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Americans Can’t Afford Gas, Congress Just Gave Itself a 21% Raise

The $1.5 trillion omnibus bill has plenty of inflationary spending, and the honorable members of the legislature didn’t leave themselves out.

As part of the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill released Wednesday, the $5.9 billion fiscal 2022 Legislative Branch funding portion would substantially boost the office budgets of House members to pay staff more…

This legislation would provide $774.4 million for the Members Representational Allowance, known as the MRA, which funds the House office budgets for lawmakers, including staffer salaries. This $134.4 million, or 21 percent, boost over the previous fiscal year marks the largest increase in the MRA appropriation since it was authorized in 1996, according to a bill summary by the House Appropriations Committee. For paid interns in member and leadership offices, the House would get $18.2 million.

It’s not technically a pay hike for congressmembers, but, in particular House members, are notorious for putting family members on the payroll. And for using staffers to run their errands and handle assorted personal projects for them.

In August, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced staffers’ salaries could exceed those of lawmakers. Members in both the House and Senate, with the exception of leadership, make an annual salary of $174,000. Staffers can make up to $199,300.

That’s convenient since it can act as a pay hike without the negative press.

MRAs tend to be between $1.2 and $1.4 million. A massive MRA increase has all sorts of political and potentially personal benefits. It’s also completely indefensible during an economic crisis.

House Dem leaders are cheering the disgusting pork sandwich as a victory for diversity.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), released the following statement this morning on the inclusion of a 21% increase in Member Representational Allowance (MRA) funding in the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus legislation.

Leader Hoyer and Chair Jeffries have long advocated for this increase to the MRA in order to ensure that Members, leaders, and committees can attract and retain the best and brightest to help them serve the American people while promoting a more diverse workforce.

Is there any obscenity that can’t be justified in the name of diversity?

“We join in thanking Chairwoman DeLauro and Ranking Member Granger as well as the Members on the Appropriation Committee for producing a bipartisan omnibus package that includes this increase in office budgets so that Congressional staff pay can be a priority and enhance this institution’s ability to deliver For the People.”

For the People.

Ask not what Congress can do for you, ask what you can do for Congress.

COLUMN BY

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

Biden Plan Would Sabotage U.S. Economic Competitiveness in One Huge Way, Analysis Finds

That’s not ‘Building Back Better’—it’s shooting ourselves in the foot.  


President Biden has heralded his $4.5+ trillion spending proposals and accompanying tax hikes as an investment in “leading the world versus letting it pass us by.” Yet, paradoxically, a new analysis exposes one huge way Biden’s plans would make the US less competitive on the global stage.

Key to financing the spending plans is a proposed increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 26.5 percent. When factoring in state corporate taxes, the US’s average corporate tax rate would reach a whopping 30.9 percent. And according to a new Tax Foundation analysis, this punitive level of business taxation would be the third-highest corporate tax rate among developed countries, outstripped only by Colombia and Portugal.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE TAX FOUNDATION INFOGRAPHIC

Why is this a problem?

Well, the US would become a less attractive place for business investment, which is bad news for entrepreneurs, workers, and customers alike. Businesses would understandably be less likely to conduct business in the US when they could go to dozens of other developed countries with lower tax rates. As a result, our economic competitiveness would suffer.

“Returning to near the top of the OECD in corporate tax rates would… disincentivize investment and encourage firms to shift profits and locate elsewhere, resulting in fewer job opportunities for Americans and less tax revenue for the U.S. government,” the analysis explains.

Yikes.

Biden claims his tax-and-spend agenda is meant to reassert America’s dominance. But the costly tax hikes the president seeks would set our economic competitiveness back on the global stage. That’s not “Building Back Better”—it’s shooting ourselves in the foot.

COLUMN BY

Brad Polumbo

Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and Policy Correspondent at the Foundation for Economic Education.

WATCHNew Biden Vax Mandate Doesn’t Make ANY Sense (Here’s Why)

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. Like this story? Click here to sign up for the FEE Daily and get free-market news and analysis like this from Policy Correspondent Brad Polumbo in your inbox every weekday.

Does Biden’s $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Include a Mileage Tax?

Here’s a dismaying prospect: Paying 6, 8, or 10 cents in new taxes for every mile you drive. It may sound small, but at an 8 cent rate, that would be $1,144 in new annual taxes for the average American, who drives about 14,300 miles a year. Yikes!

Some on social media are claiming that this punitive tax scheme has been slipped into President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending legislation—which, after all, is nearly 3,000 pages and is chock full of unrelated waste and partisan pet projects. But are they right to be concerned about a mileage tax soon becoming reality?

No. At least, not yet.

The infrastructure legislation does not include a mileage tax or another form of driving tax. What it does include is a pilot program to study and test the idea. The legislation authorizes $125 million in taxpayer funding for this test initiative. (A lot of taxpayer money for an experiment, no?)

“People would volunteer to be part of the test,” fact-checkers at local New York news outlet WGRZ-TV report. “The test would require volunteers to record their miles, pay the fees, and then be reimbursed by the government. This pilot program would go through the year 2026 and at that point, if Congress and the president like it, they would have to pass another bill making it into law. This infrastructure bill simply creates the program.”

We can certainly question the wisdom of this endeavor. But rest assured that if the infrastructure legislation ultimately passes—a likely if not certain outcome—you won’t get a new per-mile bill from the IRS. However, this move does represent a shift toward mainstreaming and advancing the idea of a per-mile driving tax.

