form was economically irresponsible.

“Like everyone, we are deeply concerned for our families, our neighbors, our friends, and the businesses we depend on. We also are concerned by many of the provisions in the CARES Act,” James said, adding:

Legislation to keep workers connected to employers, provide stability for businesses caught in this uncertainty, and mitigate the overall economic effects of this crisis is necessary. To best accomplish these goals, legislation must be targeted, temporary, and directed exclusively at the coronavirus. This bill does not pass those tests.

Generous bailouts for businesses and extremely broad federal assistance programs won’t best help those hit hardest or get our economy back up and running when the time comes. They’ll do what Washington programs often do: hurt the American people through unintended consequences while enriching a select few.

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.

COLUMN BY

Rachel del Guidice

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

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RELATED VIDEO: Tucker Carlson: Democrats Holding Up Coronavirus Relief Putting ‘Wokeness’ Over The American People


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.

Senate Bill Would Give $1,200 to Many Americans as COVID-19 Relief

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that the Senate will not leave Washington before approving an aid package to ease financial problems during the coronavirus pandemic through direct payments to individual Americans.

Other provisions of the package, which has a total cost estimated at up to $1 trillion, would provide loans to airlines and other struggling industries.

Under the proposal, couples earning up to $150,000 a year would get checks for $2,400 in the mail and individuals earning up to $75,000 would get $1,200 checks.

After reaching those income thresholds, relief would scale downward to as low as $600 for some Americans.


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 >>


Individuals earning more than $99,000 a year and couples earning more than $198,000 would not get anything from the government under the current bill.

The Democrat-controlled House would have to pass a version of the bill. The Trump administration already has signaled support for many of the initiatives.

“Senate Republicans want to put cash into the hands of the American people,” McConnell said in a Senate floor speech.

McConnell said the goal of the bill—called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act—is to “get assistance to individuals and families as rapidly as possible.”

“No tangled Washington process with a thousand cooks in the kitchen, no piles of forms for laid-off workers or busy families to fill out,” the top Senate Republican said. “Money for people, from the middle class on down.”

The bill also includes a $500 payment for each child in a household, depending on family income.

This stage marks “phase three” of economic relief packages during the coronavirus pandemic that have gained bipartisan support in Congress.

Congress passed an initial $830 billion relief package in early March focused on medical and emergency relief.

On Wednesday, Trump signed another, $100 billion bill that includes unemployment benefits and free testing for the new coronavirus disease, which health officials call COVID-19.

The proposed CARES Act includes direct payments to Americans, as well as delays in employer payroll taxes and estimated tax payments for businesses.

The proposal also would provide $208 billion in loan guarantees, including $50 billion for the airline industry and $8 billion for air cargo carriers.

The total confirmed U.S. cases of COVID-19 reached 10,442 as of noon Thursday, with 150 confirmed deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some conservatives, including Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, showed reluctance to support too much spending or large bailouts for industries.

McConnell likely will need support from Democrats to pass the legislation.

In a joint statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the Democrats made other demands. It said, in part:

The number one priority is addressing this health crisis, which requires a Marshall Plan to rebuild our health care infrastructure on a continental scale and ensure the resources are there to test and treat everyone who needs it. To earn Democratic support in the Congress, any economic stimulus proposal must include new, strong and strict provisions that prioritize and protect workers, such as banning the recipient companies from buying back stock, rewarding executives and laying off workers.

COLUMN BY

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.” Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH.

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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.

PODCAST: Trump Quarantines Abortion Money in Virus Bill

While lots of Americans are hunkered down at home, the U.S. Senate is holed up in its offices — waiting for a crack at the House’s coronavirus bill. And while there’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s actually in the package, Republican leaders won’t have to contend with at least one thing: abortion funding.

The version that passed Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) chamber in the wee hours of Saturday morning wasn’t what the House majority was hoping for. After word leaked out that Democrats had tried to tack on a secret slush fund for abortion, even MSNBC couldn’t hide its shock. “What does that have to do with COVID-19?” host Joy Reid asked. What indeed, Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebr.) argued. With schools closing and most every gathering postponed, he couldn’t believe that Pelosi’s priority was getting more money in the hands of people who take life, not treat it. “Speaker Pelosi should be fighting the coronavirus pandemic, not politicizing emergency funding by fighting against the bipartisan Hyde Amendment,” he insisted. “We need to be ramping up our diagnostic testing, not waging culture wars at the behest of Planned Parenthood. Good grief.”

When the White House got wind of the Democrats’ plan, President Trump wasted no time warning House leaders what would happen to the bill if it got to him with that language: Absolutely nothing. Keeping a promise he made at the March for Life in 2019, the administration made it crystal clear that he wouldn’t allow Pelosi to hijack the crisis with her radical plans to overthrow the Hyde amendment. Emergency or no emergency. “As the House conducts its business,” the president wrote in a shot across the bow last January, “I urge that it respect and continue these other important pro-life protections… I will veto any legislation that weakens current pro-life federal policies or laws — or that encourages the destruction of innocent human life at any stage.”

The pressure worked. By the time the House voted, the language that would have compromised the Hyde amendment was gone. In an interview on “Washington Watch” last Friday, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) cheered the administration’s stand but warned that Congress still isn’t out of the woods yet. “They removed the anti-Hyde amendment provision. So we got that back and protected the unborn, at least… [But] we have to be vigilant — that’s for sure… [There are] provisions that have nothing to do with the coronavirus basically being thrown into this thing. And that’s just par for the course for the activist Left.”

Like a lot of Republicans, he also urged caution on a bill of this magnitude. “It’s a far-reaching and expansive and bill on spending,” Congressman Biggs explained, and although both chambers are doing their best to work quickly, there are still very serious legislative landmines. “Panic is no friend to sound policymaking,” NRO pointed out. As important as it is to combat the virus, it’s just as important to make sure America isn’t ravaged by Congress’s solutions. Right now, neither side of the aisle can even put a price tag on the bill — because no one can predict how widespread the pandemic will be.

“Most of the measures in this [plan] are something that the senators support,” Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) agreed. But there are concerns just the same — for small businesses, certainly, and the U.S. deficit. “Many of the 40 House Republicans who opposed the measure Saturday morning complained that they only had a few minutes to read the bill text,” Fox News’s Chad Pegram writes. “And, to this point, no one truly knows the cost of the measure. It’s anywhere from tens of billions of dollars to the hundreds of billions of dollars.” For Congress, it’s a delicate balance. As much as everyone wants to help the economy, conservatives understand: we can’t afford to create more permanent spending programs and entitlements.

Hopefully, a number of these concerns will be sorted out by the Republican Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has promised to work quickly but thoughtfully. In the end, Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) advised, Congress needs to “approach this with a level head and pass a bill that does more good than harm.” It would be better to pass nothing, he said, than to rush through anything that could haunt us later on.


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


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EDITORS NOTE: This FRC-Action podcast and column are republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Trump Hits Democrats’ Coronavirus Bill as Stuffed With Unrelated ‘Goodies’

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he doesn’t support House Democrats’ coronavirus relief bill in its current form because it includes too many “goodies” that have nothing to do with the disease.

Although the bill addresses providing testing and masks to respond to the coronavirus, it also expands unemployment insurance and food stamps, requires the Social Security Administration to provide paid sick leave, and mandates that employers give paid permanent sick leave to their employees.

A reporter asked Trump at the White House if he supports the legislation.

“No, because there are things in there that have nothing to do with things we are talking about,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office as he sat with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.


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“It’s not a way for them to get some of the goodies that they haven’t been able to get for the last 25 years,” the president said of House Democrats.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 36 deaths in the U.S. from the new coronavirus disease, called COVID-19, with a total of 1,215 diagnosed cases across 42 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Trump delivered a prime-time address to the nation Wednesday night in which he announced a ban on travel to the U.S. from most European countries and proposed a payroll tax cut and assistance for industries and employees hit hard by the virus.

The president previously restricted travel from China, where the virus originated.

“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is focused directly on providing support for America’s families, who must be our first priority in this emergency,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a public statement.

The spread of the coronavirus has prompted calls for more government action. The Democrats’ bill includes free coronavirus testing, paid emergency leave for up to 14 days, and more protections for health care workers who might come in contact with infected people.

“We cannot fight coronavirus effectively unless everyone in our country who needs to be tested knows they can get their test free of charge,” Pelosi said. “We cannot slow the coronavirus outbreak when workers are stuck with the terrible choice between staying home to avoid spreading illness and the paycheck their family can’t afford to lose.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., contended that the Democrats are playing politics, but said Congress should remain in session until it gets the bill right.

During the Oval Office session, Trump elaborated on why he excluded the United Kingdom from the ban on travel from Europe.