Such a tax would be highly regressive, meaning that it would disproportionately burden low-income Americans. So, too, the costs would fall harder on rural Americans who drive more than their city-dwelling counterparts. That said, proponents argue it simply funds highway infrastructure by taxing those who use it. They also note that it could replace the gas tax, which currently attempts to do the same yet fails to capture usage by electric vehicles.

Still, the prospect of sizable new taxes levied on working-class Americans solely for the privilege of being allowed to drive your own car isn’t an attractive one. Luckily, we aren’t actually facing this as an immediate reality, even if it is slowly being advanced into the mainstream.

WATCHNew Biden Vax Mandate Doesn’t Make ANY Sense (Here’s Why)

COLUMN BY

Brad Polumbo

Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and Policy Correspondent at the Foundation for Economic Education.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. Like this story? Click here to sign up for the FEE Daily and get free-market news and analysis like this from Policy Correspondent Brad Polumbo in your inbox every weekday.

Biden’s Handlers Want You to Cough Up $6.4 Billion to Resettle 94,000 Afghans in the U.S.

My latest in PJ Media:

Old Joe Biden’s handlers have asked Congress for $30 billion, which means that you better brace yourselves for significant tax increases in the near future. According to NBC News,  $23.6 billion of this is slated to go to deal with the devastation from Hurricane Ida and other natural disasters; the other $6.4 billion, meanwhile, is to cover the expenses of resettling 94,000 Afghans in the United States. And really, now, what could possibly go wrong?

NBC explained that “the U.S. anticipates bringing 64,000 Afghans to the U.S. by the end of this month and 30,000 over the next 12 months, the official said. Of the funding for the refugees, $2.4 billion will go to pay for the Defense Department’s operations overseas where the Afghans are being held and processed. An additional $1.7 billion will go to the Department of Health and Human Services to provide funding and resources to the Afghans to help them set up a new home in the U.S.”

This U.S. taxpayer money would also “go to support transportation costs between overseas processing sites and the United States, security screenings, humanitarian assistance, public health screenings and vaccinations. The administration official said Afghans ‘will receive similar benefits to refugees.’ After 12 months in the U.S., the Afghans will be eligible to apply to become LPRs — lawful permanent residents — and receive so-called ‘green cards.’”

And of course all of the applicants will get those green cards no matter what they have done, up to and including slitting the throat of a woman for committing the crime of having a job, as an Afghan migrant did a few days ago in Germany. What are Western authorities going to do — deport them back to Afghanistan? With the Taliban reaching new lows in human rights abuses practically every day, there is zero chance of that. The Afghan evacuees are here to stay.

While this may thrill naïve multiculturalists and Catholic bishops, there are good reasons to temper our enthusiasm about all this. Let’s assume, although we don’t really have any good reason to do so in light of the Biden administration’s refusal to admit the reality of the global Islamic jihad, that the security screenings this $6.4 billion will pay for are completely, one-hundred-percent effective. Does that mean that the people who will soon be our neighbors will have no trouble whatsoever adjusting to American society?

Consider, for example, the fact that according to a Pew Research Center survey in 2013 (and there is no reason to think anything has changed since then), 73% of Afghans believe that Islamic law, Sharia, is not devised by human beings, but is the perfect and unalterable law of Allah. There are plenty of people in America now who believe that, but fully 99% of the Afghans surveyed stated that they believed Sharia should be the law of the land. Might any of them be among Biden’s handlers’ 94,000 evacuees? Might they have difficulty accepting a secular republic in which the government derives its authority not from Allah, but from the consent of the governed?

There is more. Read the rest here.

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

The Question Isn’t if Biden Will Fund the Taliban, The Question is How Will He Fund the Taliban

The question isn’t if Biden will fund the Taliban, the question is how will he fund the Taliban.

There’s a split on that with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan suggesting that US aid may go directly to the Taliban. (Whether it goes directly or indirectly, the Taliban will still unquestionably cash in.)

Sullivan also would not rule out giving the Taliban aid in the future. He said that the US will continue to provide humanitarian assistance “directly” to the Afghan people, which, he said, would not flow through the Taliban but through international institutions like the World Health Organization and other nongovernmental organizations.

But, going forward, aid to Afghanistan through the Taliban directly will be conditioned upon the Taliban’s behavior, including whether the remaining Americans are able to safely evacuate.

“That will be about the Taliban’s actions. It will be about whether they follow through on their commitments, their commitments to safe passage for Americans and Afghan allies, their commitment to not allow Afghanistan to be a base from which terrorists can attack the United States or any other country, their commitments with respect to upholding their international obligations. It’s going to be up to them. And we will wait and see by their actions how we end up responding in terms of the economic and development assistance,” he said.

Then it was Jen Psaki’s turn to insist that Sullivan hadn’t said what he had said.

Q    And then on — on the future aid to the Taliban that Jake Sullivan was talking about this morning.

MS. PSAKI:  Yeah.

Q    He said, when it comes to economic and development assistance, the relationship with the Taliban will be about Taliban actions.  Should we understand that to mean that economic and development assistance could translate to taxpayer money eventually going to the Taliban at some point?  I know that’s different from the humanitarian aid we’ve been talking about — the World Food Programme and things like that — but these specific references that Sullivan made this morning.