“One of the reasons [is] the U.K. basically has got the border … it has got very strong borders, and they are doing a very good job,” Trump said. “They don’t have very much infection at this point, and hopefully they keep it that way.”

Trump said life and death issues guide his decisions in dealing with coronavirus:

The question is how many people will die? I don’t want people dying. That’s what I’m all about. I made a very tough decision last night [with the European travel ban] and a very tough decision a long time ago with respect to China. I don’t want people dying, and that’s why I made these decisions.

The president said the stock market is stronger now than when he came into office and predicted it will bounce back.

“Whether it affects the stock market or not [is] very important, but it’s not important compared to life and death,” Trump said. “Frankly, the people that are professionals praised the decision. It’s something I had to do. I think you’ll see the end result is very good because of it, but it will take a period of time.”

Trump said he is “not concerned” about reports that a member of a Brazilian delegation who tested positive for COVID-19 had contact with him last weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement later, however.

“Exposures from the case are being assessed, which will dictate next steps,” Grisham said, adding:

Both the president and vice president had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time.

As stated before, the White House Medical Unit and the United States Secret Service [have] been working closely with various agencies to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the first and second families and all White House staff healthy.

Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, announced Thursday that he held a conference call with government science officials from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Britain on how to tackle the pandemic.

He said the officials talked about sharing more data, how artificial intelligence can be used, and data-sharing repositories.

In the Oval Office session with reporters, Trump was asked if larger quarantine zones in the United States are an option.

“It’s a possibility if somebody gets a little bit out of control, if an area gets too hot,” Trump said. “You see what they are doing in New Rochelle, which is good frankly, but it’s not enforced. It’s not very strong. But people know they are being watched. It’s a hot spot.”

A reporter asked the Irish and American leaders if they shook hands.

They replied that they hadn’t, and instead placed their own palms together in greeting, which was “sort of a weird feeling,” Trump said.

The president said that in India and Japan, where he has visited, shaking hands is less customary.

“They were ahead of the curve,” he said.

Trump acknowledged his reputation as a bit of a germaphobe before entering politics.

“I was never a big hand-shaker as you probably have heard, but once you become a politician, shaking hands is very normal,” he said.

The Irish prime minister followed by saying, “It almost feels like you’re being rude, but we just can’t afford to think like that for the next few weeks.”

COLUMN BY


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.

Rights Versus Wishes

Sen. Bernie Sanders said: “I believe that health care is a right of all people.”

He’s not alone in that contention. That claim comes from Democrats and Republicans and liberals and conservatives.

It is not just a health care right that people claim. There are “rights” to decent housing, decent food, a decent job, and prescription drugs. In a free and moral society, do people have these rights? Let’s begin by asking ourselves: What is a right?

In the standard usage of the term, a “right” is something that exists simultaneously among people. In the case of our U.S. Constitutional decree, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our individual right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness imposes no obligation upon another other than the duty of noninterference.

As such, a right imposes no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech is something we all possess simultaneously. My right to free speech imposes no obligation upon another except that of noninterference. Similarly, I have a right to travel freely. Again, that right imposes no obligation upon another except that of noninterference.

Sanders’ claim that health care is a right does impose obligations upon others. We see that by recognizing that there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy who gives resources to government to pay for medical services.

Moreover, the money does not come from congressmen and state legislators reaching into their own pockets to pay for the service. That means that in order for government to provide medical services to someone who cannot afford it, it must use intimidation, threats, and coercion to take the earnings of another American to provide that service.

Let’s apply this bogus concept of rights to my right to speak and travel freely. In the case of my right to free speech, it might impose obligations on others to supply me with an auditorium, microphone, and audience. It may require newspapers or television stations to allow me to use their property to express my views.

My right to travel freely might require that others provide me with resources to purchase airplane tickets and hotel accommodations.

What if I were to demand that others make sacrifices so that I can exercise my free speech and travel rights? I suspect that most Americans would say, “Williams, you have rights to free speech and you have a right to travel freely, but I’m not obligated to pay for them!”

A moral vision of rights does not mean that we should not help our fellow man in need. It means that helping with health care needs to be voluntary (i.e., free market decisions or voluntary donations to charities that provide health care.) The government’s role in health care is to protect this individual right to choose.

As Sen. Rand Paul was brave enough to say, “The basic assumption that you have a right to get something from somebody else means you have to endorse the concept of theft.”

Statists go further to claim that people have a “right” to housing, to a job, to an education, to an affordable wage. These so-called rights impose burdens on others in the form of involuntary servitude. If one person has a right to something he did not earn, it means that another person does not have a right to something he did earn.

The provision by the U.S. Congress of a so-called right to health care should offend any sense of moral decency. If you’re a Christian or a Jew, you should be against the notion of one American living at the expense of another.

When God gave Moses the Eighth Commandment—”Thou shalt not steal”—I am sure that He did not mean, “Thou shalt not steal—unless there is a majority vote in the U.S. Congress.”

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COMMENTARY BY

Walter E. Williams is a columnist for The Daily Signal and a professor of economics at George Mason University. Twitter: .


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

Teacher Takes Union to Court for Ignoring Supreme Court Ruling on Dues

“Everything the union does is inherently political, and I could see that in the mailings I received,” says art teacher Greg Hartnett, who sued the Pennsylvania State Education Association over fees imposed on nonunion employees.


Pennsylvania’s largest public employee union needs to stop evading a landmark Supreme Court ruling, an art teacher argues in a lawsuit that could undo key provisions of state labor laws.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association continues to negotiate provisions to give it “fair share fees” in collective bargaining agreements, despite the fact that the highest court in the land ruled those fees unconstitutional, a lawyer who represents the art teacher told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“PSEA specifically has a history of thumbing its nose at Supreme Court precedent, and it has sometimes required litigation to make them comply with the court’s rulings,” Nathan McGrath, litigation director at the Fairness Center, said of the teachers union.

The Fairness Center, a nonprofit, public-interest law firm based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, represents art teacher Greg Hartnett and three other public school teachers who sued the Pennsylvania State Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association.

Hartnett and the others argue the teachers union shows “a willingness to challenge or ignore Supreme Court precedent,” and that the teachers should not be forced to pay the union’s fair share fees.

The case, Hartnett v. PSEA, is with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to rule in a few months. The Fairness Center teamed with the National Right to Work Foundation to represent the four complaining teachers.

The brief filed in August argues that the teachers union has a long history of undermining and violating Supreme Court rulings. It cites several examples that occurred after the high court’s June 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which invalidated fair share fees, as being the latest in a series.

Related: A Year After the Supreme Court Rules Against Unions, What’s Changed 

“PSEA specifically has a history of thumbing its nose at Supreme Court precedent, and it has sometimes required litigation to make them comply with the court’s rulings,” McGrath said of the teachers union, adding:

Because of that, the fact that the PSEA and its affiliates are still negotiating fair share fees provisions into collective bargaining agreements after Janus is not actually very shocking to us. This seems to be par for the course for how [the unions] operate, and it’s required federal court cases in the past, and in some cases a very lengthy period of time, to get them to comply with what the Supreme Court has said.

U.S. Department of Labor records show the Pennsylvania State Education Association has about 180,000 members, more than any other government union in the state.

The Daily Signal sought comment from the teachers union on the Hartnett case and on the allegations that the union has a history of violating Supreme Court rulings, including the Janus decision. At the time of publication, the union had not responded.

Targeting Pennsylvania Law

Referring to the 3rd Circuit, McGrath said: “At the end of the day, we would like them to bring Janus to Pennsylvania and say that Pennsylvania’s fair share fee law, which is currently on the books, runs counter to what the Supreme Court has said and to declare the Pennsylvania fair share fee law unconstitutional.”

In the Janus ruling, the Supreme Court said state laws requiring nonunion government workers to pay fair share fees to a union violate the First Amendment rights of employees who do not support the political agenda of public employee unions.

In a press release, the Fairness Center estimates that in more than 70% of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts, public school teachers who opted out of joining the union were required to pay fair share fees to teachers unions to cover collective bargaining costs.

In the 2016-2017 school year, the fees were only 26% less than full membership dues, the center says.

Hartnett, who teaches art teacher in Homer-Center School District in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, and is the lead plaintiff in the case, previously was a member of the teachers union.

Hartnett, the father of five and an avid hunter, has taught since 1999.

He says that when it became apparent that the union’s political positions were in conflict with his own, he decided to go through the formal process of opting out of membership, which he described as “arduous and complicated.”

After the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling, Hartnett opted out of paying nonmember fair share fees.

“I came to see that the union’s platforms and positions were very liberal and very different from mine and I did not want to contribute to someone else’s politics,” Hartnett said in an interview with The Daily Signal, adding:

The collective bargaining process itself is very political, and when they say political funds are separated from fair share fees, I don’t believe it. Everything the union does is inherently political, and I could see that in the mailings I received. I believe in the freedom of choice for each individual to represent themselves.