MS. PSAKI:  Well, I would — I would just go back to kind of the earlier question on this.  There’s an enormous amount of money they have at the federal — in the Federal Reserve — I shouldn’t say “they” — the government of Afghanistan has in the Federal Reserve, which they don’t have access to right now.  That’s actually their money that’s being held there.  So that’s one of the questions here.

There are also sanctions that are in place on a number of leaders.  Obviously, that prevents them from doing business in various parts of the world.  I think that’s really what Jake Sullivan was referring to.

That’s not what Sullivan was referring to since he mentioned “economic and development assistance”.

But few in the media bother calling out Psaki on her constant stream of lies.

Psaki calls the money in the Federal Reserve, “their money”. As I reported in, “Biden Tried to Send Pallets of Cash to the Taliban as Kabul Fell”, that’s not really accurate.

Ahmady estimates that $7 billion of DAB’s assets are being held by the Federal Reserve which includes the gold, the bills and bonds, $300 million in cash, and another $2.4 billion in World Bank funds for aiding developing countries.

A whole lot of money came from us in the first place.

The question is whether Biden is bargaining with the Taliban using the money we already had been giving to Afghanistan or whether he’s playing with new taxpayer monies.

As I wrote…

The Taliban were hoping to get their hands on Afghanistan’s money, but much of it is in the United States. The most tangible part of Afghanistan’s assets, $1.3 billion in gold, is sitting in downtown Manhattan, a little bit south of Ground Zero, in the vaults of the Federal Reserve. If there were any justice, that money would be used to compensate the police officers, firefighters, and workers who died on that day or later on from ailments related to 9/11.

COLUMN BY

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

Federal Government Imposes Up to $14,000 in ‘Hidden Taxes’ on Households Every Year, New Report Reveals

Most Americans pay close attention to how much of their money is taken in taxes each year. But there’s another, less obvious way the federal government imposes financial costs on citizens—and according to a new report, it amounts to trillions annually.

The fiscally-conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) just released its annual “Ten Thousand Commandments” report, which documents the “size, scope, and cost of federal regulations, and how they affect American consumers, businesses, and the U.S. economy at large.” Report author Clyde Wayne Crews explains how we face a “hidden tax” from the economic burden of our massive regulatory state. After all, tens of thousands of new regulations are imposed every year.

The report estimates the economic costs of federal regulation at an astounding $1.9 trillion annually.

To put that abstract sum in context, it’s nearly as much as the federal government collects in income and corporate taxes in a year. And a country that produced $1.9 trillion in output would be the 8th largest economy in the world (excluding the US). $1.9 trillion is more in economic output than Brazil or Italy produce in an entire calendar year.

Much of this $1.9 trillion in “hidden taxes” is ultimately borne by everyday Americans. To understand why, simply remember that regulations increase the costs associated with production. An unnecessary environmental regulation, for example, may force companies to take more cost-intensive steps during the production process. Ultimately, this leads to higher prices at the check-out line.

The CEI report explains that if we assume the costs all ultimately fall on consumers, then it equates to up to $14,368 in annual costs per US household.

This is a huge hit to the wallet. $14,368 in annual regulatory costs amounts to roughly 23 percent of the average household’s spending budget. It’s more than the typical household spends on food, transportation, healthcare, or anything except housing.

Oh, and don’t forget the $88 billion in taxpayer money spent by federal agencies each year just to administer, implement, and police these regulations.

The takeaway here is broader than just the financial impact of federal regulation, as significant as that may be. It’s yet another reminder that, as economist Frédéric Bastiat famously identified, the costs of government go beyond the obvious, what is “seen,” and extend to the “unseen.”

Of course, when it comes to the ever-expanding federal government, the most obvious cost is what the politicians in Washington, DC take from us in taxes every year. But this new report further proves that the unseen, hidden costs of the federal government’s growing involvement in economic life are even more drastic than what comes directly out of our paychecks.

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

Report: True National Debt Exceeds $123 Trillion, or Nearly $800,000 per Taxpayer

The Democrat-CCP continues to impose more crushing debt on the American people, kill businesses, lockdown whole cities throw millions of out work.

China is taking over. Note what’s important and prioritized in their strategy for world domination – debt and spending. Balanced against the value of its commercial assets, the federal government had a combined total of $103.7 trillion in debts, liabilities, and unfunded obligations.

COVID was an act of war  by China– launched during a US presidential election exploited and weaponized by the party of treason.

True National Debt Exceeds $123 Trillion, or Nearly $800,000 per Taxpayer, Report

By Mark Tapscott, The Epoch Times, April 19, 2021:

America’s national debt now exceeds $123 trillion, according to a new report, or more than four times the official figure of $28 trillion, as calculated by the U.S. Treasury Department at the end of March.

Federal spending related to the CCP virus pandemic and economic lockdown added nearly $10 trillion to the total in 2020, according to the latest edition of the “Financial State of the Union 2021” report, compiled and published annually by Chicago-based nonprofit Truth in Accounting (TIA).

But spending amid the pandemic represents only a small portion of the total difference between the official government figure and TIA’s calculation.

“Our measure of the government’s financial condition includes reported federal assets and liabilities, as well as promised, but not funded, Social Security and Medicare benefits,” the report stated.

“Elected and non-elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the federal government with a debt burden of $123.11 trillion, including unfunded Social Security and Medicare promises.”

The TIA report includes in its total debt calculation $55.12 trillion in unfunded Medicare benefits and $41.20 trillion in unfunded Social Security benefits.

Treasury officials don’t include unfunded benefits because they claim recipients have no right to future payments, only to those under current entitlement laws.

The total debt, according to the report, “equates to a $796,000 burden for every federal taxpayer. Because the federal government would need such a vast amount of money from taxpayers to cover this debt, it received an ‘F’ grade for its financial condition.”

Unlike many state governments, the federal government doesn’t maintain a cash reserve to deal with spending necessitated by unexpected crises such as a virus pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic and related stimulus packages have caused some of the deterioration because the government had to borrow money to weather the pandemic. If the federal government was properly prepared for a crisis with a true rainy-day fund, it would not have had to borrow money,” TIA stated.

Defense and veterans’ benefits accounted for the largest share of federal spending in 2020 at 23 percent, followed by health and human services with 19 percent, Social Security with 16 percent, interest on the debt at 5 percent, and 2 percent on education. Fully a third (35 percent) of the spending went to what TIA described as “Other.”

Responses

Spokesmen for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), respectively the chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Budget Committee, didn’t respond to The Epoch Times request for comment.

Similarly, a spokesman for House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), didn’t respond.

Mondays are typically “travel days” for senators returning from their states and representatives from the districts.

A spokesman for Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), the budget panel’s ranking minority member, referred to a March 31 statement in which Smith criticized news spending proposals from President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats.

“Washington Democrats are embracing an historically disturbing appetite for spending. They just passed a nearly $2 Trillion bailout bill. President Biden is now proposing they turn right back around and cut a check for another $2 trillion to spend on a massive grab bag of policies all tied together with talking points,” Smith wrote.

“All the while, the President reportedly has yet another $2 trillion spending proposal in his back pocket awaiting its own news cycle.”

Consultants Agree

Campaign strategists and nonprofit activists interviewed by The Epoch Times about the TIA report expressed agreement that debt requires serious attention to get it under control.

Jim Manley, former communications director to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said “at some point, both parties are going to have to have a serious negotiation regarding the need to get our fiscal house in better order, and that includes both taxes and spending, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon because our politics are just too toxic.”

But, Manley said, “in the meantime interest rates are low and the economy is digging itself out of the hole the pandemic caused, but there is no reason for Democrats to be at all concerned about the Republicans’ new-found focus on cutting spending after everything the last administration did.”

He was referring, he said, to 2017 tax reform legislation enacted by Republican majorities in the House and Senate and signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Another Democratic campaign strategist, Kevin B. Chavous, told The Epoch Times: “This has been an issue that both parties have simply failed to address. It will not be fixed, though, by doing the same things.”

Chavous said he expects “the infrastructure bill will create jobs and grow the economy by investing in modern technology and cleaner energy sources. Things like a nationalized electric grid and expanded broadband access will make Americans more productive and more competitive in the years to come. It is an expense we have to make sooner than later.”

Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) President David Williams pointed to the need to cut federal spending. “A debt of $123 trillion should be a wake-up call for the country. The bill is coming due very soon, which could have dire consequences for taxpayers and the country.”

Williams said Biden and congressional leaders “are seemingly oblivious to the stark fiscal crisis happening right under their noses. Worse yet, if they are aware of the deep financial issues, they are clearly not doing anything to fix the problem. Instead of finding ways to spend more money, Congress and the president need to find ways to cut spending.”

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz noted that President Thomas Jefferson said the nation’s representatives shouldn’t accumulate debts that can’t be paid in their own time, and while this has been problematic for years, it has never been this significant.

Schatz said he believes “members of Congress have an obligation to attempt to bring spending under control and ensure that present and future taxpayers are not forced to fund any federal program that is duplicative, wasteful, and inefficient.”

When The Epoch Times asked TIA President Sheila Weinberg if it’s reasonable to depend upon future economic growth to solve the debt problem, she said no, and noted that the Treasury Department agrees.

“The authors of the Financial Report of the U.S. Government have deemed that under current law and policy, a massive implied increase in the ratio of reported debt to GDP—e.g. future debt will be growing faster than GDP—is simply unsustainable,” she said.

“In other words, under current law and policy, we can’t grow our way out of this, especially considering Medicare grows faster than inflation.”

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GOP Blocks $2,000 Stimulus Payments, House To Hold Roll Call Vote On Proposal Monday

“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it. It was not their fault.”  – President Donald J. Trump


House Republicans blocked legislation Thursday that would have sent $2,000 in direct payments to Americans, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

House Democratic and Republican leaders met early Thursday morning in a pro forma session and held a unanimous consent vote on the direct payments proposal, according to CNBC. Republican leadership voted the measure down, which required all lawmakers present to unanimously vote in favor for it to pass.

“Today, on Christmas Eve morning, House Republicans cruelly deprived the American people of the $2,000 that the President agreed to support,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “If the President is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction.”

Pelosi said during a press conference that the House would hold a recorded roll call vote on the measure Monday, Fox News correspondent Chad Pergram reported. If succesful, the measure would alter the the omnibus bill Congress passed Monday night by changing stimulus checks sent to Americans from $600 to $2,000.

Virginia Republican Rep. Rob Wittman attempted to get the House to vote on reconsidering the much-criticized foreign aid included in the omnibus bill, according to CNBC. Democrats blocked that proposal.