Teachers who prefer not to be in the union but need liability insurance and legal protection have alternatives, Hartnett said.

“There are free-market alternatives to the problem of the PSEA,” he said. “It is possible for teachers to go out and get a better product for less money, but I’m not sure many teachers are aware of these options.”

Paycheck Protection

On the day of the Janus ruling, Rebecca Friedrichs, a former California public school teacher, made a prescient observation near the steps leading up to the Supreme Court.

Friedrichs told supporters that the high court’s decision to strike down mandatory union dues and fees was “just the beginning, not the end, of a very long fight.” Friedrichs told The Daily Signal.

In an interview, she said she “she ardently supports the Hartnett case,” which closely mirrors her own litigation.

Related: The Christian Educator Behind Teachers’ Fight for Free Speech at the Supreme Court 

Friedrichs, who taught elementary school students for 28 years in the Savanna School District in Anaheim, California, was the lead plaintiff in a suit opposing mandatory union dues and fees.

She joined with nine other teachers and the Christian Educators Association International to sue the California Teachers Association, the National Education Association, and several local unions. Like Janus, Friedrichs and the other teachers argued that the union mandates violated their First Amendment rights.

Friedrichs’ case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where oral arguments were held Jan. 11, 2016. With the death of Justice Antonin Scalia just a few weeks later, the court deadlocked in a 4-4 ruling that left California’s “agency shop” law in place until it was overturned in the Janus ruling.

But unlike Janus, the Friedrichs case explicitly asked the court to address the need for “paycheck protection” rules to prevent school districts from automatically deducting union dues from employees’ paychecks without their permission.

The former schoolteacher submitted an amicus brief in the Janus case, explaining why it was necessary for government employers and unions to obtain “affirmative consent” from employees before deducting dues or fees from their paychecks.

“We need paycheck protection, otherwise taxpayers will continue to pay for the collection of union dues,” Friedrichs told The Daily Signal, adding:

I submitted an amicus brief in the Janus case where I addressed the need for an opt-in rather than an opt-out arrangement where an employee needed to make a conscious decision to opt in to joining a union rather than going through the cumbersome process of opting out. This is not something Janus specifically asked for, but the court did deliver on this and said that employees must give their affirmative consent and consciously opt in to joining a union and paying union dues. But the other part of this is paycheck protection.

The Commonwealth Foundation, a free-market think tank based in Harrisburg, published a timeline of legislative efforts to implement paycheck protection, which would prohibit state and local government agencies (including school districts) from collecting union dues from the paychecks of government employees at taxpayers’ expense.

“Janus is the first domino and many others need to fall,” Friedrichs said. “Teachers unions are out of control. They’re not unions in the traditional sense and they are not representing teachers.”

The union label is misleading, she argues, because it is used as “a mask to advance a far-left agenda.”

“The unions are using the public schools to spread propaganda to undermine constitutional limited government,” Friedrichs said:

Unions are the root cause of the failure in our schools. They are also still finding ways to collect fair share fees, but they just don’t call them that. The Hartnett case is very important to help ensure the law is being followed and free speech rights are being protected. God bless them.

Friedrichs is the founder of For Kids and Country, a grassroots group of parents, teachers, students, faith leaders, and citizens who support education reform.

Legislative Reforms

Although his clients no longer pay fair share fees, McGrath said, he finds that teachers unions continue to make a concerted effort to undermine the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling.

“PSEA continues to work with their locals to negotiate fair share fee provisions into their collective bargaining arrangements that are being negotiated and signed after Janus,” the Fairness Center lawyer said. “It’s illegal language that’s being negotiated into these contracts. For the most part, PSEA controls negotiations for the locals on their behalf. They are largely dictating what goes into these collective bargaining agreements.”

While the Fairness Center continues to press its case, some Pennsylvania lawmakers have stepped up in an effort to reform the state’s labor laws.

Related: With Millions in Dues at Stake Across US, One Man Fights His Union for a Refund

State Rep. Kate Klunk, a York County Republican, introduced a measure (HB 785) that would require government employers to notify workers of their rights.

State Rep. Greg Rothman, a Cumberland County Republican, introduced a bill (HB 506) to allow government employees to resign from a union anytime they like, without a window to do so or any other restrictions.