“Speaker Pelosi tried to use the American people as leverage to make coronavirus relief contingent on government funding – which includes billions of foreign aid at a time when there are urgent needs at home,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement Wednesday night.

The coronavirus stimulus relief bill hangs in the balance after President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he wouldn’t sign the bill Congress passed. Trump criticized both the $600 direct payment, saying they were too small, and the foreign aid, saying it was wasteful.

“Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it. It was not their fault,” Trump said.

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

Trump Stands Between You and the Poverty the Democrats Have Ready for You

My latest at PJ Media:

Speaking at the Whirlpool Manufacturing Plant in Clyde, Ohio, on Thursday, President Donald Trump once again articulated the guiding principle of his administration: “The duty of a president is to put this nation’s own citizens first. That’s why my administration swears by two simple, but crucial rules, buy American and hire American.” His twilight struggle with the Democrats over the future of the nation, or whether the nation will even have a future at all, is coming down to the question of whether that principle will be upheld and defended, or consigned forever to the dustbin of history.

Trump drew the battle lines sharply at Whirlpool, charging that “on the question of foreign trade, previous leaders were guided by a shameful policy of capitulation, submission, and retreat…. For decades, you watched as politicians let foreign nations steal our jobs, loot our factories, and plunder the crown jewels of the US economy….For eight years, Whirlpool begged the Obama-Biden administration who did nothing to protect American workers from the flagrant dumping of foreign washers, dryers into America. But your cries for help fell on deaf ears. You didn’t see any action. They didn’t act, they didn’t care, and they never will.”

They didn’t care because they were among the beneficiaries of the pole-axing of American workers and the outsourcing of American industries. And it has been known for decades. That noted economist Sid Vicious sang back in 1977 about “a cheap holiday in other people’s misery,” and the leftist establishment moved quickly from cheap holidays in other people’s misery to cheap labor in other people’s misery. The labor is cheaper outside the United States, so American workers had to lose their jobs to provide low prices for rich and powerful socialist internationalists. Another farsighted economist, Bob Dylan, noticed this in 1983, singing about a woman in Brazil crafting furniture for import into the United States and “bringin’ home thirty cents a day to a family of twelve, you know, that’s a lot of money to her.”

This has been a struggle for practically as long as there has been a United States. The new book Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster details how the struggle between advocates of free trade and the supporters of high tariffs has been the key element of numerous presidential elections, including that of 1888, when the Republican platform declared: “We are uncompromisingly in favor of the American system of protection. We protest against its destruction, as proposed by the President and his party. They serve the interests of Europe; we will support the interests of America.” Republican marchers held aloft banners saying that Democratic candidate Grover “Cleveland Runs Well in England” and “We Are Not Going to Vote Away Our Wages.” They argued that lowering tariffs would mean the end of American prosperity. Although the Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison won the election, this message didn’t exactly resonate with the American voter, who was also hearing from the Democrats that low tariffs would mean low prices.

There is much more. Read the rest here.

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

VIDEOS: Celebrities (Besides Joe Rogan) Who Said Goodbye to California

Joe Rogan is just the latest in a long list of celebrities to say goodbye to La La Land.


California dreaming? Nothing wrong with that. The Golden State has a lot to offer.

California has the fifth largest economy in the world. The San Francisco Bay Area alone has a GDP of $535 billion and ranks 19th in the world in economic activity. The state boasts one of the largest agricultural industries on the planet, producing more grapes, lemons, avocados, peaches, watermelons, and strawberries than any US state.

And let’s not forget movies. They contribute about $50 billion dollars annually to California’s economy—and nearly 2.5 million jobs.

Still, California has its downsides. It has the highest poverty rate in the US. It’s among the most heavily taxed states—the top income tax bracket is 13.3 percent—and is America’s most regulated state, according to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Its biggest cities suffer from housing shortages, mass homelessness, and congestion.

And then there’s the whole, er, poop crisis thing.

So while California has a lot to offer, its demographics are beginning to head in the wrong direction. Last year, the state’s population growth hit a historic low. There’s talk of a middle class exodus and the death of Hollywood.

In recent years, there’s even a growing number of celebrities saying goodbye to Golden State, including a big name recently. There’s nothing wrong with people “voting with their feet” to establish residence in freedom-friendly states; it’s one of the beauties of the American system. It does show, however, that high taxes and regulations can result in wealth emigration that drives out a lot of capital that supports local jobs and businesses.

Here’s a list of just a few stars who’ve headed for greener (or at least, not quite so “fertilized”) pastures in recent years.

Fresh off of signing a $100 million deal with Spotify in May, comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan made headlines in July by announcing he and his family were moving to Texas.

Rogan has lived in California more than 25 years. He moved to Los Angeles in 1994 and shortly thereafter began appearing TV shows like News Radio. As recently as 2018 he purchased a new home in Bell Canyon for nearly $5 million. That didn’t stop him from leaving though, and he offered some telling reasons.

“I just want to go somewhere in the center of the country … somewhere where you have a little more freedom,” said Rogan. “When you look at the economic despair, when you look at the homelessness problem that has accelerated radically over the last six, seven, ten years … I think there’s too many people here. I think it’s not tenable.”

To be clear, California’s problems do not stem from its high number of people. Humans are one of the greatest resources on the planet. California’s problems stem more from a political and regulatory system that has stifled growth, accumulated massive debts, and suffers from a bureaucratic climate that renders many cities dysfunctional and virtually unlivable.

But whatever his reasons, it’s clear the move will save Rogan gobs of cash. Texas has zero state income taxes compared to California’s top bracket of 13.3 percent. Apply that rate to $100 million and … well, do the math.

In the fall of 2019, rumors began swirling that Kanye West and wife Kim Kardashian were giving up on California after it was reported that the rapper had purchased a $14 million “monster ranch” in Cody, Wyoming.

The rumors amplified when the couple announced they had closed on another ranch property near Cody—this one 6,713 acres and valued at $14.5 million—and were touring local schools for their children.

The purchases stemmed from West’s desire to move his billion-dollar apparel empire Yeezy to Wyoming, the headquarters of which had already been moved to Cody from Calabasas, California.

During a 2019 interview (26:30 mark in video below), Kanye hinted that he found the Golden State’s regulatory structure stifling and irritating, noting that regulators told him his Star Wars-inspired domes for the homeless violated government codes.

“One of the domes was 10 feet too high,” said West, speaking at the 2019 Fast Company Innovation Festival. “They came and said, ‘You got to take it down.’”

It’s hard to blame an innovator like West for being irritated by red tape. But it probably wasn’t his only reason for leaving.

“Kimye” stand to save a bundle if they live more than 183 days a year in Wyoming. Reports estimate the West paid some $15 million in state income taxes in 2018 alone.

The Cowboy State, on the other hand, has zero state income taxes.

Chris Hemsworth is today one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, even though he no longer lives there. In 2015, the same year Avengers: Age of Ultron was released, the Australian-born actor announced he was moving back Down Under with his family, since he no longer had to be in Hollywood to land movie roles.

‘We were in LA for six or seven years and then once we got the opportunity not to be there full-time, it was good to get back to Australia,” said Hemsworth. “And it’s great. Quiet, coastal town – [it] couldn’t be further from Hollywood, which is nice.”

Quiet. Coastal. And far from Hollywood. The perfect place for Thor Odinson to retire after his battles with Thanos.

Matthew McConaughey took home an Oscar in 2014 for his role as Ron Woodroof in the 2013 biographical drama The Dallas Buyers Club, but by that time the Dazed and Confused actor had already sold most if not all of his homes in the Hollywood Hills.

McConaughey and wife Camila Alves, married in 2012, have lived in Austin, Texas for years with their three children. McConaughey, who was born in Texas, in 2015 joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin where he works as an instructor in the department of radio, television and film at the Moody College of Communication.

Rumor has it McConaughey is even considering a run for governor of the Lone Star State in 2022. We don’t know McConaughey’s politics—he keeps his views famously close to the vest—but based on some of his comments following the 2016 election, odds are he’ll have a better chance in Texas than California.

One of Hollywood’s most famous power couples, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively don’t actually live in Hollywood. Though Reynolds and his first wife Scarlet Johannson were California residents—Reynolds filed for divorse in Los Angeles in 2010—the Green Lantern stars (sorry to bring that one up) decided Hollywood wasn’t where they wanted to raise their family.

In 2012, the same year the couple married, Lively and Reynolds purchased a $5.7 million home near Bedford, New York. Nestled on 11.65 acres, the colonial-style mansion reportedly is 8,000 square feet and has seven bedrooms and six bathrooms. The property even comes with a barn.

Taxes in New York aren’t much better than California, but the couple seems to have found a beautiful place to raise their three children. Reports say they have made quite an impression on the community.

“[L]ocals describe them as extremely nice and well-liked,” E! News reported. “They have a bit of a routine around town that can only be described as, well, idyllic.”

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban didn’t exactly leave California. They still keep a home there, a $4.7 million mansion in Beverly Hills purchased in 2008. But the couple, married in 2006, seems to collect homes the way other people collect stamps.

There are the two homes in Australia: a $6.5 million farm in Bunya Hill and a penthouse in Sydney.

There’s the mansion in Nashville the couple purchased for $3.4 million in 2008.

And let’s not forget the $10 million Manhattan condo the Days of Thunder and country music start purchased in 2010.

Despite their many dwellings, the couple has called Nashville, Tennessee their home for years. And that’s a smart move financially speaking. The Volunteer State has a zero percent income tax rate, which went a long way toward allowing the couple to accrue an aggregate net worth estimated at $325 million.

COLUMN BY

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines: The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times. He previously served in editorial roles at The History Channel magazine, Intellectual Takeout, and Scout. He is an alumni of the Institute for Humane Studies journalism program, a former reporter for the Panama City News Herald, and served as an intern in the speechwriting department of George W. Bush.

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

VIDEO: President Trump Trump Wants to Send Education Funds to Parents if Schools Do Not Open

President Trump wants education funding sent directly to parents to pay for whatever school they choose for their children–including “home school.”

CatholicVote posted the following video on YouTube:

©All rights reserved.

ECONOMY: June Jobs Report SHATTERS Expectations

America added 4.8 million jobs in June—the largest monthly increase ever recorded, according to today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With 7.5 million jobs added over the past two months, America’s economic comeback from the Coronavirus is taking off well ahead of schedule.

President Trump: Today’s report is “spectacular news” for America

“There’s not been anything like this—record setting,” President Trump said at a press briefing this morning. “We’ve implemented an aggressive strategy to vanquish and kill the virus, and protect Americans at the highest risk, while allowing those at lower risk to return safely to work. That’s what’s happening.”