“The aim of House Bill 785 is rather simple,” Klunk said in an email to The Daily Signal, adding:

It ensures workers who were once forced to pay into a public sector union know their rights, namely that they do not have to pay so-called fair share fees.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME decision, not all workers know that they no longer have to pay these fees. My bill would make sure they are alerted to the change. My bill would also alert those who apply for public sector jobs that being a member of the union is not a condition of employment, and that as a nonmember they have no obligation to make any payments.

COLUMN BY

Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kevin. Twitter: @KevinMooneyDC.


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

Liberals’ FAMILY Act Would Hurt Low-Income Workers and Families

If liberals want to provide access to paid family and medical leave, they need to come up with a better solution than they have so far.

According to a recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, Democrats’ proposed Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act would fail to benefit most of the workers who need it and leave policymakers with a choice between rationed benefits or massive tax hikes.

That’s because, according to the CBO analysis, the new payroll tax revenues proposed to fund the initiative would fall short of the program’s expenses just one year after benefits were to begin.

As more and more people applied for benefits, the so-called FAMILY Act’s costs would soar to 240% of the program’s tax revenues in 2028, just six years after benefits are slated to start.

But because the legislation sets up a new unfunded entitlement program, Congress either would have to ration benefits—limiting who could take leave, for how long they could take it, and the amount of benefits they could receive—or else raise taxes.

The legislation is being sold to Americans as costing a “cup of coffee a week,” but it could end up costing a tank of gas instead. According to the American Action Forum, a federal paid family leave program would cost the average American approximately $1,500 a year.

If you think that’s an exaggeration, America’s first entitlement program—Social Security—started out as a 2% payroll tax. Today, it’s 12.4%. And by 2040, it will have to be 16.6% to pay scheduled benefits.

The pain of higher taxes would be worst for low-income workers and families who, evidence shows, tend to lose more than they gain from government-paid family leave programs.

There are many reasons for that reality, including lower awareness of the programs, inability to make ends meet with partial benefits (such as the FAMILY Act’s 66% benefit level), lower eligibility for government benefits, and rigid rules and administrative barriers.

Consequently, government-run paid family leave programs are regressive, redistributing resources from low-income workers and families to middle- and high-income ones:

  • In California, 38% of the workforce has wages below $20,000, but only 1% of them use the state’s paid family leave program, and workers in the highest income bracket are five times more likely to file paid family leave claims.
  • Even in San Francisco, which provides 100% benefits, low-income mothers were only half as likely as higher-income mothers to receive government benefits.
  • New Jersey’s program was characterized as “simply unaffordable, even for middle-class families, many of whom still live paycheck to paycheck in high-cost New Jersey,” and criticized for “put[ting] many workers below the poverty level for the duration of their leaves, and push[ing] people who are already struggling deeper into poverty.” Recent expansions aimed at increasing awareness and use are projected to quadruple workers’ maximum payroll taxes.
  • Canada’s paid family leave programs have exacerbated class inequality as “the distribution of benefits is unbalanced and aids the social reproduction of higher-income families.”
  • In Norway, which expanded paid leave to 100% replacement rates for nearly all mothers, researchers found that “the extra leave benefits amounted to a pure leisure transfer, primarily to middle- and upper-income families.” They concluded that “the generous extensions to paid leave were costly, had no measurable effect on outcomes, and [also had] poor redistribution properties.”

The FAMILY Act’s provisions would fail to meet most workers’ leave needs, particularly those in the lowest income brackets. Moreover, it would provide windfall benefits to employers and workers who already provide and have access to paid family leave.

Increasingly, employers are providing paid family and medical leave because their workers want it. With a strong economy and competitive labor market, employers find they can lose good workers and incur high turnover costs if they don’t provide paid leave.

Instead of implementing a one-size-fits-all federal program, policymakers should seek to build upon the recent increase in more flexible, generous, and accommodating employer-provided policies.

One way to do that is through the Working Families Flexibility Act, which allows employers to give lower-wage, hourly workers the choice of accumulating “comp time” instead of pay for their overtime hours.

If lawmakers want to help with family leave, they should reject the FAMILY Act, which would cost too much, serve too few, and become more of a burden on taxpayers over time.

Instead, they should take a closer look at the Working Families Flexibility Act and other measures that would encourage more flexible and accommodating leave options.

COMMENTARY BY

Rachel Greszler is research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements in the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, of the Institute for Economic Freedom, at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research.


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