After May and June ranked as the two largest monthly jobs gains in history, an estimated one-third of all job losses from March and April have now been recovered.

“Our work won’t be done until every single American who lost their job because of COVID gets back to work,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said today.

June’s job gains were spread broadly across American industries, with the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector seeing the biggest turnaround:

  • 2.1 million leisure & hospitality jobs
  • 740,000 retail jobs
  • 568,000 education & healthcare jobs
  • 357,000 service jobs
  • 356,000 manufacturing jobs

The Great American Comeback is reducing unemployment for a number of historically marginalized groups, too. African-American workers saw historic gains with more than 400,000 jobs added last month. Hispanic-American employment is up by 1.5 million, and the unemployment rate for women fell even quicker than the rate for men.

On top of that, “workers with a high school education or less made the biggest strides of all,” President Trump said.

There is more work to do in the months ahead as we rebuild the strongest economy on Earth together. The incredible, expectations-busting jobs reports in May and June, however, should give every American hope that we’re heading toward a bright future.

President Trump: Stock market is soaring with best gains in 20 years

READA Record 4.8 Million Jobs Created in June


President Trump hosts ‘Spirit of America’ showcase!

President Trump welcomed small business leaders to the White House today to spotlight their incredible work as America reopens from the Coronavirus pandemic.

“The small businesses represented in this room continue a great and noble American heritage,” he said. “You’re entrepreneurs, artisans, creators, craftsman who forge your own path, made your own products, and provide good-paying jobs for our citizens.”

Eighty percent of U.S. small businesses are now open, and new business applications have doubled since March. Thanks to President Trump’s Paycheck Protection Program, many American workers have stayed on the payroll during the pandemic, lifting incomes and helping to spark a quicker economic comeback.

President Trump: 80% of small businesses are now open

©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)….

RELATED ARTICLES:

Connecticut: Muslim leaves messages saying “ISIS we will kill cops,” “ISIS will blow up the Milford police station”

Breitbart: “‘Conservative’ Henry Jackson Society Includes Anti-Sharia Campaigners In ‘Extremism’ Report”

The growing jihadist threat in Germany

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

The Best and Worst Cities in the United States

There are several options if you want to measure economic freedom and competitiveness among nations (rankings from the Fraser InstituteHeritage Foundation, and World Economic Forum).

You also have many choices if you want to measure economic freedom and competitiveness among states (rankings from the Tax FoundationMercatus Center, and Fraser Institute).

But there’s never been a good source if you want to know which local jurisdiction is best.

Dean Stansel of Southern Methodist University is helping to fill this gap with a report looking at the relative quality of government policy in various metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs encompass not just a city but also economically relevant suburbs):

…the level of economic freedom can vary across subnational jurisdictions within the same country (e.g., Texas and Florida have less-burdensome economic policies and therefore much greater economic freedom than New York and California). However, levels of economic freedom can also vary within those subnational jurisdictions. For example, the San Jose metro area has substantially higher economic freedom than Los Angeles. The same is true for Nashville compared to Memphis. In some places, metropolitan areas straddle state borders, skewing state-level economic data. This report quantifies those intra-state disparities by providing a local-level version of the EFNA, ranking 382 metropolitan areas by their economic freedom levels.

So who wins this contest?

Here are the five most-free MSAs. It’s worth noting that all of them are in states with no income tax, which shows that good state policy helps:

What if we limit ourselves to large cities?

Here are the five most-free MSAs with populations over one million. As you can see, Houston is in first place, and zero-income-tax Texas and Florida are well represented:

Now let’s shift to the localities on the bottom of the rankings.

Which MSA is the worst place for economic freedom in America?

Congratulations to El Centro in California for winning this booby prize. As you can see, jurisdictions in New York and California dominate:

What if we look at larger jurisdictions, those with over one million people?

In this case, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario is the worst place to live.

Though if you want to focus on big cities, the NYC metro area deserves special mention:

Now let’s consider why economic freedom matters.

I’ve shared charts showing how more economic freedom leads to more prosperity in nations.

The same thing is true for states.

So you shouldn’t be surprised to discover that it also is true for metro areas:

Last but not least, here’s a map showing freedom in all MSAs:

I’m not surprised to see so much red in California and New York, but I didn’t realize that Ohio (thanks for nothing, Kasich), Oregon, and West Virginia were so bad.

And the good results for Texas and Florida are predictable, but I didn’t think Virginia would look so good.

This article was reprinted with permission from International Liberty.

COLUMN BY

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

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

RELATED ARTICLE: These are the worst cities to live in America. Is yours one of them?

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Pixabay.

Trump’s Tax Plan Is Brilliant Politics and Even Better Economics by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Donald Trump’s tax plan seems to mark a new chapter in his presidency, from floundering around with strange and sometimes scary policies (bombings, border closings, saber rattling) to focusing on what actually matters and what can actually make the difference for the American people and the American economy.

Under Trump’s plan, taxes on corporate profits go from 35% to 15%. They should be zero (like the Bahamas), but this is a good start. Taxes on capital gains go from 23.8% to 20%. Again, it should be zero (as with New Zealand), but it is a start. Rates for all individuals are lowered to three: 10%, 25%, and 35%. The standard deduction for individuals is doubled (politically brilliant). The estate tax and the alternative minimum tax is gone. Popular deductions for charitable giving and mortgage interest are preserved. The hare-brained idea of a “border adjustment tax” is toast.

All of this is wonderful, but the shining light of this plan is the dramatic reduction in taxes on corporate profits. The economics of this are based on a simple but profoundly true insight. Economic growth is the key to a good society. This is where good jobs come from. This is how technology improves. This is what gives everyone a brighter outlook on life. If you can imagine that your tomorrow will be more prosperous and flourishing than today, your life seems to be on track.

Tax Capital, Wreck Prosperity

Where does economic growth come from? For decades dating back perhaps a hundred-plus years, people imagined that it could come from government programs and policy manipulation. Surely there are some levers somewhere in the center of power that can cause this thing we call economic growth. We just need solid experts with power, resources, and intelligence to manage the system.

This turns out to be entirely wrong. It hasn’t worked. Since 2008, government has tried to mastermind an economic recovery. It has floundered. We are coming up on a full decade of this nonsense with economic growth barely crawling along. We are surviving, not thriving, and income growth, capital formation, and entrepreneurial opportunity restricted and punished at every turn.

The Trump tax plan is rooted in a much better idea. Economic growth must come from the private sector. It must come from investment in private capital. The owners of this capital who are doing well and earn profits should be allowed to keep them and invest them. This creates new job opportunities. It allows for more complex production strategies. It expands the division of labor.

The crucial institution here is capital. Sorry, anti-capitalists. It’s just true. Capital can be defined as the produced goods for production, not consumption. It is making things for the purpose of making other things. Think about it. Without capital, you can still have markets, creativity, hard work, enterprise. But so long as you have an absence of capital, you are forever floundering around just working to make and sell things for consumption. This is called living hand to mouth.Without capital, and the private ownership of capital, and security over your property rights, you can’t have economic growth. You can’t have complex production. You can’t raise wages. You can’t live a better life. Every tax on capital, capital formation, capital accumulation, and business profit reduces the security of property rights over capital. This is a sure way to attack economic growth at its source.

And this is precisely what American policy has done. The rest of the world has been wising up about this, reducing taxes on capital for the last 15 years. But the US has languished in the mythology of the past, regarding capital not as a font of prosperity but rather a fund of stagnant resources to be pillaged by planners in government. It is not surprising that this strategy results in slow growth and even permanent recession.

What This Can Do for Growth

I have no regression to present to you but this much I can say out of experience and intuition. If this tax plan goes through, the entire class of entrepreneurs, investors, and merchants will receiving a loud signal: this country is safe for you to realize your dreams and make the dreams of others come true.It wouldn’t surprise me to see GDP growth go from an anemic 1-2% to reach 4% and higher in one year. There is so much pent-up energy in this country. This tax cut will unleash it. And think what it means for the next recession or financial crisis. It prepares the entire country to weather such an event better than we otherwise would.

The beauty of unleashing the power of private capital is that the brilliant results will always be surprising. We don’t know what kind of experimentation in investment and business expansion this will create. This is the nature of a capitalist economy rooted in the freedom of enterprise. It defies our every expectation. No model can forecast with precision the range of results here. We only know that good things will come.

Now, of course, the opponents will talk of the deficit and the national debt. What about the lost revenue? The problem is that every revenue forecast is based on a static model. But an economy rooted in capital formation is not a static one. It is entirely possible that new profits and business expansion will produce even more revenue, even if it is taxed at a lower rate.If you want to cut the deficit, there is only one way: cut spending. I see no evidence that either party wants to do this. Too bad. This should change. But it is both economically stupid and morally unsound to attempt to balance the budget on the backs of taxpayers. Letting people keep more of what they earn is the right thing to do, regardless of government’s fiscal problems.

In the meantime, these pious incantations of the word “deficit, deficit, deficit,” should be seen for what they are: excuses to continue to loot people of their just earnings.

The Politics of It

Already the opponents of this plan are kvetching in the predictable way. This is a tax cut for the rich! Well, yes, and that’s good. Rich capitalists  – sorry for yet another hard truth – are society’s benefactors.

But you know why this line of attack isn’t going to work this time? Take a look at the standard deduction change. It is doubled. Not a single middle-class taxpayer is unaware of what this means. This is because they are profoundly aware of how the tax system works. If you take the standard deduction from $6,200 to $15,000, that means people are going to keep far more of their own money. There is not a single taxpayer in this country who will not welcome that.

This is why it strikes me as crazy for Democrats to inveigh against this plan. Doing so only cements their reputation as the party of pillage. Do they really want the United States to be outcompeted by every other nation in the OECD? What they should do is rally behind this, forgetting all the ridiculous pieties about the deficit and the rich and so on. Do they favor the interests of the American people are not?It’s also fantastic politics to retain the deductions for charitable giving and mortgage interest. These are popular for a reason. They are two of the only ways that average people can save on their tax bill. It always pained me when the GOP would propose a “flat tax” that eliminated these provisions. People are very aware: taking away an existing tax break is a terrible foreshadowing of bad things to come. So this Trump plan dispenses with all that. Good.

As for compliance costs of the current system, the elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax will do worlds of good.

What I love most about this plan is its real-world economic foundation. It embraces a truth that so many want to avoid. If you want jobs, rising wages, and economic growth, you have to stop the war on capital. You have to go the other way. You need to celebrate capital and allow rewards to flow to those who are driving forward economic progress.

It’s a simple but brilliant point. Finally, we’ve got a tax proposal that embraces it.

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.